The central purpose of the MPA program at the University of Georgia (UGA) is to educate students for professional careers in public service including management and policy analysis in government and nonprofit organizations. The program is open to students without previous public service experience as well as students employed in the public sector who are seeking to advance their careers. While normally a terminal professional degree, some graduates of the MPA program have entered PhD or other programs and have assumed academic careers. The MPA program requirements are further outlined in the MPA Program Guide.
Over the past several decades, UGA has become a major center of excellence for public service education. A recent study in the Journal of Public Administration Education ranked the UGA Public Administration and Policy faculty first in the nation in research published in scholarly journals associated with the American Society for Public Administration. The most recent survey from the U.S. News & World Report (2010 edition) ranked the Georgia MPA program as fourth in the nation among all programs and second in the nation among programs at public colleges and universities. The program is fully accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration.
The MPA program is co-sponsored and supported by the UGA Carl Vinson Institute of Government (CVIOG), a service unit of the University which conducts research and provides direct assistance to state and local government organizations throughout Georgia. Selected faculty from the CVIOG offer courses in the program on topics ranging from human resources management, to local government administration, and survey research methods. This partnership also affords students the opportunity to get involved in the work of the Institute.
The MPA Advisory Council, composed of public service professionals from government and nonprofit organizations, helps in evaluating curriculum needs and setting standards and goals. Members of the Council also serve as important resource contacts for internship and employment opportunities.
The University of Georgia is located in Athens, Georgia approximately 65 miles northeast of Atlanta. Courses for the MPA program are offered on campus in Athens and at the University of Georgia Gwinnett Campus at 2530 Sever Road, Lawrenceville, Georgia. All Gwinnett classes are offered in the evenings to accommodate working professionals and classes in Athens are offered in the late afternoons and evenings.
For detailed information on tuition and fees, please visit the Registrar's Office website.
MPA students may utilize numerous campus resources while pursuing their programs of study. The University's library system includes the UGA Main Library, Law Library, and Science Library. The system contains vast holdings of periodicals and reference materials, is a government depository, and ranks among the leading research libraries in the country. Our department also provides a small specialized library and state-of-the art computer technology centers to assist students in their studies.
The Department of Public Administration and Policy offers a number of teaching and research assistantships that carry stipends for a nine-month academic year. The Graduate School also offers competitive assistantships and faculty members occasionally hire research assistants to work on funded research projects. Recipients of assistantships automatically receive a tuition waiver, regardless of their residency status. Students receiving assistantships and meeting departmental standards of performance in their academic work and their assistantships are eligible for up to four semesters of support for the MPA program. The deadline for applying for an assistantship is February 1 for the following academic year.
The Graduate School also provides a limited number of out-of-state tuition waivers for non-Georgia residents. The availability of these awards is announced each spring. These waivers do not automatically renew from one academic year to the next.
Graduates of the MPA program have obtained administrative and management positions at all levels of government and in nonprofit agencies. The MPA Career Services Coordinator assists students in the placement process. For examples of specific locations where our graduates have accepted employment, please visit our Career Services webpage.
A total of 41 semester hours are needed for the completion of the MPA program. A mandatory socialization sequence and five core courses introduce the student to the various fields of public administration and the economic foundations of public policy. In addition, two required corses in research methods assist students in developing a familiarity with quantitative techniques in public decision making. Students must also select six courses from a number of available elective specializations to complete their degree.
The following provides an outline of the MPA Curriculum:
1. MPA Socialization Sequence (2 semester hours)
- PADP 6980 Socialization Seminar
2. Public Management Core (15 semester hours)
- PADP 6910 Public Administration and Democracy
- PADP 6920 Public Personnel Administration
- PADP 6930 Public Financial Administration
- PADP 6950 Economic Foundations of Policy Analysis
- PADP 6960 Organizational Theory
3. Research Methods Sequence (6 semester hours)
- PADP 7110 Research Methods in Public Administration
- PADP 7120 Data Applications in Public Administration
4. Elective Courses (18 semester hours)
5. Internship and Internship/Professional Experience Paper
6. Comprehensive Examination
A number of elective courses are offered. A student may choose either to specialize in a single specific area of study or to complete a generalist degree. Areas of specialization include, but are not limited to the following:
- Health Policy and Administration
- Higher Education Administration
- Local Government Administration
- Nonprofit Administration
- Public Budgeting and Finance Administration
- Public Management/Organization Theory
- Public Personnel Administration
- Public Policy
To achieve a concentration in an area of specialization, an MPA student must take four courses in that area. To complete a generalist degree, students must choose a minimum of two courses from within at least two of the specified areas of specialization. The areas of specialization and a detailed listing of courses are referenced in the MPA Program Guide.
