Political Science and Public Administration

http://www.uab.edu/mpa

Chair: Robert Blanton, Ph.D.

The Department of Political Science and Public Administration offers a graduate program of study leading to the Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree.

UAB's nationally ranked Master of Public Administration (MPA) program is accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA). Our MPA program prepares students for successful careers in public service where they can serve the greater good. We have graduates locally and across the country who have become successful leaders and managers in local, state, and federal government positions, and in nonprofit organizations.

Degree Offered: MPA
Director: Erin L. Borry, Ph.D.
Phone: (205) 996-2159
E-mail: mpa@uab.edu
Website: http://www.uab.edu/mpa

MPA Program Mission

In line with the mission of the University, the MPA program is committed to excellence in graduate education through teaching, research, service, and practice. The program focuses on building the next generation of global leaders and responsible decision makers by enhancing their intellectual and social capacities through knowledge and skills provided within the framework of public service values embedded in the MPA curriculum. The Master of Public Administration Program prepares individuals for positions of leadership in the public and nonprofit sectors. It is a professional graduate degree for both pre-career students and in-service administrators. The program is designed to develop the insights and skills needed to plan and formulate policy, and to organize, manage, and implement programs and operations. The MPA program is accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA). Its Board of Advisors consists of internal and external stakeholders comprised of community members, alumni and students.

The MPA curriculum is designed to ensure that students achieve competency in five domains:

  • To lead and manage in public governance.
  • To participate in and contribute to the policy process.
  • To analyze, synthesize, think critically, solve problems and make decisions.
  • To articulate and apply a public service perspective.
  • To communicate and interact productively with a diverse and changing workforce and citizenry.

Degree Requirements

Students in the MPA program must complete a total of 42 semester hours or the equivalent, while maintaining a minimum 3.0 grade point average (GPA) and in accordance with the MPA Program Grade Policy. Students without professional public service experience are required to do a three-hour internship in addition to required coursework. Previous graduate work at UAB or another NASPAA-accredited MPA program may be credited toward the degree if it is directly applicable. Students may select the thesis option or the non-thesis option.

Grade Policies

Graduate School Policy

Students must maintain a 3.0 grade point average (GPA) throughout the duration of the program in accordance with Graduate School policies. If students fail to maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 for any semester, they will receive a warning letter via email from the Graduate School. If the GPA remains below 3.0 for two (2) consecutive semesters, the student will receive a notification email from the Graduate School and be placed on academic probation. Students on probation must then make a 3.0 or better semester average for each succeeding semester that their overall cumulative average is below 3.0. Students are removed from probation when their cumulative average is 3.0 or above. If they make below a 3.0 average while on probation, they are dismissed. When students repeat a course, the last grade will be utilized to calculate their cumulative GPA.

Program Policy

In addition to complying with the Graduate School policy, students must earn B or better in at least seven (7) of the eight (8) core MPA courses. Upon receiving the first grade of a C in any core course, a student will be placed on probation in the program. A student who makes a second grade of C or below in any core course is subject to dismissal from the program, regardless of the overall GPA. After receiving a second C, a student may retake either of those two courses, in accordance with Graduate School guidelines, and must do so the next semester. If the student earns a grade of B or better during the retaken course, they must file a grade replacement application with the Graduate School. If that application is approved, they will be allowed to continue their coursework and remain in the program. Please note: a grade of F given for academic misconduct is not eligible for replacement.

Admission Requirements

Because of its multidisciplinary nature, persons from all undergraduate majors are considered for admission to the MPA Program. The MPA Program accepts applications for fall, spring, and summer admissions. All applications must be made online by visiting the UAB Graduate School website (uab.edu/graduate) and clicking the ‘Apply Now’ button. 

Applications for the MPA Program must include:

  • Statement of interest;
  • Undergraduate transcripts (and, if applicable, graduate transcripts);
  • Two letters of academic or professional reference; and
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores.*

An ideal candidate for the program has an undergraduate and/or graduate GPA of around 3.0, strong letters of reference, GRE scores of about 150 each on verbal and analytical sections, and a statement of interest that strongly reflects a desire to serve the public interest. 

