Frequently Asked Questions
OVERVIEW OF THE MPA PROGRAM:
Thank you for your interest in the MPA Program. The information that follows has been prepared to address questions frequently asked by applicants to the MPA Program. If you have additional questions, please contact us at email@example.com or (610) 436-2438.
FAQs ABOUT THE MPA PROGRAM
1. What is the Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree?
The Master of Public Administration (MPA) is a professional degree with areas of concentration in general public administration, human resource management, and nonprofit administration. In addition, graduate certificates, which can be coupled with the MPA general concentration, are offered in Urban and Regional Planning as well as Sport Management and Athletics. The degree is designed to equip students with the skills necessary to enhance the field of public service through positions both inside and outside of government in the nonprofit and even private sector, e.g., as consultants to governmental organizations or as governmental service providers. The MPA curriculum provides students with a foundation in the practice of public administration. Beyond that, students earning the degree will possess a high level of competency in administrative processes for the public sector.Back to top
2. What topics are covered in the "Public Administration Core"?
All MPA students take six public administration core courses. They are: Foundations in Public Administration, Research Methods in Public Administration, Policy Analysis and Program Evaluation, Public Budgeting and Finance, Public Human Resources Management and Public Sector Organization Theory.
The core courses equip students with the competency:
3. What areas of concentration are offered in the MPA Program?
Students can pursue a general concentration in public administration, human resource management, or nonprofit administration. In addition, graduate certificates, which can be coupled with the MPA general concentration, are offered in Urban and Regional Planning as well as Sport Management and Athletics.Back to top
4. Who is enrolled in the MPA Program?
The degree is designed for individuals with professional work experience who desire to enhance their administrative and public management skills as well as pre-service students who do not have professional experience. Students who lack work experience will incorporate a relevant internship or other job experiences into their programs.Back to top
5. Will I be able to work full-time and still succeed in the program?
Yes, this program is specifically structured to accommodate professionals who work full-time and want to enhance their professional credentials on a part-time basis. All classes are scheduled in the late afternoon and evening hours. Students employed full-time usually take one or two courses a semester. The program is designed to allow a part-time student to earn the MPA degree in two to three years (including summer sessions).Back to top
6. Can I attend the program on a full-time basis?
Yes, although most students in the program work full-time and attend part-time, a number of students are enrolled on a full-time basis and complete the program in one and a half to two years.Back to top
7. It has been a long time since I was in school. Will I feel out of place?
No, the vast majority of students in the program have already gained full-time professional work experience prior to entering the program and are currently working full-time.Back to top
8. How does the MPA differ from the MBA?
While both degrees focus on developing an administrative skill set, the MPA is more oriented toward enhancing the practice of these skills within the field of public service. The MPA program is most suitable for those whose interests primarily lie with operating in the area of public service, organizational development and "people management."
Individuals who are currently in the private sector will find the skills learned in the MPA program to be applicable and highly valuable especially for those in the area of "people management."Back to top
9. Is the MPA degree recommended for someone who wants to earn a Ph.D.?
While the MPA degree is intended to be a "terminal" degree for professionals desiring to enhance their administrative skills, a growing number of individuals have gone on to pursue their PhD after completing a MPA.Back to top
10. Can I earn a Pennsylvania elementary or secondary school certification by completing the MPA degree or the MPA certificate?
No, the MPA degree is not meant for persons who want to earn a state recognized principal or superintendent's certificate. However, for a variety of other reasons, many educators do enroll in the program and find the curriculum useful for their career development.Back to top
Can I earn a Pennsylvania elementary or secondary school certification by earning the MPA certificate in Public Administration or earning the MPA degree?
No, while the MPA degree is designed to enhance the administrative competence of persons from diverse organizational backgrounds, it is not intended for persons desiring to earn principal or superintendent's certificates.Back to top
ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS AND PROCEDURES:
1. What are the specific requirements for admission to the MPA Program?
The MPA Program welcomes applicants who hold baccalaureate degrees from accredited institutions. Admission to the MPA Program is based on an assessment of an applicant's ability, aptitude, and potential.
