Public Administration

Admissions | Program Requirements | Graduate Courses

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Master of Public Administration

The Master of Public Administration (MPA) program provides professional management, analytical, and leadership skills and the understanding of public policy issues needed for management and policy positions in national, state, regional, and local governments and the nonprofit sector.

The curriculum combines practical applications and scholarly knowledge to provide an understanding of public management and develop the specific skills needed by governmental and nonprofit managers, analysts, and policy-makers. The program is designed for both in-service and pre-service students and can be tailored to focus on individual professional goals and career areas. For more information, please visit our website.


Admission Requirements

  • Baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution with a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.7 (4.0 scale) or 3.0 in the last 60 hours
  • The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or Miller Analogies Test (MAT) is required. Preferred scores on the GRE should be in the range of 153 for the verbal section of the exam and in the range of 148 for quantitative section. Students may also elect to take the MAT; the preferred score on this test is 400.
  • Work in other graduate or professional programs will be considered in making admission decisions
  • A written statement of educational and career goals (email to graduate coordinator)
  • Résumé (email to graduate coordinator)
  • Two letters of recommendation (email/mail to graduate coordinator)

Program Requirements

The public administration degree requires 36 graduate credit hours, which includes 21 required hours that includes successful completion of the capstone seminar PADM 7373, and 15 approved elective hours. Students must maintain a 3.0 GPA for all courses approved for the MPA program. In accordance with the Graduate School policy, students who fall below a 3.0 GPA will have the next 12 credit hours to raise their GPA. Students admitted conditionally must maintain a 3.0 GPA in their first 12 graduate hours of core MPA courses.

Students without professional, managerial, or research experience in public or nonprofit administration are urged to take a three-hour internship (PADM 8301 or PADM 8302). Students considering pursuit of a doctoral degree are encouraged to take a six-hour thesis project (PADM 8000).

Required Core Courses (21 Hours)

PADM 7301 The Profession of Public Administration
PADM 7303 Public Organization Theory
PADM 7313 Human Resource Management in the Public Sector
PADM 7323 Public Financial Administration
PADM 7362 Public Policy Analysis I
PADM 7363 Public Policy Analysis II
PADM 7373 Seminar in Public Administration

Elective Courses (15 Hours)

PADM 5341 Seminar in Comparative Public Administration
PADM 5353 Seminar in Public Budgeting
PADM 7324 Nonprofit Financial Management
PADM 7326 Public Organizational Networks for Nonprofits
PADM 7330 Independent Study (three hours credit)
PADM 7331 Problems in Public Administration (selected topics)
PADM 7333 Administrative Leadership and Public Management
PADM 7334 Grant Writing and Fundraising
PADM 7335 Urban Management
PADM 7336 Managing the Not-for-Profit Sector
PADM 7337 Public Organizational Change and Development
PADM 7338 Public Personnel Problems and Issues
PADM 7339 State Administration and Reform
PADM 7340 Ethics in Public Administration
PADM 7341 Managing Public Disputes
PADM 7342 Public Revenue Management
PADM 7343 Organizational Partnerships and Collaboration
PADM 7345 Urban Management and Community Change
PADM 7346 Current Issues in Public and Nonprofit Management
PADM 7353 Seminar in Intergovernmental Management
PADM 7380 Public Program Evaluation
PADM 7385 Seminar in Public Policy
PADM 7393 Administrative Law
PADM 8300 Internship in Public Administration


Graduation Requirements

  • Successful completion of 36 hours of approved MPA courses with a GPA of at least 3.0,
  • Successful completion of the capstone seminar (PADM 7373).

Graduate Assistantships

A limited number of graduate assistantships may be awarded to students who have regular admission into the MPA program. Contact the graduate program coordinator for more information.


Advanced Standing Program

The advanced standing program allows middle- to upper-level managers who have completed the Certified Public Manager’s program (CPM) to pursue the MPA degree. Students who have completed the CPM must present a certificate that is signed by the appropriate authorities that indicates that all graduation requirements for the CPM have been completed.