*Applicants may be eligible for a GRE waiver. Those eligible include:

  • Applicants with an undergraduate GPA of 3.2 or higher;
  • Applicants with a graduate degree from an accredited college or university; or 
  • Applicants with at least five (5) years professional, full-time, progressively responsible mid-to-senior level management experience. The statement of interest and resume should provide clear evidence for this waiver.

Applicants seeking a GRE waiver must submit a formal request to the MPA Program Director. This request should include the basis for which the applicant is requesting the waiver and a copy of the applicant's resume. The LSAT may be substituted for the GRE only by JD/MPA applicants with the approval of the MPA Program Director.

Deadline for Entry Term(s): Each semester
Deadline for All Application Materials to be in the Graduate School Office: Fall: August 1, Spring: December 1; Summer: April 1
Number of Reference Letters Required: Two
Entrance Tests: GRE (TOEFL/IELTS and TWE also required for international applicants whose native language is not English.). GRE may be waived in accordance with eligibility criteria listed above.

Financial Aid

The Department of Political Science and Public Administration has a limited number of graduate assistantships awarded on a competitive basis, which can be awarded during any semester as vacancies occur. The Department has two scholarships which are awarded on a competitive basis each spring. Other financial resources are available through the Office of Student Financial Aid.

Internships and Placement

Students may apply for an internship placement at any time. A few paid opportunities do arise, although the majority of internships are non-paid. Typical placements are in city and county government, planning departments, public health agencies, social service agencies, state government agencies, and various nonprofit organizations. The Department has placed several students in the prestigious Presidential Management Fellowship (PMF) Program, which provides an excellent opportunity for eventual employment in the federal government. Students are also encouraged to seek assistance with UAB Student Career and Professional Services in Hill Student Center for career planning and placement. The faculty/program manager in the program also assists students in job placement. Please click here to see what some of our graduates are doing now.

Joint Degree Programs

Coordinated MPA/MPH Program

The MPA/Master of Public Health (MPH) is designed to train individuals for administrative positions in public health and related health organizations. The Master of Public Administration degree prepares students for careers as administrators in public and nonprofit agencies, and the Master of Public Health provides a background in public health principles and programs. Students must apply and be accepted into both programs, meeting each program's entry requirements. Students are required to complete a total of 64-65 semester hours for the coordinated degree. Students complete 10 courses (30 credit hours) in the MPA Program; seven (7) core MPA courses, two (2) MPA electives, and MPA 697 Graduate Learning Portfolio. The remaining credit hours are completed in the MPH Program. Full-time students should be able to complete all degree requirements within three (3) years.

Coordinated MPA/JD Program

The MPA program at UAB and the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University offer a coordinated MPA/JD program. The offering of this dual degree reflects recognition of the complex interrelationship between the legal system, public policy analysis, and public management. It will be particularly applicable to those pursuing careers in government and/or public interest law. Students must apply and be admitted to the MPA and JD programs separately. MPA/JD students complete 10 courses (30 credit hours) in the MPA program: eight (8) core MPA courses, one (1) MPA elective, and MPA 697 Graduate Learning Portfolio. Close communication with both programs is required. Depending on prior experience, a field placement/internship may be required.

Coordinated MPA/MSCJ Program

The MPA/Master of Science in Criminal Justice (MSCJ) is targeted toward individuals who wish to gain competencies in public management and the theory/practice of criminal justice. Students must apply and be accepted into both programs, meeting each program's entry requirements. Students are required to complete a total of 60 semester hours—30 hours from each program—for the coordinated degree. The MPA portion of the degree requires completion of six (6) core MPA courses, three (3) MPA electives, and MPA 697 Graduate Learning Portfolio. Full-time students should be able to complete all degree requirements within three (3) years.

Certificate Programs

Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management

For non-traditional students interested in managing nonprofit organizations, the program offers a Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management. Students seeking admission into the Nonprofit Management Certificate only should apply as non-degree seeking through the UAB Graduate School by visiting https://www.uab.edu/graduate/admissions. Contact the MPA Program Manager for additional information regarding the Nonprofit Certificate.

