Welcome to Arkansas State University!

Public Administration - Traditional Program

Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.)

College: College of Liberal Arts & Communication

Department: Political Science

If you are passionate about contributing to the public or community sector, you have come to the right place.

Our traditional mode of the MPA program provides you with two tracks to choose from Public Management and Non-Profit Management. Our program doesn’t require the GRE, is NASPAA accredited, and one of the most affordable master’s programs in the country. With students from all over the world and nationally recognized professors, our MPA program will provide you with a close-knit family, bringing perspectives, passion, and knowledge from all around the world.

Additionally, if you are a current A-State undergraduate student and want to pursue an MPA after you graduate, you can do so by starting off during your senior year through our new 4+1 program. This program will allow you to graduate with a master’s degree only one year after completing your bachelor’s degree. For more information, see the “4+1 track” in one of the sections below.

Degrees Offered


Completion time



Master of Public Administration

Public Management/

Non-profit Management

Generally, 1 to 3 years (depending on hours you take each semester)

Full time/Part-time



The third floor of the College of Liberal Arts and Communication

MPA Program Guide
MPA Internship Guide

The MPA is offered in traditional and online formats.

  • Admission Process

    To be considered for admission to the MPA program, in addition to meeting Graduate School admission requirements, applicants must submit the following documents.

    • A transcript of your bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution inside or outside of the United States (A three-year bachelor’s degree is also considered with some conditions applied).
    • Three letters of recommendation are required. Two of the recommendation letters must be from a professor/instructor, while one can be from an employer or colleague who knows you in a different capacity. All the letters must contain letterhead from the respective institution.
    • A personal statement on why you want an MPA degree. Please feel free to explain your career goals, experiences, what you wish to achieve in life or any other information that supports your application.
    • For international applicants, a copy of IELTS test scores (minimum 6.0) or TOEFL test scores (minimum 79) is also required.

      Moreover, an applicant's undergraduate background must include courses with grades of "C" or higher in U.S. Government, Principles of Economics, and College Algebra, or their equivalents.  If the student is deficient, these courses must be taken in addition to the graduate course requirements. Such undergraduate deficiencies must be completed during the first year of the MPA program by taking these undergraduate classes available at A-State itself.


    Addition to the required documents mentioned above, the applicants are considered on the following basis:

    Unconditional Admission

    Undergraduate GPA minimum 3.2

    Conditional Admission

    Undergraduate GPA minimum 3.0
    (conditional means you may not make below a “B” grade for your first year)

    Start Your Application:

    Traditional Graduate Admissions


    • Choose application type of Graduate Non-Doctoral.
    View the Graduate Admissions Website >>

    International Graduate Admissions


    • Choose application type of Graduate Non-Doctoral.
    View the International Graduate Admissions Website >>

    Online Graduate Admissions via Academic Partnerships


    • Choose application type Academic Partnerships Graduate.
    View the Online MPA Program Website >>

  • Curriculum

    Two Program Tracks (3 specified courses in each area)

    • Public Management
    • Nonprofit Management

    Basic Program Information

    • Number of Program Hours: 36
    • Number of Courses Per Semester: 9 = full-time; 6=part-time


    Curriculum and degree requirements can be found in the most current Graduate Bulletin.

    For more information on Curriculum and degree requirements, check out the most current Graduate Bulletin >>

    Core courses (21 hours)

    • POSC 6563 Seminar in Public Administration
    • POSC 6003 Techniques of Research
    • POSC 6593 Human Resource Administration
    • POSC 6553 Public Budgeting & Finance
    • POSC 6613 Administrative Leadership
    • POSC 6623 Administrative Ethics
    • POSC 6573 Grant Writing Administration

    Track courses (9 hours)

    Public Management

    • POSC 6543 Administrative Behavior
    • POSC 6423 Public Financial Management
    • POSC 6533 Policy Analysis

    Non-Profit Management

    • POSC Non-Profit Management
    • POSC Non-Profit Fundraising/Financial Management
    • POSC Non-Profit Planning/Marketing

    Internship or Strategic Planning (3 hours)

    Every MPA student must take the Internship unless: (a) The student is classified as in-service (If a student already has 1+ years of administrative-level experience in the public or nonprofit sectors, then he or she is classified as in-service, is exempt from the internship requirement, and would instead take Strategic Planning) OR (b) The student chooses the MPA thesis option (only recommended if a student is planning on completing a Ph.D.)

