Master of Public Administration



The Master of Public Administration is a 60 credit degree, with each class at 3 credits. Students complete 30 credits of required courses, 9 credits of Skill Development courses, 15 credits in their chosen Field of Specialization, and 6 credits of an Integrative Experience. One course must also fulfill the Diversity Requirement. Visit our Degree Information page for the full Degree Requirements.

Why an MPA?

What will I learn?

The Master of Public Administration (MPA) focuses on preparing students for administrative positions in governmental and nonprofit organizations. An MPA is a flexible degree that allows you to choose from a variety of options once you graduate. During the MPA program, you will participate in foundational courses in public administration, administrative ethics and values, administrative theory and behavior, public policy, administrative law and policy implementation, public budgeting, financial management, human resource management, and analytic methods.

In addition to these core classes, MPA students choose a field of specialization based on their academic and professional interests. This is an excellent opportunity to work closely with faculty and instructors widely regarded as top academics and practitioners in the areas of Global Leadership and Management, Local Government, Human Resource Management, Natural Resources Policy and Administration, and Nonprofit Management.

How will it prepare me for the future?

Whether you are just entering the workforce or looking to take your career to the next step, the MPA will help you advance both personally and professionally. Our program focuses on integrating theory and practice to ensure that students emerge from this program with an education grounded in research and nourished through real-world experience. We prepare students beginning their careers to be competent and effective leaders in public affairs, and mid-career students to enhance their capacities as managers and leaders through the opportunities provided for reflection and integration of new knowledge. The core curriculum provides the skills and knowledge desired by employers today, while our specialization options allow you to hone your abilities in a 15-credit area focus of your choice.

Our students engage in community learning experiences throughout their degree. Many courses pair students with public organizations to complete program evaluations, provide technical assistance, and otherwise analyze public administration in action. These students devote significant hours as part of class teams, engage in short-term internships, and/or work in organizations or public agencies through their culminating field-based organizational experience.

For more information, please see our MPA Graduation and Employment Rates page.

Why Portland State University?

Unique Partnerships and Community Connections
Portland State is well-known for its focus on community service and engagement, and the Mark O. Hatfield School of Government is one of the best places to take advantage of the numerous community partnerships PSU has developed. Partnerships and cooperative arrangements exist within the Oregon University System (which includes Oregon State University, Oregon Health & Science University, University of Oregon, and more) as well as with multiple health, human service, community and governmental agencies in Portland, across Oregon, and nationally.

Experienced and Committed Faculty
Our faculty members and instructors are leading researchers and practitioners in the field of public administration. Their diverse array of expertise, experiences, and interests include local and regional government, public finance and law, nonprofit management, leadership, sustainability, health management and policy, natural resources policy, and much more. Faculty members continually practice and expand their skills through scholarship and service, and our students have the opportunity to work closely with these leaders in the classroom, through funded research, and technical assistance projects. 

Creating Leaders
The Hatfield School has earned a reputation as a producer of well-qualified and passionate alumni. You will be learning with committed students from a wide variety of fields and levels of experience, and networking with community organizations, professionals, and decisionmakers. Here are just a few examples of some of the organizations where our alumni now serve and lead:

City Club of Portland World Affairs Council City of Portland Multnomah County
Trimet OMSI IRCO US Fish and Wildlife

For more information and opportunities to connect with graduates in the field, be sure to visit the Public Administration Alumni Association website.

What are the core competencies for the MPA?

The MPA program is designed to be academically rigorous, intellectually challenging, and personally rewarding. Each student accepted into the program is assigned to one of our committed faculty who serves as both advisor and mentor, helping to ensure that each student achieves the following program competencies:

  1. Articulate and exemplify the ethics, values, responsibilities, obligations and social roles of a member of the public service profession.
  2. Identify and apply relevant theories and frameworks to the practice of public service leadership, management and policy. 
  3. Respond to and engage collaboratively with diverse local and global cultures and communities to address challenges in the public interest.
  4. Identify and engage with the key elements of the public policy process.
  5. Employ appropriate qualitative and quantitative techniques to investigate, monitor and manage resource use.
  6. Create and manage systems and processes to assess and improve organizational performance.
  7. Conceptualize, analyze, and develop creative and collaborative solutions to challenges in public service leadership, management and policy.
  8. Assess challenges and explore solutions to advance cross-sectoral and inter-jurisdictional cooperation in public programs and services.
  9. Demonstrate verbal and written communication skills as a professional and through interpersonal interactions in groups and in society.
  10. Think critically and self-reflectively about emerging issues concerning public service leadership, management and policy.

Approved by the Faculty, January 3, 2011; Revised by the Faculty March 7, 2011; Further revision by the Faculty October 10, 2011