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Grand Valley State University    
2011-2012 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog 
  Sep 19, 2019
2011-2012 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Master of Public Administration

For additional information about opportunities your college offers, please refer to the College of Community and Public Service  section in this catalog.

Program coordinator: Jelier. Professors: Balfour, Jelier, Kimboko, Robbins. Associate professors: Borders, Hoffman, Kimoto. Assistant professors: Alaimo, Cline, Downey. Visiting professor; Nieboer.


M.P.A. graduates are leaders. They lead their communities and organizations on the basis of advanced administrative skills with a dedication to democratic values and public service. In today’s global society, such leadership takes many forms and occurs in a variety of settings. The mission of the Master of Public Administration is to develop both the general knowledge and specific abilities needed for professional careers in public service organizations. The curriculum is designed to prepare students to act ethically and effectively in public management, urban and regional policy and planning, nonprofit management, criminal justice, and health care administration.

As a professional school in an urban setting, the School of Public, Nonprofit and Health Administration is actively involved with the community in professional service activities and applied research. The program offers flexibility and innovation in curriculum design to meet the diverse educational needs of part-time and full-time students, including evening and weekend courses and workshops, and Internet-enhanced learning. Because careers in administration are varied and include the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, the curriculum is designed to develop advanced executive abilities through a combination of core competencies and specialized areas of concentration. Satisfactory completion of the program of study leads to the award of the M.P.A. degree.


National Association of Schools for Public Affairs and Administration

Minimum number of hours for graduation: 39 (42 for precareer students)

Admission to Masters of Public Administration

  • An undergraduate grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale calculated on the last 60 credit hours of undergraduate coursework.
  • Three letters of reference from informed sources.
  • A detailed resume.
  • An essay on career and educational objectives (250-750 words).
  • A demonstrated commitment to community and public service. Ideally this would be five or more years of professional work experience since receiving a baccalaureate degree.
  • Submitting a GRE score is recommended for applicants who have neither a 3.0 undergraduate GPA nor five years of professional experience. The GRE is also recommended for applicants applying for a graduate assistantship with SPNHA.
  • Successfully completing graduate-level course work as a nondegree-seeking student is recommended for applicants who have neither a 3.0 undergraduate GPA nor five years of professional experience. However, 12 credits taken as a nondegree-seeking student is the limit that can be applied to the M.P.A. upon admission. Receiving a B+ or better as a nondegree-seeking student will be considered favorably.
  • Students who do not meet all requirements, but whose experience, achievement, etc., may warrant an exception, will be invited for a personal interview to discuss admission and further explore the program.

Transfer Credit

A maximum of 12 semester hours of transfer credit will be given for appropriate graduate courses completed within the previous five-year period with a grade of B or better at another college or university. These transfer credits may be substituted for required courses or given general credit as determined by the faculty.

Requirements for the M.P.A. degree

The MPA degree consists of a minimum of 39 credit hours of coursework. Precareer students must take 3 credit hours of internship in addition to the 39 required hours of course work for a total of 42 credit hours. Students must meet with an advisor upon entry into the program to develop a program of study.

Students must select one concentration of 15 credit hours.

Students must select nine credits of electives.

At least nine credits must be selected from other graduate courses, including PA courses in other concentration areas (listed above) and nonconcentration PA courses and workshops listed below). Note that a maximum of three workshop credits may be applied to the degree. The number of elective credits is reduced by three if the student does a six-credit thesis as a Capstone project. The number of elective credits is reduced by three if the student does a second three-credit internship.

  • Any PA course in a concentration listed above.

Precareer students must take three credits of internship.

All precareer students are required to take at least three internship credits (in addition to 39 hours of coursework). They may take a second internship for a total of six credits:

Students must take a three-credit Capstone at the end of their studies.

Most students will take PA 619 as their Capstone experience. They must have completed 30 credits of coursework before registering for PA 619. As an alternative to PA 619, students may opt for a research project or a thesis as their Capstone experience. If a thesis Capstone is chosen, six credits are required.

Click here for the program description.