Dec 10, 2022  
2019-2020 Graduate Bulletin 
2019-2020 Graduate Bulletin [ARCHIVED PUBLICATION]

Master of Public Administration, 4+1 Option (MPA)

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The Master of Public Administration (MPA) at the University of Southern Indiana is the preferred graduate degree for individuals who hold or hope to acquire a supervisory position in the public or nonprofit sector. Individuals interested in these sectors pursue the MPA in order to improve their management-related job skills and performance, obtain leadership positions within their current organizations, or begin their career in a public or nonprofit organization. Some students choose to pursue the MPA to strengthen their academic credentials and knowledge of the public sector to prepare for law school or doctoral level work.     

Mission Statement: The Master of Public Administration program at the University of Southern Indiana strives to meet the needs of current and future civic leaders and managers by providing students with the practical knowledge and professional and academic skills, rooted in a strong understanding of the theories of public administration, to become ethical, creative, and inspirational leaders in the public and nonprofit sectors. Our graduates are prepared to meet the economic, social, and political challenges that face leading public sector institutions and nonprofit organizations.

Vision Statement:  Preparing civic leaders to meet society’s challenges in the 21st century.

Goals of the MPA program 

  • Articulate the theoretical and institutional foundations of the public and nonprofit sectors, and how these sectors are shaped by their economic, social, and political environments.
  • Demonstrate the practical skills necessary for the management of public and nonprofit organizations, such as grant writing, budgeting, public speaking, human resources management, organizational behavior, electronic communication, and report writing.
  • Gather and analyze data to advance the knowledge and practice of public administration and public policy.

Admission Requirements

Students seeking admission to the MPA program and the 4+1 option must complete the following admission requirements:

  • Application for Admission to Graduate Studies.
  • A completed MPA Personal Information Form.
  • A recent résumé or curriculum vitae.
  • References from two individuals who are familiar with your academic and professional work.
  • One official transcript from each undergraduate and graduate institution attended. All official transcripts must be sent directly from the Registrar of the institution attended to the office of Graduate Studies. Applicants seeking admission to the MPA program must hold a baccalaureate degree (any major is acceptable) with a 3.2 GPA on a 4.0 scale, unless receiving prior approval from the program director. 
  • A $40.00 nonrefundable graduate application fee.
  • International Students Only: A minimum score of 79 on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or a 6 on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test is required.

Students must achieve senior status (90 earned hours) and be formally admitted to the MPA program before beginning the MPA 4+1 program. Students in the MPA 4+1 option must have their final undergraduate courses completed by the end of the first summer session of their fourth year (at the latest).

Students must submit their application for admission by April 15 (if beginning in the fall semester) or October 15 (if beginning in the spring semester). If a student is admitted to the MPA program under the 4+1 option for the spring semester (i.e. Spring 2019), the student must complete their final six credit hours in the second summer the student is enrolled in the 4+1 program (i.e. Summer 2020).  

Graduate course credit hours taken while still an undergraduate do not count towards total credit hours considered for financial aid purposes. A student must enroll in the required number of credit hours in undergraduate work in order to receive financial aid. 

Students admitted to the MPA 4+1 option will be classified in their undergraduate major first and provisionally admitted to the MPA program second. Students will not be officially admitted into Graduate Studies and be classified with graduate student status until they have earned their bachelor’s degree.


The MPA 4+1 program provides an opportunity for motivated current USI undergraduate students who wish to obtain a Bachelor’s degree and a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree in five years. The MPA 4+1 option allows undergraduate students to take MPA courses in the fall and spring semesters of their senior year (7th and 8th semesters) while completing their undergraduate coursework, graduate from their undergraduate degree program in the second semester of the first academic year in the 4+1 program, and then complete the MPA degree in the second academic year in the 4+1 program. The total number of graduate credit hours for a student in the MPA 4+1 program is 36 hours (a core curriculum of 21 hours, a 3 hour capstone seminar, and 12 hours of elective courses in either public sector administration or nonprofit administration). For those students wishing to complete a thesis option, the program consists of 36 graduate hours (a core curriculum of 21 hours, 6 hours of thesis credit and 9 hours of elective courses in either public sector administration or nonprofit administration). The course requirements for each concentration are the same as the traditional MPA based on the selection of the public sector administration or nonprofit administration concentrations.

MPA 4+1 Sample Schedule

  Fall Spring Summer
Year 1 6 hours 6 hours 6 hours
Year 2    9 hours    6 or 9 hours 3 hours (if necessary)

Total: 36 hours

Capstone Seminar (3 hours) or Thesis Project (6 hours)

MPA Capstone/Thesis

Note: Students who decide to complete a thesis project and enroll in PA 699 - Thesis in Public Administration  are exempt from taking PA 697 - Capstone Seminar in Public Administration .

All MPA students will be required to complete a capstone seminar (with the exception of students doing a thesis project), which is centered on a specific issue, problem, or topic in the field of public administration. Students in the seminar will be required to complete a capstone project, which is based on assessing a student’s ability to relate theoretical knowledge and skills to solving a practical applied problem in the field of public administration. Students will work collaboratively to present a question to a problem, collect and analyze data, present their findings and results, and propose possible solutions. 

Students will have an opportunity to enroll and complete a thesis project (PA 699 - Thesis in Public Administration ). The thesis course is designed to allow students an opportunity to conduct original academic research in an area of public administration. PA 699 is a variable credit class that is offered as a three or six credit hour course. PA 699 is repeatable up to six credit hours and will be graded on a Pass/No Pass (P/NP) basis. Students wishing to enroll in three credit hours in a semester will register in PA 699.001 and students wishing to enroll in six credit hours in a semester will enroll in PA 699.002. Students who have not completed the thesis course during the semester in which they are registered will be assigned an “in progress” (IP) grade. An IP grade means a student cannot receive credit for the thesis course without re-registering in the course.  In order to receive credit for the thesis, the student must successfully complete a written paper and defend the thesis project in an oral defense. Students will be required to choose an advisor whose research interests closely align with theirs, who is a full-time member of the MPA faculty, and with whom they have completed at least one course in the MPA program. A student must also select two committee members for their thesis committee for a total of three thesis committee members. These committee members must be full-time tenure-track or tenured faculty members of the graduate faculty. 

In addition to the thesis course, students can enroll in PA 698 - Independent Study in Public Administration , where students can conduct independent research on an issue in the field of public administration under the supervision of a member of the MPA faculty. Students can also enroll in PA 690 - Special Topics in Public Administration , a course that deals with a special topic in the field of public administration offered through the Master of Public Administration program. Some of the potential topics may include Facilitation and Mediation, Government Reorganization, Housing and Community Development, Historic Preservation, Disaster Management, and Arts and Heritage Management courses.

All students will be required to complete a comprehensive examination as a requirement for graduation from the program administered by the MPA Examination Committee, which consists of members of the MPA faculty. The comprehensive examination will cover the basic mastery of universal required competencies in public administration that make up the core curriculum of the MPA program, along with a mastery of the competencies of either the public sector or nonprofit administration specializations.

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