School of Social Sciences and International Studies

Master of Public Administration

On this page:

Why Choose Public Administration?

2022 U.S. News & World Report A Best in the Nation Public Administration Graduate ProgramExplore 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 the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA). 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 (M.P.A.) program prepares our graduates to be successful public service leaders and practitioners in our multicultural and diverse region. We achieve our mission by:

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

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
  • A network of successful alumni
    • the leading M.P.A. program in southwest Ohio with 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
    • 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
  • Prior learning assessment
    • up to 6 credit hours may be earned for the program’s internship course requirement


Success Stories

The Wright State Alumni Association honored Alumni Achievement Awards recipients Aurea Rivera ’82, Mark Espy ’81, Christina Knowles ’14, ’16, Stephen Hampton ’80 and Virginia Krause Hess.
Master of Public Administration student Elisheba Hawkins wrote the article as part of an internship with the village of Silverton, Ohio.


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 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. 

Graduates of our M.P.A. program typically gain promotions or employment within six months of earning their degree. 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 sector corporations such as banking, consulting, housing, web marketing, as well as planning, law, and development firms

View the public administration program profile for sample occupations, average salary, and employment projections. View M.P.A. graduation rates, job placement, and internship information.

Academics and Curriculum

Degree Requirements

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

  • 21 semester hours in the M.P.A. core
  • 3 semester hours of internship (The internship requirement is waived for students working in service or who meet the Prior Learning Assessment requirements.)
  • Nine to 12 semester hours of elective courses
  • Three to six hours of culminating project or thesis work

The M.P.A. program offers three tracks: general, criminal justice, and social issues. Students take the same eight core courses, while your electives, internships, and capstone topics reflect your track focus. All students are in the same capstone course.

You can earn Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) course credit for the Master of Public Administration Program. This PLA is designed to give students credit for the program’s internship course, MPA 6950. You can earn either three or six credits (one or two-course equivalents) depending on how students meet the PLA requirements. To be eligible, you must have five years of relevant, full-time work experience in the field of public administration, non-profit administration, military, or similar occupation. If less than five years, the M.P.A. director must approve the exception. To earn course credit, you should submit a portfolio of their work. This portfolio should include a two-page resume and two-page description connecting relevant work experiences to the course's learning objectives. This includes reports and other documents written by the student, professional certification or equivalent, proof of years of service, and any other relevant documentation. For more detail on the portfolio submission process, contact the director of the M.P.A. program, Daniel Warshawsky Ph.D.

View the Master of Public Administration program information and requirements in the Academic Catalog.

You can also pursue an optional graduate certificate 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.

You can complete the program in two years by taking two courses per semester including summers or 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
  • 7030 Org Theory & Mgmt Behavior


  • 7025 Administrative Law
  • 7050 Quantitative Analysis


  • Elective
  • Elective

Year 2


  • 7010 Public Budgeting & Fiscal Mgmt
  • 7060 Research Methods


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


  • Elective
  • Elective or Internship

Three-Year Program of Study

Year 1


  • 7000 Foundations and Tools of PA
  • 7030 Org Theory & Mgmt Behavior


  • 7025 Administrative Law
  • 7040 Managing Human Resources

Year 2


  • 7010 Public Budgeting & Fiscal Mgmt
  • Elective


  • 7050 Quantitative Analysis
  • Elective

Year 3


  • 7060 Research Methods
  • Elective or Internship


  • 7070/7080/7090 Capstone/Research Project/Thesis
  • 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 M.P.A. graduates will be able to:

  • lead and manage public governance
  • participate in and contribute to the policy process
  • analyze, synthesize, think critically, solve problems, and make decisions
  • articulate and apply a public service perspective
  • communicate and interact productively with a diverse and changing workforce and citizenry

Course Descriptions

Core courses include:

  • MPA 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.
  • MPA 7010 Public Budgeting and Fiscal Management—focuses on budget processes and financial management practices in the public and nonprofit sectors.
  • MPA 7025 Administrative Law—examines the constitutional foundations of administrative law and the legal context of federal, state and local administrative rulemaking and adjudication.
  • MPA 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.
  • MPA 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.
  • MPA 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.
  • MPA 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: MPA 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: MPA 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: MPA 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 should contact 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

  • April 1: Completed applications are submitted by this date in order to be given priority consideration for financial assistance for Fall, Spring, or Summer terms
  • May 1: Completed applications are submitted by this date in order to be accepted and enrolled in the Summer term
  • August 1: Completed applications are submitted by this date in order to be accepted and enrolled in the Fall term
  • December 1: Completed applications are submitted by this date in order to be accepted and enrolled in the Spring term

Students are accepted into the program year-round to start in the Fall, Spring, or Summer terms. If starting other than the Fall term, students may enroll in electives only.

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 another from the M.P.A. program director. Your welcome letter will identify a faculty advisor who will guide you in preparing a program of study. Contact the M.P.A. Program Director Daniel Warshawsky at (937) 775-2845 or by email with any questions.

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 percent 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 percent 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 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.

Request Information


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.