MPA - Master of Public Administration
The Master of Public Administration (MPA) is the primary professional degree for the public and nonprofit sector. The MPA program develops skills and techniques used by leaders and managers to implement policies, projects, and programs in public-serving organizations. As a general management degree, the MPA is similar to the Masters of Business Administration, except the MPA focuses on the finance and management of government agencies, nonprofit organizations, philanthropic institutions, and healthcare providers rather than for-profit corporations. If you are strongly motivated to be an effective, ethical and innovative organizational leader working for the betterment of your community, the MPA degree is your best choice.
Students interested in pursuing careers in philanthropic and nonprofit leadership should enroll in the Master of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership (MPNL) program. The MPNL program is designed for training philanthropic and nonprofit leaders and is taught by professionals with work experience and academic training in these disciplines.
Why Study Public Administration at Grand Valley?
- Our program, located adjacent to downtown Grand Rapids, has a myriad of partnerships throughout West Michigan which provide internships and service learning opportunities. This ensures our students get networked with leaders of various local public, private and nonprofit sector organizations.
- Student with any undergraduate major can enter the MPA program. Over a five year period, students came to us with 104 different undergraduate majors. The top 10 majors were Criminal Justice, Psychology, Public & Nonprofit Administration, Political Science, Sociology, Social Work, Liberal Studies, Advertising & Public Relations, International Relations, and Health Professions.
- We have been accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) for over twenty years, starting in 1995. This accreditation recognizes that our programs maintain rigor and currency for tomorrow's public leaders.
- Our program is flexible for both full-time and part-time students, with courses meeting in the evening, on weekends and on-line.
- We are supportive of our students' career objectives and provide many curriculum options to match those objectives.
- Our classes are the most diverse of any graduate program at Grand Valley. There is no "typical" MPA student, as our students vary by race, ethnicity, age, gender, experience, nationality, politics, and career ambitions.
Application deadlines are:
- June 1 for Fall semester
- November 1 for Winter semester
- April 1 for Spring/Summer semester
- Late applications are accepted as space allows
Materials required to complete your graduate application
- Transcripts (if not from GVSU)
- Three recommendations
- Essay/personal statement
- GRE scores are NOT required
We seek applicants with at least an undergraduate 3.0 GPA from an accredited college or university. Alternatively, submitting strong GRE scores, having professional work experience, holding a graduate degree or certificate, or having successfully completed graduate course work as a non-degree seeking student or in another program will be considered as evidence of academic potential.
Costs and Financial Aid
The completion of the MPA requires a minimum of 42 credits for pre-career students, who need an internship, and 39 credits for in-service students. For information on tuition per credit hour and other fees, please visit the costs portion of the GVSU Financial Aid website.
Employment Outlook and Career Advice
Connect Early, Connect Often
Make regular appointments with Carlos Martinez in the Career Center and with your faculty advisor to discuss your post-graduation plans. (Consult Banner to identify your advisor.)
Articles of Interest:
- ICMA: Local Government Management: The Hottest Career You've Probably Never Heard Of
- Alliance For Innovation: 5 Excellent Pieces of Advice on a Career in Public Service
- Governing Magazine: Are Nonprofits the New Go-To Choice for Altruistic Jobseekers?
- The Case Foundation: The Pros and Cons of Working in the Nonprofit Sector
- US News Money: Thinking About a Nonprofit Job? Here's What You Should Know
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: You’re a what? Grant writer
BLS Occupational Outlook:
Selected job boards
- CMF Job Bank (Michigan)
- ICMA Job Center
- Go Government
- JVS Detroit
- Koya Leadership Partners
- Lumity NPO.net (Chicago area)
- Michigan Association for Local Public Health
- Michigan Municipal League
- MNA Nonprofit Job Center (Michigan)
- State of Michigan Job Openings
- Work for Good
- More nonprofit and government focused job boards
Of the students that started the MPA program in Fall 2016 or Winter 2017, 71.1% were retained into their second year.
Of the students enrolled in the MPA program for the 2015-2016 cohort:
- 64% completed the MPA in 4 years or less
- The average MPA class size was 13.9 in Winter 2020
- 28.7% of MPA students registered full-time (9 or more credits) in Fall 2019
- 71.3% of MPA students registered part-time in Fall 2019
- the average student course load was 6.25 credit hours in Winter 2018
- 90.6% of MPA students are employed at graduation
- 82% of MPA graduates (2016-2019) recommend the program
Student Learning Outcomes
Student Body Profile
MPA students at time of graduation, August 2012 to April 2017 (Total graduates: 352)
- Age under 24: 14%
- Age 25-29: 45%
- Age 30-39: 25%
- Age 40+: 17%
- Female: 69%
- Male: 31%
- African-American / Black: 7%
- American Indian or Alaskan Native: 1%
- Asian / Pacific Islander: 4%
- Hispanic: 5%
- Mixed-race: 2%
- White: 71%
- International (on student visa) 6%
Some recent graduates
Simeon Switzer (MPA '15) is currently a claims specialist for the Social Security Administration.
Autumn Hubbard (MPA '15) is Fundraising Marketing Manager at Bethany Christian Services
Hannah (Rogers) Olechnowicz (MPA '17) is currently Executive Director of the Grand Haven Schools Foundation
Shianne Campos (MPA '17) is currently Regional Marketing Specialist at Mercy Health
Andrew Claucherty (MPA '17) is currently Program Specialist at Habitat for Humanity of Kent County
Brady Selner (MPA'18) is currently Village Administrator for the Village of Shelby