Admission requirements
  • Baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution with a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.7 (4.0 scale) or 3.0 in the last 60 hours.
  • Preferred scores on the GRE of at least a 153 on the verbal section and a 148 on the quantitative section, or 400 on the MAT.
Program Requirements, in addition to those of the regular MPA program

Students admitted to the advanced standing program are required to complete all required courses of the MPA program and nine hours of electives as approved by the MPA coordinator. These students have six hours of elective course work waived in the MPA program.


MPA/JD Concurrent Degree Program

The MPA/JD concurrent degree program is offered with the UALR Bowen School of Law. Students enrolled in the concurrent MPA/JD program may use specified courses to earn cross- credits that may be applied toward the fulfillment of both degrees.

Students must obtain admission to both programs to receive cross-credit. Once admitted, students must submit a Declaration of Intent to Pursue Joint Degrees form, specifying which program they intend to pursue first. This form is available in the MPA program and the School of Law admissions offices. Students are not considered enrolled in the concurrent program until both programs receive a copy of the completed form.

Current MPA program students may enter the concurrent program by gaining admission to the UALR School of Law and submitting a completed Declaration of Intent to Pursue Joint Degrees form to each program prior to completing the MPA. Students currently pursuing a JD must apply for admission to the MPA program prior to receiving the JD. These students are not required to meet the GRE or MAT admission requirements for the MPA program. LSAT scores are used in lieu of those test scores.

Once students are admitted to both programs and the concurrent degree forms are on file in both offices, cross-credit for courses is earned according to the following conditions:

  • Minimum grade of C in JD program cross-credit courses (up to 15 hours)
  • Minimum grade of B in MPA program cross-credit courses (up to 12 hours)
MPA Courses Approved for Credit in the JD Program

PADM 7333 Administrative Leadership and Public Management
PADM 7334 Grant Writing and Fundraising
PADM 7335 Urban Management
PADM 7336 Managing the Not-for-Profit Sector
PADM 7339 State Administration and Reform
PADM 7340 Ethics in Public Administration
PADM 7353 Seminar in Intergovernmental Management
PADM 7363 Public Policy Analysis
PADM 7380 Public Program Evaluation
PADM 7385 Seminar in Public Policy

JD Courses Approved for Credit in the MPA Program

LAW 6203 Alternative Dispute Resolution
LAW 6249 Workers Compensation
LAW 6256/6393 Civil Liberties
LAW 6257/6300 Communications Law
LAW 6259 Correctional Law
LAW 6269 Employment Law
LAW 6279 State & Local Taxation
LAW 6283/6387 Health Law
LAW 6300 Environmental Law
LAW 6318 Water Law
LAW 6343 Public Service Law
LAW 6357 Public Health Law
LAW 6361 Employment Discrimination
LAW 6371 Labor Law
LAW 6372 Land Use
LAW 6374 Legislation
LAW 6375 Local Government
LAW 6378 Poverty Law
LAW 6399 Disability Law
LAW 6404 Mediation Clinic


Courses in Public Administration

PADM 5341 Seminar in Comparative Public Administration (Elective)
Similarities, differences in bureaucratic structures, processes; analysis of organization, staffing, role of administrative systems in contrasting social, cultural contexts of the western, nonwestern worlds.

PADM 5353 Seminar in Public Budgeting (Elective)
Budgeting theory, practice; includes budgeting as allocations, process, games, rituals, history, politics; institutions, their roles in budgeting; current issues such as uncontrollability, balanced budgets, variance budgeting.

PADM 7330 Independent Study in Public Administration (Elective)
The independent study is given under the direction of a faculty member. Students take such courses to engage in specific topic of interest (which is usually not available through regular offerings), or participate in research projects for governments and non-profit agencies. A final written report is required. No more than six hours may count as electives toward degree.

PADM 7301 The Profession of Public Administration (Required)
Introduction to the discipline of public administration covers historical development of public administration, the relationship between politics and administration, conflicting public values, defining the public interest and the appropriate level of administrative discretion, as well as professionalism, the ASPA Code of Ethics, career planning for public service, and major sources of information for professional research. Students should enroll in The Profession of Public Administration course in the first semester they are in the MPA program.

