Master of Public Administration

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 3-4 years, although they may have up to six years. 


Beginning in Fall 2017, MPA students must take the following 6 required courses  (18 credits):

  • MPA 8001, Public Administration Theory: Tension between bureaucracy-democracy; theories about the nature and development of public administration in the United States.
  • MPA 8002, 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.
  • MPA 8003, 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 8004, Public Personnel 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 8300 Leadership Ethics: Examines assumptions implicit in various organizational designs and highlights the importance of fidelity to value- based decision-making.

All Current Students (Entered the Program prior to Fall 2017) will not be required to take MPA 8300 Leadership Ethics as one of their required courses. If a current student has completed MPA 8005 and MPA 8006, as well as MPA 8001, MPA 8002, MPA 8003, and MPA 8004, then the student has satisfied the core requirements.  
If a current student has not yet taken either MPA 8005 or MPA 8006, the student will need to take MPA 8051 Applied Data Analysis.  The student will only need to take five required courses – MPA 8001, MPA 8002, MPA 8003, MPA 8004, and MPA 8051 and seven elective courses.  
These curriculum changes are only effective for the on-campus MPA program at this time. 

MPA students must take 18 credits of elective courses.

  • 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, Administrative 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.

*Beginning in Fall 2017, MPA 8300 Leadership Ethics will be a required course for all new students. Current students (admitted prior to Fall 2017) will not be required to complete MPA 8300 Leadership Ethics. Please see the "Required Courses" section above for futher details regarding the curriculum update and requirements for current students. 

These curriculum changes are only effective for the on-campus MPA program at this time. 

· 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.


Our one-credit topic courses are offered on three Saturday mornings (or occasionally, on Friday evenings).

Topics include:

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

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. You can find the MPA Internship Syllabus here.

Recent Internships

Philadelphia Free School

Whitpain Township


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. 



Villanova’s MPA program is a teaching-centered, class-room based program. Students are expected to regularly attend class and to inform faculty, preferably in advance, when they will have to miss class.

We are a professional degree program and understand some of our students may have full-time work obligations that will conflict with one or more classes during the semester.  Faculty will accommodate students who will have to miss a class as a result of professional obligations.  Often faculty request students to prepare work to cover the class missed, such as write answers to a few study questions or to submit the work expected in class.

We do consider four or more absences in a three-credit course and one absence in a one-credit course to be excessive.  Faculty will consult with the MPA Director when a student misses too many classes and determine if problems with excessive absences prevent the student from completing the course.  Excessive absences normally mean the student cannot receive credit for the course.

Adopted: March 20, 2004

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 they’ve gained through their course work in the program. 

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 8001 through MPA 8004 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.

Students must register for the comprehensive exam by the dates listed on the graduate academic calendar.

To register, students fill out the “Comprehensive Exam Registration Form”, available on the Graduate Studies website, and submit it via email to or mail the signed form to the Department of Public Administration (Villanova University, St. Augustine Center - Room 486, 800 Lancaster Avenue, Villanova, PA 19085). 


We are pleased to offer a joint JD-MPA Program with the Villanova University School of Law.  This program enables students to earn both a JD and an MPA degree simultaneously at Villanova.

Applicants must apply to the School of Law and the MPA Program and must meet the criteria for admission to both programs.  They must take the LSAT exam and include their LSAT score report in their application to the MPA program. 

Applicants are encouraged to apply to both programs before they begin their studies in either program.  However, applicants may apply in the second semester of their enrollment in one of the programs.  For example, JD students may apply to the MPA program during the second semester of their enrollment in the JD program.

Four law courses will count towards the JD and the MPA degree.  Four MPA courses will count towards the JD and the MPA degree.  Only students enrolled in the JD-MPA Program may have four courses in each program double counted as described above.

The MPA Director and the School of Law’s Associate Dean for Academic Affairs identify the Law and MPA courses that may count in each program. The School of Law will accept the four MPA courses toward the JD so long as the student earned a “C” or better.  The School of Law will change the MPA courses to appear as a Law courses on the transcript, but the grades for those courses will not affect the Law school grade point average (GPA).

The A&S Graduate Dean will accept four Law courses toward the MPA so long as the student earned a “C” or better.  The Registrar will list the Law courses as Law courses on the MPA transcript, but the grades will not affect the MPA program GPA.  In short, the Law courses will be treated as “transfer” credits.

Students must maintain a 2.75 GPA in the School of Law and a 3.00 GPA in the MPA program in order to remain in the JD-MPA program.

Students may complete one of Villanova’s joint graduate programs. For example, students may complete the JD-MBA or the JD-MPA, but not both.

While completing the JD degree, students must complete at least the four MPA courses that will count only in the MPA program and the four MPA courses that will count in both programs.  The remaining four MPA courses may be taken after completing the JD degree. The MPA degree must be completed within the normal timeframe stated by Graduate Studies. Students in the JD-MPA join degree program must complete the six required MPA courses (MPA 8001 through 8006). Effective in Fall 2017, all new students admitted to the JD-MPA program must complete the following six required MPA courses (MPA 8001, 8002, 8003, 8004, 8051, and 8300). 

Students may not take MPA courses at another institution to complete the degree.

If a Law student works an externship approved by the Law School and by the MPA Director, then MPA 8010 will be waived.  Otherwise, the student must complete an internship for an additional 3 MPA credits.

For more information, please contact the MPA Director or the Villanova School of Law.


MPA Graduates

All Villanova University graduate students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences are required to submit a prospective graduate form prior to the completion of his/her degree requirements.


How to Apply for Graduation?

In myNOVA click on Student tab, scroll to the bottom to locate the Graduate Information channel, then click on the Prospective Graduate Form link. 


Deadlines to Apply for Graduation



September 1

 February 1 – June 15

December 31

March 1 – September 15

May 31

August 25 – January 31


Permission to Partcipate in Commencement Week (Walk-Through)

Any graduate student expecting to complete his/her degree requirements in the semester/session following May graduation may request permission to participate in the Commencement ceremony in May by completing the form entitled “Permission to Participate in May Commencement” (please see below link to access the form).  A student requesting this permission should have no more than six credits to complete.  Your name will not appear in the Commencement program until the following May, after you have officially graduated.


PLEASE NOTE:  Participating in Commencement does not mean you are graduating.  You will not have your name listed in the Commencement Ceremony Program and you will not be issued a diploma until your degree requirements are completed. You must apply to graduate separately.  Register (or re-register) for graduation via the myNOVA portal to access the prospective graduation form.  For details about how to complete the Prospective Graduate Form, please click here. Permission to Participate in May Commencement Form


Questions? Issues Applying for Graduation? 

Consult the Office of Graduate Studies' "Information for Graduates" webpage here. 


Commencement Dates and Information

Planning to participate in Commencement Weekend? Find all general information for Commencement here. Prospective MPA graduates will receive additional information for all events pertaining to MPA students via e-mail.