Old MPA Public Administration Program (Archived)

About the Program

The University of Montana’s graduate program in public administration leads to a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree which is typically required for many administrative positions in the public and nonprofit sectors. Students may choose from among four tracks: General Public Administration (offered on campus and online); International Development (offered on campus); Local Government Administration (offered on campus); and Nonprofit Administration (offered only online). For class schedules, see the links on the sidebar.

The MPA degree can be completed totally online or totally on campus; or, completed using a combination of campus and online classes.

NOTE: The requirements described here are for students who started the MPA program prior to the Fall 2016 semester.

Mission Statement

The mission of the MPA program is to prepare students for administrative careers in public and nonprofit agencies by satisfying the knowledge and skill requirements of both pre-career and mid-career students. To fulfill this mission the program focuses on performing administrative tasks in a competent manner, enhancing an ethic of professionalism in public service, and developing technical specializations. Students may, with approval of the program director, specialize in other areas.

Program Size

The MPA program is relatively small. Approximately fifteen students are admitted each year to the campus program in Missoula; approximately twenty students are admitted to the online program annually. Students may take campus and online classes. The program is offered through the Department of Political Science and courses are taught by political science faculty.

Admissions

MPA Program Admission Standards

The Department will recommend to the Graduate School full admission status for applicants meeting the following criteria:

  1. A sum of at least 600 from the following equation: (GRE verbal percentile score x 4) + (undergraduate GPA x 100);
  2. Strong evaluations by three persons qualified to judge applicant's academic potential; and
  3. A polished writing sample (300 words) concerning the applicant's objectives in graduate study.

The Department may recommend to the Graduate School provisional admission status for applicants meeting the following criteria:

  1. A sum of at least 525 from the following equation: (GRE verbal percentile score x 4) + (undergraduate GPA x 100);
  2. Strong evaluations by three persons qualified to judge applicant's academic potential; and;
  3. A polished essay (300 words) concerning the applicant's objectives in graduate study.

Students admitted under provisional status may be elevated to full standing upon successful completion of nine (9) credits of coursework and a positive review by the MPA program faculty.

Other factors, as appropriate, may enter into admissions decisions. These include, for example, the number of years since the undergraduate degree was awarded and accomplishments during that period, a significantly higher GPA during the last two years of undergraduate study, or evidence regarding the rigor of the undergraduate program.

The Application Process

Persons holding a baccalaureate degree from any accredited college or university are eligible to apply. To apply, please submit the required online application form (with a $60 application fee). Submit the following documents directly to the Political Science Department:

  1. An official transcript(s) of previous college work;
  2. Letters from a minimum of three (3) persons qualified to judge your academic potential. The official evaluation form is available from the Graduate School web site.
  3. Official scores for the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). The GMAT may substitute for the GRE. Students in the JD/MPA joint program can use the LSAT; or, any applicant who has applied to the University of Montana School of Law can use the LSAT. The TOEFL, IELTS or MELAB may substitute for the GRE for international students.
  4. A written statement of at least 300 words stating your reasons for seeking the MPA degree.

It is desirable to apply for admission for fall semester, however applications will be accepted for either fall or spring. Applications are reviewed by the MPA Admissions committee when they are completed. There is no specific deadline.

Graduate students may take MPA courses prior to their admission to the MPA program by applying for graduate nondegree status. Up to nine (9) credit hours taken in nondegree status may be counted toward the degree with the approval of the MPA program director. To apply for graduate nondegree status, go to the Graduate School.

Program Requirements

The MPA program requires satisfactory completion of 36 credits in one of the four tracks outlined below. A student portfolio is also required in each track.

Requirements by Program

1. All students in the Public Administration Track are required to complete 5 of the following 7 core courses (15 credits):

  • PSCI 501 Public Administration
  • PSCI 503 Policy Analysis
  • PSCI 504 Organization Theory
  • PSCI 505 Budgeting and Finance
  • PSCI 522 Human Resource Management 
  • PSCI 523 Administrative Law 
  • PSCI 525 Strategic Planning and Leadership (online only)

2. All students in the Public Administration track are required to complete 5 of the following elective courses (15 credits)

  • PSCI 463 Development Administration
  • PSCI 448 Health Care Policy (no longer offered)
  • PSCI 449 Environmental Health Policy (no longer offered)
  • PSCI 469 Ethics and Public Policy (no longer offered)
  • PSCI 523 Administrative Law 
  • PSCI 524 Management Skills
  • PSCI 525 Strategic Planning and Leadership (online only)
  • PSCI 526 Issues in State and Local Government (online only)
  • PSCI 527 Performance Measurement (online only)
  • PSCI 540 American Government (campus only)
  • PSCI 547 Legislative Relations (online only)
  • PSCI 561 Ethics in Public Administration (online only)
  • PSCI 563 Improving Work Cultures (online only)
  • PSCI 595 Special Topics

3. Students in the Public Administration track may complete their degree requirements with 6 credits in any of the following:

  • Approved electives in political science.
  • Approved electives in other departments.
  • Approved transfer credits.
  • Independent study or Internship credits.
  • Other core courses not previously taken from List #1 above.
  • Other courses can be taken that are not listed above in List #2.
  • At least 20 of the 36 credits must be political science courses. This rule applies to all of the tracks.

