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Master of Public Administration 

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Public Administration (M.P.A.)

In addition to the requirements for admission to graduate classes, the applicant for admission to the Master of Public Administration degree program must present a minimum of 6 semester hour credits in government or political science. Students will be required to make up any deficiencies in their undergraduate work. Students who do not meet these requirements must do so prior to admission to candidacy.

Applicants who do not have an overall quality point average of 2.75 or greater will be required to pass a personal interview to evaluate life experiences or take either the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or the Miller Analogies Test (MAT) prior to admission.

The Master of Public Administration degree program requires the completion of a minimum of 36 semester hour credits of graduate work. Each student’s program will include core courses and a six-credit thesis or an internship.

PLS501 Organizational Theory and Behavior should be among the first core courses taken by students. PLS601 is a prerequisite for Public Policy Analysis, PLS603. PLS605 should be taken as late as possible in a student’s program to provide a capstone experience. Students with over five years of experience in PUblic Administration or a related field may apply to have part or all of their internship requirement wiaved. Substitution of the thesis for the internship requires the approval of the department.

Required Core Courses (18 credits)

  • PLS501 - Organizational Theory & Behavior
    • Examines organization theory relevant to the administration and leadership in complex organizations. Focus is on topics of bureaucracy and development of administrative thought; human behavior in organizations including individual motivation, group and interpersonal dynamics, and leadership modes; organization structure, process, and dynamics; organizational development and change; and emerging perspectives in the field.
  • PLS502 - Human Resources Management
    • Case study course reviewing personnel administration integratively as an administrative, behavioral, and technical area. Role of the line manager in personnel administration is covered, as well as the technical roles of central personnel agency and the operating personnel office.
  • PLS503 - Foundations of Public Budgeting & Finance
    • Provides knowledge base required to understand the principles underlying public sector budgeting and decision making. Public sector decision models are explained and the theory of public goods examined in depth. Evolving techniques for satisfying public needs through the private sector (e.g. privatization)are investigated and outcomes analyzed.
  • PLS601 - Research Methods
    • Survey of the research process including the preparation of a research design, the use of theoretical framework, and the testing of hypothesis by gathering and analyzing data. Recommended the student complete this course as early in the graduate program as possible.
  • PLS603 - Public Policy Analysis
    • Briefly examines the policy making and policy implementation processes as they relate to the analysis of public policies. The major focus of the course is upon results-oriented management techniques, as well as a number of specific quantitative policy analysis techniques.
  • PLS605 - Applied Management Techniques in Public Administration  
    • Requires students to demonstrate their ability to successfully resolve workplace situations by utilizing principles and concepts of public management as presented in the core and elective courses of the MPA curriculum. Employing the case study method, additional reading, the principle focus requires the students as individuals and in teams to work with the development and implementation of public policy. Course takes an application and problem-solving approach designed to develop the practical management skills required in the current public administration workplace.

Experiential Requirements (6 credits)

  • PLS611 - Internship I
    • Opportunity to practice public administration theory and concepts as participant and an observer in the process. Placement on a limited basis in a government or nonprofit activity enhances the student’s preparation in the field.
  • PLS612 - Internship II
    • Opportunity to practice public administration theory and concepts as participant and an observer in the process. Placement on a limited basis in a government or nonprofit activity enhances the student’s preparation in the field.


  • PLS621 - Thesis I
    • An extended description for this course is not available.
  • PLS622 - Thesis II
    • An extended description for this course is not available.

Electives (12 credits)

  • PLS431 - Pennsylvania Local Government
    • Concerns the structure and administrative functions of local governments in Pennsylvania. Extensive emphasis will be on analyzing local government functions and problems emanating from the jurisdictions’ political, social, and economic environment. Prerequisite: PLS231and PLS271 or permission of instructor.
  • PLS504 - Ethics for Public Service Managers
    • Examines specific contemporary ethical concerns in the public sector and the ethical conduct required by statutes and codes of conduct. Appropriate case studies discussed, emphasizing the constantly changing standards in the public sector.
  • PLS511 - State Government
    • Studies state governments in the American federal system and analyzes state government institutions and processes with special reference to Pennsylvania.
  • PLS512 - Intergovernmental Relations and Programs
    • Examines the developing area of intergovernmental relations among federal, state, and local governments. Special emphasis is placed upon the work of the Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations and implementation where feasible by state and local governments.
  • PLS521 - Collective Bargaining & Labor Relations in the Public Sector
    • Reviews whole area of relations between public employees and public employers and impact on public personnel administration. Some guidelines used for past contractual arrangements are covered.
  • PLS551 - Planning & Public Policy
    • Examines the relationship between the planning process and public policy including the inputs into the development of public policy as well as legal and other constraints. Using the current national budget priorities as a national plan and in-depth examination and reconciliation of these priorities is carried out in view of political, social, and economic constraints.
  • PLS552 - Seminar in Urban-Rural Planning
    • Comprises an exhaustive study of planning concepts and processes used at state and local levels with special emphasis on Pennsylvania. Theories of comprehensive planning in the United States are also analyzed and compared. The constitutional bases for planning are examined as well as the new trends toward planning programming budgeting systems(PPBS). Prerequisite: Course in government administration or permission of the instructor.
  • PLS561 - Administrative Law
    • Study of the law concerning the powers and procedures of administrative agencies. These governmental bodies which affect the rights of private and public parties through either adjudication or rule making are compared to and contrasted with the judicial, legislative and executive processes, using the case method. Prerequisite: Course in government administration or permission of the instructor.
  • PLS591 - Selected Topics
    • An extended description for this course is not available.