The MPA degree is designed for the in-service student who holds or seeks a managerial or professional position in a public or nonprofit organization. Typically, students are in their late-20s to mid-30s, with considerable professional experience and are employed full-time in a career position in the government, nonprofit, or private sectors. Students bring a wealth of professional and life experiences to the classroom, providing real world learning opportunities for other students.
The MPA courses blend theory and practice, providing students with the analytic capacity and the understanding of organizations and policy that are essential to effective public management. Students in the MPA program learn about the political, legal, and economic environments of public sector and nonprofit administration. Students explore the differences between profit-seeking and public-serving missions, and the central importance of ethical and moral expectations for those serving the public. Core courses teach analytical and interpersonal skills and perspectives required to manage and lead public sector organizations. Topics include organizational behavior and theories for management, public sector finance, research techniques, policy making and policy analysis, the legal environment, and public sector ethics. The two specializations in Government and Nonprofits offer topics such as the legal environment, advanced policy analysis, and information management. The diverse offering of elective courses allows students to pursue other areas of interest, and includes emphasis in nonprofit leadership or local government administration.
The faculty members have extensive public sector and nonprofit experience, a complement to their academic qualifications. They maintain regular contact with the practice of public administration through research, consulting, professional associations, and community service projects. The program has an outstanding adjunct faculty of public service professionals.
The curriculum and the other aspects of the program meet the standards established by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) and reflect both the mission of Seattle University and the program’s experience in offering the MPA degree for three decades. Seattle University’s MPA program received the honor of being accredited by NASPAA in 2004 without conditions until 2011, the first MPA program in Washington state to receive this distinction.
Students can complete the program entirely on weeknights, Saturdays, or a combination of the two. Students may enter during any academic quarter, including summer. A full complement of courses is offered each quarter. MPA students may register for up to nine credits per term without permission of the director. Although the University’s limitation of 10 transfer credits will apply to most students, those who transfer from another university’s MPA program may be allowed as many as 18 quarter credits in transfer.
A variety of student services are offered to MPA students to assist them in their academic and career progress, including job placement services, internships, individual career counseling, Job Club, alumni events and networking, community leadership mentor program, peer-to-peer mentor program, and MPA Student Association activities. The MPA program also participates in the Pi Alpha Alpha honor society, the national honor society for the fields of public affairs and administration. Qualified students are invited to join Pi Alpha Alpha once per year.
While applications are accepted all four quarters, admission is competitive. Applicants are evaluated on their individual merits rather than on a comparative basis. Applicants are required to submit the following documents for consideration:
- Completed application for graduate admission and non-refundable $55 application fee (waived for Seattle University alumni)
- Evidence of a four-year equivalent bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution.
- Minimum grade point average of 3.00 as calculated from official transcripts of all post-secondary educational institutions attended in the last 90 quarter/60 semester credits of the bachelor’s degree, including any transfer credits earned during this time, and any post-baccalaureate course work.
- Current résumé reflecting at least one year of continuous full-time work experience
- Two completed Seattle University MPA recommendation forms: at least one should be from current or former supervisors who can speak to qualifications
- Two-page maximum letter of intent summarizing interest in the MPA program, commitment to public service, and discussing ways in which the MPA will assist in reaching career and educational goals
- If English is not applicant’s native language, official English proficiency scores meeting the university’s entrance requirements must be submitted. See policy 2008-01 in Admissions Policies for details.