Jun 18, 2024  
2022-2023 Graduate Catalog 
2022-2023 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Public Administration, M.P.A.

Matthew C. Nowlin, Interim Program Director

Marla Robertson, Program Coordinator and Community Assistance Program Director


Mission Statement

Our mission is to prepare public service leaders. Upon graduation our students will have the ability to think critically and creatively about public issues, the dedication and capacity to serve a diverse community and the skills to enter a professional position in a public organization. As a professional program the M.P.A. provides the applied skills necessary for upward mobility in the public service sector.

To accomplish our mission, our program provides the following: 

  • A rigorous core curriculum that combines applied learning with an examination of the theoretical underpinnings of public service and offers concentrated areas of study in arts management, environmental policy, nonprofit management, and urban and regional planning; 
  • An environment that nurtures a commitment to service; 
  • Opportunities to support collaboration and the creation of partnerships among communities and public service organizations.

Program Description

We are nationally accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration (NASPAA). Program governance and admissions decisions are made by all core faculty in the M.P.A. program. The M.P.A. program at The Graduate School of the University of Charleston, South Carolina is designed to provide the following:

  • A carefully structured core curriculum that focuses on the major components of modern public management.
  • An elective curriculum that allows the student to develop a program of study suited to his/her career goals.
  • Opportunities to apply administrative knowledge and skills and gain practical experience in a public or nonprofit agency.
  • Opportunities for graduate assistants to learn through participation in various research and community service projects.

The program’s curriculum is designed to explore the essential elements of public management and public policy and to prepare students for increasingly complex public responsibilities in local and state government, nonprofit organizations, public/private partnerships and regional and federal agencies. In addition, as more students seek opportunities for study abroad, and for study and internship opportunities with international NGOs and other global agencies, the program is working to facilitate these options.

Core Curriculum

The core curriculum emphasizes both the skills and knowledge required to effectively manage and develop organizational resources and to understand the larger constitutional and political setting in which policy is developed and administrative tasks are defined and assessed.

Applied Focus

Students are introduced to practical administrative and analytic skills in a variety of ways. The program regularly uses adjunct faculty to teach elective courses. These practitioners instruct students in their particular specialty, providing them with a valuable, hands-on perspective useful in supplementing their broader training. In addition, the program fosters contacts with professional mentors. A variety of workshops, training sessions, and speakers are sponsored by the program and by the Master of Public Administration Student Association (MPASA). Finally, students gain practical experience in the internship component of the program by working with practitioners on a daily basis.


Graduate assistantships are available on a competitive basis for full-time students. Individuals receiving assistantships must be enrolled full-time each semester. Graduate assistants work 20 hours a week on research projects for the M.P.A. programs’s Community Assistance Program or may be assigned to individual faculty for research assistance. A variety of assistantships are also available with the Arts Management Program, the Riley Center for Livable Communities and other offices on campus.


It is recommended that all students take PUBA 701 Public Administration Capstone (3)  to complete the M.P.A. program. If a student has intentions of pursuing a Ph.D. in the field, this course may be waived by the program director in lieu of writing a thesis. In order to complete the thesis requirement students must have a core M.P.A. faculty member as their advisor along with a committee of two other faculty. In order to register for thesis hours, students must develop an independent study contract with their advisor containing an agreed upon research proposal and timeline. The final thesis must adhere to all the guidelines set forth in the Graduate School’s Thesis Manual.

Admission Requirements and Application Deadlines

Institutional Admissions Requirements

  • A completed application form with a nonrefundable application fee of $60.
  • Official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate coursework. An earned bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university is required.
  • International applicants should refer to the International Students area within the “Admissions Information”  section of the catalog for information on providing appropriate documentation with the application.

Program Admissions Requirements

Students from diverse undergraduate backgrounds are strongly encouraged to apply. Successful applicants must demonstrate, through past academic or professional work, a capacity for achievement.

Degree-Seeking Students

  • Minimum grade point average of 3.000 (on a 4.000 scale) is preferred.
  • A letter of intent describing your reasons for applying to the program, areas of interest, and career objectives.
  • A current resume.
  • Two letters of recommendation from persons familiar with your capacity for achievement and motivation to successfully complete a graduate degree - ideally, at least one of these references would come from a collegiate-level instructor, yet we recognize this may be a challenge for applicants who are not recent college graduates. 
  • Applicants, particularly those who do not meet one or more of the conditions for admission, are strongly encouraged to submit a writing sample, such as undergraduate theses or term papers, samples of work projects, etc.

Note: The admissions committee will carefully considers the applicant’s undergraduate GPA and letter of intent, as well as letters of recommendation and significant life experiences, particularly in public or nonprofit administration. Students with an undergraduate GPA below the 3.000 threshold who demonstrate the likelihood of success in graduate school through adequate academic performance, previous professional and/or volunteer experience and supportive reference letters may be considered for conditional admission status.  

It is also important to note that the GRE is required in order to be considered for a College of Charleston graduate fellowship.

Non-Degree Students

Occasionally, students may desire to take courses in the MPA program but not pursue the degree. These students are welcome to enroll in MPA courses on a space-available basis and are limited to six hours of enrollment. Those seeking to enroll as non-degree students must:

  • Provide verification of successful completion of an undergraduate degree with at least a 2.500 GPA.
  • Receive the written permission of the director.

Application Deadlines

  • Fall: January 15, priority*; July 1, final
  • Spring: November 1, priority; December 1, final
  • Summer: No summer admission

*Candidates who submit a completed application by the priority deadline will automatically be considered for Graduate School and/or graduate program funding.


Transfer Credit Policy

All transfer credits (no more than twelve [12] hours) completed at other institutions must be approved by the director.


Program Requirements
Program Learning Outcomes