Master of Public Administration (MPA)

Program Mission

The mission of the Master of Public Administration (MPA) Program at Northern Arizona University is to educate students for professional public and community service. The curriculum provides the theoretical and practical dimensions of public management within a program of study, which facilitates intellectual development, promotes scholarship, and integrates the theory and practice of public administration.

This mission upholds the core goal of imparting competencies such as enhancing leadership, decision making, effective communication within diverse organizational settings, critical thinking and problem solving in organizational settings.

To earn this degree, you must complete 39 credit hours. This plan is designed to provide you with:

  • Improved knowledge and skills for current employment
  • Preparation for public and private sector careers

Program Requirements

Students in the MPA program of study must complete 39 hours of coursework approved by their advisor. The program requires the following.

Political Science core requirements (24 hours)

  • POS 541 Public Administration
  • POS 642 Human Resources Administration
  • POS 543 Theories of Organization
  • POS 527 Ethics of Administration and Management
  • POS 644 Government Budgeting
  • POS 501 Research Methods
  • Capstone requirement (6 hours)*
*The capstone requirement combines theory and practice using literature in the field to analyze your field work experience. You must complete at least 18 hours in required courses before taking the capstone and must earn a grade of B or better to complete the MPA program. There are two options for completing the capstone requirement:
  • POS 681 Theory and Practice of Public Administration
  • A combination of POS 608 Fieldwork Experience and POS 697 Independent Study

Electives (15 hours)

Students must complete 15 hours of elective credit. These can include any of the courses listed below, and may also include other courses in or outside of Political Science, as determined in conjunction with the student's advisor. POS 428 and POS 581 can each be taken twice with different topics. The following are Political Science courses which satisfy the electives requirement:
  • POS 428 Topics in Public Administration
  • POS 581 Current Issues in Administration
  • POS 600 Approaches to Political Inquiry
  • POS 605 Topics in Research Methods
  • POS 610 American Political Institutions
  • POS 612 American Political Processes
  • POS 627 Ethics and Politics
  • POS 648 Comparative Policy & Administration
  • POS 657 American Indian Policies & Law
  • POS 697 Independent Study

Students may count up to two 400-level courses toward this degree if they haven't previously been counted toward a bachelor's degree.

MPA Faculty

NAU_shieldAlan Wood, PhD

MPA Coordinator, Senior Lecturer 

NAU_shieldJeffrey Hanlon, PhD

MPA Advisor, Assistant Professor 

NAU_shieldEric Otenyo, PhD 


NAU_shieldLori Poloni-Staudinger, PhD

Professor and Department Chair 

NAU_shieldViola Fuentes, PhD


NAU_shieldZachary Smith, PhD

Regents' Professor 

NAU_shieldSteven Laubacher, PhD 

Professor of Practice 

 For more details about faculty academic interests and backgrounds, visit the faculty index

Helpful Links

For information about admission requirements and career options with an earned MPA, click here

For information about tuition and fees, click here

For information about financing options, click here