Mar 03, 2024  
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog 
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog

Public Administration, M.P.A.


The M.P.A. degree is the recognized professional degree in public administration and is appropriate for students pursuing public service careers in government, nonprofit organizations and private sector firms providing services to governments. The MPA program welcomes applications from recent undergraduates and experienced professionals seeking to develop and strengthen a broad set of administrative skills.

To apply, applicants must submit:

  • Recent scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT).
  • A statement of purpose, outlining professional goals and motivation for pursing the M.P.A. degree.
  • A professional resume summarizing education, work and volunteer experiences.
  • Transcripts of all previous undergraduate and graduate work.
  • Evidence of successful completion of previous course work in U.S. government and statistics.


Through engaged teaching, research, and service, the MPA program equips current and future public service professionals with the capacity to address complex local and global problems.


To offer a curriculum that allows public administration students to develop and strengthen technical competencies in the following areas: program design, implementation, and evaluation; human resources; budgeting and financial processes; information interpretation via quantitative and qualitative methods; and managerial strategies.

  • To improve student understanding of institutional dynamics in the following areas: legal; economical; social; organizational behavior; and political.
  • To strengthen student capacity for success in complex and rapidly changing organizations.
  • To promote the exercise of responsible leadership.
  • To cultivate cultural competency for work in diverse settings.
  • To provide outreach activities that engage students in regional communities and organizations.
  • To establish the MPA program as a community resource for current and emerging leaders of public service organizations.
  • To contribute to the fields of public policy and administration and the effective operation of public service organizations.
  • To develop a faculty that is prepared to meet the needs of an evolving and diverse student body and community.
  • To maximize the resources of the MPA program by demonstrating high levels of faculty involvement, stakeholder participation, innovative problem-solving and adaptability.

Master of Public Administration

The Master of Public Administration degree requires 36-42 credit hours of course work. The internship is not required of “in-service” students, those presently employed or recently employed in a substantive position in the public sector. The curriculum consists of a common component, a concentration and a capstone course. The common curriculum enables students to function effectively in the public and nonprofit sectors. Students will learn concepts of organization, public management, human resource administration, program and policy evaluation, budgeting and administrative law.

There are four defined concentrations: international stabilization and recovery operations, management of international nongovernmental organizations, nonprofit management and public management. In addition, students may design an individualized concentration in consultation with the MPA director. The individualized concentration may draw upon courses in other graduate programs at JMU and graduate courses offered by other accredited institutions with approval from the MPA director.

In addition to a concentration, students who do not have a significant professional work background in administration are expected to complete a supervised internship with a public or nonprofit agency. The internship will support the student’s concentration. All students must take the program capstone course in their final semester of study. The capstone emphasizes professional and ethical application and documentation of core public management competencies.

Students admitted to the program must seek advice from the MPA director before registering for classes. The director will also assist students in planning a program of study.

Five-Year Degree Program

JMU undergraduates may complete their undergraduate degree and the MPA program in five years by meeting admissions requirements of the MPA program and carefully planning their program of study with the MPA director. The five-year MPA program requires 33 graduate credits in academic course work and a 6-credit professional internship. Students interested in the five-year MPA should meet with the MPA director early in their sophomore year to officially declare their intent to pursue the program.

Students entering the five-year MPA program are not required to major in public administration as undergraduates; they may major in any field. However, they are required to complete the public administration courses listed below while undergraduates and will be required to complete nine hours of graduate credit while still undergraduates. Simultaneous enrollment in both undergraduate and graduate classes may have consequences for financial aid awards. Students are advised to seek guidance from all sources of financial aid prior to enrolling in graduate-level courses.

Students must formally apply to the MPA program, through The Graduate School, during spring of their junior year. As such, interested students must prepare for and plan to take the GRE in the fall of their junior year.

Admission to the graduate program is based on meeting the same criteria as students to the regular, two-year MPA program. Acceptance into the five-year program is conditioned on successful completion of all undergraduate degree requirements and earning a minimum grade of “B” in all graduate course work taken prior to completion of the undergraduate degree.

Five-Year Undergraduate Credit Requirements

Undergraduate Curriculum

  • POSC 225. U.S. Government 4 Credit Hours
  • PPA 265. Public Administration 3 Credit Hours
  • POSC 295. Research Methods 4 Credit Hours
  • PPA 359. Policy Analysis 3 Credit Hours

Total: 14 Credit Hours

Taking Graduate Courses as an Undergraduate

Graduate credits taken prior to completion of the undergraduate degree do not count toward the undergraduate degree or toward any undergraduate major or minor. Thus, the student must earn at least 120 credit hours in addition to graduate course work taken while still an undergraduate. Written permission to take graduate courses must be obtained from the MPA director and the dean of The Graduate School prior to enrollment. The student should apply for permission during their junior year. The student should complete the following three courses.

Graduate Credit Requirements

Fourth Year Graduate Credit

Total: 9 Credit Hours

Fifth Year Graduate Credit

Students must complete the following courses during the fifth year, followed by an internship in the summer.

Fall of Fifth Year

Spring of Fifth Year

Summer of Fifth Year

Total: 30 Credit Hours

Total Graduate Credits

  • Fourth Year Graduate Credit 9 Credit Hours
  • Fifth Year Graduate Credit 24 Credit Hours
  • Internship (summer of fifth year) 6 Credit Hours

Total: 39 Credit Hours