More About the Program
MISSION STATEMENT AND PUBLIC SERVICE VALUES
The MPA program at The University of Georgia strives to be a leader in educating and inspiring students for managerial and analytical careers in public service. Through instruction by leading scholars, engagement with policy and management problems in the field, and service opportunities within the community, MPA students are prepared for professional careers in government and the non-profit sector, advancing the values of ethics, accountability, and inclusion in democratic governance.
The mission is fulfilled by educating and inspiring students for careers in management, administration, and policy analysis in government and nonprofit organizations domestically and abroad. The program produces leaders with a wide range of analytic, communicative, and managerial abilities to meet the demands of contemporary public and nonprofit sectors. The MPA curriculum encourages within students the development of the intellectual capacities and professional skills necessary for the successful performance of critical public service jobs. The program accomplishes these goals by contributing to the advancement of the public administration and policy field through teaching, research, and public service. The program also creates an awareness of and sensitivity to ethical concerns and accountability issues within the public service arena.
Public Service Values
The program’s dedication to public values permeates all teaching, curriculum, and conduct of students and faculty. This predominance originates from our mission statement, which emphasizes the following values that distinguish MPA programs from other graduate offerings:
Accountability, Transparency, and Ethical Considerations
Our mission statement specifically identifies the importance of an awareness of ethical concerns and accountability in the public service arena, so the Department operates according to these values. The Department’s emphasis on accountability, inclusiveness, and transparency ensure all stakeholders are considered and informed of the processes and outcomes of the program.
Professional Competency and Service to the Public Good
The program emphasizes the necessity of professional skills and intellectual capacities to ensure students are capable of serving in government and nonprofits as leaders exemplifying critical thinking, fairness, and decisiveness. Students are trained in analytic, communicative, and managerial skills that will enable them to become productive public leaders who involve all stakeholders, utilize fact-based evidence to make decisions objectively, and execute public initiatives for the welfare of others.
Upholding Democratic Principles of Equity, Due Process, and Representativeness
Students are trained to appreciate the importance of efficiency and effectiveness in executing public initiatives while maintaining a respect for the rule of law. The program curriculum focuses on the unique concerns and challenges faced by today’s public administration and policy leaders, such as diversity and equity concerns, distinctive bureaucratic processes, and serving a variety of stakeholders and constituents.
Over the past several decades, UGA has become a major center of excellence for public service education. A recent study in the Journal of Public Administration Education ranked the UGA Public Administration and Policy faculty first in the nation in research published in scholarly journals associated with the American Society for Public Administration. The most recent survey from the U.S News & World Report (2023 edition) ranked the Georgia MPA program the third highest nationally among all programs. The program is fully accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration.
MPA at the UGA Gwinnett Campus
Looking to advance your career in public service? Consider earning your MPA at the UGA Gwinnett Campus in Lawrenceville. You’ll find MPA courses with the same faculty and resources as those at our home campus in Athens, but delivered at our convenient location just off I-85, only 30 minutes from the state capitol building. Most classes are small (about 15-20 students) and scheduled in the evenings to allow students to pursue an advanced degree while continuing to work full-time. Two classes per semester (including summer) are offered at our Gwinnett campus. All MPA students may register for classes at either the Athens or Gwinnett campus to complete the program in less time.
Learn more by reading our Gwinnett Campus Brochure.
The University of Georgia Gwinnett Campus includes 60,000 square feet of instructional and support space in a secure environment, including:
• 21 state-of-the-art classrooms
• Student Affairs
• Computer labs
• IT support
• UGA Bookstore
Average age: 34
Age range: 22-60
Approximate class size: 15 students
More information about our MPA program at Gwinnett can be found here: https://gwinnett.uga.edu/gradeducation/mpa/
Admission Requirements & Deadlines
Graduate admissions at the University of Georgia is a collaborative process involving the Graduate School and the graduate faculty of the University of Georgia.
To be considered for admission to the MPA program, students must hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university and must demonstrate potential for excellence in the study of public administration. MPA students come from diverse backgrounds and fields of study. Each year, 65-70 students begin their path to earning their MPA. Visit the MPA student profiles for more information about current students.
While the Graduate School of the University of Georgia admits non-degree and/or transient students to other programs, the Department of Public Administration and Policy does not admit students in this situation.
Fall Semester to be considered for Assistantship—January 15
Fall Semester—July 1
Summer Semester – May 1
Spring Semester – November 15
*Please note that Double Dawgs should apply 4 weeks earlier than the posted deadlines to ensure the necessary time to process this type of application.
Fall Semester to be considered for Assistantship—January 15
Fall Semester—April 15
Spring Semester – October 15
*Please note that Double Dawg students should apply 4 weeks earlier than the posted deadlines to ensure the necessary time to process this type of application.