Graduate Certificate in Public Management

For non-traditional students interested in managing public organizations, the program offers a Graduate Certificate in Public Management. Students seeking admission into the Public Management Certificate only should apply as non-degree seeking through Graduate School by visiting https://www.uab.edu/graduate/admissions. Contact the MPA Program Manager for additional information regarding the Public Management Certificate.

Contact Information

For additional information refer to the web site of the UAB MPA program: www.uab.edu/mpa. Inquiries concerning program admission or other questions about the program should be directed to the MPA Program Manager.

MPA Program Manager
Department of Political Science and Public Administration
University of Alabama at Birmingham
HHB 415, 1401 University Boulevard
Birmingham, Alabama 35294-1152
Telephone  (205) 975-3413 or  (205) 934-2339
Email: mpa@uab.edu

Master of Public Administration

A total of 39 hours are required to complete the MPA program. For pre-career students, an additional three (3) hours of internship (20 hours/week) is also required, for a total of 42 hours. A full-time student, taking three (3) courses per semester, plus one additional course over the summer, should be able to complete the program within two (2) years. All courses are offered in the evenings or online to accommodate working professionals.

Plan I: Thesis

RequirementsHours
Core
MPA 600Administrative Ethics3
MPA 601The Public Policymaking Process3
MPA 602Scope of Public Administration3
MPA 603Public & Nonprofit Budgeting3
MPA 604Human Resources Management3
MPA 605Information Management for Government3
MPA 606Foundations of PA Research3
MPA 607Quantitative Methods for PA3
MPA 698Internship in Public Administration3
Admission to Candidacy
MPA 696Independent Study in Public Administration 13
MPA 699Thesis Research6
Electives6
Open Government
State and Local Government Administration
Women in Public Administration
Crisis Management
City County Management
Administrative Law
Intergovernmental Relations
Marketing and Fundraising
Nonprofit Management
Nonprofit Health
GIS for Managers
Equity and Diversity in Public Policy
Strategic Planning
Local Government Planning
Economic Development
Grants Management
Data Management
Resource Management
Global Public Administration
Program Evaluation
Public Managerial Economics
Total Hours42

Plan II: Non-Thesis

RequirementsHours
Core
MPA 600Administrative Ethics3
MPA 601The Public Policymaking Process3
MPA 602Scope of Public Administration3
MPA 603Public & Nonprofit Budgeting3
MPA 604Human Resources Management3
MPA 605Information Management for Government3
MPA 606Foundations of PA Research3
MPA 607Quantitative Methods for PA3
MPA 698Internship in Public Administration3
Portfolio
MPA 697Graduate Learning Portfolio 13
Electives12
Open Government
State and Local Government Administration
Women in Public Administration
Crisis Management
City County Management
Administrative Law
Intergovernmental Relations
Marketing and Fundraising
Nonprofit Management
Nonprofit Health
GIS for Managers
Equity and Diversity in Public Policy
Strategic Planning
Local Government Planning
Economic Development
Grants Management
Data Management
Resource Management
Global Public Administration
Program Evaluation
Public Managerial Economics
Total Hours42

Graduate Certificate in Public Management

The Graduate Certificate in Public Management (CPM) provides skills and insights necessary to plan and manage public organizations. The certificate is geared towards professionals who are seeking upward mobility within their organizations, and students seeking to enter the workforce at the local, city, state and federal level. This program is designed to serve those who wish to gain specialized knowledge in the field of public management without committing to a full graduate program. Such specialized knowledge may include, but is not limited to: resource management, intergovernmental relations, administrative law, program evaluation, and public finance. Potential employers seek out applicants with these specific skills, making graduates more attractive for higher than entry-level positions in the local, state, or federal government, as well as private industry.

Students who are admitted into the MPA program with an interest in public management may apply for and earn the Graduate Certificate in Public Management while working toward their MPA degree.

Application for the Certificate Program

To complete the Public Management Certificate, students must be admitted as a non-degree seeking graduate student as defined by the UAB Graduate School. These requirements include an earned undergraduate degree from an accredited institution. Prospective students must also complete the application form and submit it to the MPA Program Manager (mpa@uab.edu) prior to the application deadline.

Students admitted into the MPA program may complete the application at any point during their coursework if they wish to earn the Public Management Certificate in addition to their MPA degree.

