Within the semester, classes are divided into seminars called Dimensions of Learning, Action and Assessment. They are: Purpose, Values and Ethics, Self and Others, Systems, and Skills. These represent the five dimensions of holistic, empowering performance. Students explore the theoretical background behind each seminar, which will help them master the Purpose for that semester. As a whole, the seminars are designed to help the students:

  • Integrate theoretical material from the other four dimension classes.
  • Plan and carry out an effective innovation or pilot program at the work site.
  • Document their action and achievement in writing.
  • Assess the results and perform strategic planning for the future.

The three Purposes of the MPA are interrelated and lead to the completion of a Constructive Action (typically a thesis in more theoretical programs). An extensive research component is integrated into each semester’s requirements. Graduate students are awarded the MPA upon the successful completion of 45 credits (15 credits per semester) and a grade point average of a 3.0.

Constructive Action Credits Purpose 1 Purpose 2 Purpose 3
Field 1 Field Activity Field Activity Field Activity
Document 2 Research Implementation and Documentation Program Implementation and Documentation Program Evaluation and Recommendations
Purpose 2 Identifying Opportunities for Organizational Change Initiating and Managing Organizational Change Long Range Planning for Organizational Improvement
Self and Others
2 Organizational Behavior in Public and Nonprofit Organizations Human Resource Management Intergovernmental Relations
Skills 1 2 Research Methods I Research Methods II Strategic Planning and Proposal Writing
Skills 2 2 Computer-based Applications for Public Managers Budgeting and Financial Management Program Evaluation
Systems 2 Introduction to Public Administration Non-profit Governance, Management and Marketing Public Economics
Values and Ethics
2 Public Policy Administrative Ethics Politics and Policy
Identifying Opportunities for Organizational Change (PAA 610 PUR) (2 credits)
In the Purpose Dimension seminar students explore opportunities for change in their organizations. Students actively share ideas, research findings, suspected problems and plans concerning their Constructive Actions. They integrate theory and practice by incorporating insights from fieldwork and ideas from study.

Each student develops a formal research proposal to identify and verify the existence of a problem, need or opportunity for Constructive Action and provides background information about his or her organization.
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Research Implementation and Documentation (PAA 610 CON) (3 credits)
Students prepare a Constructive Action document that describes the organizational setting of research and report on the implementation of the research proposal they developed in the Purpose Dimension seminar.
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Public Policy (PAA 610 VAL) (2 credits)
This dimension explores approaches and methodologies employed in the analysis of public policy by studying both method and philosophy. Students will learn to differentiate between three basic analytical frameworks: Social Science, Ideological, and Policy Sciences. We will review policy issues that public administrators and/or policy analysts have to address as public sector professionals, as well as establishing the relationship between the public administrator and the policy analyst.
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Organizational Behavior in Public and Nonprofit Organizations (PAA 610 SEL) (2 credits)
The Self and Others Dimension improves students’ ability to work effectively with others in public and nonprofit organizations. Organizational behavior is the basis of the Dimension’s investigation into some of the issues that are fundamental to the successful management of people in these organizations.

This Dimension involves four levels of analysis and their influence on each other in the public sector: individual, group, organization, and the public interest.
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Introduction to Public Administration (PAA 610 SYS) (2 credits)
This course is about the bureaucratic process and the implementation of public policy. It traces the evolution of public administration over the last century from the Wilsonian concept of scientific management to the more contemporary New Public Service. We will study the operations of the executive branch of government and explore the relationship between civil servants and elected public officials, the structure of public organization, and the meaning of legislative oversight. Students will also develop an understanding of organizational culture and its impact on the decision-making process.
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Research Methods I (PAA 611 SKI1) (2 credits)
The class for the Skills Dimension is an introductory graduate course in research methods that are employed in social sciences. This class will introduce students to theoretical and practical aspects of the research process, conducting research and research projects design in public sector. Students will learn a variety of tools and techniques for analyzing data and making management and policy decisions from such data.

