The MPA curriculum is designed to develop leadership and educate students in public administration principles such as executive problem solving, human capital management and policy analysis. The program is also designed to fit the schedules of working students and their sponsoring agencies. All courses have an academic core but emphasize the application of critical skills to the leadership and managerial functions.

The Master of Public Administration degree is designed to prepare students for career service in national, state, or local government, in regional planning agencies, and in nonprofit or voluntary organizations.

Actual courses offered each term will vary. Students are advised to prioritize core courses over option courses when registering for courses each term. Most students take two courses per term - Summer term included - and finish the program in two years. Finishing the program in fewer than two years is typically not possible.

Course List (12 courses, 36 units)

This program includes six required courses, six option courses and a Graduate Project for students admitted prior to the Spring 2019. Students admitted in the Spring 2019 and thereafter will take six required courses, five option courses and a Graduate Project.

Required Courses

Core Courses (Six Required - 3.0 Units each)

  • MPA 610: Seminar in Public Administration & Its Environment
  • MPA 620: Research Methods for Public Administration
  • MPA 630: Seminar in Organization Theory and Human Behavior
  • MPA 642A: Ethics and Professionalism
  • MPA 644: Public Budgeting and Financial Administration
  • MPA 650: Seminar in Public Policy Process

Culminating Experience:

Non-US Degree Holders/International Students:  In order to maintain visa eligibility, students studying in the on-campus offering of CSUN’s MPA program on an F1 visa may be required to take the MPA 698S course with one of the program’s off-campus cohorts.  This may require access to transport and the ability to travel up to 25 miles.  Thus, F1 visa students are only advised to enroll in the MPA on-campus program if they have such transport access.

  • MPA 697S: Comprehensive Examination (eligible only for students admitted before Fall 2016)
  • MPA 698S: Graduate Project

Option Courses

Following is a comprehensive list of the option courses within the MPA program. Actual option courses offered each term will depend on instructor availability, student demand, and other factors. As such, we cannot guarantee that every option course listed will be offered.

  • MPA 612A: Intergovernmental Relations
  • MPA 622A: Policy Implementation and Program Evaluation
  • MPA 623A: Seminar in Effective Public Sector Management (required elective if admitted prior to Spring 2019)
  • MPA 623B: Approaches and Methods in Program Evaluation
  • MPA 623D: Human Resources and the Basics of Competencies Measurement in Government
  • MPA 632A: Organizational Leadership
  • MPA 632B: Strategic Management
  • MPA 632C: Communication in Public Organizations
  • MPA 640: Public Policy Analysis
  • MPA 642B: Public Sector Labor Relations
  • MPA 643: Public Human Resources Management

Course Highlights

course name units description
Seminar in Public Administration and Its Environment 3 In this seminar, students' personal experiences and insights create the base from which to explore the theoretical and practical aspects of public administration. This course examines the role of public administration in our society-and the role of society in public administration.
Intergovernmental Relations 3 Relationships between governmental units are more important than ever in shaping and implementing policy in today's complex society. Students in this course participate in an in-depth examination and analysis of the dynamics of the legislative, political and inter-organizational processes while analyzing the relationships of different levels and branches of government. Students evaluate lobbying, change agents, decision-making procedures, and media impacts. They also develop skills to support change and influence decisions through the use of inter-organizational techniques.
Research Methods for Public Administration 3 Sound research methods are an essential tool for helping public professionals gain an understanding of public needs and measure the success of programs. This course introduces students to the concepts, approaches and methods of research in public administration. Students explore different data collection methodologies (including experimental design, survey, observation, content analysis, case study, and evaluation) and use the computer lab (as needed) to compile statistical data for various projects and class assignments.
Policy Implementation & Program Evaluation 3 Once a policy has been developed, how is it implemented? Once implemented, how do we judge its success? This course focuses exclusively on strategies for successful implementation of policy solutions in a competitive policy environment and on mechanisms for evaluating program success
Seminar in Effective Public Sector Management 3 This course is designed to introduce seminar participants to the effective functioning and management of organizations in the public sector. The course will focus on key management issues in public sector organizations, and how to more effectively function in leadership roles in those organizations. Seminar participants are encouraged to relate work-life issues to theoretical perspectives and to bring in examples from their professional experiences to seminar discussions.
Approaches and Methods in Program Evaluation 3

Public Administration is fundamentally a discipline interested in identifying public problems and implementing successful solutions. Several courses focus on the identification of common problems and review potential policy solutions. This course focuses on assessing policy strategies and solutions at the programmatic level ? Does a given pro-gram work? And, if so, how well? Program evaluation is concerned with evaluating the extent to which a given program is successfully meeting its stated objectives. Where Policy Analysis is a Pre-Implementation assessment, Program Evaluation is a Post-Implementation assessment.

