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

26417050902_8a36aa4695_nDegree Requirements

The Master of Public Administration degree requires students to complete 40-41 units comprised of three management competencies courses and four electives. In addition, students who enter the program with less than two years of 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 elective units within a substantive subject area, including:

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

Learn more about Specializations and Recommended Courses ยป

Professional Experience Requirement

Most MPA students are classified as “pre-service” or “in-service” 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 either. Appeals for reclassification of a 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 the Internship Seminar during their first semester. Internships are complete in conjunction with the course.

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