These techniques will also aid the student in performing the Constructive Action needs assessment and in developing the Constructive Action Purpose 1 and 2 documents.
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Computer-based Applications for Public Managers (PAA 612 SKI2) (2 credits)
This course introduces the current concepts in computer-based information systems design and management. The course prepares the student for practical applications of the course concepts (e.g., oral presentations using PowerPoint, research reports, practical descriptive statistics using Excel worksheets).
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Initiating and Managing Organizational Change (PAA 620 PUR) (2 credits)
In the Purpose Dimension seminar of the second semester, students collaborate on the organizational challenges that must be met in order to develop and implement a successful program. Students also explore the relevance of Dimensional course material and how this material might be integrated into their Constructive Action documents.
Students will execute the research proposal they planned in the first semester and analyze, present and interpret the data. Based on the research findings, they will design a pilot program to address the problem they initially identified or alternative problem uncovered in the research. They will also design a program evaluation to determine the extent of the program’s success. The final activities of the semester involve implementation and documentation of the pilot program.
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Project Implementation and Documentation (PAA 620 CON) (3 credits)
Students will implement and monitor the program they designed in Purpose 1.
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Administrative Ethics (PAA 620 VAL) (2 credits)
In the Administrative Ethics Dimension, we will learn how ethical decision-making defines the professional, organizational and societal obligations of public administrators. The Dimension will investigate the obligation and ethical dilemmas that originate in public and nonprofit organizations, the contrast with for-profit organizations, and the challenges and ambiguities that public administrators face when they try to act with integrity in the public interest. This Dimension will also examine the ethical issues in planning and implementing organizational change.
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Human Resources Management (PAA 620 SEL) (2 credits)
This Dimension will have the student understand the organizational or administrative role of human resources management; how to assess its goals so a needs assessment can be conducted; various means to recruit new personnel, select those that will give the greatest contribution, train present employees to meet new job descriptions and new employees to meet new needs; how to release personnel that no longer meet the needs of the organization or administration; legal requirements governing human resources decisions; how to retain and compensate employees; and other human resources responsibilities.
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Nonprofit Governance, Management and Marketing (PAA 620 SYS) (2 credits)
Classic organizational theory and principles, as well as current management and supervision practices, are applied to the structure, resources and mission of the nonprofit organization. Special attention is focused on collaborative strategic planning.
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Research Methods II (PAA 621 SK1) (2 credits)
The course is designed to provide quantitative tools for managers, evaluators and analysts charged with formally evaluating program implementation and performance. These techniques will also aid the student in completing the Constructive Action needs assessment and in developing the Constructive Action Purpose 3 documents.
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Budgeting and Financial Management (PAA 622 SK2) (2 credits)
This course will engage students in a discussion of how budgeting and financial management are used to shape policy and measure performance in governmental entities. Students will apply the skills learned in PAA 612 to develop budget and financial documents, and will discuss and analyze how budgets shape the ongoing operations of not-for-profit organizations. Students will also discuss social benefits versus the financial and economic costs of providing certain goods and services, and examine the financial versus the nonfinancial measurement metrics for determining a program or entity’s success.
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Long Range Planning for Service Improvement (MPA 530 PUR) (2 credits)
Students begin their third semester of study by implementing the plan of evaluation they designed in Purpose 2. The findings will determine the conversion of their pilot programs into long-range plans for service improvement. In planning their proposals, they will investigate external political, economic, social and technological trends, define the opportunities and challenges these trends represent, and strategize about how to take advantage of the opportunities and confront the challenges. Students will share the results of their investigation and work together on the application of these results. Students will also share their ideas about how to integrate Dimensional course material into their final Constructive Action documents.
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Project Evaluation and Recommendations (PAA 630 CON) (2 credits)(3 Credits)
An examination of critical value issues at the national, city and organizational levels with special emphasis on health, housing, education, care for the aged and substance abuse.
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Politics and Policy (PAA 630 VAL) (2 credits)
This dimension explores the intersection between public policy and politics and its impacts on the administrative process.
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Intergovernmental Relations (PAA 630 SEL) (2 credits)
This course is about the American federal system of government and how the division of power, authority and functions impact the administrative process. Students will come to understand how much of their functions as agency administrators involve interacting with their counterparts in other units of governance and that these interactions can facilitate program implementation.
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Public Economics (PAA 630 SYS) (2 credits)
The course for the Systems Dimension 3 is an introductory graduate course in economics principles and policy with emphasis on the economics of the public sector. Public economics is the study of economic issues concerning the public sector. The study of public economics considers the functioning of government and its role in the economy. It is recognized that public administration practitioners should gain competent knowledge of the functioning of the economic system and economic processes necessary for adequate management and policy decision-making.
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Strategic Planning and Proposal Writing (PAA 631 SK1) (2 credits)
The course in strategic planning and proposal writing is designed to complement some of the activities in the Purpose Seminar. First, students will be introduced to the basic steps in strategic planning. Next, students will study the various types of proposals for funding, the funding environment, the identification of funding opportunities, the components of a proposal, the process of submitting a proposal, and the organization and writing of a proposal. Based on their study of proposal writing, students will convert their Constructive Action pilot into a long-range program and present it in the form of a proposal for funding. They will also prepare a strategic plan that addresses the external and internal environmental factors that might impact the implementation of their long-range programs.
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Program Evaluation (PAA 632 SK2) (2 credits)
Administrators, elected officials, oversight agencies, citizens and staff must understand the value of the programs they are responsible for. Specifically managers need to lead learning organizations in the collection and interpretation of data that define the program and organizational effectiveness. This analysis will ultimately improve both.
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