MPA student working on laptop

The program is designed for both in-service and pre-service students. MPA students will expand their theoretical understanding of the field of public administration and develop essential competency in basic methodological and technical areas. Students also select a concentration in a sub-field that will advance their career expertise. The program offers concentrations in the areas of criminal justice administration, human resource administration, state and local government, and public management.

MPA Program Requirements:

Students must satisfy the designated core requirements, area of concentration, electives, and complete either a capstone or thesis. Pre-service students (those without one year of prior relevant work experience) are required to enroll in a public administration internship. In-service students (those with one or more years of prior relevant work experience) may request exemption from the internship requirement.

Admissions Requirements

The applicant must meet all University requirements and have an overall undergraduate grade point average(GPA) of 3.0 on a four-point scale for regular admissions. Applicants with a GPA between 2.75 and 2.99 may be conditionally admitted. Applicants with a 3.0 GPA in their last 60 undergraduate credits and appropriate work experience may also be conditionally admitted. Conditionally admitted students must complete 8 credits with no grade below a 3.0.  The decision to admit an applicant to the MPA program is based on a balanced review of the application package as submitted by the prospective student.

To be considered for admission, applicants must submit the following:

  1. Official transcripts of all previous college work.
  2. A written statement describing how your experience in work and other settings and your choice of graduate study in Public Administration will lead to achieving your career goals. (1000-word maximum length)
  3. Minimum of two letters of recommendation from academic sources and/or employment supervisors. Please do not provide letters from friends, co-workers, or family.

Student Research

Students in the Master of Public Administration program are doing cutting-edge research that is benefiting the campus and local community, as well as the region, nation and world. Below are some of the ongoing projects that students are involved in. 

Upper Peninsula Economic Development Data Collection & Marketing Project

Michigan Municipal League and the Michigan Local Government Management Association

This is a template specifically targeted to communities with 5,000 and fewer residents. It's for city managers and administrators if they do not have a human resource director on staff.

Public Personnel Manual

Public Personnel Manual indexed

Total Credits Required- 34-36  
Core  22-24 Credits   
PA 500 Research Methods of Public Administration  4
PA 507 Principles of Public Administration  4
PA 516 Organizational Theory  4
PA 523 Public Budget Management  4
PA 526 HRM in Public and Nonprofit Management  4
PA 592 Public Administration Capstone  2
PA 599 Thesis 2-4
PA 591 Internship  2*
(Required for pre-service students)*  
Electives 12 Credits   
PA 501  Public Policy Analysis  4
PA 509 Seminar: Intergovernmental Relations 4
PA 510 State and Local Government  4
PA 517 Seminar: American Government  4
PA 519 Municipal Management  2
PA 520 Politics of Higher Education  4
PA 521 Grant Writing for Public Administration  2
PA 525 Public Sector Labor Relations 4
PA 536 Classic Readings in Public Administration  4
PA 545 Political and Administrative Aspects of Community Development  4
PA 562 Program Evaluation for Public and Nonprofit Agencies  2
PA 595 Special Problems in Public Administration  1-4
PA 598 Directed Study in Public Administration  1-4

In order to complete the MPA degree, students must:

A. Complete the graduate plan of study with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0

B. Complete a graduate capstone (PA 592) or thesis (PA 599).

C. Complete the graduate plan of study in accordance with the requirements for a master’s degree in the Academic Standards and Policies section of the Graduate Bulletin as well as in accordance with the appropriate program description in the School of Education, Leadership and Public Service section of the Bulletin.

Please note that students may be denied admission to courses, or they may be dismissed from a graduate program or internship/practicum if they demonstrate a lack of professional competence and effectiveness as a professional or fail to perform course work effectively. The departmental graduate review committee reviews the qualifications of all questionable students and may require them to undergo further examination to make a final determination regarding program completion.

Explore every aspect of public administration in these web courses: NMU's MPA is 100 percent online!

PA 500 Research Methods of Public Administration, 4 cr.
An examination of quantitative research methods designed for students of public administration and public policy. It introduces the scientific method, research design, data measurement and analysis.

PA 501 Seminar in Public Policy Analysis, 4 cr.
This course is designed to provide students with an understanding of the basic theories and methods of public policy analysis. This objective will be accomplished through a series of readings, projects, discussions and lectures on a topic or topics of current political importance, e.g., health, environment, transportation, education or welfare.

PA 507 Principles of Public Administration, 4 cr.
An introduction to theory and practice of the management of public affairs. Particular emphasis is placed on several themes and conceptual problems consistently appearing in the professional literature of public administration (e.g., ecology of administration, bureaucratic efficiency, administrative responsiveness and responsibility). Selected case studies and works of fiction may be utilized where appropriate.

PA 509 Seminar: Intergovernmental Relations, 4 cr.
Examination of the relationship between the levels of government within the federal system in providing public services. Extensive use of case studies and intensive analysis of selected units of local government.