Applicants must submit a West Chester University Application for Graduate Study, which is available at the Office of Graduate Studies website. In addition, applicants must provide an essay outlining short and long-term career plans, official transcripts from all colleges attended, a resume, and two letters of reference from persons in a position to evaluate the applicant's potential (at least one reference must be from a present or former supervisor). A standardized test is NOT required.Back to top
2. I have already earned a master's degree from another institution, do I need to meet the MPA application requirements?
Individuals with graduate degrees in other areas have pursued the MPA degree. Applicants with an earned master's degree from another program are required to fulfill all other admissions criteria. Upon admittance to the program, the student must complete a minimum of twenty-four credits in order to earn the MPA degree. The specific number of credits required will vary depending on the student's background and intended concentration.Back to top
3. May I earn a second master's degree from West Chester University?Yes, students wishing to attain a second master's degree from WCU must meet all admissions requirements set by the Office of Graduate Studies and the MPA program and must earn a minimum of twenty-four credits beyond the credits applied toward the first master's degree. Back to top
4. What are the application procedures for international students?
International students should follow the same application procedures described in question '1' above. Additionally, they must submit TOEFL scores from all TOEFL exams taken within the last five years. University policy requires a score of at least 550 on the written exam and 213 on the computer-based exam. All international students must submit TOEFL scores, regardless of any previous educational experience in the United States. Due to the extensive time needed to transmit documents from abroad and secure visas, international students are advised to apply by March 1 for fall semester and September 1 for spring semester.Back to top
5. Which standardized test should I take?
None. We do not require a standardized test score as part of the admission requirements.Back to top
6. What references are required?
The MPA program evaluates applicants, as one admissions criterion, on their potential ability as an administrator. Therefore, at least one reference letter must be from a present or former supervisor of the applicant. The letter must detail the applicant's administrative potential.Back to top
7. How do I answer the section of the graduate application that asks for a statement of short-term and long-term career objectives?
This is a critical part of the MPA application. This question must be answered in essay form. The essay must explain the applicant's undergraduate area of study, relevant professional experiences since receiving the undergraduate degree, and motivation for pursuing graduate study at this time. In addition, the statement must cover short-term career objectives (the next 3-5 years) as well as long-term objectives (10-15 years out). Please be specific about career goals as this information will be used for advisement purposes. Further, the applicant must include a recent resume.Back to top
8. How many credits are required for the MPA degree?
The curriculum consists of 18 semester hours in the public administration core, a 3 semester hour capstone and 15 semester hours in a selected concentration area. Students without significant public sector experience will be required to complete a relevant internship experience (internship hours do not count towards the 36 hour requirement).Back to top
9. How does the Certificate in Public Administration compare to the MPA degree?
Besides the full MPA degree, the MPA Program does offer a Certificate in Public Administration, which requires completion of only the six administrative core courses, for a total of eighteen credits. To pursue this option, applicants must meet the same entrance requirements as for the MPA degree and complete all six administrative core courses.Back to top
10. As a student in another program, may I take MPA courses?
Yes, students majoring in other graduate degree programs may, under advisement, enroll in administrative core courses on a space available basis. Approval is needed both from the student's adviser and the MPA director. Class priority is given to MPA degree and certificate students.Back to top
11. Can I take courses as a non-degree student?
Non-degree students may, with approval from the MPA director, take up to six credits without formally applying to the MPA Program. To be considered, potential non-degree students must submit copies of their undergraduate transcripts from all colleges attended as well as a resume.Back to top
12. Are graduate assistantships available?
A very limited number of graduate assistantships are awarded each year to highly qualified students. Availability varies yearly and they are granted only to full-time students. Applicants should not plan their academic program assuming they will receive an assistantship.Back to top
13. What is the procedure to apply for a graduate assistantship?
Normally, students must submit their completed graduate assistantship application prior to February 15 for fall admittance and October 15 for spring admittance. Applicants interested in the MPA assistantship should contact the MPA Director. Additional assistantships sometimes are available in other areas of campus (e.g., Tutoring Center, Residence Life, Athletic Department, etc.); applicants should contact the Office of Graduate Studies and/or the relevant area of campus to determine potential availability of assistantships as well asBack to top
1. Who advises me in the area of concentration?
An adviser is assigned to each area of concentration from among the faculty teaching in that particular area. Late afternoon appointments are available. Advisers also can be reached by phone and email.Back to top
2. May I apply for a concentration which is different from that of my undergraduate degree?
MPA students often have their undergraduate degree in an area related to their concentration area; however, such is not a requirement for admission. Indeed, many applicants are routinely admitted whose academic credentials are in an area different than their intended MPA concentration. The career goal statement in the graduate application should address this change in direction (from an applicant's undergraduate major).