    For more information, check the MPA Internship guide attached (attach the guide here)


    MPA Capstone Experience (3 hours)

    The MPA Capstone Experience is designed to test and project your overall grasp of the public administration subject matter that you have studied by challenging you with a set of real-world problems in the field. It must be taken in the last semester of the program and will have a Pass/Fail grade.


    Thesis (6 hours)

    The MPA thesis is expected to consist of a systematic study, which contributes to the knowledge base of some aspect of public administration. Generally, the best MPA theses are those that analyze empirical data gathered to investigate a concrete issue, problem or hypothesis. Such theses are usually the most easily managed by the student and have the greatest potential for subsequent publication. The thesis is not recommended for MPA students unless they are planning on pursuing a Ph.D.

    Also, check out our MPA Program guide (attach guide available in the sidebar) and MPA Internship guide (attach guide available in the sidebar) for more detailed information on the curriculum.

  • Faculty

    Catherine Reese


    Dr. Catherine Reese

    Professor of Public Administration

    M.P.A. Director

    Phone: (870) 972-3428 Office: HSS, 3040


    William McLean


    Dr. William McLean

    Associate Professor of Political Science

    Department Chair

    Phone: (870) 972-2104 Office: HSS, 3007


    Clifford Blumberg


    Dr. Clifford Blumberg

    Assistant Professor of Political Science

    Phone: (870) 972-3048


    Amy Buzby


    Dr. Amy Buzby

    Associate Professor of Political Science

    Phone: (870) 972-2217 Office: HSS, 3046


    Donna Handley


    Dr. Donna Handley

    Assistant Professor of Public Administration


    David Harding


    Dr. David Harding

    Associate Professor of Political Science

    Phone: (870) 972-2112 Office: HSS, 3044


    David Harding


    Dr. David Harding

    Associate Professor of Political Science

    Phone: (870) 972-2112 Office: HSS, 3044


  • Program Statistics

    job placement traditional

    job placement online

    job placement both

    internship both

    completion rates

  • Tuition Cost & Other Links
  • Useful Campus Resources
    • MPA Writing tutor –MPA program offers an access to a writing tutor who will help you develop your writing skills by providing feedback on your day-to-day writings. Please feel free to utilize this service when enrolled in the MPA program.
    • The Writing Center –The Writing Center provides qualified, friendly writing consultants who will help you at any stage of the writing process, or with any writing occasion, whether it be personal, academic, or professional. Click here to learn more (http://www.astate.edu/college/liberal-arts/departments/english-and-philosophy/writing-guide/writing-lab/)
    • Communication center – The Communication Center is equipped with a trained student coaches who will help you practice and prepare oral presentations for any assignment, project, or speaking opportunity. Click here to learn more (http://www.astate.edu/college/liberal-arts/departments/communication/communication-center/index.dot)
    • Career Services – Career Services provides programs and resources for students attending A-State in preparation for internship and career opportunities. We highly recommend students to utilize this service to advance their career. Click here to learn more https://www.astate.edu/careers/
    • Registered Student organizations – A-State has several Registered Student Organizations for you to get involved and develop your leadership skills while also providing your service to the campus. Click here to learn more https://www.astate.edu/rso/
  • 4+1 B.A. - M.P.A. Track

    The Department of Political Science offers an accelerated Master of Public Administration (MPA) track for undergraduates. Political Science majors at A-State have the opportunity to apply to this program, which allows students to graduate in five years with both an undergraduate and an MPA, after their sophomore year. This cuts a full year off of the standard path to an MPA degree.

    The 4+1 program, assuming the student completes a full course load each semester, allows the student to complete the accelerated degree by combining some of the coursework during your senior year with coursework towards the MPA degree. Undergraduates in the program enroll in graduate courses and receive simultaneous credit for the undergraduate equivalent of those courses. In the final year, students have completed B.A. requirements and work exclusively on completing the graduate degree. During this final year, therefore, students in the program can also apply for graduate assistantships.

    Admissions are selective, and applicants must submit the admission materials required by the Graduate School (http://www.astate.edu/info/admissions/graduate/how-to-apply/) and the following materials:

    • A Statement of Purpose outlining why the applicant wants to earn an MPA degree
    • A resume
    • An academic writing sample
    • Three letters of reference from individuals who can evaluate the applicant’s academic potential

    Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis, and admitted students can begin the program during the Spring or Fall semester.

  • Traditional MPA Program: Contact FAQ

    Trad MPA Program: Contact FAQ


    Q. What are the pre-requisites for the program?

    A. POSC 2103 Introduction to U.S. Government and ECON 2333 Economic Issues & Concepts (or similar, or higher) with grades of “C” or better are both required to be taken either prior to or during the first two semesters of the program. These are background courses that the MPA Committee believes will enhance your chances for success in the program.