Human Resources and the Basics of Competencies Measurement in Government 3 Public Sector managers and human resources directors need to identify human capital and align them with the organizational mission and goals. Design of basic competency measures allows organizations to sustain competitive advantage and create better value through serving public purpose. This course will give you a practical look at how to measure each of the human resource functions effectively through the use of the balanced scorecard method in order to enhance the organization's achieving their intended goals and mission.
Organization Theory and Human Behavior 3 This course gives students a historical perspective on organization theory and examines contemporary approaches to the study of organization. The concepts discussed apply to public, private and nonprofit organizations. Students take an active role in bringing their own observations to the discussion of topics such as decision-making, power, conflict, communication, leadership, motivation, group effectiveness, organizational change, personal and organizational autonomy.
Organizational Leadership 3 How do leaders make sound, ethical decisions in today's ever-changing world? Students in the MPA program are the leaders of the future. This course is designed to make them familiar with the traits and habits of strong, ethical leaders-preparing them to rise to the top of today's dynamic organizations. Participants will evaluate the effectiveness of various leadership styles and explore their own leadership traits.
Strategic Management 3 Limited resources, competing priorities, rapidly changing needs and the call for innovative solutions all mean that strategic management is more important than ever. When done well, this process is open to all possible outcomes, as well as the input and influence of all stakeholders. Students in this course examine how managers guide the creation of goals, setting of priorities, coordinating of disparate activities, and adjustment to a changing environment. While exploring the concepts and models of strategic management currently used in the public and private sector, students will prepare and present a strategic plan to develop an understanding of the process involved in strategic management.
Communication in Public Organization 3 Sound communication is the lifeblood of any successful organization. This course analyzes the impact of organizational culture, communication networks, message distortion, communication climate, communication and conflict, new communication technologies and communication during crisis situations on public and nonprofit organizations.
Public Policy Analysis 3 In this course, students work in groups to analyze various public and nonprofit case studies that illustrate methods and models of policy analysis. Students are encouraged to apply their professional experiences to the analyses. The course emphasizes developing a variety of perspectives to understand social problems, in the context of market failure as well as government failure. It also reviews the basics of the cost-benefit analysis method.
Ethics and Professionalism 3 Ethical questions and challenges are part of professional life and are particularly present for those who work in the public trust. Students in this course prepare to analyze and confront ethical issues in their professional life studying professional relationships and responsibilities as well as questions of public power, violence, deception and justice.
Public Sector Labor Relations 3 Public administrators must deal with labor-relations matters on a regular basis. This course is an accelerated intensive study of labor-relations concepts through role-playing participation in labor/management negotiations and formal arbitration.
Public Human Resources Management 3 Public administrators confront human resource issues on a daily basis. This course provides the fundamental concepts, terminology and technical basics involved in public sector human resources management so that students can deal effectively with the human issues that arise in the workplace. Instructors and guest speakers use lectures, case studies, and discussions to provide real world perspectives, along with a focus on ethics in human resource management.
Public Budgeting and Financial Administration 3 The ability of public officials to manage budgets, distribute resources and predict costs is crucial to a community's well-being. This course gives students a solid grounding in the concepts, terminology and techniques in the art and science of public sector budgeting and financial administration. Students use real world examples to analyze various approaches to public budgeting and revenue planning, evaluate and problem solve fiscal activities in governmental units, and gain "hands-on" budget preparation and presentation experience.
Public Policy Process 3 Public policy often determines the core of our political and personal lives. This course examines the development of legislative and regulatory policies and the role of public administrators as active participants in the policymaking process by studying problem identification, agenda setting, policy proposal and adoption. Students develop the breadth, skill and knowledge, as well as the understanding of our diverse society, needed for comprehensive analyses of public programs.
Comprehensive Examination  3 Students selecting this Option prepare for the examination in General Public Administration and in 2 Specialized Subfields.
Graduate Project 3 This culminating course requires students to demonstrate their mastery of their specialization in Public Administration. Students will revise an existing research paper that they produced in one of their graduate seminars in the MPA Program and develop it into a manuscript that could be submitted as a conference paper, journal article, or academic writing sample. This course is to be taken only in the student's final semester. Available for NC/CR only.