MASTER OF PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION Northern Illinois University

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1 MASTER OF PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION Northern Illinois University The Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree program at Northern Illinois University offers specialized educational preparation for students seeking career positions in public, governmental and notfor-profit agencies. Course work in public management and public policy formulation is designed to further the student's ability to address political, social, economic and administrative problems in the public sector. The MPA program is fully accredited and is a member of the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA). It was among the first programs in the nation to be found in conformity with NASPAA Standards for Professional Masters Degree Programs in Public Affairs and Administration. The Division of Public Administration was one of the first recipients of the Stephen B. Sweeney Award for the overall excellence of its Urban Management and Development program. This award was presented by the International City/County Management Association. NIU s MPA program is considered to be one of the top three programs nationwide in preparing students for careers in city management and one of the top twelve programs nationwide in preparing students for careers in fiscal administration. GUIDELINES FOR PURSUING THE MPA DEGREE Admission Prerequisites for admission to the program are: 1) nine semester hours in the social sciences, not including at least one course in American government; and 2) at least three semester hours of undergraduate work in mathematics or statistics, or other evidence of competence in skills of quantitative analysis. Application Procedures Applications for admission are made directly to the Graduate School. A completed application consists of the following: 1. The blue and white Graduate School application form. 2. Statement of Career Goals. (See next page for a description of this statement.) 3. Three letters of recommendation. (See next page for more information on recommendations.) 4. Transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate institutions attended. 5. Official test scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), General test. The Graduate School requires that applications for admission to the MPA program must be submitted to the Graduate School no later than June 1 for admission to the fall semester, November 1 for the spring semester, and April 1 for the summer session. However, since the MPA program can admit only a limited number of full-time students, applicants for full-time status are advised to apply by March 1 for the fall term or the summer session and by October 1 for the spring term. Applicants for full-time admission for the fall term may choose to start their paid internship in the month of June preceding their fall admission to graduate study; such students are urged to apply for admission to the program by March 1. The MPA program makes admission decisions very early for each semester and admission is competitive. Please complete your application and sit for the GRE early so you may be fully considered for admission. Call GRE-CALL for more information on the GRE or visit their website at

2 Standards for Admission Admission is based upon a combination of past academic performance, letters of recommendation, applicant's statement of goals, and Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores. Current admission guidelines are: 1) An undergraduate grade point average of at least 3.0 in undergraduate work; 2) A satisfactory score in each of the three areas tested on the GRE; 3) Three letters of recommendation: two letters from previous instructors who can judge your ability to do graduate work, and one letter from a public administrator or previous employer who can judge your potential as a future public administrator; 4) A statement of career goals no more than two pages. Explain why you are seeking entry to this program, describe your career interests, and explain the ways in which you intend to contribute to public service. Through this essay, help us understand what makes you a unique individual, and what experiences in your life have fostered an interest in public service. Articulation and grammar are very important as this is the faculty's only chance to evaluate your writing skills. Performance in previous graduate level course work as well as public service work experience will also be considered in admissions decisions. Each application is evaluated and compared to all other applications for a given semester, and the most qualified applicants are admitted. Time Limitations MPA students must fulfill all requirements for the MPA degree within a period of six consecutive years. The entry date into the first course of a student's graduate program is viewed as the starting point of the six-year period. This includes courses to be transferred in from other graduate programs. MPA students must abide by the rules and regulations set forth by the Graduate School in the Graduate Catalog in force during the semester of admission. Transfer Credits and Electives Taken in the NIU College of Law With the approval of the Division of Public Administration and the Dean of the Graduate School, graduate course work may be accepted from other accredited colleges and universities to meet credit hour requirements for the MPA degree. Normally, no more than 9 credit hours are transferred from other universities. Any student wishing to transfer graduate credits should consult with the MPA Coordinator and must obtain approval from the Director of the MPA Program. With the approval of their academic advisor, MPA students may choose elective courses offered by other graduate programs of the University or certain approved courses offered by the Northern Illinois University College of Law. Up to nine semester hours of work taken in the NIU College of Law may be applied toward fulfillment of MPA degree requirements, but such courses are considered to be transfer courses and must be calculated in the 15 hour limitation on the number of transfer courses that may be applied toward fulfillment of MPA degree requirements. For specific questions and further information regarding registration or the MPA Program, contact: The MPA Coordinator Division of Public Administration Northern Illinois University DeKalb, Illinois or (815)

3 MPA PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS Course Requirements The MPA degree will normally require the completion of semester hours of approved graduate study. The distribution of hours is as follows: 21 semester hours of core courses (required of everyone) 15 semester hours of specialized course work, to be divided between an area of specialization and electives of individual interest (required of everyone) 2-8 semester hours of PSPA 595: Internship in Public Administration (required of those students without "appropriate professional experience.") 3-9 semester hours of PSPA 599, Public Sector Research (hours awarded toward completion of the Capstone Paper) Core Courses: 21 semester hours There are 21 semester hours of public management core courses that must be completed by each MPA student. These courses are: PSPA Scope and Dynamics of Public Administration Examines the history of public administration and the basic issues which confront it, including administrative responsibility and ethics, and the formulation and implementation of public policy. PSPA Data Analysis in Public Administration Examines techniques for the collection, manipulation, interpretation, and presentation of data and information in public policy/management processes, and demonstrates applications of the techniques using micro-computer technology. PSPA Public Program Evaluation Methods An examination of the techniques of policy analysis and evaluation and their application to selected policy areas, including a discussion of experimental, quasi-experimental, and other evaluative tools. Requires project. PRQ. PSPA 501. PSPA Organization Theory and Behavior A survey of selected theory and research on organizations relevant to public administration, with a focus on key organizational functions and ways of defining and responding to organizational problems. PRQ. PSPA 500. PSPA Public Personnel Management An examination of techniques, methods, and policies concerning the management of personnel in public and quasi-public organizations. PSPA Public Budgeting and Financial Management An examination of the techniques and methods of public budgeting and financial administration. PSPA Information Management and Decision Support In Public Organizations An introduction to concepts and skills concerning the management of information technology in the public sector. Coverage of topics related to managing computers and using software (including spreadsheets and data base management systems) to support the decisionmaking process. Areas of Specialization: 15 semester hours In addition to the public policy/management core, students must also complete the requirements of one of the following areas of specialization, thus developing expertise in a specialized field of academic and professional interest.

