Master of Public Administration
The master of public administration (MPA) is the professional degree for those who seek leadership positions in public service. It is designed to develop the skills necessary to confront society’s most important problems. Based in the theories of social science disciplines, the MPA develops knowledge and understanding of issues in public service and effective administration of public organizations, providing flexibility to the student in career choices. As the professional development arm of the KU School of Public Affairs and Administration, we're proud to offer the MPA in Topeka.
Our accomplished alumni demonstrate both the value of the degree and the quality of students enrolled in the program. MPA graduates of the Public Management Center include:
- Michael Johnston, retired CEO of the Kansas Turnpike Authority;
- Lougene Marsh, Director, Johnson County Health Department;
- Doug Reinert, Director of Parks and Recreation, Fort Smith, Arkansas
- Kathleen Sebelius, former governor/former US Secretary of Health and Human Services;
- Carla Stovall, former Kansas Attorney General;
- Tony Weingartner, Assistant Director of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation;
- Pam Weigand, Director, Douglas County Youth Services;
- Patrick Woods, Director of Talent Management and Diversity, Wester Energy;
- Hannes Zacharias, County Manager, Johnson County Government;
and many other notable leaders in public service. To learn more about the faculty, alumni, and projects our students are connected to through the KU School of Public Affairs and Administration, check out some issues of the School's newsletter here.
The KU MPA consistently ranks among the nation's top 10 graduate level programs in public affairs according to the US News and World Report.
Our MPA students and graduates have found these benefits:
- An increased knowledge base, marketability, and earning power.
- A program that values the experience, motivation, and demonstrated success in the workplace that our career-oriented students bring. We work hard to serve the needs of our working scholars.
- The opportunity to build networks with faculty, staff, other students, and the organizations they represent is consistently cited as a major strength of the KU PMC MPA Program.
Curriculum and Admissions Information
The KU MPA is a 43 credit-hour degree, consisting of ten required courses and four elective courses. Generally, students who are working full time and taking classes part time complete the degree in three to four years (but it will take that long whenever you start so why not get started now?!). The complete descriptions of MPA curriculum and admission information are available through these links to the KU School of Public Affairs and Administration website.
(For students who are working and taking classes, we use the terms "career track" or "career option" when referring to these MPA students.)
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I have to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE)?
The GRE (or other examination) is only required for applicants to our full-time City & County Leadership intern-option track; these students are part of a cohort who complete the coursework full time in Lawrence. If you would take classes mostly in Topeka while continuing to work full time, you only need to take the GRE if you completed your undergraduate degree in the last three years. Complete admission information is available here on the School of Public Affairs and Administration website.
Is the MPA offered in Topeka the same as what's offered at the main KU campus in Lawrence?
Yes. The MPA through the KU School of Public Affairs and Administration is offered in three locations: the main campus in Lawrence, the Edwards Campus in Overland Park, and at the KU Public Management Center's classroom in Topeka. The courses at all campuses are taught by the same full-time faculty, and students in the program can take courses at any of the three campuses.
I'm on the fence about going back to school. How can I decide if this program and/or the timing is right for me?
It can be hard to commit to investing the time and money to a graduate program knowing that it will be a significant focus in your life for the next few years. Contact the Topeka MPA advisor, Noel Rasor, at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about the program and how it can support your goals and work with your other commitments. We'd also encourage you to look into our Emerging Leaders Academy and Certified Public Manager program. Each of these professional development programs are designed around some of the principles and practices that are emphasized in the MPA. Participating in ELA or CPM can help you decide whether the MPA would be a good fit and whether this is the right time to pursue it.
What educational background is necessary to be considered for admission to the MPA?
At a minimum you must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university, generally with at least a 3.0 undergraduate GPA (typically higher) to be considered for admission to the MPA. But otherwise our students have a wide variety of undergraduate degrees, from engineering to journalism to psychology to criminal justice. The admissions committee looks for a strong background in academic reading, research, and writing and an ability to meet the demands of a rigorous social science program at the graduate level. Click here to review the complete admissions requirements.
If you aren't sure whether your background fits with the requirements of the program, please contact MPA advisor Noel Rasor, email@example.com or 913-897-8460. She'll be happy to talk with you about your education and career goals and whether the KU MPA is right for you.
When do courses meet?
The Topeka MPA program is designed to accommodate those who work full time. Classes are offered in the evening, usually beginning at 4:30pm. We also offer some of our courses in an online format or in an intensive meeting schedule - e.g., a series of Friday-Saturday meetings with assignments and papers completed before and after those meeting dates.
Can I complete the degree taking courses only in Topeka?
We try to offer each of the required MPA courses in Topeka every two years; this allows our students to complete most of their courses in Topeka. Typically Topeka-based students complete two or three of their courses in Lawrence and/or online and take the rest in Topeka. We make an effort to schedule those Lawrence courses needed by Edwards and Topeka students in the evening.
How long will it take to complete my degree?
The average time for career option students is three years. KU allows seven years for degree completion.
How much does it cost? Is financial aid available?
Currently (academic year 2013-2014), tuition per credit hour in $346, and there are additional student fees charged. You can estimate total costs per credit hour at approximately $400, so the cost per 3-credit class is approximately $1,200. There is financial aid available. Please contact Noel Rasor (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information and for details about how financial aid fits with your circumstances.
Do all of the Topeka MPA students work for State of Kansas agencies?
No. While many of our PMC students work in state government, others come from a variety of organizations. These agencies include police and sheriff's departments, departments of local and county governments in the area, nonprofits, and federal agencies. The breadth of experiences students bring with them to class creates a rich environment for discussion and cross-fertilization of ideas in the classroom.
Contact: Noel Rasor
KU PMC Assistant Director and MPA Advisor
913-897-8460 (Noel supports students in Topeka but gets messages most quickly through her office phone at the KU Edwards Campus in Overland Park.)