Master of Public Administration

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Email questions to Program Director Renee Irvin at rirvin@uoregon.edu 

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Master of Public Administration


Program Description

The University of Oregon’s Master of Public Administration (MPA) program prepares students to become evidence-based policy makers, analysts, and managers.  Evidence based policy making is a concept that has been gaining widespread acceptance in the policy community, both in the U.S. and internationally.

Evidence based decision making requires a closer connection between research and practice.  On the one hand, it requires that researchers ask policy relevant questions and conduct meaningful and timely analyses that can support the policy process.  On the other hand, it requires that policy makers, managers, and leaders think critically about research and integrate appropriate evidence in the implementation and formulation of policy and administrative practice.  The MPA curriculum has been developed to train students in applied research and provide opportunities for real world applications.  The faculty strives to support evidence based decision making through our research and community outreach activities, as well as our teaching. 

Recent UO MPA graduates work as advisors, policy analysts and strategic planners in all levels of government, in Oregon, throughout the US and around the globe (here's a full list).  Their work addresses the full range of social, economic, environmental, and development issues of the day, from improving health care access, increasing government efficiency and responsiveness, to creating new governmental structures in developing democracies.  Alumni also work in a broad range of nonprofit organizations, for instance, as executive staff in social service, arts, and environmental organizations, and in for-profit companies serving the public sector.

Oregon is an exciting place to study public administration.  As a “laboratory of democracy” it has a long and distinguished record of policy innovation.  Most recently, Oregon has been on the forefront of innovations in land use, health care, and environmental policy.  Oregon is also a beautiful place to live and be a graduate student.  The University of Oregon is located in the Willamette Valley, with easy access to snow-capped mountains and scenic coastlines.

The MPA Program at the University of Oregon was recently featured by the Emerging Leaders in Local Government Network (ELGL), and by the Association for Public Policy Analysis & Management (APPAM)

 

Unique Aspects of the Program


  • We are proud of our supportive learning environment, where class sizes are small and faculty members are on a first name basis with students.
  • Our curriculum emphasizes applying classroom learning to real world policy and management issues. Students participate in a short term, 48-Hour Policy Analysis Project as well as an in-depth two term Capstone project examining issues that affect public and nonprofit agencies.
  • Students interested in a career in the nonprofit sector can earn a Certificate in Nonprofit  Management concurrently with their MPA. The Certificate program offers innovative classes including one in philanthropy, in which students award a $15,000 grant to a local agency.
  • The University Oregon is a leading public research university. MPA students have the flexibility to customize their field of interest work to take advantage of offerings throughout the university, including the highly ranked School of Law, the College of Business, and other departments.
  • Oregon is an exciting place to study public policy.  Oregon is known for its policy innovation, from the Bottle Bill, to vote-by-mail, to current efforts to reform the health care system. Policymakers and public managers in Oregon are remarkably accessible.
  • Research options include working with the Sustainable Cities Initiative, the Institute for a Sustainable Environment, and ongoing research projects headed by our PPPM department faculty.

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PPPM Gathering


MPA Curriculum


The 72 credit program (equivalent to 48 semester credits) prepares students to become effective and creative leaders in the public and nonprofit sectors.  The curriculum provides students with a combination of substantive knowledge, analytic skills, and professional experience that prepares students for careers as evidence-based policymakers, analysts, or managers.  The program is comprised of four components: 1) core courses, 2) a field of interest, 3) an internship and professional development training, and 4) synthesizing applied research and policy analysis projects. Most students finish the MPA in 2 years.

 

MPA Core Courses (33 credits)

The eight core courses provide students with the theoretical foundation and analytic skills to be effective leaders in the public or nonprofit sector. 

 

PPPM 618, Public Sector Theory (1st Year — Fall), 4 credits. The context of professional public services includes the history and theoretical foundation for public policy and management in the government and nonprofit sectors.  

PPPM 628, Public Sector Economics (1st Year — Fall)4 credits.  Reasons for governmental intervention and analysis of revenue sources available to governments. Introduces economic framework commonly used in public service decision-making.

PPPM 656, Quantitative Methods (1st Year  Fall), 5 credits.  Develop skills in using quantitative analysis to evaluate policies and programs. Emphasizes selecting appropriate analysis procedures, interpreting results appropriately, and writing clearly about findings.

