The Master of Public Administration is focused on helping you develop the skills you need to become an ethical, creative leader in public service. We periodically update courses to reflect trends in the study of public administration as well as faculty expertise and interests.

The MPA is 39-credit degree program. As part of your studies, you will complete a management internship. If you have at least three years of relevant work experience, the internship course may be waived, and your degree will be 36 credits. At the conclusion of your MPA, students take a written comprehensive examination.

You may also elect to complete an individual research project. These are reserved for advanced students with specific needs not met by available elective course work. Approval for the individual research course must be obtained from the MPA Director.

The MPA Director may also permit you to take up to two elective courses from other graduate programs in order to help you personalize your degree.

Full-time students typically complete the MPA degree in two academic years; part-time students usually graduate within three-to-four years, although they may have up to six years. We offer both on-campus and fully online programs.


Required Courses (18 credits)

MPA 8011 Public Administration Theory: Tension between bureaucracy-democracy; theories about the nature and development of public administration in the United States.

MPA 8021 Leadership Ethics: Examines assumptions implicit in various organizational designs and highlights the importance of fidelity to value- based decision-making.

MPA 8031 Financial Management: The study of financial management of government and non- profit organizations that will provide skills for evaluating alternative courses of action in financial decision making. Topics include the budgetary process, revenue policy, financial controls, debt management, and capital budgeting.

MPA 8041 Human Capital Management: Public versus private personnel management; also topics such as recruitment, selection, training, career management, performance assessment, grievances and appeals.

MPA 8051 Applied Data Analysis: Introduction to applied research methods for the public and nonprofit sectors. Exposure to and utilization of data gathered from a variety of research sources with attention paid to determining the value of such research for public administration. 

MPA 8061 Organization Theory: The study of the similarities and differences in various formal and complex organizations, the structures and dynamics of these organizations, and the theories applicable to such organizations.

Elective Courses (18 credits)

MPA 8100 Decision-Making: The study of the decision making behavior of individuals, work-groups, departments, and complex organizations. The securing of consistency, the coordinating of various planning units, and the economizing of planning efforts in regard to decision making will also be included.

MPA 8200 Strategic Communication: The study of the communication process within and among complex organizations and the listening, writing, and speaking skills needed to promote better relations among individuals and organizations.

MPA 8300 Leadership Ethics: Examines assumptions implicit in various organizational designs and highlights the importance of fidelity to value- based decision-making.

MPA 8400 Strategic Planning: The study of strategic planning and strategic management with special emphasis upon planning models as well as planning functions.

MPA 8500 Effective City Management: Relating to community, working with the governing body, creating the organizational climate for excellence, overseeing the delivery of services, promoting the community's future, conducting relations with other governments, and maintaining personal effectiveness.

MPA 8550 Urban Politics and Government: The study of city and suburban governments in metropolitan areas; special emphasis devoted to such topics as governmental form, city-suburb relations, race and ethnic relations, and economic change

MPA 8600 Effective Non-Profit Management: Examination of nonprofit civic and political involvement, ethics and accountability, leadership and board development, human resource practices, financial management and performance measurement, philanthropy and fundraising, volunteer management, and marketing and communications. 

MPA 8700 Fundraising for Non-Profit Organizations: Development plans, institutional mission & readiness factors, development of office operations, analysis of constituencies & effectiveness, communications & marketing, the role of the board of directors & volunteers, ethical considerations of fundraising, benchmarking, & the role of technology on philanthropy.

MPA 8800 Managing Public Networks: Theories of federalism, intergovernmental relations, and intergovernmental and intersectoral networks, collaborative decision-making approaches and negotiating skills.

MPA 8900 Public Policy: Models of the policy making process; also special topics such as privatization, public enterprises, deregulation, and benefit-cost analysis.

MPA 8199 Three-Credit Special Topics (i.e., Cultural Competency)

MPA 8299 One-Credit Special Topics (See below for topics) 

Three one-credit courses may be used to substitute for a three-credit elective. Our one-credit topic courses are offered on three Saturday mornings (or occasionally, on Friday evenings).

Topics include:

  • Land-use and zoning
  • Economic development strategy
  • Labor relations
  • Program evaluation
  • Performance measurement
  • Effective public affairs
  • Emergency management
  • Arts marketing
  • Leading social innovation

Contingent Courses

MPA 8010 Management Internship:
Administrative field experience in an agency or organization. Permission of the MPA Director required.

MPA 8012 Individual Research I: An individual research project under the direction of public administration faculty member. Permission of MPA Director and consent of faculty member required.

MPA 8013 Individual Research II: An individual research project under the direction of public administration faculty member. Permission of MPA Director and consent of faculty member required.

The Master of Public Administration degree prepares students for management careers in the public and non-profit sector. The MPA degree requires supervisory or management experience in the field. Students starting the program with such experience may apply for a waiver of the required MPA 8010, a three-credit internship. Otherwise, students are required to complete the internship, which will then give them 39 credits towards their program. Students work with the MPA Director to arrange internships. See the MPA Internship Syllabus.

Recent Internships

  • Philadelphia Free School
  • Whitpain Township
  • Home@USA
  • Whitemarsh Township
  • Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation
  • MJC Consulting
  • Office of Student Development at Villanova University
  • Hatfield Township
  • Center for Multicultural Affairs at Villanova University
  • Pennsylvania Department of Communication & Economic Development (DCED)
  • Global Philadelphia Association
  • Willistown Township
  • Lower Gwynedd Township
  • Upper Merion Township
  • Philadelphia Partnership for Resilience at the Nationalities Service Center
  • Delta Point, Inc. 

The Comprehensive Exam serves as a capstone experience in the MPA program. It is designed to provide students with the opportunity to integrate and to use the knowledge gained through their coursework in the program. The Comprehensive Exam is administered online three times per year. Please review the steps below for detailed information regarding the guidelines to sit and apply for the exam.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible to take the exam, students must have completed at least 24 credits (eight courses) and have a 3.00 GPA or higher. It is highly recommended to have completed MPA 8011 through MPA 8061 prior to taking the comprehensive exam. Students do not need to be enrolled in a class the semester in which they sit for the exam.

Exam Dates and Application Deadlines

Review the Graduate Academic Calendar for all exam dates and exam application deadlines (three offerings each year - Spring, Summer and Fall).

Review Exam Guidelines

Review our MPA Guide to the Comprehensive Exam for all guidelines, expectations, and recommendations for preparation. 

Complete and Submit Your Application

Additional Resources

Accommodations: Need additional time for an exam? Register with Learning Support Services to provide your medical documentation to make appropriate accommodations for the exam.

Library Access: Have you completed all of your courses and need access to the library to assist your review and preparations for the comprehensive exam? Request extension of library privileges.



Ready for the Next Step?

Department of Public Administration
Villanova University
800 Lancaster Avenue
St. Augustine Center, Suite 205
Villanova, PA 19085




FEBRUARY 1: For admission with funding consideration for the fall

AUGUST 1: For admission without funding for the fall

DECEMBER 1: For admission without funding for the spring

MAY 1: For admission without funding for the summer

ONLINE: Rolling with courses beginning every eight weeks

Please contact Dr. Catherine Wilson with questions related to admissions.

Begin your application.



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