MPA Public Administration

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. The MPA schedule includes both campus and online classes. See the tentative schedule for MPA classes and Nonprofit Administration classes. Our online MPA Nonprofit track was ranked the tenth best in the nation in 2016.

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

This program language is for students that started the MPA program in the Fall 2016 Semester or later.

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.

About the Program

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. The MPA program has a total enrollment of approximately 60 students. 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.

The MPA program offers two tracks: the traditional MPA degree or a nonprofit administration track. Students may, with the program director’s approval, select other areas of specialization or interest such as international development administration, environmental administration, local government administration, or another area of interest. The MPA degree requires completing 36 credits of course work and a portfolio project.

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.
  4. Some courses at the undergraduate level that pertain to the field of public administration or some background experience in public administration is expected.

 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.
  4. Some courses at the undergraduate level that pertain to the field of public administration or some background experience in public administration is expected.

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 application form online (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 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 LSAT or GMAT may substitute for the GRE. 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 on a rolling basis (for fall or spring semesters). 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, click here: Graduate School.

Master of Public Administration Program Tracks

The MPA program requires satisfactory completion of 36 credits. An internship is suggested and the portfolio project is required.

1. All students in the MPA program are required to complete the following 5 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

2. All students in the MPA program are  required to complete 5 or more of the following elective courses (15 or more credits)

PSCI 442 Environmental Policy and Politics (campus and online)
PSCI 463 Development Administration (campus only)
PSCI 466 Nonprofit Administration and Public Service (campus only)
PSCI 467 Advanced Nonprofit Administration (campus only)
PSCI 523 Administrative Law (campus and online; offered by the Law School on campus)
PSCI 524 Management Skills (campus only)
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 561 Ethics in Public Administration (online only)
PSCI 595 Agency Policymaking (online only)
PSCI 595 Research Methods (online only)
PSCI 595 Program Evaluation (online only)
PSCI 595 Legislative & Political Process (Law School; campus only)
PSCI 595 Montana Constitutional Law (Law School; campus only)
PSCI 595 Special Topics

Other approved courses may be used in this section

3. Students in the MPA program may complete their degree requirements with credits in any of the following:

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

At least 20 of the 36 credits must be political science courses.

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; the standard MPA core classes and the portfolio project are required).

1. All students in Nonprofit Administration must complete the standard MPA core (15 credits):

PSCI 501 Public Administration
PSCI 503 Policy Analysis
PSCI 504 Organization Theory
PSCI 505 Budgeting and Finance
PSCI 522 Human Resource Management

2. All students in Nonprofit Administration are required to complete 12 or more credits from the following courses. Note that two of the classes are required.

PSCI 529 Introduction to Nonprofit Administration (3 cr.) *Required
PSCI 405 Advocacy and Public Policy (2 cr.) * Required

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 411 Nonprofit Grantwriting (2 cr.)
PSCI 412 Nonprofit Fundraising (2 cr.)
PSCI 413 Nonprofit Financial Management (2 cr.)
PSCI 460 Nonprofit Marketing and Social Media ( 2 cr.)
  

3. In consultation with the program director, students in Nonprofit Administration may complete their degree requirements with 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.

Other Areas of Specialization

Students can concentrate in many areas of specialization with the program director's approval. The areas shown below are offered as samples.

Environmental Administration Suggested Courses

PSCI 460 Environmental Policy 
PSCI 460 Regulatory Policy
PSCI 524 Management Skills
ECON 440/ENST 440 Environmental Economics
ENST 531 Citizen Participation in Environmental Decision Making
ENST 560 Environmental Impact Analysis
ENST 573 Environmental Writing
ENST 580 Politics of Food
ENST 595 Environmental Justice Issues and Solutions
GPHY 466 Environmental Planning
GPHY 561-3 Land Use Law
GPHY 421-3 Sustainable Cities
LAW 650/ENST 564 Environmental Law
NRSM 422 Natural Resources Policy and Administration
NRSM 570 Political Ecology
NRSM 575 Environment and Development
NRSM 513 Natural Resource Dispute Resolution
NRSM 515 Environmental Negotiation and Mediation
NRSM 622 Advanced Natural Resource Policy
PHIL 591 Environmental Philosophy
PUBH 560 Environmental and Rural Health
RECM 451 W Tourism and Sustainability
RECM 582 Wilderness and Protected Area Management
WILD 410 Wildlife Policy and Biopolitics 

