Department of Sociology, Political Science, Native American Studies and Environmental Studies
Dr. Jeffrey Sanders, Chairperson
Professors: Jeffrey Sanders, Craig Wilson
The Montana State University system graduate program in Public Administration leads to a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree. The program will be offered on the Billings campus and some courses online by MSU faculty from Billings and Bozeman. The program’s purpose is to prepare recent college graduates and returning students for professional public service employment and to enhance the professional competence of mid-career public administrators.
The MPA degree is a typical requirement for entry-level administrative positions in the public and nonprofit sectors. The MPA curriculum offers professional education in the areas of research methodology, program evaluation and policy analysis, organizational management, public budgeting and finance, public personnel administration, local government administration, and public sector ethics.
To be admitted to the MPA program, prospective degree candidates must have completed a bachelor’s degree at an accredited college or university with a 3.0 grade point average (GPA) recommended and submitted their GRE scores. Additionally, the following application materials need to be sent to the Office of Graduate Studies by March 15th for fall matriculation or October 15th for spring classes:
The MPA coordinator must approve transfer credits. Two copies of official transcripts recording the transfer courses must be sent directly from the registrar of that institution to the Office of Graduate Studies. No course credit may be transferred unless the grade received was at least a “3.0”.
If approved by the coordinator, a student may transfer a maximum of six semester hours from an accredited institution.
Students without any public service career work are encouraged to complete an internship with a public agency. The purpose of the internship is to provide the degree candidate with a meaningful learning experience within the context of public administration. Each graduate credit for an internship must entail a minimum of 50 hours of work; a total of 150 hours for the three credit requirement. Normally, the internship is completed during the summer months between the student’s first and second year in the degree program.
The purpose of the comprehensive examination is to test the student’s capacity to identify and integrate general concepts derived from the course of study. During the student’s final semester of coursework, the MPA faculty reviews the student’s progress and writes five questions covering completed coursework. The student receives these questions one week prior to the examination, and comes to the exam site prepared to write on three questions of choice.
Student Learning Outcomes
Successful graduates of this program will be able to:
Courses for which a student has received a grade of “C-” or less may not be used to satisfy degree requirements. The MPA degree will not be awarded to a student who earns a grade of “C” or lower in more than six hours of graduate-level work.
Students may take up to nine hours of electives outside the MPA Program. At least six of those elective hours must be numbered 500 or higher. All electives must be approved by the student’s MPA faculty advisor.
The MPA program is a three-year, part-time program. Students will be expected to make satisfactory progress towards degree completion each semester. Students are permitted to “fast-track” through the program by taking more than the normal 6-hour course load. No MPA student may be enrolled for more than 12 credits.
Applied Research Project
The Applied Research Project (POLS 574) is usually taken during the student’s last semester of the program, after completing the Comprehensive Examination. The purpose of the Applied Research Project is to allow MPA students an opportunity to effectively integrate underlying theories, concepts, themes, and patterns found throughout the program’s course work into a final, professional paper. This professional paper should constitute significant scholarly and/or practical research project. A final presentation of the course and/or project will be given to Public Administration and Political Science faculty, student peers, and other interested parties.