Jun 20, 2024  
2010-2011 Denver Campus Catalog 
2010-2011 Denver Campus Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Public Administration MPA

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Program Director: Mary Guy, PhD


Kathleen Beatty, PhD, Washington State University  
Lloyd Burton, PhD, University of California, Berkley  
Peter deLeon, PhD, Pardee RAND Graduate School  
Robert Gage, PhD, Indiana University  
Mary Guy, PhD, University of South Carolina  
Richard Stillman, PhD, Syracuse University  
Paul Teske, PhD, Princeton University  
Associate Professors:  

Linda deLeon, PhD, University of California, Los Angeles
Angela Gover, PhD, University of Maryland
Tanya Heikkila, PhD University of Arizona
Jody Fitzpatrick, PhD, University of Texas, Austin
Christine Martell, PhD, Indiana University
Jessica Sowa, PhD, Syracuse University
Paul Stretesky, PhD, Florida State University
Allan Wallis, PhD, City University Graduate Center

Assistant Professors:  
Danielle Varda, PhD, University of Colorado Denver  
Chris Weible, PhD, University of California-Davis  
MPA, West Slope Director:  
Fred Rainguet, PhD, University of Colorado  
Wirth Chair:  
Sen. Gary Hart (Ret.), JD, Yale University  
Research Professor:  
Stephen Block, PhD, University of Colorado  
Clinical Professor:  
Malcolm Goggin, PhD, Stanford University  
Research Associate:  
Robert  Reichardt, PhD, Pardee RAND Graduate School  
Kelly Hupfeld, JD, Northwestern University   
Professors Emeritus:  
John Buechner, PhD, University of Michigan  
Dale Neugarten, PhD, University of Southern California  

The master of public administration (MPA) is designed to provide graduate professional education for students who wish to prepare themselves for careers in public management or policy, in nonprofit organizations or in private corporations that interface with the other sectors. The program also offers to those already in public service an opportunity to pursue additional education as a means of furthering their careers.

MPA AND MCJ—General Information

Admission Requirements

  1. A baccalaureate degree from a college or university of accredited standing, with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Two sets of official transcripts are required from all higher education institutions attended.
  2. Three recommendations from qualified references. Recommendations may be from professors, employers and/or others acquainted with the prospective student’s professional and/or academic work.
  3. Applicants are required to take the GRE, the GMAT or the LSAT unless they meet the requirements for waiver. Standard graduate admission test scores are normally waived when the candidate already has a graduate degree in another field from an accredited institution. Other applicants may have test scores waived if they have an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or better and they have significant professional employment in management or policymaking positions for a minimum of 10 years or the equivalent.
  4. A current resume highlighting professional accomplishments and community involvement.
  5. International students whose first language is not English are required to take the TOEFL or IELTS. A score of 550 or higher on the paper-based exam or 213 or higher on the computer-based exam is required for the MPA or 525/197 for the MCJ.

All application material and test scores should be sent to SPA, University of Colorado Denver, Campus Box 142, P.O. Box 173364, Denver, CO 80217-3364.

SPA will process applications as they come in. Master-level applicants generally receive notification of their admission status three weeks after all materials have been received in the office. The preferred deadlines listed below allow students to receive best consideration for scholarships, financial aid and course selection. Students who do not meet the preferred deadline may still submit application materials until approximately one month before the start of classes and will be considered on a space-available basis.

Semester Preferred Application Deadline Final Deadline*
Fall March 15 August 1
Spring October 15 December 1
Summer March 15 May 1
*Final deadline does not apply to international students who should contact the Office of International Admissions for deadline information.

Provisional Admission

Under special circumstances, a student may be admitted on provisional status for one semester. Students admitted on a provisional basis take two courses in their first semester. MPA students may select two of the following:

  ,   or   . They may take no other courses during that semester. Based on their performance in these courses, a decision will be made concerning their admission into the program.

Nondegree Admissions

Students may register as nondegree students while developing their application packet. However, students are discouraged from taking many courses as a nondegree student if they hope to pursue a degree. Nine semester hours taken in the program as a nondegree student may be applied to the master’s degree programs with approval of an advisor. Nondegree student application forms are available in the Office of Admissions or online.

Transfer of Credit to SPA

Up to 9 semester hours of appropriate graduate work from an accredited college or university may transfer, if such credit was not applied to a completed degree.

Limitation of Course Load

The normal course load for a full-time student is 9 semester hours. A student who is employed full time may not carry more than 9 hours unless an excess load has been approved in advance by the faculty advisor.