This interdisciplinary track is suitable for students interested in a career in international development. Skill development can include data gather, project management, community development, needs appraisal, project evaluation, budgeting, economic analysis, resource conservation, transnational communication and negotiation, health policy, and so forth.

1. All students in the International Development track are required to complete 5 of the following 7 core courses (15 credits):

  • PSCI 463 Development Administration
  • PSCI 501 Public Administration
  • PSCI 503 Policy Analysis
  • PSCI 504 Organization Theory
  • PSCI 505 Budgeting and Finance
  • PSCI 522 Human Resource Management 
  • PSCI 524 Management Skills

2. All students in the International Development track are required to complete 5 of the following elective courses (15 credits)

  • PSCI 431 Politics of Global Migration
  • PSCI 432 Inter-American Relations
  • PSCI 529 Introduction to Nonprofit Organizations (online only)
  • PSCI 520 Comparative Politics
  • PSCI 521 Globalization
  • PSCI 523 Administrative Law 
  • PSCI 525 Strategic Planning and Leadership (online only)
  • ANTY 431 Ethnographic Field Methods
  • ANTY 444 Culture, Health, and Healing
  • ANTY 520 Seminar in Ethnography
  • ANTY 521 Applied Anthropology
  • COMM 451 Intercultural Communication
  • ECNS 450 Advanced Topics in Economic Development
  • ECNS 443/EVST 443 Environmental Economics
  • ENST 487 Globalization, Justice and the Environment
  • NRSM 424 Community Forestry and Conservation
  • NRSM 571 International Conservation and Development
  • GPHY 432/EVST 432 Human Role in Environmental Change
  • NAS 400 Tribal Sovereignty
  • PUBH 550 Community-based Health Research
  • PUBH 580 Rural Health Issues in a Global Context
  • SOCI 571 Seminar: Rural and Environmental change
  • SW 465 Social Work in a Global Context
  • Political Science Summer program in Mexico

3. Students in the International Development track may complete their degree requirements with 6 credits in any of the following:

  • Approved electives in political science.
  • Approved electives in other departments.
  • Approved transfer credits.
  • Independent study or Internship credits.
  • Other core courses not previously taken from List #1 above.
  • Other courses can be taken that are not listed above in List #2.

The local government administration option helps prepare students for careers in a wide range of local government settings, including city managers, county administrators, and planners. The local government administration option includes an array of interdisciplinary courses from such pertinent areas economics, sociology, criminal justice, geography, planning, and law. Skill development includes budgeting, personnel management, program planning, policy analysis, and program assessment.

1. All students in the Local Administration track must complete 5 of the following core 7 courses (15 credits):

  • PSCI 501 Public Administration
  • PSCI 503 Policy Analysis
  • PSCI 504 Organization Theory
  • PSCI 505 Budgeting and Finance
  • PSCI 522 Human Resource Management 
  • PSCI 523 Administrative Law 
  • PSCI 525 Strategic Planning and Leadership (online only)

2. All students in the Local Administration track are required to complete 5 of the following elective courses (15 credits)

  • PSCI 526 Issues in State and Local Government (online only)
  • PSCI 523 Administrative Law 
  • ECNS 406 Industrial Relations
  • ENST 560 Environmental Impact Analysis
  • GPHY 421Towns and Rural Settlement
  • GPHY 442 Regionalism and the Rocky Mountain West
  • GPHY 465 Planning Principles and Processes
  • GPHY 468 Community and Regional Analysis
  • GPHY 561 Land Use Planning Law (same as EVST 561 and LAW 687)
  • NRSM 513 Natural Resource Conflict Resolution
  • PTRM 485 Recreation Planning
  • SOCI 423 Sociology of Corrections
  • SOCI 485 Political Sociology
  • SOCI 530 Criminological Theories
  • SOCI 538 Seminar in Crime and Deviance

3. Students in the Local Administration track may complete their degree requirements with 6 credits in any of the following:

  • Approved electives in political science.
  • Approved electives in other departments.
  • Approved transfer credits.
  • Independent study or Internship credits.
  • Other core courses not previously taken from List #1 above.
  • Other courses can be taken that are not listed above in List #2.

This track is designed to prepare students for administrative careers in nonprofit agencies by satisfying the knowledge and skill requirements of both pre-career and mid-career students. (Note: most of the Nonprofit Administration track courses are offered only online).