PADM 7303 Public Organization Theory (Required)
Theory, research of complex organizations, their management, administration; relevance, application of the approaches in terms of design, structure, function, processes, their interdependencies.

PADM 7313 Human Resource Management in the Public Sector (Required)
Policies, practices, issues of managing the human resource function in public and nonprofit organizations.

PADM 7323 Public Financial Administration (Required)
Policies, concepts, practice, and analysis of public financial management issues and practices; introduction to the principles of public finance and the skills necessary for sound management of public sector financial resources. These principles include public budgeting, debt, investments, forecasting, tax administration, and intergovernmental fiscal transfers.

PADM 7324 Nonprofit Financial Management  (Elective)
This course is designed to provide students with an understanding of funding mechanisms, accounting, and federal reporting requirements for nonprofit organizations. Topics focus on nonprofit accounting, financial resource acquisition, budgeting, financial management, control and transparency in nonprofit organizations.

PADM 7326 Public Organizational Networks for Nonprofits (Elective)
This course will discuss how nonprofit organizations can cultivate and strategically utilize relationships with government agencies, corporations, volunteer networks, and the general public. Both traditional outreach approaches and new formats, including electronic and social media, will be covered.

PADM 7331 Problems in Public Administration (Elective)
Seminar on selected topics.

PADM 7333 Administrative Leadership and Public Management (Elective)
Theory, practice; distinctive challenges facing managers of public organizations; includes political context, effective leadership styles, building and maintaining motivated organizations, application of successful management techniques.

PADM 7334 Grant Writing and Fundraising (Elective)
Practical, hands-on study of the concepts, strategies, and techniques of resource development in public and not-for- profit organizations; emphasis on formulation of needs and capacity studies, organization of goals and objectives, budget preparation, volunteer coordination, and outcomes evaluation.

PADM 7335 Urban Management (Elective)
Administration of urban governments in context of intergovernmental relations, limited resources, political compromise, competing citizen demands; emphasis on balancing economy and efficiency with equity concerns, especially in key policy decisions relating to quality of urban life.

PADM 7336 Managing the Not-for-Profit Sector (Elective)
Management issues unique to nonprofit sector; hands-on use of real-world examples, problems through selected readings, special projects; attention to managing volunteers, fundraising.

PADM 7337 Public Organizational Change and Development (Elective)
Theories, concepts; emphasis on applications to practical administrative problems.

PADM 7338 Public Personnel Problems and Issues (Elective)
Topical problems, issues from operational, theoretical perspectives; emphasis on political, legal, economic, social, environmental forces that shape the human resource function in public agencies.

PADM 7339 State Administration and Reform (Elective)
Specialized needs of managing, reforming state government from comparative framework; emphasis on Arkansas.

PADM 7340 Ethics in Public Administration (Elective)
Public managers today face increasingly complex ethical dilemmas, often having to weigh personal and professional values against current public opinion and the law. This course examines some of these inherent conflicts through the use of case studies to help provide a framework and process for resolving ethical issues in the public sector.

PADM 7341 Managing Public Disputes (Elective)
Covers the knowledge and skills necessary for effective management of complex multi-party disputes about public issues such as land use and delivery of services. Examination of principles for managing conflict in the public sector; explores effective methods for analyzing and framing multi-party conflicts; and provides step-by-step procedures for reaching and implementing agreements.

PADM 7342 Public Revenue Management (Elective)
This course is a practical study of concepts and techniques used to manage public funds from a public manager’s perspective. Reading material, class discussions, and practical exercises will emphasize public funds accounting, internal revenue control, investing, and financial statements.

PADM 7343 Organizational Partnerships and Collaboration (Elective)
Increasingly, managers, employees, and volunteers from all walks of life, in the public, nonprofit, private sectors are called upon to work in collaborative environment. Reading material, class discussions, and practical exercises will focus on how public and nonprofit managers can best facilitate production and change in such an environment.