    Q. How do I find out when courses will be offered?

    A. Either on the ASU website, or there is also always a paper copy of the course schedule for the department on the wall outside the main Political Science office on the 3rd floor of the HSS Building. Also the regular course rotation is in the MPA Policy document.

    Q. What do I need to do to register for courses each term?

    A. You will have an advising hold on your account each semester. As registration time for the following semester gets close, email or stop by during Dr. Reese’s office hours, or make an appointment via email. Please note that whenever you email in order to register, you must give your name and your student ID number. It is helpful if you have an idea of what you want to take. This process needs to be followed every semester. Also, it is to your advantage if you get cleared for registration early. Do not wait until January to register for Spring! Do not wait until August to register for Fall! The courses might be full if you wait! Once Dr. Reese has submitted the advising hold release request to the department’s Administrative Assistant; any subsequent issues may be resolved via email to Vickie Gilmer at vgilmer@astate.edu. Dr. Reese and the Administrative Assistant work as a team to ensure that you are cleared for registration. Once that happens, and the first date of graduate registration occurs, you may register on your own whenever you wish.

    Q. What is the order in which I should take courses?

    A. The MPA program is designed so that you may take your courses in any order with the following exceptions (once your pre-requisites have been completed; see above). First, we strongly urge that you take Seminar in Public Administration in either your first or second semester. Second, the internship (if you need it; see below) may not be taken before you have completed at least 18 hours of coursework (with a minimum 3.0 GPA). Third, the MPA Capstone Experience must be taken in your final semester. Please also see the standard course rotation as shown in the MPA Policy document. Please also note that you must take either Public Budgeting & Finance or Administrative Ethics in your first Spring in the program. This is because they are typically offered on the same night of the week; therefore, you cannot leave both until the very end of your program.

    Q. Can I take some of my courses in the Online MPA program?

    A. No. Financial aid regulations require that you choose one program or the other and stick with it.

    Q. Can I just do an independent study instead of taking one of the required courses?

    A. No. The courses were carefully selected by the MPA Faculty with the advice of the MPA Advisory Board and under the guidance of NASPAA, our national accrediting body. Allowing substitutions potentially weakens the program.

    Q. What if the last course I need is not scheduled until next year though?

    A. As a part of your regular advising, you will be required to complete a degree plan/checksheet in conjunction with Dr. Reese by the end of your second semester. This Mid-Program Review should eliminate such problems as coursework being nearly completed with one course remaining that is not offered until the following year.


     Q. I know that Arkansas State University requires that I take comprehensive examinations in order to graduate with a master’s degree. When and how do I do that?

    A. Effective Summer 2013, the comprehensive examinations (“comps”) are included in the MPA Capstone Experience course, which is taken in your final semester.

    Q. What is included in the MPA Capstone Experience course?

    A. At present, the Capstone course involves completing a set of reflective exercises each week (over 7 weeks—Capstone lasts for the first 7 weeks of Fall, Spring or Summer semester).

    Q. Can I take the MPA Capstone Experience one semester early?

    A. Generally, no. See below.

    Q. Can I just take the MPA Capstone Experience two semesters early? A. No! The capstone is designed to be the culminating experience of your degree. The case studies to which you must respond are selected by the MPA Faculty and will draw from all of your required subjects.


    Q. If I walk at graduation, will I see some of my professors?

    A. Yes, usually you will see most of us. Most of us attend most graduations. Those of us who attend graduation always congregate up in the reception area following the ceremony for at least 20 minutes. We hope that you will come up to see us and we would love to take pictures with you!

     Please Note: If any of these are unclear or if you have suggestions for other Q/As that should be on here, please let Dr. Reese know at ccreese@astate.edu     Thank you!


    Q. How can I join the MPA Alumni Spotlight?

    A. Thank you for your interest in joining the MPA Alumni Spotlight. In order to join, please fill out the attached form and submit it to Dr. Catherine C. Reese at ccreese@astate.edu

    MPA Alumni Spotlight form>>>

    Q. How can I join the Honor Society of Pi Alpha Alpha Society?

    A. In order to join the local chapter of Pi Alpha Alpha Society, the eligibility requirements for MPA students are minimum 18 hours completed and minimum 3.85 GPA. Dr. Reese requests a list of eligible students (from the A-State Registrar) who fit these criteria at the beginning of Fall, Spring, and Summer terms and then emails those students to join if interested.