You are here:

Executive MPA Program (XMPA)



The Executive MPA (XMPA) Program is designed for students with at least five years of middle-to-upper level administrative experience in public, nonprofit and/or private organizations. Administrative experience ranges from program management to employee management to policy research to teaching to financial oversight, etc. Students are encouraged to meet with MPA program staff to determine eligibility for the Executive program.  Our cohorts (academic groups) include students from a variety of undergraduate and graduate majors, as well as career backgrounds that include cities, counties, state and federal government, nonprofits, educational organizations and private companies.




Quick XMPA Facts


Schedule: There are two types of courses in the Executive MPA Program- week-long format (course will run 8:30 am-4:30 pm Monday-Friday), and weekend format (Friday nights/Saturday on every other weekend)

Concentration: Advanced Public Management

Cost: $29,988

Courses: examples of Executive MPA Program courses can be found in Schedules under the Executive Program tab. 


What are the Executive MPA Program requirements?


The Executive MPA Program requirements are similar to the Evening Program requirements in these respects:


   1) Admission Requirements

   2) 14-course degree requirement (9 core and 5 electives) 

   3) Major Research Paper (MRP)


 *The internship requirement is waived for Executive MPA students


 How does the Executive MPA Program differ from the traditional Evening MPA Program?


Executive students graduate with an MPA degree, but enjoy a different schedule format from Evening students:                                                                                                                                                                            

 Students take one course at a time in an intensive format that finishes in just over two years.                  

 Three courses will take place during week-long formats, running 8:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday. These week long courses are spread out with each happening one of the three summers during the program.   

 The other nine courses take place every other weekend (Friday from 5:30-8:30/9 p.m. and Saturday from 8:30 a.m.- 4 p.m.) for four weekends.                                                                                                                                                                


 Executive MPA Program Schedules

Students progress through the program as a cohort (academic group) entering in August and completing their courses just over two years later in the same cohort (students finish in late August).          

The area of concentration is designed specifically for Executive MPA students: Advanced Public Management.

A fixed fee is charged for the program. This fee covers the cost of all tuition, fees, texts, parking and administrative costs to run the program. The fixed fee is broken down into six equal payments.  Currently, the Executive MPA Program total cost is at $29,988.  This total cost is locked in for the two years and the six equal payments will not change. 

Name: Amanda Covington

Current Employer: Vista Outdoor Inc.

Job Title: Senior Vice President for Communications and Government Relations

Year of Graduation: 2009



What are some of the duties of your job? Recent achievements?   I lead corporate communications and government relations strategies impacting financial communications, crisis communications, domestic and international media/public relations, corporate branding and advertising, digital media, employee relations, public policy and legislation, industry associations, and community relations. Recently, Vista Outdoor was honored as Deal Maker of the Year for our recent acquisition of CamelBak. We also received recognition as our CEO was named EY’s Regional Entrepreneur of the Year. I was able to participate in the launch of Vista Outdoor in 2015, as we spun off from ATK and created an independent, publicly traded company. The greatest highlight was ringing the opening bell on the New York Stock Exchange on February 17, 2015.

 What are some of your past careers, and how did your MPA lead to your new career?   I have had the privilege of working as a producer in television news and as a communications director for public agencies like UDOT and the Utah System of Higher Education. Governor Olene Walker named me her Deputy for Communications and I was honored to serve with one of Utah’s greatest leaders. I obtained my MPA while working in higher education. Interestingly, my next career move was into the private sector. A graduate degree was required. I oversee government relations and communications with several external stakeholders. The ability to research, communicate broadly, and draw upon HR, ethics, statistics and non-profit coursework has helped me to proactively shape my function’s long-term strategy for Vista Outdoor.

 How has obtaining an MPA degree helped you in your career?   My MPA has helped me to think critically and strategically and tackle budgeting, human resources and market issues with confidence and experience. I ask more questions and listen to multiple points of view before making decisions.

What advice would you give to incoming or current MPA students?   Invest your time wisely. It will be over before you know it and the information you learn and the relationships you build with classmates and instructors will last a lifetime. I have often gone back to past instructors for advice and now we have formed new partnerships to make our Utah community stronger.