Any questions concerning prerequisite requirements should be discussed with the advisers in the respective concentration areas. Critical academic deficiencies will have to be corrected with appropriate undergraduate coursework prior to admission at the graduate level, but the number of such undergraduate credits required is generally minimal.Back to top
3. Should I be employed in the same area as I chose for my MPA concentration?
Many students in the program are already employed in the same field as their concentration, but this is not an admission's requirement. The MPA Program is designed to serve those seeking a career change, as well as those hoping to enhance their present employment. Along with earning a formal degree, students are advised to also "build a resume" to support their intended career change and to plan to take an internship or otherwise acquire appropriate experience in the career area into which they intend to transition.Back to top
4. My undergraduate major is in the same area as my MPA concentration. Will I have to repeat courses?
No, even though the course titles may be similar, courses at the graduate level are qualitatively and quantitatively different from those offered at the undergraduate level. However, students with an especially strong background in a particular area are encouraged to discuss alternative concentration courses with their concentration adviser. Students have been able to broaden their backgrounds by substituting alternative concentration courses for those required in the concentration; approval to do so must be granted by a student's concentration adviser.Back to top
COURSE SCHEDULING AND REGISTRATION INFORMATION:
1. How often are the courses offered in the MPA Program?
All Public Administration (PPA) core courses are offered two or three times a year. An updated list of the entire next year's PPA course offerings is distributed to MPA students each semester. The schedule for concentration courses varies by concentration; this information is made available to students each semester in conjunction with course registration instructions.Back to top
2. Can I substitute courses from another concentration for those required in my concentration?
Possibly, but this is decided on a case-by-case basis. Possible options should be discussed with the concentration adviser.Back to top
3. Can I transfer credit for courses taken at other colleges that are comparable to the courses in the MPA Program?
Yes, if approved, up to six credits may be transferred. Each case is handled on an individual basis. The credits submitted for possible transfer must have been earned at an accredited institution and completed within the previous six years. A grade of "B" or better must have been earned in the course(s). The concentration adviser must approve transfer concentration courses, and courses to be substituted within the PPA core must be approved by the MPA director. Requests for transfer credits to substitute for PPA core courses will not be approved once a student starts the MPA program.Back to top
4. Can I receive credit for my life experience (CLEP)?
No, WCU policy does not permit the granting of graduate-level academic credit for life experience. However, students should confer with their concentration adviser regarding which courses to take that will enhance their background and not merely duplicate their previous experiences.Back to top
5. Can I earn graduate "Credit by Examination (CBE)"?
No, this program is not designed to grant credit by examination. However, students are encouraged to discuss their competencies with their concentration advisers and, with adviser approval, substitute alternative concentration courses for those which would merely duplicate past learning.Back to top
6. Do I need a math/accounting/finance background for the Public Finance and Budgeting Course?
No, these courses do not focus heavily on "technical" matters. Rather, these courses are designed to introduce the future administrator to these technical areas from a manager's perspective and, hence, are intended to give individuals the opportunity to become knowledgeable about these fields from a management perspective. No prerequisites are required.Back to top
7. Is a thesis required for this degree?
The research requirements are all contained within the respective concentration areas and differ for each concentration. To gain a better understanding of research requirements, consult the curriculum advising sheet (available from the MPA Office) for the concentration or the concentration adviser.Back to top
8. How will I be billed for classes for which I register?
The Bursar's Office will send a tuition bill after the student has properly registered for classes. All deadlines stated in the registration materials must be observed or the student risks cancellation of all scheduled courses. Payment may be made in person, at the Bursar's Office, by mail, or by phone. Please note: students scheduling late will not receive a bill and must contact the Bursar's Office at (610) 436-2552 directly and immediately to make payment.Back to top
9. Can I defer these payments?
WCU does offer payment plans for full and part-time students. Students should contact the Bursar's Office and the Financial Aid Office directly for more information. WCU does permit students to charge tuition fees on VISA, Mastercard, or American Express. If you have questions about this option, please call the Bursar's Office at (610) 436-2552.Back to top