Master of Public Administration

Overview

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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 only 285 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. Review Wright State’s M.P.A. Graduation and Employment Rates (XLSX) from the NASPAA Annual Report.

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 & 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 285 programs in the nation to achieve NASPA’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. See the two-year program of study.
    • Complete the program in three years by taking two classes per semester and no classes during the summer. See the three-year program of study. 
  • 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 Center for Urban and Public Affairs 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.

Program of Study

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

Fall

  • 7000 Foundations and Tools of PA
  • 7010 Public Budgeting & Fiscal Mgmt

Spring

  • 7030 Org Theory & Mgmt Behavior
  • 7050 Quantitative Analysis

Summer

  • 6xxx Elective
  • 6xxx Elective

Year 2

Fall

  • 7020 Strategic Planning & Program Evaluation
  • 7060 Research Methods

Spring

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

Summer

  • 6xxx Elective
  • 6xxx Elective or Internship

Three-Year Program of Study

Year 1

Fall

  • 7000 Foundations and Tools of PA
  • 7010 Public Budgeting & Fiscal Mgmt

Spring

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

Year 2

Fall 

  • 7020 Strategic Planning & Program Evaluation
  • 6xxx Elective

Spring

  • URS 7050 Quantitative Analysis
  • 6xxx Elective

Year 3

Fall

  • 7060 Research Methods
  • 6xxx Elective or Internship

Spring

  • 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.

Admission

It’s easy to apply.

Please follow these simple steps to apply.

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

1

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

2

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.
    • You may scan and submit the signed letters (on letterhead) by email or mail print copies via U.S. mail to one of the following contacts: 

      Mary Wenning, Ph.D., M.P.A. Program Director
      215 Millett Hall
      College of Liberal Arts
      Wright State University
      3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy
      Dayton, OH 45435
      mary.wenning@wright.edu


      Wright State University

      Graduate School

      E344 Student Union
      3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy

      Dayton, OH  45435
      wsugrad@wright.edu

       

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 Gateway for international graduate students Application Checklist.

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 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 Graduate School. 

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.