Public Administration & Policy Master of Public Administration Program (M.P.A.)

The M.P.A. program provides college graduates with opportunities to prepare for greater career opportunities. It can also serve as an intermediate step towards studies at the doctoral level.

Program of Study - 36 credits

M.P.A. degree requirements include 12 semester-length (full) courses, plus career experience. Full-time students without previous work experience should plan to commit four semesters to complete the program.

  1. Core Requirements - 24 credits:
    • PAD 500 Foundations of Public Administration (3)
    • PAD 501 Public and Nonprofit Financial Management (3)
    • PAD 502 Valuing People in Public and Nonprofit Organizations (3)
    • PAD 503 Principles of Public Economics (3)
    • PAD 504 Data Models, and Decisions (3)
    • PAD 505 Statistics for Public Managers and Policy Analysts (3)
    • PAD 506 Foundations of Public Management (3)
    • PAD 696 Integrative Capstone (3)
  2. Cluster Course Requirements - 3 courses required (9 credits); students must take 3 courses in a cluster, chosen in consultation with the student's advisor.
  3. Career Experience Requirement
  4. Elective: 3 credits; students must take one additional elective in the Department of Public Administration and Policy or a related discipline.


Non-Profit Management and Policy: This cluster of courses prepares students for management careers, leadership on boards of directors, and advocacy and volunteer opportunities in the diverse world of nonprofit organizations. Course readings, cases, guest lecturers, and service learning opportunities expose students to a range of third sector entities, including those in human services, arts, social change, environmental advocacy and protection, and international development.

Public Economics and Finance: This cluster of courses provides students with a theoretical and practical understanding of the central concepts in public economics and finance. Students planning a career in budgeting, financial management, or taxation may choose to select all their courses from this cluster. Students planning a career in a particular institutional environment or programmatic area should consider taking additional courses in the Public Policy cluster. Students desiring skills in policy analysis or public management might combine courses in this cluster with those in the Public Policy and Information and Technology Management clusters.

Public Management: This cluster is designed to provide current and future managers with both a theoretical and practical understanding of the knowledge and skills needed to be an effective manager. This cluster provides a comprehensive approach to management in public and nonprofit organizations.

Public Policy: This cluster includes courses about methods for analyzing the impacts of policy; about the political institutions through which policy is decided and implemented; and about the specific challenges of various policy areas (such as education, the environment, or health). This concentration is thus suitable for students who want to work as policy analysts, or in the political/legislative sphere, or in agencies/organizations focused on specific policy areas.

Information and Technology Management: The Information Technology Management cluster addresses public policy and management innovations that are the consequence of rapidly changing information and communication technologies (ICTs) and dramatic changes in the nature, amount, and availability of information in government and society. This concentration prepares students for decision making roles related to the creation, management and use of information and information technologies as essential tools for problem solving and public management within single organizations and across multiple organizations, sectors, and levels of government. Drawing from public administration and other fields, students learn how policies, organizational factors, context, information content, and information and communication technologies influence decisions and performance.

Homeland Security: The Homeland Security cluster addresses a growing array of natural and man-made risks and threats to New York State and around the world. It prepares students to face challenges in emergency preparedness, homeland security, and cybersecurity.

Career Experience Requirements

The career experience requirement may be met either by providing documentation of two years relevant professional administrative experience in the public or non-profit sectors, concurrent full-time employment in a public, nonprofit, or related organization, or by obtaining placement in internship(s) for the equivalent of two terms. Strong links with numerous state, local, federal, and non-profit agencies allow the Internship Program to offer the student a wide range of professional experience and the chance to sharpen administrative, policy making, communication, and research skills. Most internship positions are paid, part-time professional positions. Students thus supplement both their educational experience and their financial standing through participation in the Internship Program. This requirement does not require course registration and is not credit bearing.

Capstone Experiences

The core capstone experience for the MPA program includes successful completion of PAD 507: Integrative Capstone (three credits). Integrative Capstone emphasizes the development of professional skills, the ability to work in teams, an awareness of trade-offs in modern public administration, and a culminating portfolio project. This course, typically taken in the last semester of study, is designed to teach students core professional skills and provides an opportunity to reflect on how lessons from the MPA degree contribute to an understanding of effective management.

Other Available Courses

Students have the option to take courses from a variety of University at Albany offerings, in consultation with their academic advisor. In addition, students taking courses in any specialization area may wish to explore an area of particular interest by taking an independent study with a faculty member.


Applications for admission to the M.P.A. program are reviewed by a department committee. Students are expected to have at least minimal competence in mathematics and good writing skills. Incoming students are tested for competence in these areas, and remedial courses are strongly encouraged for students without these skills.

Please note: This program requires an internship, field experience, study abroad component, or clinical experience requirement. Students who have previously been convicted of a felony are advised that their prior criminal history may impede their ability to complete the requirements of certain academic programs and/or to meet licensure requirements for certain professions. If you have concerns about this matter please contact the Dean’s Office of your intended academic program.