MPA - Master of Public Administration
The Master of Public Administration degree is the gold standard degree for careers in public service organizations. Our NASPAA accredited MPA degree is designed with our mission and students in mind. Our mission and competency-based curriculum develop the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed for leadership in governance and community-based organizations. The 39-credit hour program (plus an additional 3-credit hours of internship for pre-career students) prepares graduate students for careers in state, regional, and local governance; policy analysis, advocacy, and evaluation; nonprofit management; criminal justice; and health administration. In and out of the classroom, students engage with a diverse student body and nationally and internationally recognized faculty; and network with student organizations, alumni, and leaders in the field. Classes are offered weekday evenings and online. The Master of Public Administration from GVSU will improve the skills necessary to have a successful and rewarding career as a public servant. Apply now and start your future today.
The MPA program is part of the School of Community Leadership & Development within the College of Education & Community Innovation at Grand Valley State University and is accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA). We have held this prestigious delegation since 1995. This accreditation certifies that our MPA degree maintains rigor and relevancy for the 21st Century public servant. Learn more about the courses, concentrations, and requirements.
The mission of the MPA program is to develop both the general knowledge and specific abilities needed for leadership in governance and community-based organizations. The curriculum is designed to prepare graduate students for careers in state, regional, and local governance; policy, advocacy, and evaluation; nonprofit management; criminal justice; and health administration. We are committed to developing in graduate students the capacities for ethical judgment, critical thinking, and the core competencies necessary to fulfill multiple roles as effective managers and public servants. Visit the program transparency page for more information on employment statistics, graduation rates, and outcomes.
Why an MPA from GVSU?
Current GV undergraduate students can complete both a bachelor's and an MPA degree in 5 years. The combined degree accelerates career trajectory, one step ahead of the competition so to have a more immediate impact on the communities we serve.
Transfer up to 12 credits of graduate work from another program.
Students gain real world experience through multiple internships and projects where they connect with community leaders and alumni.
Connect with community leaders and alumni through student-led professional organizations such as the International City/County Management Association, Nonprofit Professionals Graduate Student Organization, and HPGSA.
Numerous concentrations prepare MPA graduates for careers in a variety of multi-sector organizations such as city/county government offices, universities, nonprofit charities, public health organizations, criminal justice departments.
If you are interested in a degree that complements your career goals and enhances the skills necessary to be a 21st Century leader, then the Master of Public Administration is the degree for you. Students can earn the MPA one of two ways: the Professional MPA or for current GVSU undergrads, the 4+1 MPA.
At GV you will network with a diverse group of students, alumni, and local leaders, and learn from internationally and nationally recognized professors who bring real world experience to the classroom. For more information, review the program of study to learn about the five different concentrations and degree requirements.
- a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university
- an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale (transcripts must be submitted)
- a detailed resume
- three letters of recommendation from informed sources
- an essay on career and educational objectives (250-750 words) that demonstrates commitment to community and public service
- GRE scores are NOT required but may be requested in cases where GPA is lower than a 3.0.
- cumulative GPA of at least a 3.3 on a 4.0 scale
- junior standing or 75 credit hours, with at least 30 hours completed at GVSU
- completed required coursework with a B or better
- completed PNH 520 - Foundations of Public Service, taken during the fifth or sixth semester with a B or better
- three letters of recommendation
- meet with the MPA Director Dr. Neal Buckwalter prior to applying to the program.
- Apply by August 1 to start in the fall semester (August - December).
- Apply by December 1 to start in the winter semester (January - April).
- Apply by April 1 to start in the spring/summer semesters (May - August).
- Late applications are accepted as space allows.
- The $30 nonrefundable application fee is waived if applied previously to GVSU
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Program of Study
The MPA degree consists of a minimum of 39 credit hours for in-service students and 42 credit hours for pre-career students. In-service is defined as having three years of professional experience prior to being admitted into the program. You should visit with a faculty advisor to discuss the program of study prior to registration. (Consult Banner to identify advisor.) Return visits are encouraged, as updating the plan of study likely will be desirable as time passes. Typically, full-time students complete the program in five semesters and part-time students taking two classes per semester complete the degree in seven semesters.
The MPA program has the following components:
- 18 credit hours of required core courses:
- PNH 520 Foundations of Public Service
- PNH 611 Research Methods
- PNH 612 Human Resources in Organizations
- PNH 614 Organization Theory
- PNH 615 Public Financial Administration
- PNH 619 Public Management Seminar (Culminating Experience, to be taken in the last semester of the program)
- 15 credit hours from one of the following specializations:
- Nonprofit Management and Leadership
- Policy Analysis, Advocacy, and Evaluation
- State, Regional, and Local Governance
- Criminal Justice
- Health Administration
- 6 credits of electives
- 3 credits of internship for pre-career students
Beyond the 18 credits of core courses, select one specialization of 15 credits from the following options. Students whose past experience or career plans suggest a benefit to customizing this curriculum should consult with their advisor.
Courses in the Criminal Justice concentration include: Criminal Justice Leadership; Legal and Ethical Issues; Criminal Justice Policy & Program Evaluation; Criminology; Metropolitan Politics and Administration; Administrative Law
Courses in the State, Regional, and Local Governance concentration include: Metropolitan Politics and Administration; Economic and Community Development; Strategic Management and Planning; Building Sustainable Communities; Program Evaluation; Administrative Law; Conflict Management; and GIS in Public Service
Courses in the Health Administration concentration include: Health Administration and Service; U.S. Health Policy and Politics; Health Services Financial Management; Health Economics; Health Care Law and Ethics; Community Benefits Assessment and Management; Marketing Health and Human Services; Aging in Society
Courses in the Nonprofit Management and Leadership concentration include: History and Ethics; Financial Management; Nonprofit Organizations, Advocacy and Public Policy; Nonprofit Boards, Trustees, and Governance; Foundations and Strategic Grantmaking; Fund Development; International NGO Management; and Program Evaluation
Courses in the Policy Analysis, Advocacy, and Evaluation concentration include: Public Policy; Program Evaluation; Administrative Law; Strategic Management and Planning; Community Benefits Assessment; U.S. Health Policy and Politics; Nonprofit Organizations, Advocacy and Public Policy
Pre-career students are required to take at least three internship credits (PNH 690 - Public Administration Internship I). Three internship credits normally equates to 300 hours (20 hours per week for 15 weeks). Internships must be pre-approved by the PNHA internship coordinator. An internship is a course jointly sponsored by PNHA and a public service organization. Through an internship, a student is able to earn graduate credit by serving as an assistant, aide, or apprentice. See the PNHA internship page for further details. Recent placements include: Artists Creating Together, WGVU Public Media, We the People Michigan, City of Grand Rapids, Ottawa County Administration and DEI Office, Ada Township, Michigan Center for Civic Education, City of Saugatuck, GVSU, and Padnos College of Engineering and Computing
Connect with faculty and staff, find university resources, and apply for a job.
Selected Job Boards
DeMario Johnson received the David M. Wodynski Memorial Fellowship as a Management Assistant with the City of Long Beach, California.
Shianne Campos is a Regional Marketing Specialist at Mercy Health.
Brady Selner is the Village Administrator for the Village of Shelby.
Shannon Cohen is a practitioner faculty member for PNHA and is the principal and Founder of Shannon Cohen, Inc., a consulting firm.
Andrew Claucherty is a Program Specialist at Habitat for Humanity of Kent County.
Hannah (Rogers) Olechnowicz is the Executive Director of the Grand Haven Schools Foundation.