Name: Paula Melgar

Current Employer: Cottonwood Heights

Job Title: City Recorder/ HR Manager

Year of Graduation: 2015


What are some of the duties of your job? Recent achievements?  I manage the City Recorder's Office services and activities, recommend policies and procedures to the City Manager, and manage the development and implementation of City Recorder's Office goals, objectives, policies, and priorities. I am also responsible for managing and participating in the development and administration of the Office budget, and preparing the forecast of additional funds needed for equipment, materials, training and supplies. 

Team Cottonwood Heights has recently developed and implemented an onboarding tool that has allowed us to streamline our new hire process and collect “satisfaction” data to continue to make improvements. A new, more robust Records Request Form has been implemented. Council and Committee Work Session minutes are now available to the public in order to increase transparency. We are currently working on a revised Personnel Manual, a few new policies and future internal promotions. I love the people I work with and I could not do what I do without them. They are phenomenal!

 What are some of your past careers, and how did your MPA lead to your new career?  I’ve worked in local government for 16 years, mostly in a legal setting. More recently I served as an Office Manager for a City Attorney’s Office and as Deputy City Recorder.

I needed to advance and I knew I couldn’t do it without further education. My City Attorney pushed me towards the MPA program and supported me through the whole time I had to work and go to school. My MPA was essential to this new career. I could have not qualified or had an advantage over other applicants, without it.

 How has obtaining an MPA degree helped you in your career?  I went from being stuck in a position without future for advancement to being able to advance on my own terms and I actually “picked” my employer. I am very happy here. I am glad they picked me too.

What advice would you give to incoming students? The Executive MPA Program was very structured, which really helped work out my schedule with my employer and my family.

My cohort worked in different sectors - local government, non-profit, federal government, semi-governmental - which really expanded my perspective on issues. They also had different backgrounds which always enrich ones knowledge. My cohort became my family, my supporters, my bouncing wall, my confidants and some of the best people I had the privilege to hang out with.

The professors were extraordinary and their experiences were like no other. I really loved all my Professors and learned so much from them. Yes, you read a lot but these Professors bring life experience and perspective to your discussions and you develop a great deal of respect for them. I have all my books and I still go back and read them. Right now the HR Book is getting a second read.

Another big plus, was the people who run the Executive MPA Program – they really were there to make sure you were taken care of. Unfortunately, life does not stop when you are trying to get a Master’s Degree and the staff is always striving to communicate with you and make any obstacle smaller or less of an obstacle. Sandy Hiskey was one of our AMAZING staff who went above and beyond, every day, to make sure everyone was taken care of!

 Do it! Do it now! Had I not jumped in, I would never done it and I would still be stuck and not so happy. I am truly happy I did. I couldn’t recommend it more. It was my best”est” educational experience ever! If I had a time machine and I could go back, knowing what I know now, I would definitely do it again!



Chris Nelson XMPA alumName: Chris Nelson

Current Employer: University of Utah Hospital Foundation

Job Title: Executive Director

Year of Graduation: 2016

What are some of the duties of your job? Recent achievements?  Since 2014, I have served as the Executive Director of the University of Utah Hospital Foundation. The foundation was established by a group of community philanthropists in the 1990's to raise money and community support for Utah’s only academic medical center. This summer marks my 20th year working at the University of Utah Health Care in a communication or fundraising role. My primary role is to develop and execute an innovative fundraising and community engagement strategy for University Hospital and the foundation. This includes managing relationships with the foundation’s 30-member community board of directors, coordinating the hospital’s grateful patient program, overseeing three major fundraising events each year, and finding new and innovative ways to connect the hospital to community influencers.

Most people don’t realize that the University’s health care system is entirely self funded. The only state appropriations we receive go toward helping support the cost of training medical residents — funding that equals .04% of our total operating expenses.  Community philanthropy is critical to maintain the depth and breadth of care the hospital provides for the region. 
How have your MPA studies helped you in your career?  I think the executive program does a great job of mixing theory with practice. It’s very helpful being able to tie course work and readings directly to what I’m doing at work. I feel like I have a much deeper appreciation for the theory behind many of the practical things I do everyday. 

What advice would you give to incoming or current MPA and XMPA students?   I spent nearly 10 years trying to find the “right” graduate program. I explored the MBA program, a master’s in communication, and number of other graduate degrees at the U and elsewhere. Ultimately I know I made the right choice and I encourage anyone on the fence to stop searching and get started. If you’ve been in the workforce for a while and away from school you will love the reading, the class discussions and even the late nights writing papers. I have found it to be very revitalizing personally and professionally.  


Last Updated: 3/1/17