USC Price School of Public Policy

MPA Curriculum

Our students come to USC Price with so many inherent skills and talents. During their time here, they really develop into a community of leaders.

MussoDr. Juliet Musso
Houston Flournoy Professor of State Government

Core Requirements

To earn the Master of Public Administration degree, students must complete 14 units of required courses, three management competencies courses, and four electives. In addition, students who enter the program with less than two years full-time work experience must complete an internship.

Core Courses

Graduate students in Public Administration are required to take the following courses:

  • Public Administration and Society (PPD 540)
  • Economics for Policy, Planning, and Development (PPD 501ab)
  • Intersectoral Leadership (PPD 500)
  • Capstone in Public Administration (PPD 546)

Management Competencies

Students select one four-unit course from each of the following three areas:

Organizational Behavior

  • Human Behavior in Public Organizations (PPD 545)


  • Public Financial Management and Budgeting (PPD 541) or
  • Financial Management of Nonprofit Organizations (PPDE 645)

Analytical Methods

  • Program and Policy Evaluation (PPD 542) or
  • Modeling and Operations Research (PPD 557) or
  • Administrative Research and Analysis (PPD 666)

Specialization Electives

The MPA program offers students the opportunity to specialize by completing units of specialization electives within a substantive subject area, including:

  • Local Government
  • Nonprofit Management
  • Health
  • Public Finance
  • International
  • Arts Leadership

Learn more about Specializations and Recommended Courses »

Professional Experience Requirement

Most MPA students are classified as pre-service or in-service students at the time of admission. Pre-service students are those who enter the program with less than two years full-time work experience. In-service students are those with at least two years full-time work experience. Students pursuing one of the dual degree programs are not classified as pre-service or in-service. Appeals for reclassification of this designation must be submitted during the first semester of enrollment.

Pre-Service Internship Requirement
Pre-service students are required to complete an internship and a one-unit Internship Seminar course (PPD 543). MPA students enroll in Internship Seminar during their first semester. Students complete internships in conjunction with the internship class.

Total Units
Pre-Service Students: 41 units
In-Service Students: 40 units