Mar 03, 2021  
Graduate Catalog | 2018-2019 
Graduate Catalog | 2018-2019 Previous Edition

Public Administration, M.P.A.

The primary objective of the Gerald G. Fox Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree program is to provide professional training in public administration. The curriculum of this National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) accredited program emphasizes the analysis of the political and administrative environments as well as the administrative decision-making approaches of public administration. Application of techniques and administrative skills to the management of nonprofit organizations is also included in the curriculum. The methods of instruction employed in the program expose students to a variety of approaches to public management.

Students may enroll in the Master of Public Administration program on either a full-time or part-time basis. The majority of classes are scheduled in the evening throughout the year. Classes meet on the main University campus and at UNC Charlotte Center City.

Admission Requirements

Admission to the Master of Public Administration program is open to qualified graduates of recognized colleges and universities accredited by a regional or general accrediting agency. There are seven major requirements for admission:

  1. Application submitted online to the Graduate Admissions Office, accompanied by the application fee, which is neither deductible nor refundable
  2. Possession of a bachelor’s degree, or its equivalent, from an accredited college or university
  3. An undergraduate grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
  4. An appropriate score on the Verbal, Quantitative, and Analytical portions of the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). Although there is no required score for these exams, typically an acceptable score would be above the 35th percentile.
  5. A written statement of professional career goals and a description of any significant work experience, particularly in the public or nonprofit sectors
  6. Three supporting letters of recommendation from professors or employers
  7. Submission of two official transcripts from all postsecondary educational institutions in which the candidate was enrolled

Prerequisite Requirements

In addition to the admission requirements, MPA students must:

  • Complete STAT 1222 (Elementary Statistics for the Social Sciences) or its equivalent with a grade of C or above
  • Complete, POLS 1110 (Introduction to American Government) or its equivalent with a grade of C or above must be completed prior to taking MPAD 6102 
  • Demonstrate proficiency in computer applications (e.g., ability to use Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) prior to taking MPAD 6126 

Students may complete these after admission into the program.

Early Entry Program

Exceptional undergraduate students at UNC Charlotte may apply for the Early Entry Program and begin work toward the graduate degree before completion of the baccalaureate degree.  See the Undergraduate Catalog for details and requirements.  Also see the Degree Requirements and Academic Policies  section of the Graduate Catalog for more information about Early Entry Programs.

Degree Requirements

The Master of Public Administration program is structured in three distinct phases:  1) Core, 2) Advanced Work, and 3) directed Study Or Research Project.  In all, the program requires 39 hours of graduate credit for completion of the degree. The MPA Program Handbook, available online at, presents the most up-to-date listing of degree requirements.

Core Courses (18 credit hours)

All students are required to complete 18 credit hours in core study. The emphasis in the core is twofold: (a) Understanding the various managerial and analytical approaches salient to the environment of public administration, and (b) Achieving an overall perspective on the problems of public administration. Students must attain a grade of B or above in each core course prior to enrolling in MPAD 6187  and MPAD 6188 . Students earning grades of C in a core course must retake that course at the earliest possible opportunity. The core courses are:

Advanced Courses

Elective Courses (12-15 credit hours)

The MPA program offers several advanced elective courses in areas important to public administrators. With the approval of the program director, students may take advanced elective work with other departments.  Students are required to take a minimum of fifteen hours of advanced electives unless they opt for the Directed Study option (see below), in which case they need only take twelve hours of advanced electives.  The MPA electives are:

Capstone Seminar (3 credit hours)

Students are required to complete the capstone course.  Students must successfully complete all of their Core Courses with a grade of B or above prior to enrolling in this course.

Directed Study or Research Applications Courses

Each MPA student must complete one of the options (A or B). Students must successfully complete all of their Core Courses with a grade of B or above prior to enrolling in any courses listed in this section.

Research Applications Course

Students who select this option complete a one-semester written project course on an approved topic of significance in public administration or nonprofit management.  The project includes the submission of revised paper drafts based on instructor evaluation.  Students must enroll in the following course, which is graded A, B, C, or U:

Directed Study Courses

Students who select this option complete a written project on a topic of significance based on a field experience or research in public administration, nonprofit management, or arts administration.  The Directed Study requires the following courses, graded on a pass/unsatisfactory basis:


University regulations governing the preparation and submission of Master’s theses apply to the Directed Study  option. Rules for the Directed Study committee are provided in the MPA Program Handbook. Students who select option B may take one less elective course for 3 credits to complete the MPA degree in the required 39 hours.

