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Core Courses

Students are required to complete the following nine core courses: 

Administrative Theory

Foundations and issues in the study of administration, theorists of 19th and 20th centuries, bureaucracy, scientific management, human relations movement, organization and innovation, and the politics of administration.

Should be taken during the first or second semester of study.

Nonprofit and Non-governmental Organizations

Provides an overview of the nonprofit sector in the U.S. and globally: its scope, structure, history, values, distinct contributions to society, place in the government service delivery systems in several countries, and selected public policy issues that affect it. Economic, political, social, organizational, and giving theories of the sector will be reviewed in order to help understand its existence, roles and activities. Includes community-based learning components to give students real-world experience with the nonprofit sector. 

Should be taken during the first or second semester of study. 

Research Design

Introduces scholarly approaches to research and problem solving: assessing relevant literature, formulating research questions, generating relevant evidence, and constructing reasoned arguments. Focuses on design issues of experimental, quasi-experimental, non-experimental and interpretive methodologies as well as standards for evaluating research. This knowledge can be useful for the Major Research Paper (MRP). 

Should be taken during the first or second semester of study. 

Public Human Resource Management

Merit systems, job classification, recruitment, examination, training, promotion, discipline, pay administration, collective bargaining, diversity in the work force, personnel law, and political activity of government employees.

May be taken at any time

Governance and the Economy 

Addresses the theories and practices that underpin the field of public administration and its roles in the economy. It provides a set of theoretical frameworks that help students interpret and understand more about the interrelations between public administration, public policy, and the economy.

May be taken at any time

Public Budgeting and Finance

Methods and politics in public or nonprofit organizations of planning programs, financing operations, allocating resources, and controlling expenditures and results. Topics include program budgeting, cost-benefit analysis, management information systems, pricing and tax policy, and appropriations processes.

May be taken at any time

Public Administration and Law

This course first explores how public agencies shape and respond to law. This entails review of the U.S. Constitution, the forms of law, the structure and function of state and federal courts, the legislative process, and statutory interpretation. Second, the course addresses administrative law -- the political dynamics of, and the processes for, rulemaking and adjudication by administrative agencies. Finally, students will be introduced to legal reasoning and its role in public administration.

May be taken at any time

Public Administration Ethics

Integration of courses and administrative experience, exploration and application of ethical theories, substantial research and writing project, and student oral presentation.

Should be one of the last core courses taken in the MPA program. 

Capstone in Public Administration

Integration of all core material into discussion around case-studies. Individual, partner and small group papers and presentations.

In order to register for the Capstone course, students will need to have completed the following items:

  1. Turned in the University graduation application and the MPA graduation form by the posted deadline.
  2. Completed the first seven core courses.


Should be one of the last core courses taken in the MPA program. 


Elective Courses

The list of approved electives is non-exhaustive but should be considered as examples of approved courses. MPA students are encouraged to explore the University course catalog each semester for other courses related to their area of interest since each department regularly offers new courses. A detailed list of approved available courses is released each semester before registration. Students are not limited to this list, but non-listed courses must be approved by the program manager and the class instructor before enrollment.

While MPA students have been able to take the classes on this page, that does not necessarily mean that all students have the background knowledge assumed of students in the class. MPA students should contact course instructors before registration to introduce themselves and determine if they can succeed in the course. MPA students are also limited to one 5000-level course throughout their time in the program. Course selections should be 6000-level and above. The course should be at-least 3-credit hours to ensure students have completed enough credits to graduate.

 MPA electives request form

*Please note that courses outside the MPA program may have a differential cost so please assess your financials accordingly.





Planning Your Schedule

New students must register for PADMN 6300 Administrative Theory during their first semester, and all MPA students must register for the Capstone course and PADMN 6870 Ethics in their last semester of study. Beyond these three courses, students are free to design their schedules. Please note that not all core classes are offered every semester, so students should prioritize them when registering for classes.

The number of classes you take will depend on the workload you are able to take on. Most MPA students who work full-time in addition to school choose to enroll in two to three classes each semester. Students enrolling in only two courses per semester should be aware that the program will take longer to complete. The University of Utah front-loads fees on to the first credit hour in a semester, so each additional semester you add to your degree incurs approximately $500 in mandatory university fees, in addition to tuition and other fees.

It is possible to complete the program in two years by taking four 3-course semesters and one 1-course semester


Schedule a meeting with MPA Program Manager, JaTara Greenidge for additional assistance.


Download MPA Schedule Planner

Dual Degrees and Certificates

Some MPA students opt to apply for dual degrees, or to use their elective credits to earn a graduate certificate. For more information on these options, please visit our Dual Degrees and Certificates page.

Dual Degrees and Certificates



Last Updated: 3/25/24