4 Public Management & Leadership - a general study of public administration, focusing principally on organization theory, administrative analysis, and leadership in public organizations. a) one of the following courses: - PSPA American Public Policy - POLS 520 Study of Public Policy - PSPA 560 Public Sector Ethics b) PSPA Internship in Public Administration* c) Twelve additional semester hours of approved graduate study. Urban Management and Development - an analysis of urban problems, especially the political and administrative problems of city management and community organization activities. a) PSPA Local and Metropolitan Government b) one of the following courses: - PSPA Urban Planning and Zoning - PSPA Problems of Municipal Administration - PSPA Economic Development c) PSPA Internship in Public Administration* d) Nine additional semester hours of approved graduate study. Comparative and Developmental Administration - a thorough study of the economic and social problems of developmental administration, and an examination of bureaucratic functioning in other cultures. a) one of the following courses: - PSPA Readings in Comparative Public Administration - PSPA Administrative Problems of Less Developed Countries b) two of the following: - POLS Public Administration in Southeast Asia - POLS Comparative Public Policy - POLS 533T - International Biotechnology Policy - POLS Seminar in the Political Economy of Developing Areas - POLS Political Economy of International Relations - POLS 571 or 572, if not counted under (a) c) Six additional hours of approved graduate study. These courses may be from those listed above, but not counted under (a) or (b). Fiscal Administration - a critical examination of techniques and problems in the field of fiscal management, budgetary policy, and political economy. a) ACCY Accounting for Public Administration b) PSPA Public Sector Revenue Management c) PSPA Internship in Public Administration* d) Nine additional semester hours of approved graduate study. Human Services Administration - an intensive review of fundamental problems involved in the development and administration of programs in social services, mental health, developmental disabilities, health planning, work force planning, aging, youth services and related topics. a) PSPA Social Policy b) PSPA Internship in Public Administration* c) Twelve additional semester hours of approved graduate study. * Internship requirement may be waived for appropriate professional experience.

5 Internships: The administrative internship is a required component of the MPA program at Northern Illinois University, for which the student also receives academic credit toward the MPA degree. The MPA internship is a paid internship experience, generally served for the full two years of the student's academic program. Interns are the employees of the public or quasi-public agencies for which they work and they receive work assignments from their supervisors at the agencies. These assignments provide "appropriate professional experience" which augments the academic program of courses. Students who enter the MPA program mid-career, or with "appropriate professional experience", may be eligible to have this requirement waived. "Appropriate professional experience" is defined as at least two years of administrative full-time work experience in the student's area of interest in the MPA program. Whether the student meets this criteria will be determined by the Graduate School upon recommendation of the MPA Coordinator, after consultation with the student's work supervisor. If approved by the Graduate School, the internship requirement will be waived and the student's required number of credit hours will be reduced; mid-career students may be also asked to participate in intern meetings and activities of special interest to the student, or when deemed appropriate by the Director. PSPA Internship in Public Administration A pre-professional experience composed of three elements: 1) administrative or staff service in a public or quasi-public agency; 2) seminar meetings consisting of student presentation and action exercises; and 3) presentations by practicing public administrators and scholars in the field of public affairs. PRQ: consent of department. Capstone Paper Requirement: 3-9 semester hours Each MPA student is responsible for preparing a research paper of exceptional quality, called a capstone paper, for completion of their MPA degree. The capstone paper is a culminating research/analysis presentation, based upon an approved research design and original field research, which is expected to be of professional, publishable quality. Students usually address practical problems faced in their internships or places of employment, although they may explore other topics of relevance to the field after consultation with an appropriate faculty member. Students must work with a faculty advisor on the paper until it is approved. Once having started capstone paper work, students are required to maintain continuous enrollment in PSPA 599, including summer terms, until the paper has been completed and approved and the student's comprehensive examinations have been passed. PSPA Public Sector Research Research and writing related to the completion of the capstone paper requirement for the MPA degree. To be taken for 3 hours upon first enrollment and 1 hour per term thereafter until the successful completion of the Comprehensive Examination. May be repeated to a maximum of 12 hours. PRQ: PSPA 504 or consent of department Comprehensive Examination Each MPA Student must pass a comprehensive examination. A student must have completed the minimum number of semester hours of approved graduate study, exclusive of internship hours, be carrying no incompletes (except for PSPA 599), have a grade point average above 3.0, and have completed the initial drafts of the capstone paper to be eligible to sit for comprehensive examinations. Financial Aid Financial Aid is typically rendered to full-time MPA students through internships, graduate assistantships and fellowships. Most MPA students serve internships. All interns receive a tuition waiver from the university and are paid by the agencies for which they work. Since most MPA interns work in their agencies for the entire two years of study, they normally pay no tuition during the course of the MPA program. Interns must still pay all student fees and are responsible for books. Revised 10/29/03

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