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Master of Public Administration

Frequently Asked Questions for Master of Public Administration:

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Why should I consider an MPA degree?

A Master’s degree in public administration can serve as an excellent segue into the public sector. It can open the door into local government, health management, criminal justice leadership, and nonprofit management.

If you already have experience in these fields, a Master’s in Public Administration will enable you to better understand the processes within your organization, to make timely suggestions that are based on the current state of the public sector, and to implement strategies that will enable your workplace to remain competitive.

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How is the program structured?
A core program of six courses (24 credits) is required of all MPA students. The program provides for three courses or 12 elective credits on top of this generalized core. Electives may be taken within 5 focused concentrations of study or remain general. In addition, students are expected to complete either a four-credit internship or a research project.
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How long do I have to meet these requirements if I have been conditionally admitted?
The courses must be completed within one academic year.
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Is financial aid available?

For graduate students the major sources of financial aid are tuition-reimbursement programs from their workplace or student loan programs and graduate assistantships. 

The federal aid picture is constantly changing because of changes in Federal funding. For the most recent loan information, contact the Financial Aid Office at 161 North Foundation Hall, or call (248) 370-2550.

The Department of Political Science (MPA program) has a limited number of graduate assistantships available. The assistantships currently span an academic year (Fall/Winter) with a stipend plus payment of 16 credits of tuition. The graduate assistantships are reserved for full-time students. They work 20 hours per week assisting the faculty with administrative duties. The deadline for applications is announced by email to all MPA students usually sometime in March each year. For more information, see Graduate Assistantships under the Student Information link.

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Is the MPA program available full-time or part-time?
The requirement for the MPA degree is 40 credits. Students are allowed up to 6 years to complete the program. Full-time is considered 8 credit hours per regular term. If a student successfully carries a normal load, it will be possible to complete the program in two calendar years, starting in the fall of one year and ending in the spring/summer of the next academic year.
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What are my choices for elective concentrations?
Students may choose to take all 12 elective credits in one of the listed areas. Completion of courses satisfying the concentration provides students with special skills necessary to cope with these dynamic fields. The current concentrations are as follows: Court Administration, Criminal Justice Leadership, Health Care Administration, Local Government Management, and Nonprofit Organization and Management.
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What are the admission requirements for the MPA program?
Admission to the program is selective. Applicants must hold a baccalaureate from an accredited undergraduate institution, and must have a record that indicates above-average work. Generally, a 3.0 grade point average is necessary to be admitted to the program. NOTE: Neither the GRE nor the GMAT are required for admission.
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What do I need in preparation for the MPA program?
Basic courses in political science, government, or public administration, economics, statistics, and accounting are needed. Students with limited or no background in statistics, accounting, and macro-economics are provided foundation courses to correct these deficiencies. If all other requirements have been met, arrangements can be made for conditional admission to the program while these foundation courses are in process.
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What happens if I fail the course that my conditional admittance was based on?

You may be dismissed from the program at the discretion of the Director.

A hold will be placed on your account and you will not be permitted to register for subsequent coursework.

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What is required for a complete application?

The MPA admissions packet contains all the necessary forms and information needed to apply to the MPA program. Before the Graduate Admissions Office will send an application file to the MPA office for an admission decision, the following documentation is required:

  1. Application for Admission to Graduate School
  2. Two essays - follow the links under admissions requirements for instructions
  3. Official transcripts from all of the previous undergraduate and graduate schools attended. It is your responsibility to forward the transcripts directly to Oakland University, Office of Graduate Admissions, 520 O'Dowd Hall, Rochester, MI 48309-4488. If you have a copy of transcripts, you may attach a copy of these unofficial documents to your application in case there is a delay in receiving the official copies.
  4. Two letters of recommendation are required. We recommend that you select people who know you well in a professional and educational setting, such as a direct supervisor or college professor, to complete them.

Once your file is complete, the MPA Director will review it and contact you to schedule an informal interview.

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What is the admission procedure for the MPA program?
Applicants must complete an Application for Admission to Graduate Study and two short essays. One essay is a written statement of career goals and objectives and the second essay covers a substantive topic in public administration. Two letters of reference and official transcripts of all academic work are also required. Once all documents have been received by the Graduate Admissions office, the applicant will be asked to appear for an interview. Admission to the program is continuous throughout the year. Please visit the Oakland University Graduate Admissions Office - Master of Public Administration Program.
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When and where are courses offered in the MPA program?
Courses are offered weekday evenings with an occasional elective offered on Saturdays. Evening courses generally start at 6:30 p.m. and conclude at 9:50 p.m., while Saturday courses are generally held in the mornings. All MPA courses are offered on our Rochester campus, with an occasional online course. Required courses are offered during the Fall and Winter semesters, while electives are scheduled throughout the year.
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Where are MPA graduates employed?
Our graduates are employed in a variety of local government settings including Oakland County, Auburn Hills, and Clinton Township, as well as various nationally-recognized nonprofit organizations such as the American Cancer Society, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and the Detroit Association of Black Organizations. Our program is also represented in area hospitals and correctional facilities.  Click here for a list of where MPA students and alumni are employed.
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Why should I earn my MPA at Oakland University?

National Accreditation

Oakland University’s MPA program has been accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA), the national accrediting body for MPA programs, for over 20 years. We are proud to be among a select group of institutions across the nation that meet the stringent standards set by NASPAA.


The Master’s degree program in public administration has been established to provide a challenging education for persons seeking professional careers in governmental and other public and nonprofit agencies. The MPA program provides a generalist focus through a set of core courses and provides an opportunity for specialization through the electives and the directed project/internship option.

Excellent Faculty

Generally, the core courses are taught by full-time tenured or tenure-track professors who work to ensure that students have a solid understanding of the tenets of public administration. In addition, our MPA program has a host of professionals who teach our electives. These public administration practitioners bring practical applications of an MPA degree into their coursework.

Both full- and part-time faculty consistently receive excellent ratings from students as being knowledgeable, approachable, and supportive. This familial setting fostered by small class sizes encourages collaboration and networking among classmates.

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