Financial Assistance

Students in the master’s degree programs are eligible for several types of financial assistance. Educational loans require application to the Office of Financial Aid on the Downtown Campus and completion of the FAFSA. A number of students secure internships or other part-time positions with local, state and federal agencies in the Denver metropolitan area. Scholarship assistance is available on a limited basis.

The school receives announcements for fellowships from various government organizations and actively seeks additional funding for student support in the form of internship positions and research assistantships.

Persons interested in applying for financial assistance should inquire in the SPA office. The deadline for current students is March 15 for the fall term. Prospective students seeking scholarship funds should have complete scholarship applications on file at the SPA office by the preferred application deadline for the semester they are requesting funds.

The Internship Program

An internship for the MPA and MCJ programs is required for students who have not had significant public, nonprofit or private-sector experience. The purpose of the internship is to continue the linkage between theory and practice that is the philosophical basis of SPA. The internships generally involve part-time work. A maximum of three semester hours will be awarded for internship service. Great care is taken by the SPA to ensure that the internship experience meets the intellectual needs of the student. Placements have included the Governor’s Office, Colorado General Assembly, Denver Mayor’s Office, City of Denver, Denver Police Department, Boulder Crime Lab, Western Governor’s Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.

Time Limit for Master’s Degree

Master’s degree students must complete all course work and degree requirements within six years of registration in their first course.

Degree Requirements

The minimum requirements for the basic MPA degree are outlined below. Occasionally, changes are made; students may graduate under the requirements that were in effect when they were admitted.

1. Graduate Course Work

All students must complete a minimum of 36 semester hours of graduate course work, with an average of B or better. No more than 6 semester hours of independent study can be applied toward the degree. Students who have not had professional work experience in the public or nonprofit sectors must complete an internship through an additional 3-semester-hour course described in No. 6 below, bringing their total semester-hour requirements to 39.

2. Complete the Following Core Courses

All MPA students (with the exception of those in the executive MPA option) must complete the following core courses or approved equivalents:

Total: 18 Hours

Students must receive a grade of B- or better in each core course. Students who earn a lower grade may repeat the course once to attempt to earn a B- or better.

3. Electives

All MPA students must complete 15 hours of electives. Courses in which a student earns a grade of less than a C will not be counted toward a degree.

4. Advanced Seminar Class

All MPA students, except those pursuing the thesis option, must complete the advanced seminar class during the last semester of their degree program.  All core courses must be completed before beginning the advanced seminar.

5. Thesis Option

The thesis option is available in lieu of PAD 5361 for MPA students who have an interest in pursuing a topic in-depth or who are planning to pursue a career in research or academia.  Students must receive approval from their faculty advisor or the MPA director to pursue the thesis option.  The thesis is a six credit course that normally spans two semesters.

6. Internships

Students who have limited experience (generally defined as less than one year of experience) in public, nonprofit or relevant private-sector service must enroll in P AD 6910, Field Study in Public Administration. The decision to require P AD 6910 for a particular student is made by the faculty admissions committee or the student’s faculty advisor upon the student’s acceptance to the MPA program. A minimum of 300 hours of supervised work and study is required to earn 3 semester hours of credit. This requirement raises the total semester hours needed to earn the MPA degree to 39.

MPA Options

Concentrations and Graduate Certificates

All SPA concentrations are a total of 15 semester hours and may either be taken as part of the MPA program or as a stand-alone graduate certificate.

A student may choose to select one of the concentrations described below or may complete the MPA without a specified concentration. Students completing a concentration take their electives in the area of their concentration, complete the advanced seminar project in the area of their concentration and are advised by faculty from the concentration. The concentrations and their particular required courses are:

Environmental Policy, Management and Law Concentration

Students take at least two of the three courses listed below:

Total: 15 Hours

Local Government Concentration

Students take at least two of the three courses listed below:

Total: 15 Hours

Domestic Violence Concentration

Students take four specified courses and one elective.

Total: 15 Hours

Emergency Management and Homeland Security Concentration

Students take two required courses as well as electives approved by advisor.

Total: 15 Hours

The emergency management and homeland security concentration requires the completion of three electives chosen from a preapproved, multidisciplinary list of courses relevant to emergency management. Students may choose electives in one of three tracks: policy and management; spatial analysis, planning and quantitative assessment; or public safety, homeland security and justice.

Nonprofit Organizations Concentration

Students take two required courses as well as nonprofit electives approved by advisor.

Total: 15 Hours

The Accelerated Cohort

The accelerated MPA is a fast-paced, full-time option that brings academically superior students together with a dedicated research and teaching faculty in the midst of the vibrant downtown Denver environment.

The accelerated option enables students to focus their energies in a concentrated program of study and earn a nationally accredited, 36-hour MPA in 12 months. (It is preferred that applicants have some knowledge of economics, statistics and political science.)

