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Master of Public Affairs

James SmithPictured | James M. Smith, PhD | University of Illinois at Chicago, 2010 | Director, Masters of Public Affairs; and Associate Professor of Political Science

Master of Public Affairs

James M. Smith, PhD | Program Director
Wiekamp Hall 2179 | (574) 520-4817 |

Program Description

The Department of Political Science administers the Master of Public Affairs (MPA) degree and three graduate-level certificates: public management, and nonprofit management. The Master of Public Affairs promotes a course of study that exposes students to the study of public policy and affairs that integrates professional management skills with the analysis of contemporary political, economic, and social issues. Understanding the political, economic, and social context in which public sector and nonprofit enterprises operate are emphasized in the program’s curriculum as well as a commitment to building management skills and applications to policy making. The MPA degree provides a foundation for equipping managers to excel in their jobs and to become leaders in their workplaces and communities.

The Master of Public Affairs degree program is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA).

Admission Requirements

Students are admitted to the MPA and its certificate programs by the MPA Graduate Admissions Committee. Applicants to the program come from a variety of educational backgrounds, including social sciences, education, social work, and humanities. Applicants for the program must have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited educational institution with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Applicants who have a GPA lower than 3.0 are required to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) and score at least 150 in each Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning and a 4 in Analytical Writing. (450 in each Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning on the pre-2012 GRE scoring system)

In addition, applicants to the MPA degree program are required to demonstrate that coursework has been taken in the last six year in the following areas |

  • Statistics
  • Political science or public affairs
  • Economics

Applicants who have not taken at least one course in each of the areas above should contact the MPA director to determine if they need to arrange to enroll in these courses before or at the time of application to the program.

Under certain circumstances (such as relevant work experience), students may be admitted on a provisional basis. This provisional status is removed upon fulfillment of stipulated conditions. Generally, applicants admitted on a provisional basis must enroll in certain courses and must obtain a 3.0 GPA in all preliminary coursework before they are granted full admittance to the degree program.

Admission Process

Applications must include the following:

  • Application for admission
  • Essay describing applicant’s interests and goals in pursuing the MPA or certificate
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Official transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate programs attended
  • GRE scores (if applicable)
  • Application fee

Applicants are urged to contact the graduate director of the MPA degree program prior to submitting an application.

Application Deadlines

The MPA Graduate Admissions Committee meets on a regular basis during the academic year to review applications for admission. The following deadlines should be noted to be considered for full admission to the program:

Semester | Deadline

Fall semester | June 30
Spring semester | October 31
Summer sessions | March 31

Mid-Career Option Credit

Individuals applying to the MPA degree program may be eligible to receive up to 6 credit hours for relevant work experience in a professional setting. Experience in managerial or in program or policy development with either a public, quasi-public, or private agency can be petitioned for graduate credit toward the degree.

Individuals who believe that they may be eligible for mid-career credit may apply for this option at the time of application to the program. It is strongly recommended that individuals wishing to pursue this option contact the MPA graduate director for consultation.

Credit Transfer Policy

Up to 6 credit hours of appropriate graduate coursework may be transferred from other universities and applied toward the MPA Approval of credit transfer is at the discretion of the director of the MPA and the MPA Graduate Admissions Committee. Applicants seeking to apply transfer credit hours to the MPA should contact the MPA graduate director.

Academic Regulations

To maintain good academic standing, students must maintain a minimum overall GPA of 3.0 in all work taken for graduate credit. Only courses with grades of C or above may be counted toward degree requirements, although all grades in graduate courses are computed in the GPA.

Failure to maintain good standing may result in dismissal from the program.

Other academic regulations and policies are established by the MPA Graduate Admissions Committee and the Department of Political Science.

MPA Degree Requirements >>

Academic Bulletins

PDF Version

2023-2024 Campus Bulletin
2022-2023 Campus Bulletin
2021-2022 Campus Bulletin
2020-2021 Campus Bulletin
2019-2020 Campus Bulletin
2018-2019 Campus Bulletin
2017-2018 Campus Bulletin
2016-2017 Campus Bulletin
2015-2016 Campus Bulletin
2014-2015 Campus Bulletin

Please be aware that the PDF is formatted from the webpages; some pages may be out of order.