Academic Programs

Each of our programs will provide you with the theoretical foundations, practical skills, and hands-on experience to lead in your chosen field. Read on to find the course of study that best meets your needs and interests!


The Undergraduate Civic Leadership Minor provides students with theoretical and practical understanding about civic leadership, and prepares students to be responsibly engaged citizens and community leaders. This is a great opportunity for students interested in exploring careers in the public sector, nonprofit sphere, political arena, community development, and much more.

The Volunteer Engagement and Leadership Program (VELP) Certificate a fully online series of courses leading to a certificate of completion in Volunteer Engagement and Leadership. The Department of Public Administration offers this educational series designed to build a volunteer program to standards of excellence, and to provide professional development for practitioners. Volunteers are engaged in programs and projects around the world in new and exciting ways. Recruiting and organizing them is both art and science.

Master’s Level Degrees

The Master of Public Administration (MPA) focuses on preparing students for administrative and leadership positions in governmental and nonprofit organizations. In addition to core coursework in public policy, budgeting, analytical methods, and other aspects of organizational administration, MPA students choose a field of specialization.

The Master of Public Administration: Health Administration degree integrates the MPA’s core curriculum with a special focus on health services. An MPH:HA degree prepares graduates for a wide range of careers in public or health services administration, planning, policy, evaluation, consulting, and related careers.

The Executive Master of Public Administration is designed for busy, ambitious, and forward-looking public and nonprofit professionals who have at least ten years of significant work experience. The program prepares individuals for advanced leadership roles.

The Master of Public Policy degree provides students with core competencies in policy analysis and leadership. Students may specialize in a wide variety of policy areas, including urban planning, criminal justice, immigration, health, education, and environmental policies.

Doctoral Program

The Ph.D. in Public Affairs and Policy is an interdisciplinary course of study designed to prepare students for careers in research, teaching, public service, and consulting in a variety of settings, whether academia, government, or the private sector. The curriculum draws on faculty expertise in public administration, political science, and public policy.

Graduate Certificate Programs

The Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit and Public Management is a 21-credit (7-course) certificate program designed to provide existing and aspiring middle managers in nonprofit and public organizations with the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful in carrying out their administrative responsibilities. After completing this coursework, some students opt to apply to the full MPA program; credits taken in the GCNPM program may count toward the MPA degree.

In the fully-online Graduate Certificate in Collaborative Governance, students will apply collaborative governance theory and practice to real-world, community-based problems in 16 credit hours in just 5 terms. This unique certificate program will culminate with a practicum experience where students are mentored by faculty experts in the field.

The Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Food Systems provides students with a multidimensional understanding of the social, environmental, and economic impacts of the food sector. Courses are offered in a range of academic areas related to food systems, including public administration, community health, urban and regional planning, business, and education, allowing students to tailor their course selection to align with their interests and career goals. The Public Administration Department collaborates with the following Units to offer this certificate: College of Urban and Public Affairs, Graduate School of Education, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, School of Business and the Institute for Sustainable Solutions.

The energy industry is an important cornerstone of the regional economy, and a number of PSU master’s degree graduates are active in the industry. For a number of years, several PSU departments have offered graduate courses focusing on energy issues and techniques for energy analysis. The Graduate Certificate in Energy Policy and Management brings these classes together in a program designed to create a foundation of knowledge about the energy industry. The program allows flexible graduate coursework combinations so that students can customize their studies to match their goals and interests. The Public Administration Department collaborates with the following Departments to offer this certificate: Urban Studies and Planning, Economics, Engineering and Technology Management, and Systems Science.

*If you are currently enrolled in a graduate program at PSU and are looking to apply to one of our Graduate Certificates, the application fee is reduced. Please be sure to contact the Office of Graduate Studies to get the reduced fee.