International Development Administration Suggested Classes

PSCI 431 Politics of Global Migration
PSCI 432 Inter-American Relations
PSCI 463 Development Administration
PSCI 529 Introduction to Nonprofit Organizations (online only)
PSCI 520 Comparative Politics
PSCI 521 Globalization
PSCI 523 Administrative Law
PSCI 524 Management Skills
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
ECON 450 Advanced Topics in Economic Development
ECON 443/EVST 441 Environmental Economics
EVST 487 Globalization, Justice and the Environment
FOR 424 Community Forestry and Conservation
FOR 571 International Conservation and Development
GEOG 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

Local Government Administration Suggested Courses

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

Natural Resource Conflict Resolution Certificate Program 

Many MPA students also enroll in the interdisciplinary Natural Resource Conflict Resolution Certificate program. The certificate is offered through the Center for Natural Resources and Environmental Policy.

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 Project

Prior to completion of the MPA program, students must complete a portfolio project, which has written and oral components. Students are responsible for keeping the graded papers needed for the portfolio. Students are required to e-mail the program director a portfolio before or during the last week of regular classes in the semester in which they plan to graduate (e.g. an electronic Adobe Acrobat or Word document). The written portfolio should not exceed 20 pages and contain each component clearly identified by a heading or title, and organized in the following order:

1. 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.

2. Three public administration-related research papers that are individual (not group) projects; that 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 B, which grade is affixed to the project by the professor; or demonstrated by an e-mail from the professor.

3. 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.

The oral portion of the portfolio will occur during the final week of classes or ealirer, during the semester in which students plans to graduate. Two MPA faculty members will meet with each student for one hour to review and assess the portfolio and discuss the students experience in the program (an exit interview). At the meeting questions pertaining to coursework may be asked. For campus students this will be a formal meeting on campus; for online students the meeting will use video conferencing programs, such as Skype. Students are responsible to make arrangements for the portfolio review meeting with two MPA faculty members prior to graduation.

A grade of high pass, pass, or fail will be used to evaluate the student’s written and oral portions of the portfolio project. A student must receive an average score of high pass or pass on the written and oral components of the project. Students who fail the portfolio project have a right to resubmit their work to the MPA Director and repeat the exit interview one time. Students that fail the portfolio project a second time can submit an appeal for further consideration to the MPA Director. The MPA Director will meet with the MPA Committee to determine the outcome. 

Written Work

Oral Work

High Pass (9-10   points)

Student follows instructions, provides a clearly organized/well documented portfolio/written portfolio, clear mastery of a variety of public administration   courses, clear   and well written description of professional growth.

Student is well versed in MPA core coursework, ability to apply theory to practice, strong demonstration of professional growth and ability to explain why content was included in written portion of the portfolio.

Pass (7-8 points)

Student follows instructions, professional growth is somewhat unclear, organization could be enhance, but student demonstrates overall mastery of coursework and professional growth.

Student can make some major  connections in MPA core coursework, theory to practice connections are acceptable, and student attempts to explain why elements were included in written portfolio.

Fail (6 or below)

 

Unorganized,instructions are not followed, does not demonstrate professional growth, and   does   not include evidence of passing level work from course curriculum.

Student presents information in an unprofessional manner, cannot apply theory to practice, does not understand core theories in MPA core courses, professional growth is not demonstrated, and student cannot explain why elements of written portion of portfolio were included.

Passing average score (written and oral) needed = 7-10

Failing average score = if a student receives a score of 6 or lower

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 Lists and Graduation Application

Contact: Professor Jeffrey Greene at 406-243-6181 or by e-mail, jeffrey.greene@umontana.edu
 

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NASPAA Member

The MPA program maintains a membership with NASPAA (Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration), which is the global standard in public service education.  It is the membership organization of graduate education programs in public policy, public affairs, public administration, and public & nonprofit management. Its nearly 300 members - located across the U.S. and in 14 countries around the globe - award MPA, MPP, MPAff, and similar degrees.