Montana State University

Department of Political Science

Montana State University
P.O. Box 172240
Bozeman, MT 59717-2240

Tel: (406) 994-4141
Fax: (406) 994-6692
Location: 2-143 Wilson Hall

Department Head

Linda Young

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MPA Degree Requirements

MSU campus with the Bridger Mountains
in the background.

Degree Requirements

The degree requirements given below are effective for students admitted to the program in the Fall Semester of 2010 or after. The curriculum is structured so that full time students (those taking 9 credits per semester) should be able to graduate in two academic years. Students taking 6 credits per semester can graduate in three years.

The MPA degree requires completion of 36 credits.

Core Required Courses (24 credits):

  • PSCI 551 Research Methods for Public Administrators
  • PSCI 552 Public Policy Processes
  • PSCI 554 Foundations of Public Administration
  • PSCI 555 Human Resources Management
  • PSCI 557 Public Budgeting and Finance
  • PSCI 558 Organization Dynamics
  • PSCI 520 Leadership and Government Administration
  • PSCI 560 Ethics and Public Service

Electives (9 credits)
Students will select three elective courses that support both their intellectual interests as well as their professional and career objectives. We encourage students to explore the Political Science course catalog as well as course offerings from other departments to identify potential electives. Elective courses will be selected in cooperation with either the MPA Director or the student's Professional Paper Chairperson. Pre-career students (those entering the program with fewer than two years of progressively responsible professional work experience) will be required to complete a 3 credit, 300 work-hour internship as one of the three elective courses. Elective courses may be taken outside the Political Science Department and may include one 400 level course.

Professional Paper (3 credits)
The Professional Paper course (PSCI 574) is taken during the student's last semester of course work. The purpose of the Professional Paper is to allow MPA students an opportunity to effectively integrate underlying theories, concepts, themes, and patterns found throughout the program's course work into a final original research project. A formal presentation of the Professional Paper will be given to Public Administration and Political Science faculty, student peers, and other interested parties. All MPA students in the program are expected to attend these presentations. Completion of the Professional Papers must occur in the Fall or Spring semester, not during the summer.

Comprehensive Exams
Comprehensive Exams are administered the semester before the student graduates, (e.g. If graduating in the spring, comprehensive exams are taken in the fall. Comprehensive exams are not administered in the summer). The purpose of the comprehensive exam is to verify the student's mastery of the general concepts derived from the course of study, the integration of those concepts across course topics and the ability to apply the material to real-world administrative problems.

Transfer of Credits
Acceptance of up to nine credit hours of academic course work performed at other institutions is possible by the College of Graduate Studies upon recommendation by the Political Science Department. All such credits must have been earned while in graduate status at an accredited college or university.