Nov 28, 2020  
2015-2017 Graduate Catalog 
2015-2017 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Public Administration, M.P.A.

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The MPA program prepares students for administrative positions in local, state, or national government and in non-profit agencies. The MPA is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration. It requires 36 credits of coursework plus an internship of 6 credits.

A modern public administrator must understand administrative processes, all factors that affect them, and their implications for the vital issues which affect our society. Administrators must be able to analyze government- and policy-related problems and recommend appropriate courses of action to elected officials and other public policy makers. In order to accomplish the public mission, it is essential that public administrators have specific skills and knowledge in areas such as financial administration, personnel management, evaluation, research design, statistics, computer utilization, and the management and leadership of large organizations. Our graduates are professionals qualified by their specialized knowledge, skills and abilities to assume key leadership and managerial positions in the public sector.


All applicants to graduate programs in the College of Public Service and Urban Affairs must also consult the Graduate School policies detailed at the beginning of the Graduate Catalog, which pertain to all TSU graduate students. All students are expected to be familiar with and to adhere to both Graduate School policies and specific departmental requirements for their degree and/or graduate certificate. A cumulative grade point average of 3.0 in all graduate courses taken at Tennessee State University is required for successful completion of graduate certificates or graduate degree programs; individual programs may also have more restrictive policies as detailed in their Catalog section (for example, C grades in core courses are not accepted for the Ph.D. in public administration). We abide by Graduate School policies including those regarding retention, probation, suspension, and time limitations for degrees (see the front matter of this Catalog). Per Graduate School policy, a given course in our programs may be repeated one time only, and the second grade will replace the first. A student may repeat a maximum of two (2) courses in a given program for the purpose of improving grades.

Admission Process and Requirements

To be considered for admission, all applicants must provide the following items to the Graduate School: (1) Application for Admission to the Graduate School; (2) application fee; (3) official documentation of the general Graduate Record Examination submitted directly to the Graduate School with a score averaging 20th percentile or above across the verbal and quantitative sections; (4) one official transcript from all colleges and universities previously attended, showing a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher for the undergraduate degree; (5) three letters of recommendation on letterhead or the Graduate School recommendation form from persons familiar with the applicant’s potential for masters-level study in public administration; and (6) a 500- to 1,000-word Statement of Purpose discussing why the applicant is interested in a master’s degree, and why the master’s program in public administration specifically is a good fit for their goals. All applicants are expected to be competent in written and spoken English and must possess basic computer literacy; applicants who have English as a foreign language exam scores below the Graduate School thresholds will not be considered for admission to the MPA. The admission decision will be based on the entire academic and professional record after the conditions specified here have been met. Applicants will be granted unconditional admission if the overall record (based on the above variables) indicates a high potential for success in the program.

Prerequisite: All applicants are required to have completed satisfactorily (i.e., grade of C or higher) POLS 2010 (American National Government), URBS 2010 (Introduction to Urban Studies) or URBS 4700 (American Government Institutions and Urban Governance) or an equivalent undergraduate course in government prior to unconditional admission. A graduate-level course in this subject can also be used to meet this requirement.

Applicants who have not submitted a qualifying score on the Graduate Record Examination and/or have not satisfied the American Government course prerequisite may be conditionally admitted for one term only. Students admitted conditionally must submit an acceptable Graduate Record Examination test score and/or proof of satisfaction of the prerequisite by the end of the first semester of enrollment. A conditionally admitted student who does not satisfactorily meet all conditions by this deadline may not be allowed to register for further coursework in the MPA program until conditions are met.


Each student admitted to the MPA program is assigned an advisor; advisors are listed by program responsibility on the department website. Students should consult with their advisors prior to registering for classes in each term of enrollment. It is the student’s responsibility to contact the advisor when consultation is needed.

Degree Requirements

  1. Master’s Core. Students must satisfy the nine-course core requirement plus any prerequisite courses. Enrollment in a specific course may be waived for students having equivalent graduate course work. Waiver of a core course requirement does not reduce the total credit hours which must be earned toward the degree.
  2. Electives. Students may select, with the approval of their advisors, any three 6000 level courses offered by the Department. With the permission of the student’s advisor, a maximum of 12 semester credit hours of coursework may betaken outside of the Department, including courses transferred from another institution.
  3. Internship. The total credit hours for the MPA include 6 credits for a supervised internship of 300 hours. Students typically work for state or city agencies acquiring practical experience in government or in an appropriate nonprofit agency. All internships must be approved by the internship coordinator prior to the student making a commitment to an agency. Students may be approved for an internship after completing 15 credit hours of course work.
  4. Students with one year or more of significant public, nonprofit,or healthcare professional administrative experience may be exempted from the internship requirement and have a reduction of 6 credits in the total credits required for the MPA. This exemption is contingent on advisor approval of the exemption application, and must be discussed with the advisor at the time of program of study filing or before. Qualified students seeking an internship exemption must submit an Application for Internship Exemption accompanied by a reflective essay relating their academic study to their work experience. Further instructions should be sought from the advisor.
  5. Comprehensive Examination. Students must pass a written comprehensive examination, taken no earlier than the term in which all coursework is completed.
  6. Writing Portfolio. Each student is required to assemble and submit a writing portfolio, which must be judged as passing prior to graduation. It should be submitted in the semester of graduation. Typically this is due within one week of the comprehensive exam. Detailed instruction on the writing portfolio may be found on the CPSUA website.

Course Scheduling

Courses are scheduled with the fully-employed individual in mind with a variety of delivery and timing options such as on-line, hybrid (both on-line and in class) and traditional in-class course offerings. However, check the course schedule each semester for course offerings and types of course delivery; it is not possible to offer every course in each mode of delivery each semester

Program of Study

Internship - 6 additional credits unless exempted

Concentration or Elective Courses - 9 credits

Each MPA student will be required to complete 9 elective credits which may be chosen from Healthcare Administration & Planning certificate courses, Nonprofit Management certificate courses or general MPA elective courses. Elective choices must be discussed with the advisor.

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