School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA)

Master of Public Administration

On this page:

Why Choose the Public Administration Program?

Get started now. Contact an enrollment advisor.

Explore the Region’s Leading M.P.A. Program

Do you have a passion for public service? If so, ours is the perfect graduate program for you.

Our program is one of fewer than 300 programs in the nation accredited by NASPAA (the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration).

Our graduates work in a wide variety of leadership positions across all levels of government, as well as diverse nonprofit and private organizations. Our alumni are making a real difference throughout Ohio and beyond as city, county, and township administrators, planners, department and program managers, nonprofit executives, entrepreneurs, community developers, and fundraising professionals. 

If you are an experienced professional seeking career advancement or a student planning to begin your career in public service, our engaged faculty members will help you plan your program of study to best meet your professional needs, develop or enhance your management skills, and deepen your understanding of the dynamic context and operations of diverse organizations.

Our Mission

The Master of Public Administration program (M.P.A.) prepares students to be successful public and nonprofit administrators and leaders in our diverse and multicultural regional environment and beyond. We achieve our mission by: 

  • emphasizing critical thinking, professional writing, and analytical skills
  • balancing theory and practice
  • exemplifying public service values through teaching, research, and community engagement; and
  • promoting core values, including: accountability, democratic participation, ethical behavior, fairness, equity, and transparency

News and Announcements

Program Advantages

Wright State offers the region’s leading M.P.A. program. Here are just a few of our program advantages:

  • Nationally recognized excellence and value
    • accredited continuously since 2002 by NASPAA—the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration
    • one of only 294 programs in the nation to achieve NASPAA’s standards of excellence
    • among the most affordable graduate tuition rates in Ohio
  • A network of successful alumni
    • the leading M.P.A. program in southwest Ohio with over 500 alumni in local, national, and global leadership positions
  • Engaged faculty
    • faculty focused on your individual goals and professional success
    • faculty engaged with regional and national partners to enhance your learning experience and career placement
  • Leading-edge curriculum
    • updated and designed with input from successful alumni and leaders on our M.P.A. advisory board
    • blends both theory and practice to enhance your professional insights and capacity for success in public service
    • culminating course to meet your individual needs and career goals
      Choose from:
      • a capstone small-group project
      • an individual applied research project
      • or an individual scholarly M.P.A. thesis
    • two optional graduate certificate programs:
      • A Certificate in Nonprofit Management certified by the National Nonprofit Leadership Alliance (NLA). Wright State is the only university in Ohio that offers the NLA graduate and undergraduate programs which enables a student to become a Certified Nonprofit Professional 
      • A Certificate in Geographic Information Science, especially valuable for government sector careers
  • Tailored for your needs and experience
    • Choose the schedule that best fits your professional and personal priorities
      • Complete the program in two years by taking two courses per semester, including summers.
      • Complete the program in three years by taking two classes per semester and no classes during the summer.
    • Experienced professionals seeking career advancement
      • Choose and design a culminating course that contributes relevant value to your  organization or to a role to which you aspire.
      • Broaden your network and learn alongside other experienced professionals in your desired career or sector.
    • Students beginning their career in public service
      • Build your resume with:
        • an internship in your chosen career field
        • employment and assistantships with Wright State’s Applied Policy Research Institute and the Department of Urban Affairs and Geography. Learn more.
        • a culminating course to demonstrate your professional capabilities.
      • Start building your professional network through faculty and alumni contacts.

Academics and Curriculum

Degree Requirements

The M.P.A. program requires 36 semester credit hours of approved course work:

  • 21 semester hours in the MPA core
  • 3 semester hours of internship (The internship requirement is waived for students working in service.)
  • 9 to 12 semester hours of elective courses
  • 3 to 6 hours of culminating project or thesis work

Apply your knowledge and build your resume in a coordinating, cumulative course. Your faculty advisor will assist you in choosing the most appropriate course to meet your academic and professional needs:

  • an applied research project that tackles a real-world problem
    • a small team capstone project, URS 7070
    • an individual applied research project, URS 7080
  • or an individual scholarly thesis, URS 7090

You can also pursue two optional graduate certificates to enhance your professional capabilities and career opportunities:

Schedule Options

Each M.P.A. course meets once a week in the evening to better serve busy working professionals.

Students can complete the program in two years by taking two courses per semester including summers. Or students can complete the program in three years by taking two courses per semester and no courses during the summer.

