Master of Public Administration

Our mission is to develop principled and skilled public service professionals who fulfill leadership roles within governmental and nonprofit organizations. We focus on practical and problem-solving skills and emphasize public service values -- including efficiency, effectiveness, equity and accountability.

 The NC State MPA degree requires 42 credit hours, including 24 core hours and 18 elective hours. Pre-service students are required to complete an internship as part of the 42 credit-hour requirement. Electives may include graduate courses in the Public Administration department, other NC State departments, or inter-institutional locations. Graduate students consult with their program advisor to choose electives that align with their interests and help them become successful professionals in the public and nonprofit sectors.

Full-time students typically complete the degree in two years; part-time students take from three-to-five years depending on work and personal obligations. Most classes are taught in the evening to permit full-time students to participate in internships and to accommodate the schedules of part-time students who work in public policy or nonprofit fields. 

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Cassandra Deck-Brown (MPA '95) is Raleigh's first African-American female police chief.

100% of our MPA graduates are working in the profession within six months of graduation.

Reported in our 2018 Annual Accreditation Maintenance Report

Specialization Information

The Masters of Public Administration program at NC State does not offer formal specializations. Instead, the program affords students the opportunity to tailor individualized public service specialties consistent with their interests and abilities, the university’s strengths, and labor market needs. Students work with their faculty adviser to select courses geared to their academic interests and career objectives.

The MPA program offers elective coursework in public management, nonprofit management, urban management, financial management, organizational leadership, policy analysis, and justice administration. The department also offers two graduate certificates, one in nonprofit management and the other in policy analysis:

Nonprofit Management   Policy Analysis

MPA students may also take electives in other departments at NC State or, through the Inter-Institutional Registration Program, at other North Carolina Schools including UNC-Chapel Hill, Duke University, NC Central University, UNC Charlotte, or UNC-Greensboro. 

Inter-Institutional Registration

MPA Learning Outcomes

Program: All Programs

These are the program objectives:

  1. MPA program: To develop students as generalist managers with mission-relevant competencies
  2. MPA program: Prepare students to be successful professionals in public service careers


Objective: MPA program: To develop students as generalist managers with mission-relevant competencies

  1. Graduates are expected to be able to lead and manage in public governance.
  2. Graduates are expected to be able participate in and contribute to the policy process.
  3. Graduates are expected to be able analyze, synthesize, think critically, solve problems and make decisions.
  4. Graduates are expected to be able to articulate and apply a public service perspective.
  5. Graduates are expected to be able to communicate and interact productively with a diverse and changing workforce and citizenry.


Objective: MPA program: Prepare students to be successful professionals in public service careers

  1. The MPA program includes a mix of pre-service and in-service students.
  2. The MPA program serves students from historically underrepresented groups
  3. Graduates are satisfied with their elective specialty coursework
  4. MPA internships develop students' professional skills and prepare them for the job market
  5. Graduating pre-service students are successful in job and internship placement
  6. Graduating in-service students are able to apply concepts and skills from the MPA program to their public service job

Multiple Masters Programs

University policies governing the transfer of courses into graduate programs require students to take a minimum of 48 credit hours to receive two unique degrees. (More credit hours may be required depending on the requirements of the  degree programs.) Students pursuing two Master’s degrees must meet all Graduate School requirements and the requirements of each degree program. This memo outlines the general framework for pursuing two Master’s degrees conterminously.

If you are interested in pursuing a MPA and a second Master’s degree you should contact Richard Clerkin, MPA Director. He will help you with the logistics and start laying out a plan. The process is easier than it looks.

To be admitted into a second Master’s degree program:

  1. Send a memo to the MPA Director indicating that you want to pursue a second NC State University Master’s degree coterminous with your MPA degree. (Include the name of the degree in your memo.) Similar to the personal statement submitted with your MPA application, this memo should state your professional reasons for pursuing a second Master’s.
  2. After the MPA Director approves the request, the PA Graduate Services Coordinator will send the DGP of the second Master’s program: (1) a copy of your memo approved by the MPA Director, (2) copies of the relevant sections of your file (all transcripts, GRE scores, and letters of recommendation), and (3) a request that the second program consider you for admission. You are responsible for supplying the other program with any additional materials they required to make a decision.
  3. The second program’s admissions committee will review your file and inform you and the MPA Director if you have been recommended for admission. If you are denied admission by the second program your request will not be approved. If you are recommended for admission, the DGP of the second program will send the Change of Degree Status or Curriculum form to the Dean of the Graduate School indicating the recommendation.
  4. The Dean of the Graduate School will notify you and both Programs if your request for admission to the second program was approved.

