2010-2012 Graduate Studies Catalog

Department of Sociology, Political Science, Native American Studies and Environmental Studies

Dr. Joy Honea, Chairperson
LA 802, (406) 657-2311 or 657-2119

Professors:  Jeffrey Sanders, Craig Wilson
Associate Professors:  Stephen Eliason, Mark Hardt, Joy Honea, David Hood
Assistant Professor:  Susan Gilbertz, University Lecturer:  James Rains
Emeritus:  Joe Floyd, C. Adrian Heidenreich, Ruey Lin-Lin, Richard Waltner

The department offers the following Graduate Degree program:

Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.)


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.

Admission Requirements

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:

  1. A letter of application, which includes a personal statement of the applicant’s career goals and how the degree will be applied within those career goals;
  2. Complete, official transcripts from all institutions attended;
  3. Official notification of scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) to be sent directly to the Office of Graduate Studies at MSU Billings;
  4. Three letters of recommendation from individuals who can attest to the applicant’s academic performance and potential for graduate study;
  5. A vita or resume;
  6. A graduate admission form.  The Department Graduate Committee will determine admissions.

Transfer Credit

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 nine semester hours from an accredited institution.

Internship Option

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.

Comprehensive Examination

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:

  1. Locate, read, and evaluate professional and academic literature.
  2. Develop, design, and execute independent research projects.
  3. Disseminate research findings to different types of audiences.

Course Requirements

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.  The student will provide the department with two (2) high quality bound copies of the final, approved project.  Specific printing and binding requirements are established annually and should be obtained from the Department office.

NEXT: Master of Public Administration

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