Two-Year Program of Study (includes summer classes)

Year 1


  • 7000 Foundations and Tools of PA
  • 7020 Strategic Planning & Program Evaluation


  • 7030 Org Theory & Mgmt Behavior
  • 7050 Quantitative Analysis


  • 6xxx Elective
  • 6xxx Elective

Year 2


  • 7010 Public Budgeting & Fiscal Mgmt
  • 7060 Research Methods


  • 7040 Managing Human Resources
  • 7070/7080/7090 Capstone/Research Project/Thesis


  • 6xxx Elective
  • 6xxx Elective or Internship

Three-Year Program of Study

Year 1


  • 7000 Foundations and Tools of PA
  • 7020 Strategic Planning & Program Evaluation


  • 7030 Org Theory & Mgmt Behavior
  • 7040 Managing Human Resources

Year 2


  • 7010 Public Budgeting & Fiscal Mgmt
  • 6xxx Elective


  • URS 7050 Quantitative Analysis
  • 6xxx Elective

Year 3


  • 7060 Research Methods
  • 6xxx Elective or Internship


  • 7070/7080/7090 Capstone/Research Project/Thesis
  • 6xxx Elective or Internship

What You Will Learn

A key advantage of Wright State’s M.P.A. curriculum is its focus on both theory and practice to enhance your understanding of relevant public policies and their effects on administrative processes and outcomes.

Our M.P.A. courses emphasize real-world problems to illustrate relevant theoretical concepts and to enhance students’ ability to develop and evaluate potential solutions. Our faculty members also utilize service-learning in some courses to allow students to analyze problems and propose  potential solutions for organizations and communities in the region.

This blend of theory and practice enhances students’ professional insights and capacity for success in public service.

M.P.A. core courses focus on the broad range of knowledge and skills required for successful and ethical management and understanding of the dynamic context in which public and nonprofit professionals operate. Our core courses will help you:

  • gain an understanding of the context and significance of public and nonprofit management and administration
  • learn approaches to effectively manage organizational change
  • develop and manage capital and operating budgets
  • think strategically and evaluate public policies and programs
  • manage human resources
  • develop and apply sound methods for conducting research and collecting information
  • analyze, interpret, and manage data and information to guide decisions
  • analyze and prescribe meaningful solutions to social and organizational problems

Course Descriptions

Core courses include:

  • URS 7000 Foundations and Tools of Public Administration—examines the legal and political variables and tools that affect the management and operation of local governments and nonprofit agencies.
  • URS 7010 Public Budgeting and Fiscal Management—focuses on budget processes and financial management practices in the public and nonprofit sectors.
  • URS 7020 Strategic Planning and Program Evaluation—addresses the theory and practice of strategic thinking, planning, and management in public and nonprofit organizations and familiarizes students with the major concepts, skills, and approaches to program evaluation.
  • URS 7030 Organization Theory and Management Behavior—analyzes the fundamental behavioral concepts and processes involved in public sector organizations. Evaluation of approaches to major behavioral issues such as motivation, leadership, and management development.
  • URS 7040 Managing Human Resources in Public Service—examines personnel functions such as job evaluation, recruitment and selection, performance appraisal, compensation, training, labor relations, and affirmative action.
  • URS 7050 Quantitative Analysis—surveys the fundamental concepts for statistical analysis of public affairs research. Emphasis on characteristics of distributions of random variables, diagnostic techniques, the tests of assumptions of each analysis and multiple and logistic regression.
  • URS 7060 Research Methods—focuses on different aspects of policy evaluation by obtaining facts and analyzing information on the impact of public programs. Deals with controversy over the use of objective performance indicators and citizen surveys as program performance measures.

For the M.P.A. culminating experience, you have the option of completing: 

  • Project: URS 7070 Capstone Project—students meet with leaders of a public or nonprofit organization to understand their needs and then mutually agree upon a project that provides the organization with research needed for positive change.
  • Focus: Apply sound research methodologies to study and analyze real-world problems experienced by communities, public agencies, or nonprofit organizations and make recommendations to improve or solve the problems.
  • Learning Environment: Small-team project


  • Project: URS 7080 Applied Research Project—research project for the master’s degree in public administration.
  • Focus: Apply sound research methodologies to study and analyze real-world problems experienced by communities, public agencies, or nonprofit organizations and make recommendations to improve or solve the problems.
  • Learning Environment: Individual project


  • Project: URS 7090 Thesis—under the supervision of the thesis committee and chair, students select a public administration problem, prepare a proposal detailing the research question, complete the research, write their thesis with full documentation, and defend their work before the committee.
  • Focus: Conduct scholarly research to contribute original knowledge to the discipline of public administration. 
  • Learning Environment: Individual thesis

Explore some of our students’ exciting and valuable theses, capstone, and applied research projects and see how our students are contributing to their communities and organizations even before they graduate. 