1. All students in the Nonprofit Administration track must complete the following 6 core courses (17 credits):

  • PSCI 529 Introduction to Nonprofit Organizations (3 cr.)
  • PSCI 405 Advocacy and Public Policy (2 cr.)
  • PSCI 504 Organization Theory (3 cr.)
  • PSCI 525 Strategic Planning and Leadership (3 cr.)
  • PSCI 527 Performance Measurement (3 cr.)
  • PSCI 563 Improving Work Culture (3 cr.)

2. All students in the Nonprofit Administration track are required to complete 12 credits from among the following:

  • PSCI 401 Nonprofit Human Resource Management (2 cr.)
  • PSCI 402 Nonprofit Volunteer Management (2 cr.)
  • PSCI 403 Nonprofit Program Planning and Evaluation (2 cr.)
  • PSCI 406 Nonprofit Board Management (2 cr.)
  • PSCI 410 Nonprofit Strategic Planning (2 cr.)
  • PSCI 411 Nonprofit Grantwriting (2 cr.)
  • PSCI 412 Nonprofit Fundraising (2 cr.)
  • PSCI 413 Nonprofit Financial Management ( 2 cr.)

3. In consultation with the Program Director, students in the Nonprofit Administration track may complete their degree requirements with 7 credits in any of the following:

  • Approved electives in political science.
  • Approved electives in other departments.
  • Approved transfer credits.
  • Independent study or Internship credits.

Optional Nonprofit Internship (4 credits) The internship component includes at least 300 hours of volunteer or paid hours working directly with a nonprofit organization. If the student works at a nonprofit organization, professional work that is aligned with the program focus will qualify as internship credit. Students will complete various reflection activities, including a formal, 10-page paper documenting their learning through the internship experience

Internship

All students without professional work experience are strongly encouraged to arrange an internship as part of the required 36 credits with a public agency (state, local, or national) or with a private, nonprofit association. The work of the intern must involve staffing, budgeting, policy formulation, or substantive line, staff, or auxiliary activities related to the mission of the organization. An internship within the legislative branch, if related to some aspect of administration, is also acceptable. Credit is not allowed for work positions already held by students. A student interested in an internship should, with the program director’s approval, complete the learning agreement provided by the Internship Services office and enroll in PSCI 598. (1 credit for each 60 hours of approved internship work, up to 3 credits per internship. A maximum of 6 internship credits can be counted toward the MPA degree).

Portfolio

MPA students prior to completion of the MPA program are required to submit to the program director a portfolio (e.g., a 3-ring binder). The portfolio must contain the following components, each component clearly identified by tab and title and organized in the following order:

  1. The personal goals statement written by the student at the time of applying to the program;
  2. A 2-3 page personal essay in which the student describes professional growth during the MPA program, including areas of strength and areas needing continued development;
  3. One sample of work from each course taken during the MPA program, including evidence of the final grade awarded by the professor;
  4. Separate from above, 3 public administration-related research papers that are individual (not group) projects; demonstrate the student’s ability to design, conduct, and analyze research; have been completed for the requirements of a public-sector job, internship, or traditional course; and have received a grade of at least A- on the first or a revised draft, which grade is affixed to the project by the professor; or demonstrated by an e-mail from the professor; and,
  5. Separate from the 3 research papers, evidence of the student’s ability to work cooperatively in a team setting, which may stem from a public-sector job, internship, or traditional course.

Two MPA faculty members will review and assess the portfolio and attach a statement regarding the student’s performance during the program. The director will return the portfolio to the student.

Portfolio (Electronic Submission now required)

MPA students prior to completion of the MPA program are required to submit to the program director a portfolio that includes items 1-5 in one single Adobe pdf file.

The portfolio must contain the following components, each component clearly identified by a page indicating the course number and title for each class or item, and organized in the following order:

  1. The personal goals statement written by the student at the time of applying to the program;
  2. A 2-3 page personal essay in which the student describes professional growth during the MPA program, including areas of strength and areas needing continued development;
  3. One sample of work from each course taken during the MPA program, including evidence of the final grade awarded by the professor;
  4. Separate from above, 3 public administration-related research papers that are individual (not group) projects; demonstrate the student’s ability to design, conduct, and analyze research; have been completed for the requirements of a public-sector job, internship, or traditional course; and have received a grade of at least A- on the first or a revised draft, which grade is affixed to the project by the professor; or demonstrated by an e-mail from the professor; and
  5. Separate from the 3 research papers, evidence of the student’s ability to work cooperatively in a team setting, which may stem from a public-sector job, internship, or traditional course.

Two MPA faculty members will review and assess the portfolio and attach a statement regarding the student’s performance during the program. The director will return the portfolio to the student.

You can e-mail your portfolios to sara.rinfret@mso.umt.edu

Other Information

Graduate School Rules

All students should be familiar with Graduate School rules. Those regarding continuous registration and program completion within five years may be particularly relevant to you. These rules may be found at the Graduate School.

MPA Program Check List and Graduation Application

Natural Resource Conflict Resolution Certificate Program 

Many MPA students also enroll in the interdisciplinary Natural Resource Conflict Resolution Certificate program