PA 510 State and Local Government, 4 cr.
This course examines the structure, functions, and governance of local and state governments. Includes relationships of local and state government legislative, executive, and administrative actors; management processes; and key state and local policy areas.

PA 516 Organizational Theory, 4 cr.
A thorough study of classical and modern organizational theories and an analysis of their contributions to contemporary administrative practice. Emphasis will be on institutions engaged in public service. Case studies, employment experiences of students and works of fiction may be utilized where appropriate.

PA 517 Seminar: American Government, 4 cr.
A study of the significant problems of American political institutions with an emphasis on the legislative processes.

PA 519 Municipal Management, 2 cr.
The dynamic and changing relationships between local governments, elected and appointed officials, and city, county and state governments. This course attempts to identify the nature of those changes and the forces that are driving change.

PA 520 The Politics of Higher Education, 4 cr.
This course is designed to provide frameworks and approaches to the policy and politics of higher education. The course will include: policy development; the identification of issues appropriate for policy study in postsecondary institutions; the political climate in higher education; the relationships with both internal and external constituents and the governance of higher education. The course will focus on, but not be limited to, the governance structure and policy-making process in American higher education, current legislative developments, state political agenda, and the role of educating an increasingly diverse student population.

PA 521 Grant Writing for Public Administrators, 2 cr.
Basic proposal writing skills as well as an overall perspective of grantsmanship. Topics covered include the various elements of grant proposals, how to research grant opportunities, and the role of collaboration in proposal development. Students will have an opportunity to prepare an actual grant as a special project.

PA 523 Public Budget Management, 4 cr.
This is an introductory survey course of public budgeting. The purpose of this course is to explore fundamental ideas, concepts, and theories that contribute to understanding public sector revenue and expenditure decisions and to examine basic practices and techniques of modern financial administration, key political actors, budget preparation, and performance measurement. The course will rely on readings, discussions and case studies that focus on state and local governments and non-profit organizations as examples.

PA 525 Public Sector Labor Relations, 4 cr.
This course examines the skills and knowledge necessary to manage labor relations in government. Topics include, constitutional influences on public employment, rights of public employees, management and labor unions, civil service laws and regulations, collective bargaining practices, and non-discrimination, and equal opportunity.

PA 526 HRM in Public and Nonprofit Organizations, 4 cr.
This course explores knowledge and skills necessary in Human Resource Management for public and nonprofit organizations. Factors examined include: defining public and nonprofit organizations, human resource management functions and principles, ethics, diversity and cultural competence, human resource management applications, current issues and future trends.

PS 545 Political and Administrative Aspects of Community Development, 4 cr.
The political and administrative dimensions of community development. Students probe the administrative aspects of managing a planning process while considering the political realities of implementation.

PA 562 Program Evaluation for Public and Nonprofit Agencies, 2 cr.
Contemporary program evaluation and assessment theory and methods. Evaluation and assessments are presented as continuous improvement exercises involving program staff and/or outside reviewers, funders, clients and the general public. Students are trained in setting goals, tracking performance, making midcourse corrections and analyzing program impact.

PA 591 Supervised Internship in Public Administration, 2-8 cr.
Designed principally for graduate students in the graduate program in administrative services who wish to pursue an internship with a governmental unit or agency engaged in public service.

PA 592 Public Administration Capstone, 2 cr.
Prerequisite: Students must complete a minimum of 24 semester hours prior to enrolling in this seminar. In addition, pre-service students (those without one year’s prior relevant work experience) will be required to satisfy a two-credit internship requirement prior to or concurrent with the seminar. This seminar serves as a capstone experience. Students will engage in discussions, make oral presentations and write reports relating practical work experience to concepts and theories addressed in courses and readings.

PA 595 Special Problems in Public Administration, 1-4 cr.
Individual or group study of a significant topic or problem in public administration. The requirement of this course may be met by completing a course not ordinarily offered, or through participation in seminars, colloquial workshops, study abroad or directed readings.

PA 598 Directed Study in Public Administration, 1-4 cr.
Prerequisite: Approval of the department head, the program coordinator of the graduate program in administrative services and the instructor who will direct the study.  Individual research on a significant topic or problem in public administration. This course is designed for students who are writing a master’s thesis in public administration or for those students who wish to pursue an applied study project option in the graduate program in administrative services.

PA 599 Thesis in Public Administration, 4 cr.
The student develops a thesis with the help of a three member thesis committee (chair and two readers). The student will submit a three-to-five page research proposal which must be approved before registering for credit. Appropriate thesis forms must be completed prior to enrollment. The thesis must be approved by the thesis committee and the College of Graduate Studies. The student should consult with the department and the College of Graduate Studies for specific requirements.


Master's students at commencement

MPA Capstone

The MPA capstone course is a very important piece of the graduate education experience. This process provides students the opportunity to demonstrate their mastery of the material learned in the program. A graduate capstone project (PS592) or thesis (PS599) must be completed. Failure to satisfactorily complete the capstone requirements can result in dismissal from the program.