Our students’ diverse projects address issues such as employment and job training; all levels of educational opportunities; business and economic development; urban living; housing and neighborhood development; reaching and serving at-risk populations—including homeless, low income, and mentally ill citizens; building code enforcement and abandoned properties; justice and law enforcement; public works; economic and business development; transportation; marketing and communications; best practices and process improvement; citizen engagement; and more.


It’s easy to apply.

Please follow these simple steps to apply.

All applicants must have earned a bachelor’s degree prior to entering the program.


Domestic students complete and submit your application for admission and your 400-word essay online via Wright State University’s Graduate School.

International students must apply to International Admissions rather than to the Graduate School. International students are required to submit additional application materials including proof of English language proficiency. Please complete and submit these materials as outlined on Wright State’s International graduate students Application Checklist.


Please submit the following:

  • transcripts from all higher education institutions that you have attended
  • a personal 400-word essay that explains how the M.P.A. program advances your career objectives  
  • three letters of recommendation from professionals who know your academic capacity for graduate-level studies and are not your friends or family.
    • Each professional’s letter should be on letterhead and signed.
    • Letters of recommendation are sent through the link provided during the application process (we no longer accept mailed or emailed letters)

M.P.A. applicants are not required to take a standardized admissions test such as the GRE or GMAT. However, applicants who have taken such tests may choose to submit their scores as additional evidence of their academic preparation for graduate school.

Important Deadlines

  • March 3–Apply by March 3 for first consideration if you are seeking a GRA position or financial assistance.
  • April 15—We encourage you to apply by April 15 for Fall admission.
  • August 1—Last day to apply for Fall admission.

The Graduate School accepts applications on a year-round basis.

Students admitted to the M.P.A. program begin each Fall term. 

Admission Acceptance

The Graduate School or International Admissions will determine if your application is complete.

M.P.A. faculty members will then review your completed application and make a recommendation for your admission to the program. 

Upon being accepted, you will receive a formal letter of welcome from the Graduate School and the M.P.A. program director. Your welcome letter will identify a faculty member who will guide you in preparing a Program of Studies.

You can track your acceptance status online. 

Admission Levels

There are three levels of admission for the M.P.A. program. Qualifications for each are listed below:

  • Regular Admission 
    3.0 grade point average
    or 2.7 grade point average and at least a 3.2 for the last 50% of your credit hours
  • Conditional Admission
    2.7 grade point average
    or 2.5 grade point average and at least a 3.0 for the last 50% of your credit hours
  • Non-degree Status
    Promising M.P.A. applicants who do not meet the requirements for regular or conditional admission to the M.P.A. program may apply for non-degree status through the Wright State Graduate School. However, non-degree status does not guarantee future admission to the M.P.A. program. M.P.A. applicants in non-degree status must be accepted by the WSU Graduate School and complete nine credit hours (three semester courses) of approved M.P.A. coursework with a minimum grade of at least 3.0 (B) in each course. When students in non-degree status meet these requirements, they must then apply or petition for admission to the M.P.A. program.

Careers and Internships

Our M.P.A. graduates are leaders in local, state, and federal government, nonprofit corporations, universities and colleges, and private businesses throughout the Dayton region, Ohio, the United States, and internationally.

NASPAA—The Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration, provides career placement information for graduates from all NASPAA-accredited programs. You can review national hiring trends, salary, and program specific placement data for graduates of NASPAA-accredited programs on the NASPAA website. 

Our faculty members are proud of Wright State’s career placement rates. They readily share their extensive alumni and other professional contacts and numerous networking opportunities with M.P.A. students. The following is a partial list of organizations where our graduates serve in top administrative positions:

  • U.S. Federal Government and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base
  • Governments in Mongolia and Moldova
  • State governments including, Ohio and Georgia
  • Cities including Dayton, Piqua, Kettering, Bellbrook, Blue Ash, Vandalia, Moraine, Fairborn, Beavercreek, Troy, Trotwood, Englewood
  • Ohio counties such as Montgomery, Greene, Clinton, and Miami
  • Ohio townships such as Washington, Bethel, Miami
  • Universities and colleges, including Duquesne, The Ohio State University, Sinclair Community College, California State University, Armstrong Atlantic State University, Ivy Tech Community College, Wright State University, Clark State Community College
  • Nonprofits such as Children’s Medical Center of Dayton, American Red Cross, Dayton Development Corporation, Dayton Metropolitan Housing Authority, Clothes that Work, Hannah's Treasure Chest, East End Community Services, Dayton Better Business Bureau, Western Ohio Epilepsy Foundation, Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Athletes in Action, Girl Scouts of Western Ohio
  • Private corporations such as banking, consulting, housing, web marketing, as well as planning, law, and development firms