To file your plan of work (University policies assume 30 credit hour Master’s degree. Because the MPA is a 40 credit hour degree, you may be able to include over the university minimum as part of both degree programs. The following policy will expedite approving your plans of work.):

  1. Students must submit separate plans of work through the Student Information System (SIS). After your admission to the second program has been approved, the Graduate School will set up a second “career” (this is SIS language for degree program/plan of work) in SIS. Once both careers are established, you can add courses to the separate plans of work, both of which must meet the respective requirements of the specific degree programs.
  2. Once entered and submitted, the proposed plans of work will be routed electronically to the respective program advisors and Directors for approval.
  3. Multiple masters students must also submit two Patent Agreement Forms to the Graduate School, one for each degree program.

MPA Fast Facts


Master of Public Administration (MPA)

The Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina approved NC State's MPA program in 1968, and it graduated its first two students in August 1969. The program has since graduated over 1500 MPA students who have gone on to serve the public through positions in state, local, and federal governments and nonprofit agencies.

The Network of Schools of Public Affairs, Policy, and Administration (NASPAA) accredits MPA degree programs. The NC State MPA degree was included in the roster of programs in substantial compliance with NASPAA guidelines in 1980 (prior to NASPAA accrediting programs); it was initially accredited in 1986 and re-accredited in 1993, 2000, 2007 and 2014.

The MPA program is delivered by the Department of Public Administration (PA), which is housed in the School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA), College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHASS), at North Carolina State University (NC State).

The mission of NC State’s MPA program is to develop principled and skilled public service professionals who fulfill leadership roles within governmental and nonprofit organizations. We focus on practical and problem-solving skills and emphasize public service values -- including efficiency, effectiveness, equity and accountability.

Under normal circumstances, the mode of delivery for the MPA program is primarily face-to-face, but online coursework is available. Currently, all courses are being offered online only in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

Face-to-face classes are taught on NC State’s Raleigh campus in the evening (6:00 to 8:45 PM) to permit full-time students to participate in internships and to accommodate the schedules of part-time students.

NC State’s MPA is a 42 credit hour degree program consisting of:

  • 24 credit hours of core classes covering the program’s required core competencies
  • 18 credit hours of elective
  • Microeconomics and statistics prerequisite requirements
  • Students lacking the equivalent of one year of full-time public service experience must complete a 3 credit hour internship as part of their elective coursework (see “Internships and Internship Placements” below for more information)

Full-time students (those taking 9 credit hours or more per semester) typically complete the degree in two years; part-time students (those taking less than 9 credit hours) take from three to five years, depending on work and personal obligations.

The MPA program at NC State does not offer formal specializations. Instead, the program affords students the opportunity to tailor individualized public service specialties consistent with their interests and abilities, the university’s strengths and labor market needs. Students work with their advisor to select courses geared to their academic interests and career objectives.

The MPA program offers elective coursework in public management, nonprofit management, urban management, financial management, organizational leadership, public policy and justice administration. The department also offers two graduate certificates, in nonprofit management and in policy analysis

MPA students may also take electives in other departments at NC State or, through the Interinstitutional Registration Program, at UNC-Chapel Hill, Duke University, NC Central University, UNC Charlotte, or UNC-Greensboro.

Dual Master's Degrees:

Students in the MPA program have the option to pursue dual master's degrees.  MPA students may be able to count selected graduate courses on the Plans of Work for more than one degree. The policies governing transferring courses from one degree to another are spelled out in the Graduate School’s Administrative Handbook. Students must fulfill all requirements for each degree, including being admitted by each program. University policy states that 18 credit hours of the 30 credit hour minimums for each degree program must be unique to that degree program. The remaining credit hours may be applied to both degree programs. Students interested in pursuing dual master's degrees should meet with the MPA Program Director for more information on current university policies and procedures.

The Department of Public Administration offers three pre-established dual degree programs. These include the opportunity to earn a Juris Doctorate (JD), a Master of International Studies (MIS), or Master of Social Work (MSW) degree alongside the MPA.

JD/MPA Dual Degree:

Since Fall 2010, NC State and Campbell University’s Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law have partnered to offer a dual JD/MPA degree program. Students must be admitted to both programs separately and declare their intention to pursue dual degrees. The dual program allows both degrees to be completed in four (4) years, where students complete the JD curriculum and take an additional 27 credit hours of MPA courses to complete the requirements. Of the courses from the MPA program, 24 of the credit hours must be earned by completing the program’s core courses. Students interested in the dual program are encouraged to speak to the admissions counselors at the School of Law regarding admission into the JD program. Law students wanting to add the MPA degree typically apply for admission to the program during the first year of law school and complete most of their MPA core courses during their second year of graduate study.

MPA/MIS Dual Degree:

The MPA/MIS dual degree program allows both degrees to be earned from within the School of Public and International Affairs at NC State University, where the Department of Public Administration is located. To earn both degrees students must complete a total of 60 credit hours across both programs. Students in the dual degree program will take 24 credit hours of the MPA program’s core courses and will also take 18 hours of credit from the MIS program, including 15 hours from the MIS program’s core courses. An additional 18 credit hours can be taken from MPA or MIS classes to complete the total credit requirement. The dual MPA/MIS can be added to a student’s Plan of Work at any point prior to their graduation from the program they initially matriculated into.

