Master of Public Administration

Opportunities with an MPA

Are you a motivated person who enjoys helping others? Does the idea of doing your part and contributing to society appeal to you? Does the thought of leading and managing like-minded individuals excite you?

If so, a career in public service and a degree in public administration may be for you. While public service certainly encompasses careers in local, state, and federal government, it is not limited to just those positions.

Public service today focuses on any number of positions over many different industries: criminal justice and law, education, emergency management, environmental protection, fish and wildlife management, healthcare, non-profit and non governmental organizations, and urban development/management to name a few.

The University of South Alabama Master’s of Public Administration can help to prepare you for a meaningful career in this broad and exciting field.

About the program

The Master of Public Administration (MPA) program at the University of South Alabama was established in 1977. It is one of the largest graduate programs both in the College of Arts and Sciences and in the University overall. Students who enter the program have a wide variety of career interests and come from a diverse set of backgrounds and experiences. As a result, the MPA is interdisciplinary in nature, and because of its broad applicability, it is a program that prepares graduates for a variety of careers in multiple fields.

Dr. Jaclyn Bunch serves as Director of our MPA program. If you would like to learn more about the program, please reach out to Dr. Bunch at


▼   Admission

Admission requires a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 2.5 or better. A GRE score is not required for admission into the program. 

▼   Core Courses
PSC 500 Organizational Theory & Behavior
PSC 510 Intergovernmental & Interorganizational Relations
PSC 520 Research Methods & Design
PSC 530 Quantitative Analysis
PSC 540 Public Personnel Management
PSC 550 Managing the Public Budget
PSC 570 Administrative Law
PSC 580 Public Policy Analysis & Evaluation

12 credit hours of elective coursework – may be satisfied with one of our two concentrations:

  • Healthcare Administration/Policy Concentration
  • Geographic Information Technology Concentration

The eight core courses are offered once a year. 

Fall Semester: PSC 500, PSC 510, and PSC 520 
Spring Semester: PSC 530, PSC 540, and PSC 570 
Summer Term: PSC 550 and PSC 580 

▼   Criminal Justice Concentration

The MPA program offers a concentration in criminal justice administration/policy. The track involves taking all four electives in criminal justice related courses (12 credit hours). This track provides students with an opportunity to develop specialized expertise in the application of administrative and management practices to related professions. The Criminal Justices courses are offered online. 

Course offerings include:

PSC 511 Criminal Justice Administration - This course applies classical and modern management and organization theories to a broad range of institutions, actors, and agencies, including police, courts, and corrections, as well as drug traffickers, sexual offender treatment centers, and homeland security agencies. (3 hours)
PSC 576 Administrative Issues in Criminal Justice Mental Health - An overview of the relevant federal and state laws, federal regulations, and court rulings that address the issues of criminal justice for preserving the rights of those citizens who suffer from mental illness. (3 hours) 
PSC 582 Criminal Justice Policy Evaluation - This course examines the most effective and commonly used forms of policy and program evaluation and applies them to the criminal justice system. It explores policy and program evaluation related to a number of subfields, including policing, drug policy, and gun control, recidivism, and police use of force. (3 hours)
PSC 583 Social Construction of Criminal Justice Policy - This course examines the implications of the U.S. policy process through the lens of social construction theory as applied to the functionality of health care systems. (3 hours) 
PSC 596 Professional Studies Internship (must be germane to criminal justice) - Relates the participants' classroom studies to occupational and professional experiences in an approved public agency. Written reports required. Approval of Internship Coordinator required. For further details, see section on Internship. (3-6 hours)
Other rotating electives offered by field specialists.
▼   Healthcare Concentration

Our popular healthcare concentration allows students to take all 12 of their elective hours in courses covering healthcare administration and policy. This concentration is an ideal platform for individuals with a background in professional health sciences, those with a clinical background looking for administrative experience, and for anyone looking for a professional administrative career in healthcare.

The Health Administration and Policy concentration comprises 12 semester hours of course work that can be taken in lieu of the 12 semester hours of electives now required of all MPA students. The four required courses include:

PSC 585 Health Policy - This course facilitates analysis of the role of federal, state and other participants in health policy formulation, implementation and evaluation. (3 hours)
PSC 586 Health Administration - Applications of management principles to healthcare organizations with a focus on governance and leadership, human resources, control systems, strategic planning, and accountability (3 hours)
PSC 587 Healthcare Politics and the Elderly - This course focuses on the health policy process and issues impacting the elderly, with particular attention given to the politics of legislation, financing mechanisms, and strategies for reform. (3 hours)
PSC 590 Special Topics - Variable topics course on healthcare policy and administration. (3 hours)
▼   Geographical Information Technology Concentration

The Geographical Information Technology concentration comprises 12 semester hours of course work that can be taken in lieu of the 12 semester hours of electives now required of all MPA students. The four required courses include:

GIT 560 Introduction to GIST (4 hours)
GIT 861 Applications in GIST: Environment (4 hours)
GIT 562 Applications in GIST: Business & Social Sciences (4 hours)
▼   Thesis Concentration

In addition to the core courses, students must take 6 to 9 hours of graduate elective courses as approved by the Director of the MPA Program and 3 to 6 hours of PSC 599 (Thesis). Students must also complete a thesis in compliance with Graduate School requirements.

PSC 599 Thesis (3-6 hours)
6 to 9 Hours of Approved Electives
▼   Non-Thesis Concentration

Students must take an additional 12 hours of graduate electives as approved by the Director of the MPA Program.