Why study public administration?

Our programs prepare leaders and build professionalism in the public and nonprofit sectors and link KU resources to the challenges of public management. We educate skilled leaders, innovators, and problem-solvers, ready to confront pressing social and economic challenges in local, state, national, international and non-profit organizations.

The School of Public Affairs and Administration is ranked number 1 among graduate schools in city management and urban policy. The School is also ranked among public universities as #3 in public management administration, #8 in environmental policy and management, and #10 in public affairs according to the U.S. News and World Report (2016).

Earning your MPA at KU means you will develop skills and knowledge across a range of important public management topics – policy, administration, budgeting, human resources, and law – providing a strong foundation on which to build your career in public sector leadership.

The M.P.A. program offers two academic options to meet your educational objectives:

  • The intern-option M.P.A. program is a full-time, two-year program which begins in the summer semester. During the first year, you complete academic work on the Lawrence campus and engage in a part-time internship that supplements your classroom experience. During the second year, you serve in a full-time paid job/internship, usually in a city or county government organization. Our staff and international alumni network assist with this job placement. Graduates of this MPA program option have careers primarily in local government.
  • The career-option M.P.A. program has no internship component, and you can pursue the degree full-time or part-time. This option is ideal if you are already working in a public service career – at any level of government, non-profit or other organization focused on meeting community needs. Courses are held in Lawrence, Overland Park, and Topeka. To meet your busy schedule, our courses are offered in various formats: weekly meetings, online, hybrid, and multi-day intensives.

Admission to Graduate Studies

An applicant seeking to pursue graduate study in the College may be admitted as either a degree-seeking or non-degree seeking student. Policies and procedures of Graduate Studies govern the process of Graduate admission. These may be found in the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog.

Please consult the Departments & Programs section of the online catalog for information regarding program-specific admissions criteria and requirements. Special admissions requirements pertain to Interdisciplinary Studies degrees, which may be found in the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog.


M.P.A. Admission

Please visit our website http://kupa.ku.edu/admissions for complete admissions information.

The academic prerequisites for regular admission to the M.P.A. program are:

  1. Completion of a bachelor’s degree, preferably with a background in the social sciences, including basic college algebra and statistics courses.
  2. A grade-point average of B (3.0 on a 4.0 scale) for all previous university or college work. In certain circumstances, when the GPA is slightly below 3.0, other factors, such as strong Graduate Record Examination scores or exceptional letters of recommendation may be considered for provisional admission to the M.P.A. program.

For all applicants, a completed application includes:

  1. Online Graduate Studies application.
  2. A nonrefundable application fee, submitted online with the application form. For domestic applicants, the application fee is $65; for international applicants, the application fee is $85.
  3. 1 official transcript from the degree-granting college or university and any post-graduate college or university attended.
  4. 3 letters of recommendation. If possible, at least 1 should be an academic reference.
  5. A 3- to 5-page essay describing your background and career goals and clearly indicating how the M.P.A. degree fits into those goals and addressing any deficiencies in your academic preparation.
  6. A current résumé.
  7. A writing sample that is at least 5 pages long. It should be a well-cited work in which you critically analyze (not just summarize) an issue.
  8. Graduate Record Examination scores (General test only — verbal, analytical, and quantitative). GRE scores are not required, but recommended, for students who received their bachelor's degree more than 3 years prior to the time of admission. For reporting GRE scores to the KU School of Public Affairs and Administration, the institution code is 6871 and the department code is 4801.

Additional Requirements for International Applicants:

  • An official TOEFL or IELTS score report. 
  • Students who demonstrate English proficiency at the waiver level or who have earned a degree from one of the specified English-speaking countries listed in the policy are not required to check in at the AEC.
  • All other international students and non-native speakers of English who gain admission to campus-based programs are required to check in at the AEC upon arrival on campus.


Applications for intern-track applicants must be received by February 1.

Applications for career-track applicants: Deadlines are May 1 and June 15 for fall admission and November 1 for spring admission. Note: No preference is given to applications received by the earlier deadlines. We offer the earlier dates to accommodate applicants who need an earlier decision for planning purposes.

International students (applying as career-track): The deadline for international students is February 1.


The M.P.A. degree program is also offered at the following location:

KU Edwards Campus - KU offers a variety of graduate and undergraduate programs on the KU Edwards Campus in Overland Park, Kansas. The Edwards Campus offers late-afternoon and evening classes, catering to working professionals. For more information, call the Edwards Campus at 864-8400 from Lawrence or 913- 897-8400 from other locations.

Topeka, Kansas - Each semester, select courses are offered at the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site in Topeka, Kansas.

Master of Public Administration Degree

The School of Public Affairs and Administration is home to the Edwin O. Stene Graduate Program in Public Administration and offers a Master of Public Administration degree. The Edwin O. Stene Master's program is one of the oldest and most respected programs in the United States, with our local government leadership program dating to 1948. Since 1998, our tradition of excellence in educating students at the masters’ level has been recognized by U.S. News and World Report with a #1 ranking in city management and urban policy. The MPA degree may be obtained through course work in Lawrence, Topeka, and the KU Edwards Campus in Overland Park for the Kansas City area.

The KU MPA offers 2 tracks:

  1. The Intern track is designed for students who are willing to commit to one year of full-time study and a second year in a full-time internship to prepare themselves for careers primarily in city, county, or non-profit management.
  2. The Career track is designed for working professionals seeking to strengthen their leadership skills for careers in public service professions or advance in their current profession without a career interruption. Most career-track students attend part-time.

Intern track students begin the program in the summer semester, and complete the majority of their coursework over three semesters (summer, fall, spring). Career-track students usually begin in the fall or spring semester.

M.P.A. Degree Requirements

The master’s degree is awarded after successful completion of 43 credit hours of course work. This includes 28 hours of required core courses (9 courses, listed below) that all students complete, and 15 hours (5 courses) tailored to the student's interests and/or track (intern or career). In addition, all students must pass a written master's examination (final paper) to complete the requirements for the M.P.A. degree. Once a student begins the program, all degree requirements must be completed within 7 years.

The MPA core coursework includes the following courses (28 credit hours):

PUAD 824Public Policy and Administration3
or PUAD 825 Urban Policy and Administration
or PUAD 827 Health Care Policy and Administration
or PUAD 828 Nonprofit Management and Policy
PUAD 834Human Resource Management3
PUAD 835State and Local Public Finance3
PUAD 836Introduction to Quantitative Methods4
PUAD 837Budgeting and Resource Allocation3
PUAD 841The Role, Context, and Ethics of Public Administration in American Society3
PUAD 842Law and Public Management3
PUAD 845Organizational Analysis and Public Management3
PUAD 853Policy Analysis and Evaluation3

Intern track students will take the following courses to complete the program:

PUAD 894Professional Development Seminar I: Public Admin Contemporary Issues & Competency Assessment3
PUAD 895Professional Development Seminar II: Leadership, Professionalism, and Citizen Engagement3
3 Electives9

Career track students will take the following courses to complete the program:

PUAD 897Public Administration Contemporary Issues and Competency Assessment3
4 Electives12