Master of Public Administration

School of Public Affairs

Overview

Degree: MPA

Classroom Type: Online and on campus classes

The MPA program is for students interested in public service leadership positions and careers with public and nonprofit agencies and organizations. The program serves students new to public service, as well as those already in the field who are interested in furthering their careers.

Application deadlines


Fall: August 1; Spring: December 1; Summer: May 1


Program Details

Interest Categories: Criminology & Law Public Administration & Policy

Campus: CU Denver

Logo indicating that the School of Public Affairs is accredited by NASPAA

Traditional MPA program

The MPA program is offered in a traditional format, where students can choose to take their courses in person, online or both.


Accelerated MPA cohort

The accelerated MPA (AMPA) is a fast-paced, full-time option that brings academically superior students together with a dedicated research and teaching faculty in the midst of the vibrant downtown CU Denver environment. The accelerated option enables students to focus their energies in a concentrated program of study and earn a nationally accredited, 36-hour MPA in 12 months. (It is preferred that applicants have some knowledge of economics, statistics and political science.) Students are admitted to the program in cohorts of approximately 20 participants to foster a community of scholar-practitioners. Students in the AMPA program are not able to choose a concentration due to the cohort nature of the program and sequencing of classes; they can, however, pursue un-transcripted specializations. A new cohort starts each August, and the accelerated option is priced at a flat fee - regardless of in-state or out-of-state student status - providing out-of-state students with substantial savings.


Executive MPA program


The executive MPA option is targeted to senior-level professionals in the nonprofit and public sectors. The Executive MPA option requires 30 semester hours of credit. Professional experience counts for two courses, leaving 10 courses to complete, as opposed to the 12 courses of the Accelerated or Traditional MPA options. Refer to the Graduate Academic Catalog for Executive MPA requirements.


Which MPA is right for you?


General requirements

Review CU Denver's Graduate Academic Policies.


Program requirements

  • The Master of Public Administration degree requires 36 credit hours of coursework. Students who have not had at least one year of professional work experience in the public or nonprofit sectors must also complete an internship through an additional 3-credit-hour course, bringing their total credit-hour requirement to 39. Students choosing a 6-credit thesis option will be required to complete 39 to 42 credits, depending on whether they are required to complete the 3-credit internship.
  • A maximum of 9 transfer credit hours may be applied to the degree requirements.
  • No more than 6 credit hours of independent study can be applied toward the degree.
  • Students at the University are expected to maintain progress in their degree program, as defined by being in "good academic standing." Good academic standing requires minimally a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 on all University of Colorado course work.

Required courses

With the exception of those in the executive MPA program, students must complete the seven required courses below, for a total of 21 credit hours. All course descriptions can be found in the Graduate Academic Catalog.

  • PUAD 5001 - Introduction to Public Administration and Public Service (3 credit hours)
  • PUAD 5002 - Organizational Management and Behavior (3 credit hours)
  • PUAD 5003 - Research and Analytic Methods (3 credit hours)
  • PUAD 5004 - Economics and Public Finance -OR- PUAD 5503 - Public Budgeting and Finance (3 credit hours) *Students in the Local Government Concentration must take PUAD 5503
  • PUAD 5005 - The Policy Process and Democracy (3 credit hours)
  • PUAD 5006 - Public Service Leadership and Ethics (3 credit hours)
  • PUAD 5008 - Evidence-Based Decision-Making (3 credit hours)

Elective courses

In addition to the required courses, students must complete 12 credit hours of elective courses. All course descriptions can be found in the Graduate Academic Catalog.

Internship

Students who have limited experience (generally defined as less than one year of experience) in public, nonprofit or relevant private-sector service must enroll in PUAD 6910 - Public Administration Internship. The decision to require PUAD 6910 for a particular student is made by the faculty admissions committee or the student's faculty advisor upon the student's acceptance to the MPA program. A minimum of 300 hours of supervised work and study is required to earn 3 semester hours of credit. This requirement raises the total semester hours needed to earn the MPA degree to 39.

Capstone option

With the exception of those pursuing the thesis option, all MPA students must complete the capstone course during the last semester of their degree program. All core classes must be completed before taking the capstone.

  • PUAD 5361 - Capstone Seminar (3 credit hours)

Thesis option

The thesis option is available in lieu of the PUAD 5361 - Capstone Seminar for MPA students who have an interest in pursuing a topic in-depth or who are planning to pursue a career in research or academia. Students must receive approval from their faculty advisor or the MPA director to pursue the thesis option.

