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Kentucky Capitol Building in Frankfort

MSU's Master of Public Administration (MPA) is one of the most affordable accredited online MPA programs in the country. The MPA program actively engages students in a dynamic learning environment, combining coursework and hands-on research. The curriculum will challenge students to examine issues shaping local and national level policies, equipping them with knowledge and skills in theory, methodology and innovative practice in the interdisciplinary field of public administration. Graduates of this program lead and manage a diverse range of government, public service, nonprofit, education and health care organizations.

The MPA program is a 40-43 credit hour program with a required one hour internship and thesis or capstone research experience. Students can choose between four areas of concentration: Security Studies, Intelligence and Theory or Economic Development and Intergovernmental Management, Public Affairs Communication or Addiction and Counseling Services Management.

Program Mission

The mission of the MPA program is to prepare students to be successful public service administrators. Driven by ethical reasoning, critical thinking, analytically oriented problem-solving skills and objective decision-making, the program will prepare students for lifelong careers in the public sector. By connecting theory and practice throughout the curriculum, the MPA program seeks to foster student and faculty research and outreach that benefits the local and regional communities throughout Eastern Kentucky.

Scholarships and Assistantships

Scholarships, fellowships, and assistantships are available for qualified full and part-time students.

  • Research Scholarships: Research scholarships may be awarded up to $2,500 a year. Students must be engaged in a research project under the mentorship of the program director. Once a research project has been approved by the program director, the student will seek out opportunities to present their research at appropriate regional, national, and international forums. All travel requests must be approved by appropriate university administrators.
  • Graduate Assistantships: Graduate assistantships or research assistantships range from $5,000 up to $10,000 and provide the opportunity to work with faculty on research projects for up to 20 hrs. per week. Graduate assistantships do not include tuition remission at Morehead State University.
  • Research Assistantships: These are competitive based upon academic merit. Applications must be completed and are reviewed by April 30. These applications are submitted to the Graduate Program Director by email or via the Department of History, Philosophy, Politics, Global Studies and Legal Studies.
  • Research Positions: Students may be hired to assist faculty with ongoing research projects. Contact MPA Director Dr. James Masterson at or 606-783-2658 to discuss current opportunities.

Program Requirements


Program Competencies

Through the core courses in our MPA program students will learn to:
  1. lead and manage in public governance:
Learning Objectives: Students will understand the bureaucracy in such way that they will be able to:
a) understand the purpose of bureaucracies and their function in a democracy,
b) describe how bureaucracies work in practical terms in helping administer the day-to-day functions of government,
c) analyze the role of elected officials, interest groups and individuals outside of government in trying to influence the bureaucracy, and
d) describe and analyze the ethical issues individuals in the bureaucracy face in making decisions in a democratic system.
  1. participate in and contribute to the public policy process:
Learning objectives: Students will develop a comprehensive understanding of the core theoretical concepts and principles of public administration. Students will be able to:
a) understand and articulate the theoretical underpinnings of public administration,
b) describe and analyze the role of public administration in the American political process and
c) analyze the role of public administration among the three branches of government at the federal, state, and local level, and how public administrators interact across various institutions.
Learning objectives: Students will gain an understanding of the concepts and principles of public policy, with a special focus on American institutions and political processes that are responsible for the formation and execution of public policy. Students will be able to:
a) understand public policy and its relationship to public administration and the American political system more fully,
b) analyze the formulation of public policy at the local, state and federal levels, and
c) identify the major actors and processes, and the roles of each in the formulation of public policy.
  1. analyze, synthesize, think critically, solve problems, and make decisions:
Learning objectives:  Students will develop the intellectual capacity required in public service, law, and the academy, such that students are able to:
a) think clearly about the ends and purposes of political life in evaluating our state and federal constitutional structure;
b)  analyze and identify legal and constitutional and administrative law principles and issues when supplied with a specific fact pattern;  and
c) apply those principles to make and defend prudential judgments regarding constitutional and administrative outcomes in light of this broader context. 
 Learning Objectives: Students learn basic PA research methodologies and statistical analysis software and apply these to their own research questions. Students will:
a) understand research methodologies used in public administration
b) possess foundational knowledge and skills in both quantitative and qualitative approaches assessed on book review summaries, and
c) gain hands-on experience using industry-standard statistical software to analyze datasets using advanced statistical techniques assessed on SPSS assignments
  1. articulate and apply a public service perspective:
Learning Objectives: Students learn how to act and think ethically in a public service setting. Students will:
a) describe several major ethical theories
b) apply major ethical theories to concrete situations and dilemmas in public administration
c) describe and evaluate strategies for encouraging ethical public service and for policing the bureaucracy
  1. communicate and interact productively with a diverse and changing workforce and citizenry:
Learning objectives: Students will gain practical knowledge in assessing and making public budgeting and financing decisions and recognize that such decisions reflect priorities of local, state, and the federal governments.  Students will demonstrate that they:
a) understand diverse perspectives in public finance and budgeting processes, given that budgeting decisions involve allocating limited resources in ways that might advantage some while disadvantaging others;
b) can resolve often-conflicting priorities by recommending and applying best public financing and budgeting practices; and
c) communicate effectively in writing by compellingly explaining and justifying budgeting decisions. 