Courses

Students must complete five (5) courses, totaling 15 credit hours. Three (3) courses are required; students may choose the remaining two (2) courses from the list below:

RequirementsHours
MPA 667Administrative Law3
MPA 681Local Government Planning3
MPA 687Resource Management3
Select two of the following courses:6
Open Government
Women in Public Administration
Intergovernmental Relations
GIS for Managers
Strategic Planning
Public Managerial Economics
Grants Management
Data Management
Program Evaluation
Special Topics in Public Administration
Total Hours15

Grades

Students are expected to produce graduate-level work and maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher to continue in the program. They are also expected to abide by UAB Graduate School conduct and grade policies.

Registration and Payment

Students are expected to register for at least one course each semester. Payments of tuition and fees will be handled through UAB Financial Affairs. All payment problems or inquiries should be directed to that office.

Future Graduate Degree Work

Certificate students who want to apply to the MPA program after completing the public management certification requirements must complete all application requirements as outlined in the Graduate School guidelines. A maximum of four (4) courses (12 hours) with a grade of B or better may be applied toward the MPA degree if the student is accepted in the program.

Successful completion of the public management certification does not automatically admit a student into the MPA program. All application materials must be completed. Students who pursue the MPA degree following certification must complete all course work within seven (7) years of the first course taken in the certificate program.

Questions?

Please contact the MPA Program Manager at mpa@uab.edu.

Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management 

The Graduate Nonprofit Certificate Program provides practitioners with an opportunity to enhance their skills and improve their capacity to effectively run nonprofit organizations. This Certificate program is designed to serve those who wish to gain specialized knowledge in the field of nonprofit management without committing to a full graduate program. Classes are offered online and on campus.

Students who are admitted into the MPA program with an interest in nonprofit management may apply for and earn the Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management while completing their MPA degree.

Application for the Certificate Program

To complete the Nonprofit Management Certificate, students must be admitted as a non-degree seeking graduate student as defined by the UAB Graduate School. These requirements include an earned undergraduate degree from an accredited institution. Prospective students must also complete the application form and submit it to the MPA Program Manager (mpa@uab.edu) prior to the application deadline.

Students admitted into the MPA degree program may complete the application at any point during their course work if they wish to earn the Nonprofit Certificate in addition to their MPA degree.

Curriculum

Students must complete five (5) courses, totaling 15 credit hours. Three (3) courses are required; students may choose the remaining two (2) courses from the list below:

RequirementsHours
MPA 671Marketing and Fundraising3
MPA 672Nonprofit Management3
MPA 673Nonprofit Health3
Elective Courses (Choose 2)6
Open Government
State and Local Government Administration
Women in Public Administration
Crisis Management
Intergovernmental Relations
GIS for Managers
Strategic Planning
Economic Development
Public Managerial Economics
Grants Management
Data Management
Program Evaluation
Special Topics in Public Administration
Total Hours15

Grades

Students are expected to produce graduate-level work and maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher to continue in the program. They are also expected to abide by UAB Graduate School conduct and grade policies.

Registration and Payment

Students are expected to register for at least one course each semester. Payments of tuition and fees will be handled through UAB Financial Affairs. All payment problems or inquiries should be directed to that office.

Future Graduate Degree Work

Certificate students who want to apply to the MPA program after completing the nonprofit management certification requirements must complete all application requirements as outlined in the Graduate School guidelines. A maximum of four (4) courses (12 hours) with a grade of B or better may be applied toward the MPA degree if the student is accepted in the program.

Successful completion of the nonprofit management certification does not automatically admit a student into the MPA program. All application materials must be completed. Students who pursue the MPA degree following certification must complete all course work within seven (7) years of the first course taken in the certificate program.

Questions?

Please contact the MPA Program Manager at mpa@uab.edu or nonprofitcert@uab.edu.

Courses

MPA 600. Administrative Ethics. 3 Hours.

Theories and principles of ethics. Understanding ethical issues and use of ethical principles in resolving ethical dilemma in public organizations.

MPA 601. The Public Policymaking Process. 3 Hours.

Public Policy as a decision-making process. Examines environmental and organizational factors, the choice of alternatives, and the implementation and evaluation of public policy, with applied references to specific functional areas e.g. housing, pollution, energy and transportation.