PPPM 636, Public Policy Analysis (1st Year  Winter), 4 credits. Understanding the rationale for and impact of public policy interventions. Developing systematic methods for analyzing policy design, adoption and assessment. (Prerequisite: PPPM 628)  

PPPM 657, Research Methods in Public Policy and Management (1st Year  Winter), 4 credits. Overview of the basic methods of research design in planning and public policy. Emphasizes the development of appropriate research questions, reviewing academic literature, measurement, data collection, types of data sets, causality, and the design of research projects. (Prerequisite: PPPM 656)

PPPM 633, Public Management (1st Year  Spring), 4 credits. Principles, issues, and practices in public management. Emphasizes the theory and practice designed to improve the performance of public service organizations. 

PPPM 684, Public and Nonprofit Financial Management (1st Year  Spring), 4 credits. Financial management decision and control processes in public agencies and nonprofit organizations. Financial resources (taxes, donations, grant) stewardship, expenditure systems, and capital project analysis.  

PPPM 629, Public Budget Administration (2nd Year  Fall), 4 credits. Resource allocation through the budget process. Includes analysis of budget system reforms and applied budget-making exercises.

Full Course Syllabi

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MPA Fields of Interest (24 Credits)

In consultation with a faculty advisor, students develop a substantive area of expertise by taking a minimum of 24 credits of coursework in a field of interest.  Students may develop their own field (again, in consultation with the faculty advisor), or model their choice on one of the following 11 sample fields:

  • public management  
  • nonprofit management *
  • community and regional planning
  • environmental policy
  • education & labor policy
  • health policy
  • transportation policy
  • economic development
  • international development
  • research methods
  • general policy

 

Examples of the courses that are appropriate for each field of interest are detailed here. *Students wanting to complete a nonprofit management field of interest, specifically, may complete the 24-credit Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management as their field of interest, with no additional credits.

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Internships and Professional Development (3 Credits)

There are two components of the MPA internship requirement.  The first is enrollment in the PPPM 623 Professional Development (1 credit).  Students begin the course during orientation week and continue through Fall term of their first year.  Through this course students identify their career goals and develop a plan to prepare themselves to meet the goals.  Students identify summer internship and post-graduation fellowship opportunities, and develop polished resume and cover letters.

The second component is completion of an internship.  Internships offer students opportunities to explore and clarify career goals, apply academic learning, enhance and learn new skills, gain experience, and network with professionals.  Unlike jobs, internships are supervised training experiences with the explicit intent of developing skills.  Internships are highly recommended for all MPA students, and 3 credits of PPPM 604 Internship are required for those with fewer than two years of relevant professional experience. 

In collaboration with the internship site supervisor and the Internship Director, students identify learning goals and outline specific tasks and responsibilities that support these goals.  By achieving their learning goals, students acquire a set of transferable skills and real-world experiences that prepare them for professional positions, fellowships, or further academic study.

Students have completed a wide range of internships (here's a full list). Examples include the highly selective Oregon Fellowships, the competitive United Nations Internship Programme, and IE3 Global Internships.  Students have also interned with the Oregon Governor’s Office, City of Portland Office of Sustainability, Oregon Department of Human Services, MercyCorps and many other local, national and international nonprofit organizations. For more information on the Internship Program see the internship website.

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MPA Policy Analysis and Applied Research Projects (11 Credits)

The MPA curriculum provides students two key opportunities to synthesize classroom learning and apply their research skills to current policy and management issues.

48-Hour MPA Project.   At the start of the second year, students engage in a 48-hour  project.  It is intended to simulate the real world environment where analysts and managers are given short time frames to research a topic that they know little or nothing about. 

Students working

In 48 hours, the groups of 3-5 students read relevant policy and research documents, write a memo detailing the evidence base and policy recommendations, and give an oral presentation to an audience of invited professionals and faculty. The 48-hour project takes place the week before fall classes begin, and incoming first year students will have the opportunity to view the presentations as part of their orientation to the program. This component of the MPA curriculum has become a signature event and rite of passage each fall.

 

The Capstone Applied Research Project. In their second year of MPA study, students enroll in a two-term terminal project sequence that serves as the synthesizing Capstone of the curriculum. Working as student consultant groups, students conduct real world applied policy or management research for public agencies or nonprofit organizations. A faculty member works closely with each student group on these projects.

Students have worked on applied research projects for the federal government, state government, local government, and Oregon nonprofit organizations.  The type of projects the students conducted include evaluations, needs assessments, and a review of other regional governments' policy approaches. 