  • PUAD 6950 - Master's Thesis (3-6 credit hours)

Areas of Concentration

A student may choose to complete a concentration in disasters, hazards and emergency management as part of the MPA or MCJ program. This concentration provides advanced education in the management of emergencies, hazards, disasters, and community resilience. The DHEM program is designed to meet the needs of students who wish to work, or are currently working, in the field of natural and man-made hazards, community resilience, and, emergency management. Students must complete 12 credit hours to earn the concentration.

Students must complete the following course, for a total of 3 credit hours:

  • CRJU/PUAD 5720 - Public Policies for Hazards and Disasters (3 credit hours)

In addition, students must complete another course from the list below (all three courses are recommended) for a total of 3 credit hours:

  • CRJU/PUAD 5650 - Public Service in Emergency Management and Homeland Security (3 credit hours)
  • CRJU/PUAD 5655 - Principles of Emergency Management (3 credit hours)
  • URPL 6645 - Planning for Disasters and Climate Change (3 credit hours)

Additionally, students must complete two elective courses for a total of 6 credits. View the program completion plan for a list of approved electives. Other electives may be taken with approval from the concentration director. All course descriptions can be found in the Graduate Academic Catalog.

A student may choose to complete a concentration in education policy as part of the MPA. This concentration provides students with an understanding of how K-12 education is governed, financed and regulated in the United States. Students will become familiar with the interaction between federal, state, and local policies and with the context in which education policy is formulated and implemented. Students must complete 12 credit hours to earn the concentration.

Students must complete the following two courses, for a total of 6 credit hours:
  • PUAD 5200 - Education Policy (3 credit hours)
  • PUAD 5210 - Education Finance (3 credit hours)

Additionally, students must complete two elective courses for a total of 6 credits. View the program completion plan for a list of approved electives. Other electives may be taken with approval from the concentration director. All course descriptions can be found in the Graduate Academic Catalog.

A student may choose to complete a concentration in emergency management and homeland security as part of the MPA or MCJ program. This graduate concentration provides advanced education in the management of emergencies, hazards, disasters and homeland security. Students completing the concentration will have the knowledge and skills necessary to assess and manage a broad range of hazards and disasters, and to understand the policy environment in which emergency management occurs. A total of 12 credits in needed to complete the concentration.

Students must complete the following course, for a total of 3 credit hours:

  • CRJU 5650/PUAD 5650 - Public Service in Emergency Management and Homeland Security (3 credit hours)

In addition, students must complete at least one other course from the list below for a total of 3 credit hours:

  • CRJU/PUAD 5655 - Principles of Emergency Management (3 credit hours)
  • CRJU/PUAD 5720 - Public Policies of Hazards and Disasters (3 credit hours)
  • URPL 6645 - Disaster and Climate Change Planning (3 credit hours)
Additionally, students must complete two elective courses for a total of 6 credits. View the program completion plan for a list of approved electives. Other electives may be taken with approval from the concentration director. The elective courses may be drawn from the students' particular areas of interest, such as policy and management, spatial analysis and quantitative assessment, or public safety. All course descriptions can be found in the Graduate Academic Catalog.

A student may choose to complete a concentration in environmental policy and management as part of the MPA. The environmental policy and management concentration provides an understanding of how our natural environment is governed and affected by relationships between various entities, including: legislatures; administrative agencies; courts; federal, state, and local governments; government and the nonprofit and private sectors; and government and the public it has been established to serve.

Students must complete the two required courses listed below for a total of 6 credits.

  • PUAD 5631 - Seminar in Environmental Politics and Policy (3 credit hours)
  • PUAD 5632 - Seminar in Environmental Management (3 credit hours)

Additionally, students must complete two elective courses for a total of 6 credits. View the program completion plan for a list of approved electives. Other electives may be taken with approval from the concentration director. All course descriptions can be found in the Graduate Academic Catalog. 

A student may choose to complete a concentration in gender-based violence studies as part of the MPA or MCJ program. The gender-based violence program of study provides an interdisciplinary perspective on crime, the formulation of laws and codes, and the criminal legal system and its intersection with gender and violence. Students participate in a required combination of intensive in-person and online hybrid courses that meet periodically throughout a two-year period.

Students must complete the following four courses for a total of 12 credit hours. All course descriptions can be found in the Graduate Academic Catalog.