MPA 602. Scope of Public Administration. 3 Hours.

Explores differences between public and private sector organizations. Examines both institutional and behavioral elements as they apply to public agencies. Covers topics such as budgeting, personnel, ethics, federalism and other fundamentals of public administration.

MPA 603. Public & Nonprofit Budgeting. 3 Hours.

MPA 603 examines the institutions and actors involved in the collection, custody, and expenditure of public revenues. The course combines theory and practical application to teach the principles and techniques used in government and nonprofit budgeting, including the budgeting process and financial management.

MPA 604. Human Resources Management. 3 Hours.

Examines the major concepts, theories, procedures and themes needed for effective management of human resources in the public and nonprofit sectors. Topics include merit and civil service systems, organized public labor, recruitment, classification, performance appraisal, disciplinary and grievance procedures, training and staff development, diversity and anti-discrimination policy and strategies, ethics/morality and personnel law.

MPA 605. Information Management for Government. 3 Hours.

The course is designed to introduce information and related technologies and how it affects people and government in a democracy. Students are exposed to information theory and modern day information technology tools to understand, interpret and manage governmental operations.

MPA 606. Foundations of PA Research. 3 Hours.

An introduction to research methodology presenting quasi-experimental and experimental research designs, exposition of qualitative and basic survey methods, and basic data analysis.

MPA 607. Quantitative Methods for PA. 3 Hours.

MBA 607 introduces basic statistical techniques used by social scientists and public administrators. Designed to provide students with the tools to produce and consume quantitative information, MPA 607 combines theory and application of both descriptive and inferential statistical methods. With real world examples from various policy areas, MPA 607 should make students aware of the many uses of statistics for public and nonprofit leaders and give them the means to employ those practices effectively and efficiently.
Prerequisites: MPA 606 [Min Grade: C]

MPA 621. Open Government. 3 Hours.

The course will explore transparency and how governments operate in the context of transparency as well as how they, as consumers, can utilize their right to a transparent government.

MPA 662. State and Local Government Administration. 3 Hours.

This course is designed to introduce students to the study of state and local government administration. Introduces key concepts related to state and local government political structures and institutions; regional, state and county economic performance and state/local government finance.

MPA 664. Women in Public Administration. 3 Hours.

Studies in the leadership of women in public service. Focus on theoretical and professional development of women in government and nonprofit administration.

MPA 665. Crisis Management. 3 Hours.

Management and coordination of institutions to respond, plan, and mitigate crises. Focus on the role of managers in managing short and long term crises.

MPA 666. City County Management. 3 Hours.

Study of the typical nature of local government and the importance of local-state-federal relations, regional cooperation, and the nonprofit and public-private partnership in providing local government services.

MPA 667. Administrative Law. 3 Hours.

Explanation of law in society and the legal setting of public administration. Examination of substantive areas of the study of law including regulatory process, administrative adjudication, the administrative procedures acts, administrative due process, judicial review, liability and citizen's rights.

MPA 668. Intergovernmental Relations. 3 Hours.

The various relations among governments in the U.S. system. Focus on understanding the interactions, attitudes, and behavior of elected officials and bureaucrats of two or more units of government functioning in their public capacities.

MPA 671. Marketing and Fundraising. 3 Hours.

The use of marketing and fundraising strategies for nonprofits. Incorporates both theory and practice as students learn the fundamentals of marketing and resource development and apply them to hands-on projects in local nonprofit agencies.

MPA 672. Nonprofit Management. 3 Hours.

The day-to-day challenges faced by managers of nonprofit agencies, including the challenge of fund raising, balancing competing values as related to efficiency, effectiveness and equity.

MPA 673. Nonprofit Health. 3 Hours.

This course provides a comprehensive overview of role of the Nonprofit Sector and its important contribution to mission and success of our health system and social enterprise in the United States. The course examines various aspects of nonprofit health organizations including history of these agencies, sources of revenue, fund raising and marketing practices, accomplishments and achievements, criticisms and controversies, and the role of volunteer leadership and best management practices.

MPA 674. GIS for Managers. 3 Hours.

