Master of Public Administration

Degree Requirements | Core Courses | Field of Interest | Internship | Projects

Mission Statement

The Master of Public Administration (MPA) program at the University of Oregon promotes 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 U.S. and abroad to be effective administrators, analysts, and advocates in their communities. The MPA curriculum offers a close connection between multidisciplinary, 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.

Degree Overview

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 U.S., and around the globe. Their work addresses the full range of social, economic, environmental, and development issues of the day—from improving health care access and 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.

Learn more about our graduates:

Employment Statistics
Recent Positions
Graduation Data

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 Master of Public Administration 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 of 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 and voting 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 faculty.

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Degree Requirements (72 credits)

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 comprises four components:

  • Core courses: 33 credits
  • An elective field of interest: 24 credits
  • Internship and professional development training: 3 credits
  • Synthesizing applied research and policy analysis projects: 11 credits

MPA Program Study Plan

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.

First Year - Fall

PPPM 618 Public Sector Theory

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

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

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.

First Year - Winter

PPPM 636 Public Policy Analysis

1 credit

Prerequisite: PPPM 628
Understanding the rationale for and impact of public policy interventions. Developing systematic methods for analyzing policy design, adoption and assessment.

PPPM 657 Research Methods in Public Policy and Management

4 credits

Prerequisite: PPPM 656
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.

First Year - Spring

PPPM 633 Public Management

4 credit

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

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.

Second Year - Fall

PPPM 629 Public Budget Administration

4 credit each term

Resource allocation through the budget process. Includes analysis of budget system reforms and applied budget-making exercises.

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Field 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 and Labor Policy
  • Health Policy
  • Transportation Policy
  • Economic Development
  • International Development
  • Research Methods
  • General Policy
  • Arts and Cultural Leadership 

Example courses for each field of interest.

Students should set their field of interest by filling out the MPA field of interest form.

*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.

Internship (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 Career Services 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 in the public sector and nonprofit sector. They have also interned in the private sector with consulting firms, research institutes, and energy companies. For more information, see the Internships and Career Services page.

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Master of Public Administration Policy Analysis and Applied Research Projects (11 Credits)

The Master of Public Administration curriculum provides students two key opportunities to synthesize classroom learning and apply their research skills to current policy and management issues:

48-Hour Master of Public Administration 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.

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.

See also: Graduate School Summary of Master's Degree Minimum Requirements



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