In the Capstone students not only carry out the applied research, but they develop skills in teamwork and project management.  They develop a larger professional network and put the "public" in public university through their community service work.

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Admissions                                  How to Apply


Incoming MPA students share a passion and commitment to improving the social, economic and environmental conditions locally and globally. The MPA program draws students from across the United States and from a number of other countries. Most incoming students have several years of experience in the public or nonprofit sectors. Students' undergraduate backgrounds are varied. While many majored in a social science field, it is not at all unusual to admit students with backgrounds in the arts and humanities or the sciences. What unifies the students is their interest and commitment to public service.

Approximately 25 students join the MPA program each fall, for a total of roughly 50 graduate students in the MPA program and 130 graduate students in the Department.  Students are selected for the MPA program based upon a combination of their undergraduate academic performance, intellectual aptitude, public service experience, and written statements.  GREs are highly recommended for admission.  The average undergraduate GPA for students in the program is 3.6 and their mean GRE scores are at the 75th percentiles overall, with somewhat better scores on the verbal portion. We also accept the GMAT score.

The deadline for fall admission is February 1st. Late admissions may be reviewed on a case by case basis. Applications from exceptional applicants will be considered for winter and spring terms. Most students complete the MPA as full time students over two academic years. Students may complete the program part time, but doing so requires a flexible employment situation.  Application materials are available on the department website. The department strongly encourages applications from people of all backgrounds. PPPM is dedicated to fostering a diverse academic environment to prepare future public leaders.

We encourage prospective students to visit Eugene and learn more about the MPA program. Contact the program director, Prof. Renee Irvin, for an appointment.

How to Apply

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Concurrent Degrees


MPA students may complete concurrent degrees with any other graduate program on campus. Recently students have completed concurrent degrees with Nonprofit Management, Law, Arts Management, International Studies, Environmental Studies, Political Science, Geography, and Community and Regional Planning.  Other possibilities include Business, Journalism, and many other graduate degree programs. Students need to be accepted into the MPA program and the other program of interest and work out their academic schedule in conjunction with their faculty advisors.

Currently enrolled graduate students interested in completing a concurrent degree program please contact Linda Dent, ldent@uoregon.edu, for application procedures to the Master of Public Administration program.

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Mission Statement


The purpose of the Master of Public Administration (MPA) program at the University of Oregon is to promote evidence-based decision making and the efficient and ethical stewardship of societal and environmental resources by professionals in the public and nonprofit sectors. We support this purpose by training a diverse cohort of students from the US and abroad to be effective administrators, analysts and advocates in their communities. The MPA provides a curriculum that values students who are committed to public service, offering a close connection between multi-disciplinary policy-oriented research and opportunities for real world applications. Students are supported in creating a customized course plan that allows for the most effective use of their time as full-time or part-time students. Our program combines a rigorous academic approach in the development of analytical and managerial skills with highly experiential opportunities such as the 48-hour policy project and a client centered capstone research project.

Welcome!

The Master of Public Administration program encourages students from all backgrounds to apply.  We are committed to providing equal opportunities for all faculty, staff and students regardless of ethnicity, heritage, gender, sexual orientation, ability, socio-economic standing, cultural beliefs and traditions.  We welcome students from a full spectrum of professional and academic backgrounds because a broad range of experience enriches the learning environment and challenges us to widen our perspectives.  We believe a diverse program better prepares our students to be effective leaders in the public and nonprofit sectors.

Questions


Further questions about the program may be directed to the program director, Professor Renee Irvin: rirvin@uoregon.edu

Questions about the status of one's admissions file, admission to the University of Oregon Graduate School or registering for classes should be directed to Linda Dent, Administrative Assistant: ldent@uoregon.edu

Questions about internships at nonprofit organizations should be directed to Rhonda Smith, Internship Director: rhonda@uoregon.edu

 

APPAM Member Link

 

NASPAA accreditation logo image

 

Member of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM)

The Master of Public Administration program, at the University of Oregon, is accredited by the NASPAA Commission on Peer Review and Accreditation and listed on the Annual Roster of Accredited Programs in conformity with the NASPAA standards.

NACC logo      UO is an institutional member of the Nonprofit Academic Centers Council (NACC) and
      the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA).

 

Download a PDF of the MPA program description here.

Last updated August 11, 2014

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