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MPA Program: An Overview

The Program

The public administration program is a semi-autonomous unit located within the department of political science, with which it shares faculty and resources, of ISU’s School of Arts and Sciences. The public administration program has a long history at ISU. The program launched its MPA in 1976. It has served the university and its students, as well as Terre Haute, Vigo County, and southern Indiana ever since. It has a number of distinguished alumni, including a former member of the US House of Representatives. The program supports one graduate degree the master’s degree in public administration (MPA). It also offers two 12 credit-hour online certificate programs a graduate certificate in public administration and a graduate certificate in public personnel administration.

Admissions

Application Deadline: We have a rolling admissions process and applications are reviewed monthly

Admission Information

Master of Public Administration
The faculty examines a number of objective and subjective indicators of student success when they review applications for admission. A positive decision for admission proceeds from the judgment that the applicant has the interest and the ability to sustain a productive work schedule, and to timely finish the requirements for the degree. Bear in mind that our twin purposes are to train our students to work as productive and ethical public servants; and to anchor them in that profession by having them work through major questions about the practice of public administration presented by scholars in the field. We do this by introducing them to pieces of a vast historical literature in public administration, and by encouraging them to develop their own decision-making processes based on that knowledge. Experience indicates that program outcomes for students who do not pair interest in the field with ability to do the work is often less than positive.

Prospective MPA students are asked to provide a number of indicators of interest and ability. Students without professional experience should submit transcripts of all undergraduate work. Transcripts should indicate, first, that an undergraduate degree was granted; and second, that the applicant achieved a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.75 on a 4.0 scale. Applicants with significant professional administrative experience are required to have a GPA of at least 2.5. Applicants should send official transcripts to ISUs School of Graduate Students at the same time they submit application forms to that office. (University application and application forms may be found here).

Applicants are also encouraged to send unofficial transcripts with the remainder of their application material to the director of the MPA program in the Department of Political Science. In addition to undergraduate transcripts, the faculty would like to review at least three letters of recommendation that support the applicants motivation and ability to do graduate work. Letters may come from colleagues and evaluators at work; or from professors or academic advisors familiar with the applicants work and interests. We would also like to review a one- or two-paged statement of purpose, double-spaced, in size 10 or 12 font, from the applicant. We do not require the submission of scores from the Graduate Record Exam or from any other standardized test (international students, though, must satisfy university requirements in regard to proficiency in English).

Certificate in Public Administration and Certificate in Public Personnel Administration
Successful admission to either the certificate in public administration or to the certificate in public personnel simply requires evidence of the award of an undergraduate degree in any field by any accredited college or university. We require no minimum GPA, but we do feel that students with GPAs of 2.75 or greater have a greater likelihood of success. Generally, non-traditional students have GPAs of at least 2.5.

Prospective certificate students must complete and file admission forms and official transcripts with the School of Graduate Studies (http://www.indstate.edu/sogs/Students.htm). You may also contact the MPA director, Stan Buchanan (sbuchanan1@isugw.indstate.edu) to inform him of your application, but the department requires no further application information than the university admission form and transcript copies.

PROGRAM INFO

Student Body

About half of our students are mid-career public service professionals. Others are traditional students directly from undergraduate school. Many of our online students are in-service professionals taking courses to enhance their professional standing. More than half of them are from outside Indiana.

The Curriculum

The MPA program at Indiana State University requires 36 graduate-course credits of in-service public sector or non-profit sector professionals for a grant of the degree. During his or her first semester in the MPA program, each student will plan a course of study with help from PA faculty. Most students are able to complete all requirements in two to three years. To see a sample course of study, click here.

A core of seven courses, or 21 credit hours, is required of all MPA students. The programs core is designed to introduce and familiarize students with public policy making. Coursework familiarizes them with the institutions that make and implement public policy; and with the core functions of government performed by public administrators. Students will also learn purposes and techniques of research design and the interpretation and use of research results.

Beyond the seven-course core, four graduate elective courses, or 12 credit hours, may be taken within the program, within the department of political science, or within the university. Note, though, that students may enroll for MPA credit only if those graduate courses outside the department that, in the judgment of the PA faculty, are cognate to fields of knowledge within public administration or political science. Courses that do not meet this criterion should not be considered as choices for electives, and will not be accepted as replacements for legitimate PA electives.

The Master of Public Administration program offers a concentration in genomic advocacy in cooperation with the Certificate in Genomic Advocacy program, which students may choose to pursue. For more information, click here.

University regulations allow the transfer of up to 12 credit hours of work from other universities. Coursework transferred into the MPA must be recently completed. Each course transferred must also either carry a course description that, in the judgment of the PA faculty, is substantially the same as the description of the course it replaces in the case of core courses; or it must meet the cognate rule, in the case of electives.

Students without significant public or non-profit sector history acquire hands-on administrative experience through a three-credit internship taken toward the end of their programs. The addition of the internship will add three credit hours to the 36 credit-hour total. Students who enter the program without significant experience will have taken a total of 39 credit hours upon leaving it. They also will have at least three months of administrative experience within their internships.

The final element in each students program is a project completed under the direction of faculty. Each student will enroll in the capstone course, PA 697, during the last, or next to last term or semester in the program. The course will culminate with the public presentation of the project before a forum composed of student colleagues and faculty. Presentations are regularly scheduled toward the end of Spring and Fall semesters. Under unusual or emergent conditions, faculty may also consider scheduling presentations Summer.