  • CRJU/PUAD 5910* - Nature and Scope of Interpersonal Violence (3 credit hours)
  • CRJU/PUAD 5920* - The Psychology of Interpersonal Violence (3 credit hours)
  • CRJU/PUAD 5930* - Interpersonal Violence Law and Policy (3 credit hours)
  • CRJU/PUAD 5940* - Interpersonal Violence Leadership, Advocacy, and Social Change (3 credit hours)

*Tuition is assessed at $2,800 per course for students who require hotel accommodation. Students who do not require hotel accommodation will be assessed tuition of $1,700 per course.

A student may choose to complete a concentration in local government as part of the MPA. The local government concentration prepares students to become well-versed in the forces that shape the agendas of the public sector, including those of municipalities, counties, regional authorities and councils of government. Additionally, students gain an understanding of government management and policy making. Students must complete 12 credit hours to earn the concentration.

Students must complete the course below as part of the MPA core, for a total 3 credit hours.

  • PUAD 5503 - Public Budgeting and Finance (3 credit hours)

Students must complete one of the courses below, for a total of 3 credit hours.

  • PUAD 5625 - Local Government Management (3 credit hours)
  • PUAD 5626 - Local Government Politics and Policy (3 credit hours)
  • PUAD 5628 - Urban Social Problems (3 credit hours)

Additionally, students must complete two elective courses for a total of 6 credits. View the program completion plan for a list of approved electives. Other electives may be taken with approval from the concentration director. All course descriptions can be found in the Graduate Academic Catalog.

A student may choose to complete a concentration in nonprofit management as part of the MPA. This concentration prepares students to become innovative and critical thinkers in the areas of nonprofit organizational management and public policy, with a unique approach that bridges theoretical knowledge with real-world experience. As students prepare for their careers or advancement in their current positions, they gain insight into the interdependence between the nonprofit, public and for-profit sectors. Graduates are able to span the boundaries of these three sectors to assess community needs, navigate the realm of public policy, and strategically and effectively manage organizations that ultimately benefit society. Students must complete 12 credit hours to earn the concentration.


Students must complete the courses below, for a total of 3 credit hours. 

  • PUAD 5110 - Seminar in Nonprofit Management (3 credit hours)
Additionally, students must complete three elective courses for a total of 9 credits. View the program completion plan for a list of approved electives. Other electives may be taken with approval from the concentration director. All course descriptions can be found in the Graduate Academic Catalog.


The school's affiliation with the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance gives students the opportunity to earn the Certified Nonprofit Professional (CNP) credential through completion of the Nonprofit Management concentration coursework, additional required extracurricular activities, and an examination. Contact cnp@ucdenver.edu for more information about this credential.

A student may choose to complete a concentration in public policy analysis as part of the MPA. This concentration provides training in the tools and skills needed to assess the impact of public policies and programs, including policy analysis, cost-benefit analysis, program evaluation, multivariate regression and other analytical techniques. Students must complete 12 credit hours to earn the concentration.

Students must complete the following course, for a total of 3 credit hours:

  • PUAD 5320 – Public Policy Analysis (3 credit hours)

Additionally, students must complete three elective courses for a total of 9 credits. View the program completion plan for a list of approved electives. Other electives may be taken with approval from the concentration director. All course descriptions can be found in the Graduate Academic Catalog.

Recommended Completion Time:2 Years

Max Transfer Credits:9

Max Credits Per Year:In most cases, students wishing to take more than 18 credit hours per semester (12 in the summer session) must have the overload approved by the dean.

Required Credits for Completion:36

Admission Requirements


View the admissions requirements for the School of Public Affairs.

Mission

The Master of Public Administration Program at the School of Public Affairs advances public service in Colorado and beyond through quality education, collaborative research, and strong relationships with the professional community. To advance our "Lead. Solve. Change." philosophy, we:

  • Provide students with knowledge, skills, experiences, and ethical standards to be innovative leaders in public and nonprofit organizations;
  • Support faculty and students in conducting rigorous empirical research and disseminating findings to advance the study and practice of public and nonprofit management and policy; and
  • Work with practitioners to enhance the public sector's ability to make evidence-based management decisions and policy improvements.

Learning Objectives

NASPAA Accreditation

CU Denver School of Public Affairs' Master of Public Administration program is accredited by NASPAA, the global standard in public service education. As part of our NASPAA accreditation, we make the following information available to prospective and current students and to members of the public:


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