From its creation, the University of Utah Master of Public Administration (MPA) Program has been rigorous, requiring integrated core and elective coursework, practical administrative experience and a major research paper. The founders were firm in their vision: the MPA Program would prepare graduates to deal responsibly with the processes of democratic government. Although the MPA has been revised and updated regularly to respond to the changing environment, including the growth of the nonprofit sector, its foci and emphases have remained remarkably stable.
The MPA was built upon a graduate certificate program established in 1946 that had been offered through the Institute of Government and which required one and a half years of full-time effort. During the 1940s and 1950s, the certificate program was quite active, influencing public administration in Utah and through the west.
The U's MPA Program, established in 1976, celebrates 40 years of success. The first MPA degree was awarded by the U in 1977. Since then, the program has established a strong local, regional and national reputation, producing alumni in all fields of public and nonprofit administration.
The University made the deliberate choice to administer the MPA Program through an independent center (previously the Institute of Government, then the Center for Public Policy and Administration (CPPA), and now the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute), thereby offering an opportunity to develop a multi-disciplinary program, but having primary affiliation with the Department of Political Science.
The MPA Program is also NASPAA Accredited.