Jul 18, 2024  
2024-2025, 2nd ed. General Catalog 
2024-2025, 2nd ed. General Catalog

Master’s in Public Administration, MPA

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This program is not currently accepting applications.


Offered primarily as an evening program, the Master’s degree in Public Administration (MPA) is a professional degree providing a rigorous 40-unit curriculum that emphasizes the education required to effectively analyze, formulate, and implement public policy in local, state, and national government, and to achieve similar goals in nonprofit agencies. The program recognizes the need for a strong combination of theoretical and practical learning. Students choose from two concentrations: Public Management (PM) or Non-Profit Agency Management (NP).

Each student is required to complete a 20-unit analytic core, a 16-unit concentration, and 4 units of graduate-level electives. Courses are based upon the professional curriculum established for public administration programs by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA). Concentrations include specialized courses oriented toward the operation and management of public and nonprofit agencies and typically include fiscal management, personnel administration, legal issues, public policy, labor relations, marketing and resource development for nonprofits, and grants and contract management. Electives cover a wide range of important topics, including ethics, leadership, organizational computer usage, internships, and special studies.

Up to 9 units of comparable graduate course work may be transferred into this program per CSU policy.

If at any time it is determined that the candidate has an English deficiency, extra courses in English will be required in addition to the regular course of study.

Admission Requirements

Students apply to both the University and to the M.P.A. program.

  1. A bachelor’s degree with a major from an accredited college or university with a grade point average of at least 3.00 for the last 60 units of college-level work attempted;
  2. Prerequisites: To ensure adequate background, a candidate for admission should have experience or course preparation in the following areas:
    1. State and local government,
    2. Federalism and Inter-Governmental Relations (IGR),
    3. Influences on domestic policy making.
      • Recommended: One year experience working in a nonprofit organization or a course in introduction to nonprofit organizations (example: through Sonoma County Volunteer Center).

        Candidates without such experience or course preparation can be admitted to the program but must make up deficiencies during the first three semesters of study.

        Prerequisites do not count toward the 40-unit degree. Acceptability of experience or previous coursework as prerequisites will be determined in consultation with the program’s graduate coordinator;
  3. Completion of both University and departmental applications. Included in the departmental application are three letters of recommendation. Only three letters will be considered; and
  4. Recommendation of the program by the graduate coordinator for entrance to the program.

Graduation Requirements for the Master’s Degree

  1. A grade point average of at least 3.00;

  2. Satisfactory completion of required coursework, including elective units. No courses for which a grade less than B is earned will be acceptable in meeting the 40-unit M.P.A. requirement. Students earning a B- or lower in a course will be required to repeat the course with a grade of B or better;
  3. Completion of a master’s thesis and oral defense, two comprehensive written examinations or a capstone project.
  4. Recommendation of the program graduate coordinator.

Course Work

Culminating Experience

All students in the M.P.A. program are required to complete either a thesis, a comprehensive examination, or a capstone project prior to award of the degree. Those opting for a thesis as their culminating experience are required to complete 40 units of coursework, exclusive of prerequisites, and can include 4 units of POLS 599  (Thesis Prep) as an elective. Students electing to take the comprehensive exam must complete 40 units of total coursework exclusive of prerequisites and POLS 596  (exam preparation). Students choosing a casptone project must complete 40 units of coursework, exclusive of prerequisits, and can include 4 units POLS 598  (Capstone Project) as an elective.

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