With a unique combination of theoretically grounded course work and practical application, our Master of Public Administration degree provides students with the knowledge and skills needed to lead, innovate, and problem-solve in public sector and non-profit settings.

Our Edwin O. Stene Master's program is one of the oldest and most respected programs in the United States, beginning with our local government leadership program founded in 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 meets the needs of both full-time students who are looking to launch a career in public service as well as those who already have a career and are looking to accelerate it by pursuing a MPA degree part-time. The MPA degree may be obtained through course work offered in Lawrence, Topeka, and the KU Edwards Campus in Overland Park, Kansas.

City Management Fellowship

MPA students specifically interested in city management are invited to apply to our 2-year City Management Fellowship program.  City management is the School of Public Affairs and Administration's most recognized program and has been ranked the #1 program in the country by U.S.. News and World Report since 1998.  

Admission to the City Management Fellowship program is competitive - only a small cohort of Fellows is selected each year.  Fellows receive all of the advantages of being in the largest KU MPA program and also benefit from: 

  • Designated scholarship awards
  • Attendance to the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) annual meeting, supported by the School;
  • Links to a large and welcoming professional network;
  • Peer group learning and comradery;
  • Additional experiential learning through part-time and full-time internships and other professional development opportunities.

The key distinctive feature of the Fellowship is its structure where the first year revolves around full-time intensive coursework and the second revolves around a full-time, paid internship.

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 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.
  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.
  9. Non-native speakers of English must meet English proficiency requirements as described here

Students who are interested in enrolling in master's level coursework in public administration without formal admission to the graduate program are encouraged to apply for graduate non-degree seeking student status.


To begin in the fall semester, applications must be received by November 1.

To begin in the summer semester, applications must be received by May 1 or June 15.

To begin in the summer semester, applications must be received by February 1.

Applicants interested in the City Management Fellowship must apply by the February 1 deadline.

International applicants must apply by the February 1 deadline.

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.


Students can complete their M.P.A degree by taking classes at the main campus in Lawrence or the Edwards Campus in Overland Park. Each semester, select M.P.A. courses are also offered in Topeka.


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. 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

To complete the MPA program, students will also take the following courses OR complete the City Management Fellowship program:

PUAD 897Public Administration Contemporary Issues and Competency Assessment3
4 Electives12

Students may also apply for the City Management Fellowship. Admission to this two-year Fellowship is competitive—only a small cohort of Fellows is selected each year. The key distinctive feature of the Fellowship is its structure where the first year revolves around full-time, intensive coursework and the second year revolves around a full-time, paid internship.

Full program information, including instructions for applying, can be found on the City Management Fellowship website.

Students completing the City Management Fellowship take the following courses in addition to the core requirements:

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