How to Apply
Please send application materials to the correct offices. Misdirected application materials will slow the application process. Do not mail videotapes, newspapers, or other media about yourself to the department. The stated application materials will suffice.
Students interested in the MPA/JD program must apply separately to both programs and meet the admissions requirements for each. For more information about applying to the School of Law, please visit Law School admissions.
STEP 1: COMPLETE THE ONLINE APPLICATION
Complete the online application located at the UGA Graduate School website and pay the required application fee, which is $75 for domestic applicants and $100 for international applicants.
- You will be prompted to upload a resumé and statement of purpose. The statement of purpose is your opportunity to communicate to us how this program fits with your future plans. You should use this document to convey why this area of study and specifically this program are a good fit with your career and educational goals. You should also highlight your relevant experience and preparation for this program.
- You will be asked to enter the email addresses of three recommenders. If you would rather submit paper letters to the department, you will need to list your name and e-mail three times in the boxes on the online application that ask for your recommenders. That way, only you will receive the electronic letter of recommendation requests, which you may delete.
If you have problems uploading documents to your application or any other application issues, please contact Kristin Lawrence at (706) 542-3510 or email@example.com.
STEP 2: ORDER OFFICIAL DOCUMENTS TO BE SENT TO THE UGA GRADUATE SCHOOL
Transcripts and score reports are accepted electronically and by mail. Allow 10-14 days for receipt and processing of these materials by the Graduate School Admissions Office.
- Transcripts – Send one unofficial transcript from all institutions attended, even if no degree was conferred and/or credits are listed on other transcripts. The average GPA for incoming MPA students for 2020 was approximately 3.53. If accepted to the program, you will have to submit official transcripts from all institutions where you have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher.
- Official Test Scores (GRE / TOEFL / IELTS)
- The GRE is optional for any applicant, domestic or international, whose GPA as calculated by the UGA Graduate School falls at or above a 3.5 on a 4.0 scale.
Domestic applicants with five years of work experience in the public or non-profit sector and an undergraduate GPA over 3.0 on a 4.0 scale may request a waiver for the GRE during the application process. If you fall within the second category and would like more information about a GRE waiver, contact Brandon Solie (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- All other applicants are required to submit official GRE scores along with their application. The average GRE score for incoming MPA students for 2021 was approximately 309; however, the GRE score is only one of several factors considered for admissions. Equally important are an applicant’s personal statement and other application materials.
- The departmental policy is to require TOEFL or IELTS scores from any applicant whose primary language is not English, unless that student has received a degree within the past two years from an accredited institution where the language of instruction is English. The TOEFL scores can be no older than two years.
- If an institutional code is required for score reporting for the computer-based Graduate Record Exam, list code 5813. Otherwise, select “The University of Georgia” and then “Public Affairs” when asked where scores should be sent.
Mail materials to:
University of Georgia Graduate School Admissions
310 Herty Drive
Athens, GA 30602
International Applicants – additional requirements can be found on the Graduate School website.
A total of 41 semester hours are needed for the completion of the MPA program. A mandatory socialization sequence and five core courses introduce the student to the various fields of public administration and the economic foundations of public policy. In addition, two required courses in research methods assist students in developing a familiarity with quantitative techniques in public decision making. Students must also select six courses from a number of available elective specializations to complete their degree. Students attending full-time can expect to complete the program in two years (four semesters).
The following provides an outline of the MPA Curriculum:
1. MPA Socialization Sequence (1 semester hour)
- PADP 6980 Socialization Seminar
2. Public Management Core (15 semester hours)
- PADP 6910 Public Administration and Democracy
- PADP 6920 Public Personnel Administration
- PADP 6930 Public Financial Administration
- PADP 6950 Economic Foundations of Policy Analysis
- PADP 6960 Public Management
3. Research Methods Sequence (6 semester hours)
- PADP 7110 Research Methods in Public Administration
- PADP 7120 Data Applications in Public Administration
4. Elective Courses (18 semester hours)
6. Capstone Paper and Portfolio (1 semester hour)
- PADP 6990 Capstone Paper and Portfolio
Before graduating, the student must complete a public service internship and submit a paper on the experience. Internships must be completed at a public sector government agency or nonprofit organization that is non-partisan and non-sectarian in scope. This requirement helps to ensure that the degree candidate can perform responsibly and proficiently at a professional or managerial level. Additionally, the internship provides students with an experiential basis for linking their coursework to their future careers as public service professionals. Students must intern for a minimum of 300 hours at the same agency. Students will not receive course credit for completing an internship and cannot count as an internship any experience for which they received course credit. Students have completed internships in a wide variety of federal, state, and local government agencies and nonprofit organizations. For examples of specific locations, please visit our Career Services website. If you are interested in learning more about internships through the SPIA Emerging Leaders Program check out the qualifications here.