M.P.A. students who do not have prior professional experience may be required to complete internships. The following is a partial list of organizations where our student interns have been placed:

Government Organizations


  • Area Agency on Aging
  • Clark State Community College
  • Cypress Point Health
  • Miami Valley Child Support
  • Montgomery County Child Protective Services
  • Montgomery County Department of Job and Family Services
  • Sinclair College
  • Wright Patterson Air Force Base
  • Wright State University

Prior Years:

  • Air Force Institute of Technology
  • City of Dayton, Ohio Department of Finance
  • City of Dayton, Ohio Human Relations Council
  • City of Dublin, Ohio, City Manager's Office
  • City of Dublin, Ohio, Aviation Department
  • City of Piqua, Ohio, City Manager’s Office
  • City of Springfield, Ohio, Department of Public Works
  • City of Urbana, Ohio, Community Development, Planning and Zoning
  • Clark State Community College
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Food and Safety Inspection, USDA
  • Greater Dayton RTA
  • Greene County College Success Partnership
  • Hamilton County
  • Miami Township
  • Montgomery County Office of Management and Budget
  • Montgomery County Department of Job and Family Services
  • Social Security Administration
  • U.S. Treasury, Tobacco, Tax, and Trade Bureau
  • Washington Township, Ohio, Department of Information Systems
  • Wright-Patterson Air Force Base
  • Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Air Force Personnel Center
  • Wright State University School of Medicine

Nonprofit Organizations


  • Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education (SOCHE)

Prior Years:

  • Alzheimer's Association
  • American Heart Association
  • Americorps
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Miami Valley
  • Center for Family Services, Hamilton, Ohio
  • Dayton Red Cross
  • Dayton YMCA
  • East End Community Services
  • The Food Bank, Dayton, Ohio
  • Hannah's Treasure Chest, Dayton, Ohio
  • Miami Valley Child Development Centers
  • The Progress Group
  • Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education (SOCHE)
  • Suicide Prevention Center
  • United Way of Greater Dayton
  • Volunteer Connection United Way

Meet our Alumni and Students

Wright State M.P.A. graduates and students are making a difference throughout Ohio and beyond. See what they have to say about their professional growth and the value of their M.P.A. degree from Wright State University.

Lindsay Ackley, '06, Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.), Certified Nonprofit Professional

The Wright State University Nonprofit Leadership Alliance (NLA) program prepared me for a successful and rewarding career.

Sena Ayenu, '94, Master of Urban Administration (M.U.A.)

Sena Ayenu is the 2003 Outstanding Master of Public Administration Alumnus. Read more

Kevin Carver, '00, Master of Urban Administration (M.U.A.)

Kevin Carver is the 2010 Outstanding Master of Public Administration Alumnus. Read more

Paula Cosby, '12, Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.), Certified Nonprofit Professional

I did a significant amount of due diligence prior to selecting WSU’s program. I chose Wright State because of the program’s emphasis on strengthening our local community by providing practical, hands-on, experiential learning opportunities.

Rebecca Gaytko, '02, Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.)

Rebecca Gaytko is the 2009 Outstanding Master of Public Administration Alumnus. Read more

Jesse Lightle, '01, Master of Urban Administration (M.U.A.)

Wright State University’s Master of Urban Administration provided me the foundation to prepare for my career in local government. The curriculum is based on practical experiences as well as technical competencies.

Sharon E. Pratt, '14, Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.)

Sharon E. Pratt, or as we all know her, Beth, has served as a Graduate Research Assistant in the Center for Urban and Public Affairs for two years. Beth has taken many different paths leading to a Master of Public Administration degree.

Darius Prier, '01, Master of Urban Administration (M.U.A.)

Darius Prier is the 2013 Outstanding Master of Public Administration Alumnus.  Darius completed a bachelor's in Political Science with a minor in African American Studies in 1999, and then he continued his education, completing a MPA degree in 200

Ronald S. Volkerding, '05 Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.)

Ronald S. Volkerding is the 2006 Outstanding Master of Public Administration Alumnus. Read more

David Waltz, '97, Master of Urban Administration (M.U.A.)

One of the most beneficial aspects of receiving a Master of Public Administration from Wright State is the real-world applicability to my career.

Success Stories

Wright State M.P.A. graduate Paula Cosby '12 helps jobseekers dress professionally and build confidence as executive director of Clothes That Work.


Take the Next Step

Finding the right college means finding the right fit. See all that the College of Liberal Arts has to offer by visiting campus.