Apr 20, 2018  
2011-2012 Graduate Catalog 
2011-2012 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Master of Public Administration

The mission of the Division of Public Administration is to advance excellence in public management by preparing men and women for public service careers. The M.P.A. program focuses principally on the dynamics of public policy formulation and administrative leadership for persons who wish to address political, social, economic, environmental, and administrative problems in the public and non-profit sectors.

Check departmental information for any additional requirements.


Application for admission to the M.P.A. program is made directly to the Graduate School. A completed application consists of the Graduate School application, a two‑page statement of career goals, three letters of recommendation, transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate institutions attended, and the official score report on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test.

Pre‑career students should request at least two letters of recommendation from previous instructors who can judge their ability to do graduate work.  If pre‑career students have public sector experience, they should request a letter from an employer who can judge their potential as future public administrators.  In‑service students should request at least one letter of recommendation from a previous instructor and remaining letters from public sector employers.

Prerequisites for admission to the program are 9 semester hours in the social sciences, including at least one course in U.S. government, and appropriate undergraduate work in mathematics or statistics. With the approval of the student’s adviser, a maximum combined total of 15 semester hours of graduate credit transferred from other accredited institutions plus graduate credit earned in courses at Northern Illinois University as a student-at-large may be counted toward meeting the requirements of the M.P.A. degree. The limit on student-at-large hours may be waived in special circumstances, with the approval of the director of the Division of Public Administration.


The M.P.A. degree normally requires the completion of a minimum of 39 to 50 semester hours of approved graduate study in the public policy/management core and a selected specialization. The student must complete a minimum of 39 semester hours of course work exclusive of internship hours.

In addition to credit-hour requirements, students must also develop a basic familiarity with the utilization of computers; submit a capstone paper while registered for PSPA 699; and pass a comprehensive examination. The capstone paper is a culminating research/analysis presentation, based on an approved research design, which is expected to be of professional, publishable quality. Every student must complete at least 5 semester hours of PSPA 699 prior to graduation. Each student must enroll for 2 semester hours of PSPA 699 after the completion of 9 semester hours of course work. Students must have completed a minimum of 27 semester hours of approved graduate study, exclusive of internship courses; have maintained a GPA above 3.00; be carrying no “incompletes”; and have completed a minimum of 4 semester hours of PSPA 699 to be eligible to sit for the comprehensive examination. After the completion of 30 semester hours of course work, the student must maintain continuous enrollment in PSPA 699 until graduation or capstone requirements are met.

Public Policy/Management Core (27)

Students with appropriate previous course work or professional experience may petition program faculty for permission to substitute elective courses for PSPA 601, PSPA 609, or PSPA 610. Permission for such a substitution involving PSPA 601 will not be granted until after the student has demonstrated his or her competence by passing an examination administered by the faculty for that purpose. In no case will any semester hours be waived. Students are also held responsible on the comprehensive examination for knowledge/skill areas from all public policy/management core courses, irrespective of any approved substitutions.


Students must also complete the requirements of one of the following specializations, thus permitting the development of expertise in a particular field of academic and professional interests. Students will normally be expected to select elective courses from curricula other than public administration (PSPA) courses.

Specialization in Comparative and Developmental Administration

A thorough study of the economic and social problems of development administration, and an examination of bureaucratic functioning in other cultures.

  • Approved graduate course work (3)

Specialization in Fiscal Administration

The critical examination of techniques and problems in the areas of fiscal management, accountancy, budgetary policy, and political economy.

  • Approved graduate course work (6)

Specialization in Nonprofit Management

A study of the unique challenges posed by the administration of nonprofit organizations in both the domestic and global contexts, including communication and promotion, fundraising and grant writing, and intersectoral collaboration with the public and private sectors.

Specialization in Public Management and Leadership

A study of public administration focusing principally on knowledge of and leadership skills for the management of public organizations.

Specialization in Local Government Management

An analysis of local government problems, especially the political and administrative problems of city management and community organization activities.