Most positions with a government agency or a non-profit organization will meet the internship requirement for the MPA Program, but formal approval by the department is required. Internship placements for 2020/21 include a wide range of government and non-profit organizations, including the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the Forsythe (GA) County Government, Extra-Special People, Partnership Gwinnett, Energy Alabama, and many other organizations listed here. Prior to starting the internship, please submit the Internship Requirement Form to Brandon Solie, Career Services and Recruitment Assistant Director, for approval. Upon completion of the internship, the student should complete the Internship Exit Interview Form with his/her supervisor. This should also be submitted to Brandon Solie.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, some students have pursued telework internships in order to gain experience at government and non-profit organizations around the country. We have prepared several tips to help students think about telework internships.
Students with prior successful experience in a position at a professional or managerial level at a government agency or nonprofit may seek a waiver from the internship requirement. Students desiring such an exemption should complete the Internship Waiver Form and submit it to the MPA Program Director, justifying the waiver. The Program Director will decide whether the applicant’s experience meets departmental requirements. Exemption from the internship does not, however, eliminate the requirement of an internship/professional experience paper. Students who must complete an internship should consult with the MPA Career Services and Recruitment Assistant Director, who will assist the student in arranging to satisfy the requirement.
CAPSTONE PAPER AND PORTFOLIO ASSIGNMENT
See the Capstone Paper and Portfolio Information Document for details on this requirement.
Fields of Study
A student may choose either to specialize in a single specific area of study or to complete a generalist degree. Areas of specialization include the following:
- Criminal Justice
- Health Policy and Administration
- Higher Education Administration
- Local Government Administration
- Nonprofit Administration
- Public Budgeting and Finance Administration
- Public Management/Organization Theory
- Public Policy
To achieve a concentration in an area of specialization, an MPA student must take four courses in that area. To complete a generalist degree, students must choose a minimum of two courses from within at least two of the specified areas of specialization. The areas of specialization and a detailed listing of courses are referenced in the MPA Program Guide.
Independent Study courses are available for content not offered through a regularly scheduled course. The use of Independent Study courses to fulfill elective requirements is limited and permitted at the discretion of the MPA Program Director. To request enrollment in an Independent Study course, students must download and complete the appropriate form from the website and obtain signatures of the course instructor and the MPA Program Director.
As of Fall 2021, the current cost of study for the MPA per credit hour is $417 (in-state) and $1,082 (out-of-state). Fees are currently assessed at approximately $1,145 per semester. Fees for students studying at the Gwinnett campus are $652 per semester.
Nine credits (3 courses) is considered a full-time course load for graduate students. A full-time student would thus pay $5,000 (in-state) or $12,978 (out-of-state) per semester.
More information about current tuition rates can be found on the Bursar’s website.
The Department of Public Administration and Policy offers a number of teaching and research assistantships that carry stipends for a nine-month academic year. The Graduate School also offers competitive assistantships and faculty members occasionally hire research assistants to work on funded research projects. Recipients of assistantships automatically receive a tuition waiver, regardless of their residency status. Students receiving assistantships and meeting departmental standards of performance in their academic work and their assistantships are eligible for up to four semesters of support for the MPA program. If you would like to be considered for an assistantship, your application to the program must be complete by January 15.
The Graduate School also provides a limited number of out-of-state tuition waivers for non-Georgia residents. The availability of these awards is announced each spring. These waivers do not automatically renew from one academic year to the next.
Completion Rate & Placement
The MPA degree is designed to be a two-year program (four semesters total) for a full-time student. Of the 68 students who matriculated in the 2015-16 academic year, 54 percent (37 students) completed the degree in two years and 81 percent (55 students) graduated within three years, and 85 percent (58 students) graduated within 4 years, with a total of 87 percent graduating and persisting to graduation.
Graduates of the MPA program have obtained administrative and management positions at all levels of government and in nonprofit agencies. For students graduating during the 2018-19 academic year, 95 percent reported employment in the field within six months of graduation. For the 2018-19 graduates, 64 percent went into public sector employment, 15 percent reported jobs in the non-profit sector, 10 percent went to work in the private sector, 5 percent continued their education, and 1 percent continued military service.
In the 2019-2020 year, job placement for our students who were employed within six months of graduation can be broken down as follows:
The MPA Career Services Coordinator assists students in the placement process. For examples of specific locations where our graduates have accepted employment, please visit our Career Services web page.
Academic Advising and Registration
New students receive academic advising during the orientation period at the beginning of their first term. Continuing students are advised typically during October and March of each academic year. Online registration using the UGA ATHENA system occurs after advising.
The department notifies students by e-mail when sign-up begins. If your UGA e-mail account is not your primary account, please ensure that your UGA e-mail is forwarded to your primary account. Because many of our students are working professionals, we also offer appointments by phone.