MPA/MSW Dual Degree:

The Department of Public Administration and the Department of Social Work at NC State allow NC State MPA Handbook 20 students to complete both the MPA and the MSW programs simultaneously. To be considered for the dual degree program, students be accepted into the Advanced Standing option of the MSW program. To complete the dual program, students take a total of 54 credit hours. Twenty-four (24) of these credit hours come from the core courses of the MPA program. The remaining 30 credit hours are taken from the MSW program. To enroll in the dual MPA/MSW program, students must first be accepted into the MSW’s Advanced Standing program and then apply for the MPA to be added as a secondary degree. For more information about the dual program, students are encouraged to speak to both the director of the MSW and MPA programs.

The MPA program currently has 70 students.

No, the MPA program does not currently offer an accelerated bachelor/MPA option.

The MPA program's full-time, tenured and tenure-track faculty members are all academically qualified, possessing doctoral degrees in relevant disciplines. All are active in scholarly work, researching and publishing in the PA discipline and its various subfields, teaching courses where they have demonstrated subject matter expertise, and serving the community and profession through applied research and roles in professional associations.

The program’s instructional faculty also includes professionally-qualified public service practitioners.  These practitioners are selected based upon their professional roles and experiences. Faculty profiles can be found on the public administration faculty page here.

The MPA program enrolled 34 students for the 2013/14 academic year: 22 (65%) graduated within 2 years of enrolling, 29 (85%) graduated within 3 years, and 30 (88%) graduated within 4 years of enrolling. 

The university determines tuition and fees for the MPA program annually. Detailed information can be found on the student services center website.

The Department of Public Administration has a limited number of one-year graduate assistantships for full-time students who apply for the fall semester. The assistantships carry a stipend of $10,000 and tuition and health insurance through the Graduate Student Support Plan. All full-time students who apply by the February 1 priority deadline for the fall semester are considered for assistantships at the time they are admitted. The Internship Director works with students who do not receive financial aid to identify temporary jobs.

Applicants should submit the following items through the online application system:

  • The Graduate School application and application fee (currently $75 for domestic and US permanent residents, $85 for international)
  • A personal statement (one-page summary of career goals and the ways an MPA from NC State will help achieve them)
  • A resume
  • Three letters of reference (at least one academic reference is suggested but not required)
  • One copy of transcripts from all previous undergraduate and graduate college work
  • Applicants should have the Educational Testing Service (ETS) submit an official report of their Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores (general test only) to the Graduate School. GMAT and, in some cases, LSAT scores will also be accepted. (LSAT scores will only be accepted for those applicants who can demonstrate quantitative aptitude via other means, including performance in intermediate statistics, quantitative methods, or mathematics at the undergraduate level.)
  • To be eligible for admission to graduate study at NCSU, all non-US citizen applicants (i.e., non-resident aliens and permanent residents) must demonstrate proficiency in English at a level necessary to be successful in a graduate program at NC State. The requirement can be met by being a citizen of a country where English is the official language, by successfully completing at least one year of full-time study in a degree program at a regionally accredited four-year US college or university, or by taking the TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo exams.

    For minimum score requirements, please see the MPA Application Information page.

The MPA program does not have minimum grade point average (GPA) or standardized test score requirements, but admission to NC State’s MPA program is selective. The program seeks a mix of pre-service and in-service students from diverse backgrounds. In 2019-20, the average cumulative undergraduate GPA for admitted MPA students was 3.42 and the average GRE score (verbal + quantitative) was 304.

Application Deadlines (including submission of all required supporting materials)

Fall Semester

  • February 1 for full consideration for assistantships
  • March 1 for international applicants
  • May 15 for domestic applicants

Spring Semester

  • July 15 for international applicants
  • November 1 for domestic applicants

Our students are employed in positions in local, state, and federal governments, nonprofits, higher education, the corporate world, and/or have continued on with their education. The job placements for 2018-2019 MPA graduates are:

  • Federal Government  -  0
  • State Government  -  4
  • Local Government  -  5
  • Private/Corporate  -  2
  • Research/Consulting  -  1
  • Nonprofit  -  4
  • Military Service  -  4
  • Pursuing Additional Education  -  0
  • Unemployed (seeking employment)  -  1
  • Status Unknown  -  0
  • TOTAL GRADUATES  -  21

Some examples of where our students have been placed include:

Local Gov. State Gov. Federal Gov. Nonprofits
City of Raleigh
NC General Assembly
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Autism Society of North Carolina
Town of Cary
NC DOA: State Construction
U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Haven House
City of Greensboro
NC Department of Health and Human Services
General Services Administration
Activate Good
City of Fort Lauderdale
NC Association of County Commissioners
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
SPCA
City of Hickory
NC Office of State Budget and Management
U.S. Department of Labor
United Way
Wake County Public Libraries
NC Department of Information Technology
U.S. Presidential Management Fellows Program
NC Academy of Family Physicians