The cost for the accelerated option is the same for both in-state and out-of- state students, providing out-of-state students with substantial savings.

The students in the cohort enjoy a unique experience as they go through all classes in the MPA together, fostering a community of scholar-practitioners.

Students are admitted to the program in cohorts of approximately 20 participants. A new cohort starts each fall. The cohort format helps to increase the opportunity to become acquainted with other graduate students and increases the opportunities for interaction between program participants and faculty.

The Executive Option

The School of Public Affairs and the management development centers of the federal Office of Personnel Management have formed a partnership to offer an innovative course of study for selected senior level professionals in the public and nonprofit sectors.

The executive MPA option provides students with an opportunity to earn a master’s degree targeted at improving their leadership competencies, while also offering significant flexibility in customizing coursework to fit students’ individual needs and career objectives. In addition, the course formats—online courses and weekend or week-long intensive meetings—enable students to fit their study into the framework of busy lives.

The executive MPA option is intended to serve high-level managers and policy experts from public agencies—federal, state and local—as well as those from the nonprofit sector.

Program Design

The executive MPA option requires 30 semester hours of credit plus two required seminars at one of the management development centers of the federal Office of Personnel Management. One is in Aurora, Colorado; the other is outside Washington, D.C. The first required seminar is an assessment seminar. Students explore their own managerial and leadership styles, their personality types and their levels of competence in a variety of executive skills. A group of highly-skilled trainers and psychologists administers and interprets test results, and participants use this self-knowledge to plan their MPA degree.

Near the end of the program, students also participate in one of the management development centers’ core leadership seminars. These seminars focus on developing competencies identified by the federal government as necessary for its highest-level managers, the senior executive service. The required Western Management Development Center courses should total six semester hours of graduate credit. More information is available online at www.leadership.opm.gov or by e-mail from WMDC Program Manager Bruce Kirschner at bhkirsch@opm.gov.

Executive students must take PUAD 5001, Introduction to Public Administration and Public Service, as one of their first courses. They then must select a minimum of three of the core courses listed below. Their advisor will assist in this selection. They must be able to demonstrate that they have gained competencies in the core courses they do not take through job experience and/or past course work.

Three of five are required:

Total: 9 Hours

These courses may be taken at one of SPA’s sites in Denver, Colorado Springs or Grand Junction, or, for students who live outside of Colorado, online.

Students also take five elective courses (15 semester hours), which may be selected either from the offerings at the management development centers or from SPA. Both partners provide a wide variety of courses. At least 18 semester hours must be SPA course work.

At or very near the end of their program, students participate in PUAD 5361, Advanced Seminar. In this course, students engage in a self-designed professional project that integrates their new skills and knowledge. In addition, they reassess their professional competencies, charting the progress they have made during the program and designing a plan for future developmental experiences.

Online Option

SPA provides a unique opportunity for students who live at a distance from the university to obtain a MPA degree.

Designed to serve students who are looking for a high-quality education, but who need an alternative to traditional classroom instruction, students may elect to do one or all of their courses online. This option allows students to complete the entire degree at a distance or to choose to come to campus for some courses while using an interactive online format for others. For both in-state and out-of-state online students, tuition is comparable to the rate charged to in-state students for courses that meet in the classroom. The nonprofit organization concentration is available online, as well as a variety of other electives leading to a general MPA degree. Students in the executive option may also choose to do all SPA course work online.

Domestic Violence Cohort

The first graduate program of its kind in the nation, the University of Colorado Denver’s MPA concentration in domestic violence focuses on the management and policies surrounding domestic violence, as well as grass-roots social justice work and best practices in this emerging field.  Each fall, 10 to 20 students are accepted into the cohort program, allowing the participants to build a strong community of advocates and learners.  

The program invites students from around the world to participate in a unique cohort program, which combines online courses with five intensive campus seminars spaced throughout the two-year program. Students may choose to take all courses in the classroom if they wish.

The cost of the domestic violence concentration courses is the same for in-state and out-of-state students.  Nonresident students pursuing the MPA with a concentration in domestic violence may also qualify for reduced tuition through the Western Regional Graduate Program which covers 14 western states. 

Western Slope Cohort

Public and nonprofit sector professionals living in Colorado’s Western Slope have the opportunity to earn a MPA without traveling to the Front Range. SPA offers one MPA course each semester in Grand Junction at Mesa State College and supplements these offerings with online courses. Courses are designed to integrate the academic and applied experiences necessary to be an effective modern manager. The courses are offered in an intensive weekend format and emphasize the needs of small and rural communities.

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