The Graduate School enforces the following registration guidelines:
- Students who receive an assistantship and/or a tuition waiver must register for a minimum of 12 hours in the fall and spring. Such students who choose to enroll during the summer and maintain the waiver must register for at least nine hours.
- Students must be registered for at least three hours during the term in which they complete degree requirements.
- Students pursuing graduate degrees at UGA must maintain continuous enrollment from matriculation until completion of all degree requirements. Continuous enrollment is defined as registering for a minimum of three (3) credits in at least two semesters per year (Fall, Spring, Summer) until the degree is attained.
- Students may apply for leave of absence for well-documented causes that interfere with the ability to undertake graduate study. An approved leave of absence stands in lieu of registering for the minimum of three credits for each semester for which the leave of absence is granted.
- Students who fail to achieve continuous enrollment, or apply for a leave of absence, will become “inactive,” and must reapply for admission.
- If it becomes necessary to add a class after the established deadline for registration, the MPA Program Director may approve a request for late registration within a reasonable amount of time. Specific guidelines for this process are available on the Bursar’s website.
INDEPENDENT STUDY COURSES
Students must arrange independent study courses directly with individual professors and then submit an independent study form to Kristin Lawrence in Baldwin Hall (email: email@example.com, phone: 706/542-3510). Independent study courses will not be authorized if a student can take the same course in a conventional format in this department or another department on campus. Please check the complete listing of UGA courses before seeking an independent study course. For a list of suggested courses by specialization, see the “Electives” section of the MPA Program Guide.
Independent Study Form
ELECTIVES FOR SECOND-YEAR MPA STUDENTS
Approval must be obtained from the MPA Director if you plan to take an elective that is not listed on the curriculum guide. If permission of department is required for a class outside of the department, contact the graduate coordinator of the home department of the course you plan to take. For a list of suggested courses by specialization, see the “Electives” section of the MPA Program Guide.
100 Hours of Service Award
In accordance with its core value of public service, the Department of Public Administration and Policy encourages all of its students to complete 100 hours of service before graduation. Completing 100 hours of service during your time in the MPA program is something to celebrate. To acknowledge this accomplishment, students are awarded a certificate at our Spring GSPA Student Banquet.
Our department is also an Official Certifying Organization for the President’s Volunteer Service Award, established after 9/11 to encourage service through presidential gratitude and national recognition. Students who complete at least 100 Hours of service in one calendar year will also receive a signed letter and certificate of recognition from the President of the United States, along with a custom made lapel pin.
Here are the general rules for this challenge:
- All volunteer work must be documented, approved by the point person from the agency/group you completed the volunteer work for, and recorded with Brandon Solie (Volunteer Hours Form).
- Any work for which you are receiving course credit or completing the required 300 hour internship does not count.
- Any work for which you are paid does not count.
- Any work that is a requirement of your employment does not count.
Those meeting this challenge will be the proud recipient of a custom-made lapel pin as well as a certificate of accomplishment, both of which will be awarded at an event* proudly honoring each deserving recipient.
Finally, the limitation on the 100 hour challenge does not necessarily end at 100 hours or with your graduation from the MPA program! This challenge is just the beginning of what will hopefully be a lifetime of public service.
*If you qualify and would like the President’s service award to be presented to you at the celebration event, you must turn in your completed volunteer hours form at least 4 weeks before graduation. Otherwise, the award may need to be mailed to you after graduation.
MPA Advisory Board
The MPA Advisory Board, composed of public service professionals from government and nonprofit organizations, helps in evaluating curriculum needs and setting standards and goals. Members of the Board also serve as important resource contacts for internship and employment opportunities. The current 2021-2022 MPA Advisory Board members are:
- Lori Atkinson – U.S. Government Accountability Office
- Harrison Daniel – Athens-Clarke County Police Department
- Spencer Frye – Athens Area Habitat for Humanity and State Representative District 118
- Amelia Hines Dortch – U.S. Department of Agriculture – Natural Resources Conservation Service
- Jestin Johnson – IBM
- Shayla Lee* – City of Sugar Land, Texas
- Mercy Montgomery – City of Chamblee, Georgia
- Caroline Paris Paczkowski – UGA School of Public and International Affairs
- Tiffany Payne* – UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences
- Ted Pestorius – U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Joan Prittie – Project Safe Inc.
- Tracie Sanchez – Georgia Department of Economic Development
- Zane Seals – State of Tennessee, Division of TennCare
- David Tanner – UGA Carl Vinson Institute of Government
- Annelise Wornat* – U.S. Department of the Treasury
*denotes new member for 2021-2022
In 2014, the Department surveyed alumni from the last ten years to get their feedback on the program. Of those that responded, 87 percent reported that they were “very well” or “well” equipped for their professional or academic careers post-graduation. To see a thorough analysis of alumni feedback on the skills gained and curriculum of the MPA program, please see our 2014 Alumni Survey.