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Master of Public Administration (MPA) Curriculum

Requirements for a Master of Public Administration Degree

The Upper Iowa University Master of Public Administration degree requires 36 semester credits of graduate-level coursework with a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale for completion.

Degree Completion

A graduate student will have five years after initial enrollment in the first of either a foundational or graduate-level course to complete the graduate program under the requirements in effect at the time of enrollment. If program requirements change, the student can elect to complete the revised curriculum or to complete under the original curriculum. If the student does not complete the graduate degree program within the five-year period, the requirements in effect at the time of the next enrollment will be used to determine the student’s graduation requirements. Upper Iowa University reserves the right to make changes in its academic regulations and requirements when, in its judgment, the best interests of the institution are served.

Degree Requirements

Master of Public Administration

Students completing the 18 credit MPA core requirements will have a broad overview of the discipline with an understanding of organizations, ethics, policy and research methods. Students will take PA 500 and PA 501 as their first two graduate courses. Of the core courses only PA 502 and PA 503 should be taken sequentially. The 18 credit emphasis areas provide more in-depth knowledge into the areas of criminal justice, healthcare management, public management, nonprofit organizations or emergency management and homeland security. PA 590 should be taken as the last course in the program and should not be taken concurrently with any other course. Permission to deviate from these guidelines can be done with permission from the MPA program director.

Core requirements
Course Number & Title Credits
PA 500 Writing for Public Administrators 3
PA 501 Graduate Survey of Public Administration 3
PA 502 Introduction to Program Evaluation 3
PA 503 Program Evaluation Implementation and Evaluation 3
PA 504 Political Economy and Regulatory Policy for Public Administrators 3
PA 511 Gov’t and NFP Financial Mgmt and Control 3
PA 590 Research Seminar
Total 21

Areas of Emphasis

Criminal Justice

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is expected to be a job growth of about 7% increase in criminal justice occupations over the next 10 years (  Available courses include such topics as Theories of Crime and Public Policy, Advanced Criminal Procedure, Correctional Systems Issues, Constitutional Law, Psychology of Criminal Behavior, and Juvenile/Youth Justice. In addition to these more traditional criminal justice topics there are also courses on newer area of concern to criminal justice: Cybercrime, and GIS with a focus on crime mapping.

Emergency Management and Homeland Security

This emphasis area is designed to prepare students for leadership positions in agencies and organizations with missions to protect life, liberty, and property.

Emphasis Competency: Students will possess the knowledge needed to provide strategic leadership for an all hazards/ Whole Community approach to an emergency event given a networked environment operating within a democratic political system.

Emergency Management and Homeland Security Emphasis Requirements
Course Number & Title Credits
Graduate Elective 3
Choose four of the following:
PA 508 Terrorism and Politics
PA 522 Psychology and Culture of Terrorism
PA 523 Emergency Management, Homeland Security, and Public Policy
PA 524 Leadership Issues with Critical Incidents
PA 525 Comparative Strategies of National Security
PA 526 Emergency Management: Mitigation, Recovery, and Continuity
PA 535 Counter-Terrorism
PA 543 Emergency Management: Planning and Response
PA 555 Critical Infrastructure: Vulnerability Analysis and Protection
Total 15

General Study

For students that re looking for a broader or more inter-emphasis focus the general study emphasis area allows students to develop a program that meets their specific needs and goals. At least 4 of the electives (12 credits) must be MPA courses.

Graduate Elective 3 Choose four of the following:
PA 507 Ethics of Public Service
PA 562 Seminar in Federalism and Intergovernmental Relations
PA 563 Administrative Law
PA 564 Seminar in State and Local Government Management
PA 565 Advanced Policy Analysis and Evaluation
PA 566 Economic Development: Theory and Practice 12 Total 15

Healthcare Management

This emphasis area is designed to provide students with specialized knowledge of the issues and challenges facing leaders in health and human services organizations.

Emphasis Competency: The student demonstrates an understanding of how to create and maintain a system of continuous quality improvement in healthcare organizations.

Healthcare Management Emphasis Requirements
Course Number & Title Credits
PA 537 Healthcare Quality Assessment and Improvement 3
PA 539 Healthcare Informatics Technology Management 3
Choose three of the following:
PA 530 Public Policy and Healthcare
PA 531 Introduction to the Healthcare Systems
PA 534 Healthcare Economics
PA 536 Healthcare Law and Ethics
PA 538 Healthcare Financial Management
Graduate Elective
Total 15

Nonprofit Organizational Management

This emphasis is designed to prepare students with the knowledge and skills necessary to lead organization in the growing nonprofit sector.

Emphasis Competency: The student shows readiness for effective nonprofit organizational leadership by demonstrating the knowledge and skills needed for the development and responsible use of financial and human resources from both the public and private sectors in compliance with local, state, and federal regulations and laws.

Nonprofit Organizational Management Emphasis Requirements
Course Number & Title Credits
Graduate Elective 3
Choose four of the following:
PA 515 Grant Writing and Contract Management
PA 541 Nonprofit Philanthropy and Fundraising
PA 546 Nonprofit Marketing and Public Affairs Advocacy
PA 547 Volunteer Recruitment and Management
PA 567 Board Governance and Strategic Management
PA 569 Gov’t and NFP Accounting and Budgeting
Total 15

Public Management

This emphasis is designed to assist students develop the knowledge and skills necessary to successfully manage in complex and dynamic public organizational settings.

Emphasis Competency: The student demonstrates the knowledge, skills and ability to evaluate and apply contemporary managerial research, theories, concepts and principles in order to success-fully maximize the potential of diverse human talent in order to develop contributing and productive public employees and teams so they are able to serve the needs of diverse citizen groups.

Public Management Emphasis Requirements
Course Number & Title Credits
Graduate Elective 3
Choose four of the following:
PA 505 Organizational Behavior
PA 509 Theories of Leadership
PA 532 Human Resources Management in Public Organizations
PA 544 Productivity Improvement in Government
PA 545 Labor Relations and Conflict Resolution in the Public Sector
PA 548 Advanced Issues in Public Management
Total 15


Students may complete, as an elective, an internship (PA 594). This means obtaining a full-time paid or unpaid position for a period of eight weeks (not less than 320 hours) in a public sector or not-for-profit agency. The internship typically involves the student working on an administrative policy or management issue confronting a public or not-for-profit organization. It is an opportunity for the student to relate her/his academic experience in the master’s program to the issue that is the focus of the experience.

Internship positions are coordinated by the MPA Program Chair. Some internships are competitive in nature and are available on a regular basis with federal, state, county, and local governments. Others are posted from time to time as they are made known to the University. Still others become available on an ad hoc basis through the initiative of the student. A student’s progress in an internship is monitored by the student’s immediate supervisor at the agency sponsoring the internship and by the instructor.

The student prepares a report on the internship documenting the experience and its product, indicating the value of the experience for the student, and offers personal reflection on:

  • Achievement of the the core and emphasis area competencies.
  • Opportunities for integration of program values in practice.
  • Future career directions based on the experience and related learning.

The report incorporates documentation prepared for and submitted to the sponsoring organization regarding the issue studied, and is submitted to the instructor of record for PA 594 as the evidence of completion of the experience. The sponsoring organization will prepare a report on the work and effectiveness of the student. These reports, along with the student’s work product, will be considered in assigning a grade to the Internship. The report is graded on a pass/fail basis.

The Internship (PA 594) is graded pass/fail for transcript purposes.