Independent Study courses are available for content not offered through a regularly scheduled course. The use of Independent Study courses to fulfill elective requirements is limited and permitted at the discretion of the MPA Program Director. To request enrollment in an Independent Study course, students must download and complete the appropriate form from the website and obtain signatures of the course instructor and the MPA Program Director.
Before graduating, the student must complete a public service internship and submit a paper on the experience. Internships must be completed at a public sector government agency or nonprofit organization that is non-partisan and non-sectarian in scope. This requirement helps to ensure that the degree candidate can perform responsibly and proficiently at a professional or managerial level. Additionally, the internship provides students with an experiential basis for linking their course work to their future careers as public service professionals. Students must intern for a minimum of 300 hours at the same agency. Students will not receive course credit for completing an internship and cannot count as an internship any experience for which they received course credit. Students have completed internships in a wide variety of federal, state, and local government agencies and nonprofit organizations. For examples of specific locations, please visit our Career Services website.
Students with prior successful experience in a position at a professional or managerial level at a government agency or nonprofit may seek a waiver from the internship requirement. Students desiring such an exemption should complete the Internship Waiver Form and submit it to the MPA Program Director, justifying the waiver. The Program Director will decide whether the applicant's experience meets departmental requirements. Exemption from the internship does not, however, eliminate the requirement of an internship/professional experience paper. Students who must complete an internship should consult with the MPA Career Services Coordinator, who will assist the student in arranging to satisfy the requirement.
Internship/Professional Experience Paper Requirement
After the internship work requirement has been completed or waived, students must submit a paper describing their internship/professional experience and relating their course work to that experience. The paper provides an opportunity for the student to demonstrate both analytical ability and writing skills, and should consist of three parts:
1. a description of the student’s work, including tasks performed, responsibilities assigned, and projects attempted;
2. a comparison of what the student learned from his or her work with what was learned in course work;
3. and a statement of the student’s conclusions about the efficacy of the MPA program, and any recommendations to improve it.
The paper should be approximately 15-20 pages in length. A hard copy of the paper must be delivered to the MPA Program Director two weeks after the MPA Comprehensive Examination in fall and spring semesters and one week following the comprehensive exam for the summer term. Fax or email submissions will not be accepted.
A comprehensive examination, administered during the student’s last semester, on the field provides students with an opportunity to display a comprehensive understanding of the discipline of Public Administration. Students must be able to integrate all course work into their answers. The comprehensive examination may not be taken prior to the last semester of course work.
The MPA comprehensive examination is given once each semester and during the summer. Students should apply to take the examination in advance, normally during the first two weeks of the semester/term in which they desire to take the examination. The exam will be taken in a Departmental Computer Lab unless other arrangements are made beforehand with the MPA Program Director. Each exam will be graded by two professors, and the student’s answers will be assigned one of three grades: pass with distinction, pass, or fail. Students failing the MPA comprehensive examination on the first attempt may retake it a second and final time. The examination is three hours in length. It is usually given on the tenth Friday of each semester, counting from the first full week of classes, and on the fourth Friday of the Summer thru-session.
The Department of Public Administration and Policy expects all students to follow UGA regulations on academic honesty. All academic work must be performed without plagiarism, cheating, lying, tampering, stealing, or receiving unauthorized or illegitimate assistance. Details on the University policy are located of the UGA Academic Honesty webpage.
New students receive academic advising during the orientation period at the beginning of their first term. Continuing students are advised typically during October and March of each academic year. Online registration using the UGA OASIS system occurs after advising.
The Graduate School enforces the following registration guidelines:
- Students who receive an assistantship and/or a tuition waiver must register for a minimum of 12 hours in the fall and spring. Such students who choose to enroll during the summer and maintain the waiver must register for at least nine hours.
- Students must be registered for at least three hours during the term in which they complete degree requirements.
- Students pursuing graduate degrees at UGA must maintain continuous enrollment from matriculation until completion of all degree requirements. Continuous enrollment is defined as registering for a minimum of three (3) credits in at least two semesters per year (Fall, Spring, Summer) until the degree is attained.
- Students may apply for leave of absence for well-documented causes that interfere with the ability to undertake graduate study. An approved leave of absence stands in lieu of registering for the minimum of three credits for each semester for which the leave of absence is granted.
- Students who fail to achieve continuous enrollment, or apply for a leave of absence, will become "inactive," and must reapply for admission.
- If it becomes necessary to add a class after the established deadline for registration, the MPA Program Director may approve a request for late registration within a reasonable amount of time. Specific guidelines for this process are available on the Bursar's website.