In 2009, the Department of Political Science and Public Administration completed an extensive self-study report as required by the university’s internal academic program review process. During this review, the self-study committee answered a series of questions related to the program’s history, its educational goals, its role in supporting the University’s mission, its commitment to distance education, enrollment trends, and the development of assessment measures, among other things.
As a result of this review, the MPA program embarked on three tasks: (1) revising the program’s curriculum with the new requirements in place starting in the Fall 2012 semester; (2) revising the program’s assessment plan to fit with the new curriculum; and (3) starting the accreditation process with the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA).The MPA program is a 36 credit hour program that includes a core curriculum of six courses (18 hours), a capstone seminar (3 hours) and two specializations: public sector and non-profit administration consisting of 15 hours in electives.
All MPA students will be required to complete a capstone seminar (with the exception of students doing a thesis project), which is centered on a specific issue, problem, or topic in the field of public administration. Students in the seminar will be required to complete a capstone project, which is based on assessing the students’ ability to relate theoretical knowledge and skills to solving a practical applied problem in the field of public administration. Students will work collaboratively to present a question to a problem, collect and analyze data, present their findings and results, and propose possible solutions.
Students will have an opportunity to enroll and complete a thesis project (PA 699- Thesis in Public Administration). The thesis course is designed to allow students an opportunity to conduct original academic research in an area of public administration. PA 699 is a variable credit class that is offered as a three or six credit hour course. PA 699 is repeatable up to six credit hours and will be graded on a Pass/Fail (P/F) basis. Students wishing to enroll in three credit hours in a semester will register in PA 699.001 and students wishing to enroll in six credit hours in a semester will enroll in PA 699.002. Students who have not completed the thesis course during the semester in which they are registered will be assigned an “in progress” (IP) grade. An IP grade means a student cannot receive credit for the thesis course without re-registering in the course. In order to receive credit for the thesis, the student must successfully complete a written paper and defend the thesis project in an oral defense. Students will be required to choose and advisor that most closely aligns with the faculty member’s research interests and areas of expertise, who is a full-time faculty member that is a member of the graduate faculty and a member of the MPA faculty, and whom they’ve had at least one course in the MPA program, and select two committee members for their thesis committee for a total of three thesis committee members. All the committee members must be full-time members of the MPA faculty who also are members of the graduate faculty.
In addition to the thesis course, students can enroll in PA 698: Independent Study in Public Administration, where students can conduct independent research on an issue in the field of public administration under the supervision of a member of the MPA faculty. Students can also enroll in PA 690: Special Topics in Public Administration, a course that deals with a special topic in the field of public administration offered through the Master of Public Administration program. Some of the potential topics may include Facilitation and Mediation, Government Reorganization, Housing and Community Development, Historic Preservation, and Arts and Heritage Management courses.
All students will be required to complete a comprehensive examination as a requirement for graduation from the program administered by the MPA Examination Committee, which will consist of the MPA faculty. The comprehensive examination will cover the basic mastering of universal required competencies in the field of public administration that make up the core curriculum of the MPA program, along with a mastery of the competencies of either the public sector or non-profit administration specializations. The comprehensive examination is included in our program's assessment plan and fulfills an important assessment standard set by NASPAA.