Degree Concentrations

Students complete one of five approved 15 credit hour concentrations or they may develop their own program of study from elective courses.  Students who choose a concentration must focus their research in MPAD 6188 , or MPAD 6800  and MPAD 6801  on an approved topic related to the concentration subject matter.

Arts Administration Concentration

For students with an undergraduate degree not in the arts:  You are required to take no less than four 3-credit hour undergraduate arts courses (or the equivalent) in order to develop the necessary foundation of appreciation for the arts required of arts administrators.   The exact set of courses is determined by the field of arts on which you desire to focus and in consultation with your advisor.  The prerequisites vary by visual arts, dance, theater, and music. Ideally, these prerequisites are completed prior to admission into the MPA program.  However, students who opt for the arts administration concentration after being admitted to the MPA program will have to complete these prerequisites prior to admission into MPAD 6187 , MPAD 6188 , or MPAD 6316 . Substantive professional experience in the arts field can be used as a substitute or partial substitute (e.g., students may be required to take less than 4 arts courses) for the undergraduate prerequisites at the discretion of the MPA Program Director.

The arts administration concentration consists of 15 credit hours within the MPA curriculum. Students must fulfill the following requirements:

Emergency Management Concentration

The Concentration in Emergency Management concentration consists of 15 credit hours within the MPA curriculum.  Students must fulfill the following requirements:

Nonprofit Management Concentration

The Concentration in Nonprofit Management consists of 15 credit hours within the MPA curriculum.  Students must fulfill the following requirements:

Public Finance Concentration

The Concentration in Public Finance consists of 15 credit hours within the MPA curriculum.  Students must fulfill the following requirements:

Urban Management and Policy Concentration

The Concentration in Urban Management and Policy consists of 15 credit hours within the MPA curriculum.  Students must fulfill the following requirements:

Degree Total = 39 Credit Hours


Each student is assigned an advisor and given access to the MPA Program Handbook when admitted to the program. The advisor is a member of the MPA Program faculty. Students should meet with their advisors each semester to develop a schedule before registering. Students are also encouraged to meet with the Program Director for additional advising when necessary.


Each student in the Master of Public Administration Program is required to complete a field experience. This requirement may be satisfied in one of these ways: (1) through a position in a public or nonprofit organization; (2) through a position in a business where the work experience is approved for internship by the MPA director; or (3) through an approved internship in a public or nonprofit organization. Each student must complete an “MPA Internship Information” form and submit it to the MPA Program office for approval. Forms to evaluate the internship experience must also be completed. These forms are available in the main MPA office. Current guidelines for the internship requirement are provided in the MPA Program Handbook.

Public Service Fellowships

The department works with local area government and nonprofit agencies to provide fellowships to students on a competitive basis. Host agencies employ fellows on a part-time basis (20 hours per week) for a period of one to two years. In exchange for their services, agencies pay fellows a small stipend and tuition expenses for Fall and Spring semesters.


  1. The North Carolina City and County Management Association funds a scholarship for an MPA student to help train students for careers in North Carolina local government. The MPA Program selection committee nominates the eligible recipient each fall.
  2. Burkhalter-Rassel Alumni Scholarship - the MPA Alumni Association has established a scholarship fund to honor a former Charlotte City Manager.
  3. Brown-Dorton MPA Scholarship - the MPA selection committee nominates eligible recipients each fall.
  4. Susan Burgess Scholarship - the MPA selection committee nominates eligible recipients
  5. Gerald G. Fox Scholarship - the MPA selection committee nominates eligible recipients
  6. Other awards are available on a competitive basis through the Graduate School.
  7. Other professional associations occasionally offer scholarships for which MPA students have competed successfully.

Transfer Credit

Up to six credit hours taken at another university can be transferred to the MPA Program on the recommendation of the Director and the approval of the Dean of the Graduate School.