Examines the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) using GIS software. It integrates theory and socioeconomic applications of GIS in the public and nonprofit sector.

MPA 675. Equity and Diversity in Public Policy. 3 Hours.

Examines equity and diversity as concepts that affect both the internal dynamics of the public workplace as well the external effect on citizens as public administrators create policies and programs. The course addresses issues of cultural competency and teaches public administrators to recognize and understand equity issues that may arise based on diversity of race, gender, ethnicity, age, physical ability, religion, and sexual preference in the creation of public policies and programs in order to ensure that illegal forms of discrimination are minimized.

MPA 678. Strategic Planning. 3 Hours.

Presents the strategic planning process as it is utitilized in contemporary settings. Focuses on how the strategic planning process is applied in the public and nonprofit sectors.

MPA 681. Local Government Planning. 3 Hours.

This course examines the historical roots of modern land use planning and explores contemporary issues in planning such as sprawl and smart growth.

MPA 682. Economic Development. 3 Hours.

The course is devoted to understanding economic development practices in the United States. It focuses on how market forces combine with non-economic variables to influence the economic development process. Theories and case studies drawn from various disciplines, particularly economics and public finance, will be used to understand the economic development process.

MPA 683. Public Managerial Economics. 3 Hours.

Application of microeconomic theory to real life problems faced by managers. Emphasis on understanding the complex real life social and economic challenges using economic priciples and applying economic decision criteria in solving problems.

MPA 684. Grants Management. 3 Hours.

Covers the essentials of grant-writing and the management of grants.

MPA 685. Special Topics in Public Administration. 3 Hours.

Special topics seminar based on the research and substantive interests of the MPA faculty and students.

MPA 686. Data Management. 3 Hours.

MPA 686 provides a unique opportunity for students to explore the data management process. The past decade has seen a dramatic increase in the collection of data, and policy analysts, practitioners, and academic researchers must be equipped with the tools to use this data in an efficient manner. Throughout the semester, we will explore the importance of data and then move to working with primary and secondary data sources. Using Excel and Stata, students will learn how to collect, clean, and present data in ways consistent with best practices in the data management field.

MPA 687. Resource Management. 3 Hours.

Focus on concepts and skills essential to managing public organization resources.

MPA 688. Global Public Administration. 3 Hours.

Focus on concepts and skills essential to administering national and global organizations.

MPA 689. Program Evaluation. 3 Hours.

Analytic tools for evaluating public and nonprofit programs and services.

MPA 690. Seminar in Public Services Issues. 3 Hours.

Examines starting and maintaining a faith-based service organization (FBSO). Topics include role of faith/spirituality, mission, governance, setting, staffing, funding, church/FBSO issues, state/federal involvement, cooperative ventures with other FBSOs, networking.

MPA 695. Special Topics in Public Administration. 3 Hours.

Explores special topics in public administration.

MPA 696. Independent Study in Public Administration. 1-3 Hour.

One-on-one learning experience between student and an instructor. Permission of Program Director required.

MPA 697. Graduate Learning Portfolio. 3 Hours.

May be taken only in the last semester of the program; Permission of MPA Director required.

MPA 698. Internship in Public Administration. 3 Hours.

Supervised field placement in government or a nonprofit agency for directed work experience arranged by the internship coordinator and as per the guidelines in the internship manual. Permission of MPA director required.

MPA 699. Thesis Research. 3-6 Hours.

Research and writing of thesis. Permission of MPA Director required.
Prerequisites: GAC M

Faculty

Borry, Erin L., Associate Professor and MPA Program Directtor, 2013, B.A., M.P.A. (Rutgers-Newark), Ph.D. (Kansas)
Ertas, Nevbahar, Associate Professor, 2009, B.S., M.S. (METU, Ankara), Ph.D. (Georgia State and Georgia Institute of Technology)
Haque, Akhlaque, Professor, 1995, B.S. (Dhaka), M.A., Ph.D. (Cleveland State)
Jones, Peter, Assistant Professor, 2015, B.S., M.P.P., Ph.D. (Kentucky)
Pink-Harper, Stephanie, Associate Professor, 2019, B.A., M.P.A. (Auburn), Ph.D. (Mississippi State)