PADM 7345 Urban Management and Community Change (Elective)
Project-driven study of urban government leadership and management in the context of community systems and collaboration. Focus on issues of regional cooperation, planning and service delivery, urban and suburban governments, and neighborhood and community development.

PADM 7436 Current Issues in Public and Nonprofit Management (Elective)
This course covers both intellectual and practical issues facing public and nonprofit sector management over the past decade.

PADM 7353 Seminar in Intergovernmental Management (Elective)
Selected aspects, such as relations between levels of government, American federalism, federal fiscal relations, comparative administration, and emerging trends in intergovernmental relations.

PADM 7362 Public Policy Analysis I (Required)
This course is the first of a two course sequence in the use of data and evidence to support analysis of public problems, programs, and policies. Course topics include program definition and measurement; problem analysis; data visualization and presentation; stakeholder interviewing; sampling, survey, and evaluation research; experimental and quasi-experimental research design; multivariate statisical analysis; and public values and ethics in policy analysis. Students with credit for PADM 7315 cannot take this course for credit.

PADM 7363 Public Policy Analysis II(Required)
Prerequisite: PADM 7362. This course is the second of a two course sequence in the use of data and evidence to support analysis of public problems, programs, and policies. Course topics include program and policy evaluation; research design; experimental and quasi-experimental research design; multivariate statistical analysis; social welfare analysis; cost-benefit analysis; sampling, survey, and evaluation research; and public values and ethics in policy analysis. Course requirements include completion of a professional policy analysis paper.

PADM 7373 Seminar in Public Administration (Required)
Prerequisite: 30 hours approved coursework toward MPA degree with a minimum of 18 hours of core courses completed and a 3.0 GPA for these approved MPA courses. This capstone seminar provides students a service learning experience in public management. In an effort to combine students’ academic preparation with practical, applied experience, students are introduced to public management through a project sponsored by an area government or nonprofit agency. With this approach, we hope to expose students to the rigors of public management. Such a course experience permits students to develop decision-making skills for resolving problems, enhance group interaction abilities, and prepare a document for presentation to the government or nonprofit client. The goals of this course is to capitalize on students’ academic preparation by familiarizing them with public administration and the varying managerial strategies used in managing in the public sector on a ‘real time’ project, paying particular attention to the dynamics (personal, professional, organizational, social, and political) that affect management decisions in this sector.

PADM 7380 Public Program Evaluation (Elective)
Prerequisite: consent of instructor. Techniques for evaluating how well public programs work and what sort of research is most helpful to managers who want to improve them; formal research design, process evaluations, and impact evaluations; final project requires the evaluation of public or non-profit program.

PADM 7385 Seminar in Public Policy (Elective)
Public sector theories; techniques for analyzing policies; various substantive fields that may include health, energy, environment, other policy-making areas.

PADM 7393 Administrative Law (Elective)
Legal aspects of the administrative process, effect of legal principles, processes on administrative decision making; emphasis on limitation of administrative discretion, judicial review of administrative decisions.

PADM 8000 Thesis in Public Administration (Elective)
Prerequisites: 24 graduate hours; consent of coordinator. Preparation of a thesis demonstrating scholarship on some aspect of public administration, normally in-depth treatment of an applied management concern; must be approved by a thesis committee (chairperson and two faculty members selected by student with coordinator’s approval). Variable credit of one to six hours. Concurrent enrollment in final three to six hours with coordinator’s approval.

PADM 8301 Internship I in Public Administration (Optional)
Prerequisites: 30 graduate hours; consent of coordinator. (For students with no public service background) Practical, first- hand experience in government or nonprofit sector; usually requires four to six months full-time work in appropriate position, management paper reflecting professional and scholarly development.

PADM 8302 Internship II in Public Administration (Optional)
Prerequisites: 30 graduate hours; consent of coordinator. (For students with no public service background) Practical, first- hand experience in government or nonprofit sector; usually requires four to six months full-time work in appropriate position, management paper reflecting professional and scholarly development.
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