Program accreditation
National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration

Program goals

The mission of the Master of Public Administration Program is to develop creative, principled leaders who understand the demands placed upon local, national and global public and nonprofit institutions and are equipped with skills in program management and policy analysis. Applying theory and practice, the program addresses complex social problems while advancing collaborative, effective, equitable, and ethical democratic governance.

The Master of Public Administration program’s mission supports a “generalist” conception of public administration. This seems quite appropriate as the students come from diverse academic and employment backgrounds and find jobs in a wide variety of government and nonprofit organizations.

M.P.A. students may pursue a generalist curriculum (in which the four elective courses are selected from the M.P.A. program or any department or school at VCU) or an area of concentration. Many students will benefit from the depth in a specific area that a concentration provides. If a student pursues a concentration, the elective courses must come from the approved list of courses for that concentration area.

Student learning outcomes

  1. Students will participate in and contribute to the policy process.
  2. Students will lead and manage in public governance.
  3. Students will solve problems and make decisions in public governance.
  4. Students will communicate and interact with the workforce and citizenry.
  5. Students will articulate and apply a public service perspective.

VCU Graduate Bulletin, VCU Graduate School and general academic policies and regulations for all graduate students in all graduate programs

The VCU Graduate Bulletin website documents the official admission and academic rules and regulations that govern graduate education for all graduate programs at the university. These policies are established by the graduate faculty of the university through their elected representatives to the University Graduate Council.

It is the responsibility of all graduate students, both on- and off-campus, to be familiar with the VCU Graduate Bulletin as well as the Graduate School website and academic regulations in individual school and department publications and on program websites. However, in all cases, the official policies and procedures of the University Graduate Council, as published on the VCU Graduate Bulletin and Graduate School websites, take precedence over individual program policies and guidelines.

Visit the Graduate study section for additional information on academic regulations for graduate students.

Degree candidacy requirements

A graduate student admitted to a program or concentration requiring a final research project, work of art, thesis or dissertation, must qualify for continuing master’s or doctoral status according to the degree candidacy requirements of the student’s graduate program. Admission to degree candidacy, if applicable, is a formal statement by the graduate student’s faculty regarding the student’s academic achievements and the student’s readiness to proceed to the final research phase of the degree program.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following degree candidacy policy as published in the VCU Graduate Bulletin for complete information and instructions.

Visit the Graduate study section for additional information on degree candidacy requirements.

Graduation requirements

As graduate students approach the end of their academic programs and the final semester of matriculation, they must make formal application to graduate. No degrees will be conferred until the application to graduate has been finalized.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following graduation requirements as published in the Graduate Bulletin for a complete list of instructions and a graduation checklist.

Visit the Graduate study section for additional information on graduation requirements.

Apply online at

Admission requirements

Degree: Semester(s) of entry: Deadline dates: Test requirements:
M.P.A. Fall Apr 1 (Mar 1 for financial aid) GRE, GMAT, MAT or LSAT
Spring Oct 1
Summer Feb 1

Special requirements

  • These deadlines are designed to allow sufficient time for application review and admission processing. Applications may be submitted after the deadline; however, there is no guarantee of sufficient time for processing. Any application submitted too late for current semester processing will be considered for the following semester. Please contact the program chair with specific application questions.

Master of Public Administration students may pursue a generalist curriculum (in which elective courses are selected from the M.P.A. program or any department or school at VCU) or an area of concentration (choose the generalist curriculum from the drop-down list of program options when applying online). Many students will benefit from the depth in a specific area that a concentration provides.

Students who may benefit from in-depth study in a specific area have the flexibility to build a concentration tailored to their interest.  Students who wish to pursue a concentration should declare it no later than the completion of their 12th credit hour. To declare, students should submit the M.P.A. form “Plan of Study and Concentration Declaration” (found in Appendix B of the M.P.A. handbook) to the program chair. This form ensures the concentration will be listed on the student’s official graduation transcript.

In addition to the general admission requirements of the VCU Graduate School, selection is made on the basis of prior academic performance, professional accomplishments and other indicators of the ability to pursue graduate studies and a professional career in public management successfully. Specifically, the application for admission requires a transcript documenting the completion of a bachelor’s degree, three letters of reference (including both academic and professional references if possible), a current resume and a satisfactory standardized test score (GRE, GMAT, MAT or LSAT). Students submitting LSAT scores must have taken an undergraduate math course (algebra, statistics or finite mathematics) and passed with a minimum grade of C.

No applicant will be considered for admission to the M.P.A. program within two years of having been terminated from the program or of having been rejected for admission to the program.

Degree requirements

The Master of Public Administration program is designed to meet the graduate educational needs of pre-service and in-service professionals for careers in public management and analysis in the public and nonprofit sectors. The degree requires a minimum of 36 graduate credit hours (39 credit hours for students with less than one year of experience in the public or nonprofit sector). In addition to the general VCU Graduate School graduation requirements, M.P.A. students must meet the following requirements:

  1. Students must complete a minimum of 36 graduate credit hours, as approved, with an overall minimum GPA of 3.0. Students who do not have at least one year of professional-level experience in the public sector or in a nonprofit agency are required to earn three additional hours of credit in a public service practicum/internship (for a total of 39 graduate credit hours for the degree).
  2. Students may have no more than two C grades to graduate. Students who earn a D or F in a course will be dismissed from the program.
  3. Students who are required to take the practicum/internship will usually do so during the summer between the first and second years or during the last semester of course work. The practicum must include a minimum of 300 hours as required by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration. The scheduling of the practicum will be flexible enough to accommodate the needs of those students who pursue the degree on a part-time basis. Each practicum will be negotiated between VCU and the host agency, including the scope of work to be performed by the student, the type and extent of supervision, both within the agency and from the university, and the stipend. A learning contract will be executed among the department, the agency and the student. A written student project is required to complete the internship.
  4. All students are required to complete the courses in the core curriculum unless competence in the subject matter can be demonstrated on the basis of previous experience or course work. Course work that is waived must be replaced by approved substitutions in order to meet the minimum 36 (or 39) graduate credit hours required for the degree.

Curriculum requirements

Core courses (required)

PADM/GVPA 601Principles of Public Administration3
PADM 602Public Administration Theory3
PADM 607Public Human Resource Management3
PADM 609Financial Management in Government3
PADM/GVPA/CRJS/URSP 623Research Methods for Government and Public Affairs3
PADM 624Quantitative Methods for Public Administration3
PADM/GVPA 625Public Policy Analysis3
PADM 689Seminar in Public Administration: Integration of Theory and Practice (capstone)3
or PADM 690 Reading Seminar
Total Hours24

State and local government management concentration

Required concentration course
PADM 664Local Government Administration3
Concentration electives
Select three of the following: 19
Social Equity and Public Policy Analysis
Strategic Planning and Management in the Public Sector
Local Government Administration
Advanced Public Human Resources Management
Urban Sociology
Urban Public Policy-making Processes
Planning Theory and Processes
Legal and Legislative Foundations of Planning
Foundations for Development Planning
Total Hours12

With the approval of the public administration program chair, other appropriate courses may be applied toward the concentration.


The following is required for students with less than one year of professional experience in the public or nonprofit sector:0-3
Total Hours0-3

Total graduate credit hours required (minimum) 36 or 39

Graduate program director
Richard F. Huff, Ph.D.
Program chair, Public Administration
Phone: (804) 828-9813

Additional contact
Simon H. Okoth, Ph.D.
Director of graduate studies, Wilder School
Phone: (804) 827-1430

Program website: