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.

Why Study Public and Nonprofit 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.      

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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

  • Resume
  • 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.


The number of internship hours logged in 2017-18


The share of students employed at graduation.

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The share of students who graduate in 4 years or less


The number of MPA degrees awarded in 2017-18


The share of students who are age 40+, a racial / ethnic minority, and/or International


The year the MPA was first accredited by NASPAA

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. 

For scholarship information please visit the SPNHA scholarship page. For graduate assistant information, please visit the SPNHA graduate assistantship page. For other financial support and filing for FAFSA, please visit the GVSU Financial Support website.

The Graduate School provides funding for student conference attendance and research projects through the Academic Conference Fund and Presidential Research Grants.

Key People

Davia Downey

Davia Downey, Graduate Program Coordinator

Graduate Program Coordinator: Davia Downey

Internship Coordinator: Quincy Williams

School Director: Richard Jelier

Academic Faculty

Career Center contact: Carlos Martinez

Library liaison: Ashley Rosener

College Dean: George Grant, Jr.

Practitioner Faculty

Employment Outlook and Career Advice


The average number of credit hours attempted by MPA students in a semester (Winter 2018)


The average MPA class size (2017-18)


The number of different majors that MPA students had as undergraduates (2012-2017)


The number of different colleges and universities from which MPA students matriculated (2012-2017)


The number of foreign countries with which MPA graduates held citizenship (2013-2018)


The share of MPA graduates (2013-2017) who recommend the program to others

Program Transparency

Graduation rates

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 that started the MPA program between Fall 2011 and Winter 2015,

  • 34% completed the MPA in 2 years or less
  • 56% completed the MPA in 3 years or less
  • 66% completed the MPA in 4 years or less

Class sizes

  • The average MPA class size was 17 in 2017-2018
  • The range of MPA class sizes was 7 to 25 students in 2017-2018


  • 27% of MPA students registered full-time (9 or more credits) in Fall 2017
  • 73% of MPA students registered part-time in Fall 2017
  • the average student course load was 6.25 credit hours in Winter 2018


  • 91% of 2017-18 MPA graduates are employed.
  • 94% of recent MPA graduates (Fall 2013 through Winter 2017) 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 John-Armando Switzer

Simeon Switzer (MPA '15) is currently a claims specialist for the Social Security Administration. 

Autumn Hubbard

Autumn Hubbard (MPA '15) is currently the Annual Fund Manager of the Grand Rapids Civic Theater. 

Hannah (Rogers) Olechnowicz

Hannah (Rogers) Olechnowicz (MPA '17) is currently Executive Director of the Grand Haven Schools Foundation


Shianne Campos

Shianne Campos (MPA '17) is currently Regional Marketing Coordinator at Mercy Health

Andrew Claucherty

Andrew Claucherty (MPA '17) is currently Grants and Data Specialist, Habitat for Humanity of Kent County

Brady Selner

Brady Selner (MPA'18) is currently Zoning and Planning Director at Mason County