Sep 23, 2023  
Graduate Catalog 2022-23 
Graduate Catalog 2022-23 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Master of Public Administration (PUAM)

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Dr. Matthew Mingus, Dr. Daniela Schroeter, and Dr. Udaya Wagle.

The mission of the MPA program is to improve the quality of public service by developing professionals and leaders equipped with knowledge and skills in theories, methodology, and innovative practice in the interdisciplinary field of public administration. Our graduates lead and manage a diverse range of government, nonprofit, and health care organizations and make positive impacts on the lives of citizens locally, nationally, and globally.

The MPA Program is modeled around the following core values of public administration.

  • Plurality of ideas and perspectives;
  • Common good, social justice, and democratic governance;
  • Ethical and competent leadership and decision-making; and
  • Efficient, effective, equitable, and transparent practice of public service.

The program expects its students to achieve competency across the following learning outcomes and domains:

  • To apply theories and techniques of leadership and management in contexts of public governance;
  • To demonstrate the ability to participate in and contribute to the public policy process;
  • To analyze problems, synthesize information, think critically, and make evidence-based decisions in order to solve public and collective problems;
  • To articulate and apply a public service perspective focused on common good, liberty, social justice for all, and democratic governance; and
  • To communicate and interact productively with a diverse and changing workforce and citizenry.

Reflecting on the multi-disciplinary nature of the field, the MPA program draws upon the talents of a diverse and multidisciplinary team of faculty within the School of Public Affairs and Administration. In addition, faculty and other resources are used from other academic departments or units throughout the University as well as the larger community. The MPA coursework is available in-person on the main campus in Kalamazoo as well as online, with the option to earn the degree in-person, online, or in some combination depending on student needs and preferences.

Admission Requirements

Applicants to the MPA program must meet the Graduate College requirements of an undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university with an overall grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Students with an undergraduate GPA of at least 2.5 who also demonstrate a record of relevant work experience and professional advancement may be considered for conditional admission.

The following must be submitted in order to be considered for admission:

  1. The completed University online application for Graduate Admission, with paid application fee
  2. An official transcript from each undergraduate and graduate institution attended (except WMU)
  3. A written statement of how the MPA will help you meet your personal and career goals
  4. A current resume including all academic, professional, and volunteer experience
  5. Three letters of recommendation (at least one academic and at least one professional)

Admission decisions are based on undergraduate grade point average, any prior graduate course work, work experience, letters of recommendation, and statement of career goals. MPA admissions decisions are made on an ongoing basis and applicants are usually notified within three weeks of submitting all required application materials. To ensure admissions by the start of the semester or summer session, all admissions materials must be received by August 1 for fall admissions, December 10 for spring admissions, and April 10 for summer admissions, though earlier applications allow for better course availability.

Note: International applicants must follow the process and timing specified by WMU’s international admissions. The School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPPA) usually makes a decision within one week of receiving materials from that office.

MPA Program Requirements (39 hours)

The MPA curriculum provides a foundation in the principles of administration, addresses the practical responsibilities of managers and leaders, and reflects on the task of programmatic and policy analyses. The 39-credit hour program includes four components: the Core Program, an Area of Concentration, the Capstone Portfolio, and an Elective Stream. Pre-career students (status determined upon admission based on evidence of significant administrative, programmatic, or managerial experience in a relevant sector) also complete a three-credit hour (300 contact hour) professional field experience. The curriculum assumes that candidates already have basic computer literacy and a working knowledge of the American political processes at local, state, and national levels.

1. Core Program (15 credit hours)

The Core Program includes course work in the theoretical foundation of public administration, critical areas of administrative functions and responsibilities, and methods of programmatic and policy analysis. Students complete each of the following five courses:

2. Area of Concentration (12 credit hours)

In addition to the Core Program each MPA student must select and complete one of the following five 12-credit hour Areas of Concentration.


In the event one’s interest and career needs are not adequately addressed by one of the five areas of concentration, they may, with the MPA advisor’s assistance and approval, design a concentration from the wide array of courses that are offered by the School of Public Affairs and Administration or by other departments in the university.

Please note that MPA candidates completing the specific Area of Concentration, in addition to all other degree requirements, will have their Concentration noted on their official transcript.

3. Capstone Portfolio (3 credit hours)

The following two course-sequence of the Capstone Portfolio is required of each MPA student regardless of their area of concentration.


This requirement is focused on integrating the theory and practical considerations studied during the MPA program in order to solve a significant managerial, programmatic, or policy problem in the broader area of the student’s concentration. Enrollment in PADM 6001 at the beginning of their program allows students to fully understand the nature of the portfolio requirement and develop an appropriate plan of action. Enrollment in PADM 6800 after completing at least 30 credit hours of the program provides an opportunity to develop a summative portfolio that documents mastery of the required competencies across various areas of the program and applies them to prepare an analytically-driven institutional policy memo on a problem with a specifically recommended course of actions.

4. Elective Stream (6 credit hours)

In addition to the above requirements, MPA students must complete 6 credit hours of courses in their Elective Stream. Chosen with MPA advisor’s approval, these courses help students deepen their exposure and education into specific areas of study depending on their concentrations, career interests and needs. The following elective courses are available from the School of Public Affairs and Administration:


With MPA advisor’s approval, MPA students may also select courses from other Areas of Concentration within the MPA program or from other departments throughout the university.

Note: Courses from other departments may have specific prerequisites which must be completed prior to taking them and their offerings may change each year.

5. Professional Field Experience/Internship (3 credit hours)

For pre-career students (status determined upon admission based on evidence of significant administrative or managerial experience in a relevant sector), the fourth major component of the MPA is a planned professional field experience, or internship, equivalent to three credit hours (minimum 300 contact hours). The goal of the internship is to provide candidates with work experience, which will afford realistic exposure to their world of professional administration and to the organizational and bureaucratic environment in which the dynamics of an agency are developed.

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