To graduate, students must take and pass PA 697. Capstone projects and presentations are judged either pass / satisfactory or fail / unsatisfactory by PA faculty. The final judgment to pass or fail a project is based equally on the project as it is produced its hardcopy, so to speak--and on its presentation. Students who receive a failing grade in PA 697 after their first project presentation may revise and resubmit that project, or another, and perform another forum presentation, no more than twice after the initial unsatisfactory grade.

Description of MPA Capstone Project

The primary purpose of the capstone project is to demonstrate that you have achieved competency in the research skills that are essential to being a successful public administrator.  The focus of the project will be on a phenomenon of interest to you within the field of public administration.  You are to rigorously assess what explains this phenomenon in an original study that you conceive and execute yourself.

Your method of assessment may involve data analysis, qualitative methods, a case study, or some combination of these.  Such approaches may include analysis of aggregate data, analysis of survey data, or textual analysis.  Students completing projects using quantitative methods are encouraged to use readily available data from reliable governmental or academic sources.  We generally discourage students from conducting their own surveys, although we may consider exceptions to this rule.

The capstone project should demonstrate that students understand the following:

An understanding of how to research, write, complete and present an MPA research project will contribute to the marketable skills of a public administrator.

We are interested in promoting skills through the capstone that are also helpful to students in their own careers.  And so we encourage projects on topics that fall within the professional interests of individual students.  We expect that most projects that employ data sets will use readily available sources for that data.  Such sources may include government Web sites.  We do not entirely discourage projects that may include information students may access at work.  But all data sets students propose to use from their workplaces will be thoroughly reviewed by, and must also be approved by, the student’s capstone director before the project is launched.

The capstone is not equivalent to a master’s thesis.  Capstone research should be original, but we do not require it to be of publication quality.  All the tools necessary to complete the capstone are acquired in PA 602 and PSCI 655, and supported within the other substantive PA courses, such as PA 601, that are also required to complete the MPA.  Along the way, you may also wish to supplement capstone skills by taking our qualitative methods class, currently a version of our topics course, PA 690.

There is no specific length requirement for a capstone.  But it might be reasonably as long as a standard academic paper submitted to a journal, that is, around 25 to 35 pages of text.

Remember that your completed capstone project will be the result of directed research.  You will be guided all along the way by one or more members of the PA faculty.

If at this point in your course of study in the MPA you have any questions or concerns about the capstone, feel free to address any questions or concerns you may have to Dr. Myers or Dr. Buchanan.

Completion and Graduation

Students who have completed, or are in the final semester or term of completing, the 36 or 39 credit hour program, including PA 697, may file for graduation. The MPA program requires neither a thesis nor a comprehensive examination for the award of the degree.

Graduate Placement

Graduates of the MPA program currently hold administrative leadership positions in federal, state, local, and non-profit agencies. PA and political science faculty, in cooperation with the University Career Center (http://career.indstate.edu), facilitates the placement of MPA graduates.

International Students

The PA program welcomes international students. In the recent past, our body of MPA students has included a number of students from Benin, China, Korea, Niger, Taiwan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and other countries. ISU itself has developed a genuine community of international scholars, and a number of campus organizations support that community and help make Terre Haute and ISU more like home for them. (For a list of international student organizations, go to http://www.indstate.edu/sao/soa-z.php.)

We hope to provide both experience and knowledge that will help our international students both professionally and personally when they returned home after a short stay with us.

International applicants must supply the department and the university with the admissions evaluation documents submitted by all applicants: university transcripts, three letters of recommendation, and a short essay containing a statement of the students purpose in pursuing PA graduate study at ISU.

There are also a number of other requirements international students must meet for admission to graduate study at ISU. For example, the university requires that international students include with the official application evidence of the achievement of a minimum Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score of 600, if English is a second language.

We encourage potential students outside the US to contact ISU's Center for Global Engagement. You must coordinate your formal application through that office. International students may apply by clicking here http://www.indstate.edu/ips/.

And feel free to contact us here at the department for additional information, as well. Our contact information is printed below.

Financial Aid

There are a number of graduate assistantships granted annually by the Political Science Department to its MA/MS and MPA students. These assistantships are competitive and we suggest you apply early. For example, if you intend to enter the program in the Fall, we encourage you to apply for an assistantship in Spring or early Summer. Contact the School of Graduate Studies at (812)-237-3005 for applications and application assistance. The School of Graduate Studies also grants a number of assistantship university-wide, for which MPA students are eligible. Of course, students are eligible and may also apply for a number of for various public and private student loans.  Application information can be found here.

PA Faculty

Stan Buchanan, PhD, University of Tennessee and MPPA, Baylor University, Director, MPA Program, Associate Professor.

Nathan Myers, Ph.D., University of Nevada, Las Vegas; MPA, University of Illinois at Springfield; BA, Knox College, Galesburg, IL. MPA Program, Assistant Professor.

If you're interested in either our MPA or in one of our PA certificate programs, e-mail Dr. Stan Buchanan at sbuchanan1@indstate.edu, or call him at (812)237-2437.

For other information about public administration and political science study at ISU, call the Political Science Department at (812) 237-2430, or write us c/o the Department of Political Science, ISU, Terre Haute, IN 47809

The quickest way to write us, besides e-mailing is, is to send a letter to our FAX at (812) 237-3445, if you are so inclined.

Drop us a line. We're happy to help.