College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences

Program Components

The Master’s in Public Administration Program provides the student the opportunity to learn about the operations of governmental and non-profit organizations and their role in improving the quality of life for members of the community.  The approach looks at both the theoretical foundations of management in the public sector and the practical application of specific tools and techniques public administrators use.  

The completion of the program requires 36 semester hours for students already working in the public or nonprofit sectors. Full-time students may complete the MPA within two academic years. 

The program consists of 21 hours of core course work required of all MPA students, 12 hours of elective coursework, and 3 hours for a culminating project or thesis.  A student not currently in a public or non-profit sector job may be required to complete a 400 hour internship (which constitutes an additional 3 hour course for a total of 39 hours). 

The 21 semester hours of core course work are graduate level courses at the 500 level or above. Elective or concentration area credit may be taken at the 300 or 400 level (upper division undergraduate courses) but must be selected in consultation with the MPA graduate coordinator Persons who are not full time employees in the public sector or with a nongovernmental organization may need to complete 4 units of an internship.

Culminating Experience

The final educational component for the MPA is completion of a project or a thesis.  The project or thesis not only includes a substantial written component, but the student is also required to make an oral presentation of their work to an audience open to the public.

Final Project: Students are required to develop a major report that focuses on either a policy issue or a management problem confronted by a public service agency with which the student has direct experience. The paper should demonstrate the application of theoretical knowledge to practical problems. Students completing project should enroll in MPA 6950. 

An example of a current project for the MPA program is discussed in Inland Valley Daily Bulletin News Website.

Thesis: A thesis is a comprehensive research project similar in scope and scholarship to articles written in peer reviewed journals. A thesis proposal must be approved by the MPA faculty prior to enrolling in MPA 6960.

In some rare cases, a culminating comprehensive examination may be approved by the MPA faculty for a student due to complete a comprehensive examination in lieu of a project or thesis.

Graduate Writing Test

All Cal Poly Pomona students must pass the Graduate Writing Test in order to graduate. The Learning Resource Center University Writing Center offers helpful tips, study skills handouts, and practice essay prompts for students preparing for the GWT.

If you have graduated from a CSU you have already taken this test and you are not required to take it again. However, if you are not an alumnus of the CSU system, you need to contact the Learning Resource Center to register for the test, get an assigned date, time, location and any related information. See for more information.