To earn the Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree at Northeastern, you must successfully complete 42 semester hours (typically fourteen courses) of credit in a prescribed curriculum. Full-time students can expect to complete the degree in two academic years. Coursework is divided between 24 credits in eight required courses, referred to as the core, and either 18 credits in elective courses, or 15 credits in elective courses, plus a 3 credit internship requirement (pre-service students).
For a full listing of graduate level courses, please see the full-course catalog published by Northeastern’s Registrar’s Office (Political Science Graduate courses begin on page 492). More detailed information on requirements and opportunities for MPA students can be found in the Graduate Programs in Political Science Program Guide.
Information accurate as of the Spring Semester 2013. Requirements and policies are subject to change. For up-to-date information, contact Louis DaRos or visit the official graduate catalogue at http://www.northeastern.edu/registrar/catgrad1213.pdf.
The MPA Core
The following eight core courses are required of all MPA students. These courses serve as a foundation for all MPA students and cover a wide-array of public policy and management areas to prepare students for leadership and management careers in the public and nonprofit sectors. With the exception of POLS 7306 Capstone in Public Policy and Management, which should be taken in the last spring semester of a student’s academic career, there is no required sequence to these courses. Each core course is offered at least once per year on-campus, and at least once every year online.
- POLS 7202 Quantitative Techniques: Teaches the use of social science quantitative techniques, emphasizing applications of value to public sector analysts and scholars alike. Includes descriptive statistics, hypothesis testing, cross-tabulation, bivariate regression and correlation, and multiple regression. Examines how to generate and interpret statistical analyses through use of SPSS.
- POLS 7203 Techniques of Policy Analysis: Provides a systematic approach to understanding the origins, formulation, implementation, and impact of government outputs. Reviews key analytical concepts and competing theoretical perspectives. Considers both the political dimensions of public policymaking and the technical aspects of program design within the natural history of the policymaking process. Draws on case materials from a spectrum of policy areas.
- POLS 7301 Public Personnel Administration: Introduces students to the public personnel function from a managerial standpoint. Addresses methods of constructive leadership of government personnel, leadership that encourages a more competent, motivated, and representative public administrative work force. Employs case studies and films, along with assigned readings.
- POLS 7302 Organizational Theory and Management: Examines the general principles underlying organizational structures and processes. Topics include models and ideal types, open systems theories, organizational technologies, decision making, and organizational development and change.
- POLS 7303 Budgeting and Financial Management: Surveys governmental budgeting at the federal, state, and local levels. Surveys major revenue sources and expenditure responsibilities. Discusses budgetary processes and politics, as well as resulting policies. Considers both proposed and implemented reforms. Also introduces financial management practices including cash management, fund accounting, debt financing, endowment spending and control, cost allocation procedures, and tax expenditures.
- POLS 7304 Economic Analysis and Institutions: Introduces the fundamentals of macroeconomics and microeconomics as well as the role of key economic institutions, such as the Federal Reserve. Includes analysis of government’s role in a market economy and introduces methods of economic analysis.
- POLS 7305 Institutional Leadership and the Public Manager: Examines the problems and techniques relevant to effective management of a public agency in a complicated and often turbulent political environment. Topics include legislative relations, media relations, the role of the courts, unions and advocacy groups, policy implementation and evaluation, and setting and working with high standards of integrity.
- POLS 7306 Capstone in Public Policy and Administration: Offers an applied research project for students who have completed all or nearly all of their course work. Students work in teams to study a policy or public management issue currently facing a government agency. Teams conduct research and prepare an oral and written report for presentation to the agency as well as to the class. Readings focus on material needed to analyze the assigned issue as well as limited general readings on public policy and public administration. In addition, each student will complete a personal strategic plan that identifies career goals and assesses his or her current skill level and future skill needs to reach that goal.
Beyond the Core: Pre-Service students
MPA students with less than one year of full-time related work experience in the public or non-profit sectors are required to complete an internship for academic credit. At some point during their studies, these students must, with the assistance of their academic advisor or the internship coordinator, find an internship of 300 hours. Once the student is placed in an internship, students will register for:
POLS 7407 Internship: Offers work experience (at least fifteen hours per week) that includes planning, research, policy development, and other administrative aspects in a public or nonprofit organization.
For more information on the internship requirement and assistance in finding an internship, please visit our Internships page or make an appointment with our internship advisor. Students who are interested in an internship should consult with the internship advisor at least six weeks prior to the semester in which the internship is to be undertaken.
Pre-service MPA students will also be required to complete 15 elective credits (typically 5 courses) in addition to the core courses and POLS 7407. Electives are offered in an array of areas, including public policy, nonprofit management, security studies, American government, and urban affairs. Most elective courses will be taken within the department of political science, which offers courses both online and on-campus each fall and spring semester as well as the summer. MPA students however can also seek elective credits in other departments, through directed studies, or through additional experiential education opportunities with the permission of the program chair or their academic advisor.
Beyond the Core: In Service students
MPA students with a year or more of full-time related work experience are not required to complete an internship. In service MPA students are required to complete 18 elective credits (typically 6 courses) in addition to the core courses. Electives are offered in an array of areas, including public policy, nonprofit management, security studies, American government, and urban affairs. Most elective courses will be taken within the Department of Political Science or the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs. These units offer courses both online and on-campus each fall and spring semester as well as the summer. MPA students may also seek elective credits in other departments or through directed studies with the permission of the Director of the Program and their academic advisor.
Certificates and Concentrations
The MPA Program at Northeastern does not formally offer concentrations. However, students with an interest in a specific area may work with their academic advisor to find elective courses relevant to their area(s) of interest. These elective options can be done in a way for students to pursue an individualized specialization and opportunities exist for students to pursue relevant interests in courses housed in other departments at Northeastern University.
There are also several Certificate Programs that might be of interest to MPA students with specialized interests. Courses in some of these options may also count toward the MPA degree as elective credits.
Students must have a final grade point average of at least 3.000 to obtain the MPA degree. In addition, an overall grade point average of 3.000 is required in the core courses with no grade of F. A total of six semester hours of repeated courses and/or additional courses may be taken in order to satisfy degree requirements. Each course may be repeated only once. The initial grade received in a course that has been repeated, as well as grades received for transfer credit, will be excluded from the final average.
Satisfactory progress in the MPA Program is defined as maintaining a grade point average of 3.000. Students who fall below this average in one semester must consult with their academic advisor to create a prescribed enrollment contract. Students who fall below this average in two consecutive semesters are subject to dismissal from the program.