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PA 690 Master's Project

Guidelines and Procedures


The Master's project paper is designed to be the culminating experience for our MPA students. Its primary goals are to:

1. Provide students with an opportunity to apply what they have learned and make a contribution toward an administrative or management-related issue within a public or nonprofit organization.

2. Certify administrative (both theoretical and technical) competence for those students completing the program.

3. Allow students an opportunity to further customize their MPA curriculum with a project that is personally and/or professionally relevant.


Within the framework established by the academic standards applied to these projects, the student is encouraged to select his or her own topic or problem that relates to public administration, broadly defined. Ideally, a student will have been stimulated toward further study by a concept, technique, issue, or problem raised in one or more of the courses they have taken during their graduate career. The student may select a project that addresses some issue at his or her place of employment.


1. Create and implement a new administrative or operational technique for an office that improves the workplace. Students in the past have created new procedures in data base management or information technology, have prepared and conducted a new risk analysis, and initiated and coordinated a strategic plan.

2. Conduct a policy analysis assessing the impact of a governmental policy (at any level), using the analytical tools learned mostly in PA 522/523 and PA 620. Students have conducted impact analyses of a local government's economic development policies, of a downtown development authority's policies, and of Michigan School Finance Report proposals.

3. Develop and conduct a program evaluation or needs assessment for an organization. This uses skills learned mostly in PA 655. Past projects have included evaluations of several local nonprofit organizations, and a few local government offices.

The possible topics and venues are quite broad. One stipulation: you may not use your normal job responsibilities to count toward the PA 690 project. This avoids receiving life experience credits for work you are already doing. However, if you can demonstrate that because of this project you are going beyond your normal duties at work, then the topic might be considered appropriate. All topics will be cleared with Dr. Carr.


Once all core MPA program courses are completed, students may register for PA 690 - Master's Project through SAIL. Any students that register for this course prematurely will be contacted by the program coordinator.