Career Opportunities

Graduates of this program pursue careers in government, public service, education, and nonprofit organizations.

MSU's Career Services  offers career planning, interview and resume preparation assistance, internship placement, and services to help you find a job after you graduate.

Program Faculty


Program Adjunct Faculty


Program Outcomes

Data recently collected for our 2016-17 Program Review indicates that the MPA program at MSU has high graduation rates. For instance, our 2010-11 cohort graduation rated is 77%, with 62% of the cohort graduating within two years, and 69% of the cohort graduating within four years. 

Graduation Outcomes
Graduation Outcomes: 2016-17 ARY-Cohort
  Initially Enrolled Graduated within 2 years Graduated within 3 years Graduated within 4 years Total Students Graduated and Persisting to Graduation
Total Number of Students in the ARY-5 Cohort 10 1 (10%) 2 (20%) 2 (20%)  3 (30%)


Job Placement Rates
Graduate Employment Placement Rates 2016-2017
Year - Percent
Year - Percent*
Year - Percent
Year - Percent
Year - Percent
National or central government in the same country as the program 1  (20%)        
State, provincial or regional government in the same country as the program       1 (25%) 1 (50%)
City, County, or other local government in the same country as the program 1  (20%)        
Nonprofit domestic-oriented 1  (20%)   1  (100%) 1 (25%)  
Obtaining further education 2  (40%)     2 (50%)  
Unknown         1 (50%)
Total 5   1 4 2

* There were no graduates during this academic year.

Over the last five years we have placed interns in the following offices:

  • Churchill Downs (Louisville, KY)
  • Legislative Research Committee (Frankfort, KY)
  • Morehead City Mayor’s Office (Morehead, KY)
  • Rowan County Economic Development Office (Morehead, KY)
  • Montgomery County Clerk of Courts (Mt. Sterling, KY)
  • Montgomery County Judge Executive Office (Mt. Sterling, KY)
  • Eastern Kentucky University, International Student Office
  • Frontier Housing (Morehead, KY)
  • Benchmark Family Services (Florence, KY)
  • Kentucky Christian University (Grayson, KY)

Data from our most recent MPA alumni survey indicates that 50% of our graduates seeking employment obtained a job, while 50% of our students went on to pursue further graduate education. Since 2016, the program has placed graduates in the following positions/programs:

  • US State Department International Visitors Bureau (Washington, DC)
  • Churchill Downs (Louisville, KY)
  • Westminster College (Fulton, MO)
  • Fletcher Group (London, KY)
  • Mercy Health (Cincinnati, OH)
  • Medical University of South Carolina (Charleston, SC)
  • University of South Carolina PhD program (Columbia, SC)
  • University of Cincinnati PhD program (Cincinnati, OH)
  • University of Kentucky PhD program (Lexington, KY)
  • Northern Kentucky University JD program (Highland Heights, KY)
  • Commonwealth Educational Opportunity Center (Greenup, KY)

Overall, 82% of respondents in our recent alumni survey reported that they were either satisfied or very satisfied with their education in the MPA program.

Program Costs

To learn about program costs, visit