Master of Public Affairs (M.P.A.)

WSU Vancouver offers a master's degree in Public Affairs (M.P.A.). This degree program is offered exclusively on the WSU Vancouver campus, and is designed for the education of individuals like yourself who are interested in administrative and leadership positions in the public sector.

A wide variety of disciplines

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The Program in Public Affairs draws on a wide variety of academic disciplines, such as political science, business administration, economics, sociology, health policy administration, environmental science/regional planning, law and criminal justice. The MPA will prepare you for a diverse variety of employment opportunities ranging from local government and public policy analysis to personnel administration and strategic planning.

The degree will also prepare you for a range of jobs outside of government service, such as non-profit organizations. If you're an in-service student already working in the public sector, you may be seeking a master's degree to advance professionally. As a graduate student, you can expect to hone your skills and receive further training.

Shift your career

Alternatively, the Master of Public Affairs degree is also appropriate for those who would like to shift careers and obtain a position in the public and non-profit sectors. To enhance your marketability you will practice relevant coursework and have an internship placement where you will learn new skills. As a graduate student, you will have a wide choice of agencies in which to perform internships and establish relationships.

Meet challenges

Photo of student working in a classroom settingThe MPA seeks to develop the skills of present and future public administrators and policy analysts in the region to provide them with the tools to meet the challenges of government. In an age when governmental philosophies are continually being redefined, the MPA program is designed to promote professionalism, leadership, inventiveness, and a commitment to public service for government employees in the area of public administration, applied policy studies, health policy administration, justice studies and environmental policy.

Designed to fit your needs

The program is designed to accommodate the needs of working students. Class size is usually small, ranging from 5-20 students. Classes include lectures, small group discussions and individual and group presentations.

To accommodate the varying interests of students, programs may be individually tailored for you in consultation with an advisor. A minimum of 34 semester hours is required for in-service students with previous public sector experience; 37 semester hours are required for pre-service students needing an internship.

Internship opportunities and placement

An internship of at least three credits is required for all students with the exception of those classified as in-service for whom the internship is optional. There are no course prerequisites. The student must propose an internship to the Program Leader or their thesis committee chair identifying the location of the internship, the name of the field supervisor, expected accomplishments and anticipated benefits of the institution where they planning to intern. The student must deliver the Committee Chair's signed approval to the Internship Coordinator. The Internship Coordinator allows the student to enroll in Pol S 597. The student must complete and document, in journal format, 40 hours of field work for each hour of internship credit. If the internship does not have a significant written outcome, the student must submit an internship paper of at least 15 pages in length, analyzing some aspect of the internship experience in light of a theoretical or methodological issue from the student's academic work. If, in the course of the internship, the student develops a professional report, study or program that the intern's institution will use in the normal course of its business, the student may submit this document in lieu of the internship paper.

In the last academic year, 2013-2014, 3 MPA students completed their internships. Two internships were completed with governmental organizations and the other internship was completed in the non-profit sector.

How long will it take to complete your degree?

You are encouraged to take classes and meet program requirements at your own pace—part-time or full-time. On average, students enrolled in the MPA program can expect to complete their master's degree within two to three years.

Get started

Take your first step and explore MPA admission requirements.