Mar 04, 2024  
2021-2022 Graduate Catalog 
2021-2022 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Public Administration, M.P.A.

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Return to: 2130 Department of Public Management and Policy  

Dr. John C. Thomas, Faculty Program Director

The Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.) degree is the preferred professional graduate degree for those wishing to enter or advance in careers at all levels of government. It is also an appropriate degree for management of nonprofit agencies and professional associations. The M.P.A. is a broad-based, interdisciplinary program designed to prepare graduates for leadership positions as managers, analysts and policy specialists in government and nonprofit organizations. In addition to the high-quality, generalist core curriculum, the program offers opportunities to develop specialized knowledge and skills in such areas as public management, public budgeting and finance, and public policy analysis and evaluation.

Public administration, the art and science of effectively managing the public’s business, contributes to the health, prosperity and security of every country. The actions of public administrators influence and improve our lives in innumerable ways. One out of every six persons in the U.S. work force is employed by government, and government spending accounts for almost a third of the gross national product. In addition, those who do not work in government increasingly work with government as a consequence of increasing interaction between the public and private sectors, the growth of nonprofit organizations, and the blurring of lines between the sectors, making an understanding of government and public administration essential.

Contemporary public administrators must meet the challenges of changing social needs and priorities, new directions in public policy, pressures for increased accountability and productivity in government, and demands for greater citizen involvement in decision making. The “information revolution” and the boom in computer-assisted management systems also challenge the way in which organizations do business. Meeting these challenges requires greater sophistication and skill from professional public administrators.

A Top Ranked Program: The Andrew Young School of Policy Studies (AYSPS) is nationally recognized as having one of the elite programs in the field of public policy and management. The U.S. News and World Report’s “2020 Edition of America’s Best Graduate Schools” ranked the AYSPS program 19th overall, and in the top 10 programs in urban policy, nonprofit management, public finance and budgeting, and local government management, also in the top 25 programs in public management and leadership and public policy analysis. The school’s many research centers and community outreach efforts provide opportunities to enhance students’ education, as well as often opening doors to attractive jobs.

The AYSPS M.P.A. program, the school’s flagship program in public policy and management, is designed for a diverse student body, as is appropriate for a multicultural city such as Atlanta. It is tailored to meet the needs of both in-service and pre-service students, with classes scheduled principally in the late afternoon and evening. The curriculum provides a two-year course of study including a common core curriculum focused on developing skills in such areas as policy development and implementation, leadership, organizational behavior, research methods and statistics, decision making, managing people, money and resources, and representing the public interest. Core courses are supplemented by elective coursework in one of a number of concentrations, including management and finance, nonprofit management, planning and economic development, policy analysis and evaluation, criminal justice, and public health.

Students have the option to develop an individualized specialization, such as disaster management, in consultation with the Faculty Program Director.

Students may also apply for the joint Master of Public Administration and Juris Doctor degree program offered in collaboration with the College of Law. See section 2050.50 of this graduate catalog for details about the Public Administration/Juris Doctor, M.P.A./J.D. .

Degree Requirements

The M.P.A. degree requires a minimum of 39 credit hours of graduate coursework, comprised of 18 credit hours of required courses, 15 credit hours in a concentration, 3 credit hours in a PMAP elective, and 3 credit hours of internship, practicum, or capstone.

Required Core Courses (18 Credit Hours)

Concentration Requirements (15 Credit Hours)

  1. Each student must develop special competence by completing 15 hours in one of 6 concentrations listed below. Students must formally declare the concentration they wish to complete prior to registering for their first concentration course.
  2. Students also have the option of developing an individualized concentration in consultation with the Faculty Program Director, whose approval is required. Students must complete the online graduate petition form found here to request approval:

Elective (3 Credit Hours)

  • Each student will take 3 credit hours in a PMAP course of their choosing. Students may also petition to substitute a MPA-relevant non-PMAP course.

PMAP 8941 Internship or PMAP 8900 Public Service Capstone or PMAP 8981 Practicum (3 Credit Hours)

  • Students may fulfill this requirement in several different ways:
    • Students who undertake an internship or a practicum should use those credit hours here, independent of whether they also register for the capstone.
    • Students who register for the capstone, but not as part of their concentration, should enroll for the credit hours here.
    • Students who successfully petition to waive the internship based on verified work experience should petition to waive these credits, reducing their total MPA credit hours requirement by 3 hours. Those students are still required to take the capstone, either as part of the concentration or as the PMAP elective.
  • PMAP 8941 - Internship  provide students the opportunity to apply concepts and skills gained from their graduate curriculum and are required for all M.P.A. students who lack significant prior administrative experience in a public or nonprofit agency or a related organization. The department’s faculty internship coordinators and the AYS Career Services & Alumni Relations Office assist in the search for an appropriate internship opportunity, but students are expected to take the lead. An internship requires enrollment in three credit hours of PMAP 8941  and the completion of 300 hours of work in the intern position. Students are free to work full-time or part-time, according to their needs and those of their internship sponsor. Many students find paid internships, but unpaid internships can also be very rewarding. Students should consider the value of the experience that an internship provides, in addition to the pay. Internship information and applications are available from the Department of Public Management and Policy, or the PMAP internship homepage on the web at Students with substantial prior administrative experience may petition to waive the internship requirement by completing the online Graduate Internship Waiver Petition form: Waiving the internship requirement reduces the overall degree credit-hour requirement by three hours.
  • PMAP 8981 - Practicum : MPA students have the option to conduct a practicum-an applied research project in a work setting-in lieu of an internship. The practicum option is designed principally for working students who do not qualify for an internship waiver. In a practicum, the student plans and conducts a research project in their employing agency in consultation with a PMAP faculty supervisor and a supervisor at the employing agency. The project should involve application of material learned in the MPA curriculum, and should result in a substantial combined final report and term paper. The student receives three credits upon successful completion of PMAP 8981 . Pursuit of the practicum option requires prior approval of a faculty supervisor and the Director of PMAP Master’s Programs. Any student who might be interested in a practicum should review the Practicum Proposal Guidelines.

Graduate Assistantship

Graduate assistants are required to enroll for a minimum of 12 credit hours each Fall and Spring semester and 9 credit hours each Summer semester. Theses credit hours consist of courses required for prescribed 39 credit hours program of study, as well as additional hours of PMAP 8912 - Research in Public Administration and Policy  .

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