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Public Administration (M.P.A.)

Degree Level: Graduate
College: Strome College of Business
Major : Urban Studies
Department: Urban Studies & Public Administration
Degree Earned: Master of Public Administration
Public Service collage

The mission of the Master of Public Administration program at Old Dominion University is to prepare students for careers as professionals in public service and to provide students who have considerable experience in the public sector an opportunity to enhance their professional knowledge, skills and abilities, enabling them to advance their careers. Other students join the program to prepare for careers as professionals in public and nonprofit organizations. Our classes offer a lively mix of experienced public employees and students preparing to begin their careers.

The MPA develops individuals' competencies in public sector management, public policy analysis and public decision-making processes. Our graduates hold positions as city managers, program planners, policy analysts and managers in federal, state and local agencies, as well as non-profit agencies.

The Master of Public Administration program is designed to enhance students' knowledge and competencies in five context areas:

  • Public management processes, including public budgeting and personnel systems;
  • Organizational design processes and behavior;
  • Political, legal and ethical concepts and issues of public administration;
  • Quantitative and qualitative analysis techniques; and
  • Policy analysis and program evaluation.

Related Experiences

  • Students without extensive experience in the public or non-profit sectors are required to fulfill an internship requirement.
    Internship Manual
  • Exceptional students may participate in research efforts with professors, with the potential for publication.
  • Public Service Week at ODU provides access to additional learning and networking opportunities.
  • The MPA Student Association has events - both social and academic - to enhance the academic experience and to network.
  • A one-on-one meeting with the Graduate Program Director is available during the entire year and may be conducted in-person, WebEx, Skype, Facetime, and Adobe Connect
  • Orientation for new and continuing students is held every August prior to start of classes


  • MPA graduates end up in two groups: practitioners or academics.
  • MPA-Practitioners tend to work in the federal, state, or local components of the public sector as civil servants or contractors; additionally, more are now leaning towards working for (or starting) non-profits.
  • MPA-Academics continue their education to the doctoral level and seek work in higher education, in research foundations and institutes, or in higher-level public, private, or non-profit organizations.
  • Many MPA graduates find a new passion for public service. Students with no real experience in the public sector find undiscovered areas of interest; working students may change careers after completing the program, while others advance in their current agencies.

Classes & Requirements


The MPA curriculum consists of 39 credit hours (13 courses). Courses are required in two categories:

  • Core Concentration (seven required courses)
  • Electives (six courses)

Core Curriculum

Core courses introduce the field of public management; demonstrate analytical approaches in public management; and focus on the administration, organizational, legal, political and ethical influences on public administration practice.

Electives (18 Credit Hours)

Students may take elective courses in a number of different areas related to Public Administration. Students may choose to focus their elective courses in specific areas, such as: Human Resource Administration; Port and Maritime Management; Urban Research and Planning; Non-Profit Management; or other specific areas relevant to Public Administration. Students may also choose to take their elective courses in the general area of Public Management.


Next Steps & Admission

Admission to the program is competitive and is granted only to those who show ability for success in graduate study. The applicant must meet the University's general requirement, which is an overall grade point average of 2.8 on a four point scale. The decision to admit an applicant to the MPA program is based on a balanced review of the application package as submitted by the prospective student.

To be considered for admission, applicants must submit the following:

  • Official transcripts of all previous college work.
  • A written statement describing how your experience in work and other settings and your choice of graduate study in public administration will lead to achieving your career goals. (1000 word maximum length.)
  • Minimum of two letters of recommendation from academic sources or employment supervisors. (One required from an academic source.)
  • All applicants are required to submit an acceptable score on the GRE or GMAT examinations.
  • Applicants whose native language is not English are required to submit an acceptable score on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

The requirement for the GRE may be waived for qualified applicants with at least three years of substantial supervisory, managerial or professional level experience in a local, regional, state, federal, military or nonprofit agency. Applicants who wish to be exempted from the GRE requirement should complete the Request for GRE Waiver form and submit it with their application package for review by the admissions committee. The decision to waive the GRE is the responsibility of the Graduate Program Director whose decision is final. If a waiver request is denied, applicants must complete the requirement for the GRE. Denial of a waiver request is not denial of admission to the MPA, and those denied waivers are encouraged to complete their application requirements.

Application Dates

Fall Spring Summer Financial Assistantship
Domestic July 15
November 15
April 15
International April 15
October 1
February 1


Tests GRE, GMAT, LSAT or waiver form
Recommendations 2 (academic sources or employment supervisor)
Essay An essay is required. The application essay should focus on the applicant's professional goals upon obtaining the MPA degree. The essay length should be no more than two (2) double-spaced pages.
Transcripts From all prior institutions

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