Master's in Public Administration

Program Overview

Our society has become more and more dependent on the work of government and non-profit organizations. This sector continues to grow, as does the demand for well-trained, capable, and ethical public administrators. The Master of Public Administration program at SDSU’s School of Public Affairs is structured around meeting this need through the pursuit of five Degree Learning 


  • Best program in the West
  • Lead and manage in public governance
  • Participate in and contribute to the policy process
  • Analyze, synthesize, think critically, solve problems and make decisions
  • Articulate and apply a public service perspective
  • Communicate and interact productively with a diverse and changing workforce and citizenry

The MPA degree is offered both in person and online.

MPA students can specialize in Criminal Justice or City Planning or develop their own specialization (in consultation with the program coordinator). We also offer a joint graduate degree with Latin American Studies.

The MPA program is accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration. (NASPAA) 

MPA Mission

SDSU’s MPA program develops innovative leaders who champion public service values including diversity, equity, ethics, and accountability, to support the well-being of communities through educational opportunities within and outside the classroom in a multicultural binational region. 

Important Program Links

MPA Student Learning Assessment

Steps to Apply

  1. 1. Apply to the University via Cal State Apply (before February 1, 2024).
    • An SDSU RED ID Number will then be assigned which allows tracking of application status online.
  2. Send transcripts to Graduate Admissions (before March 1, 2024).
    • Official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended. Send to:
      Graduate Admissions
      San Diego State University
      5500 Campanile Drive
      San Diego, CA 92182-7416
  3. Visit Interfolio Apply Now and look for our department (Public Affairs) where you will upload the following (before March 1, 2024).
    • View and download the Graduate Applicant Guide
    • For assistance with Interfolio, please call their help desk at 877-997-8807.
  4. Upload Letters of Recommendation (two letters from professors, employers, or other familiar with your abilities and accomplishments).
  5. Unofficial Transcripts.
  6. Current Résumé
  7. Upload Personal Statement (500 word essay about your professional and educational goals).
    • In a statement of about 500 words, discuss your background and general interest, give your reasons for choosing the Masters of Public Administration, and include your professional aspirations and any special area of interest in pubic administration.

International applicants are welcome and should visit this site for more direction on submitting your applications.

There are three main components to the MPA Program curriculum:

  • Core MPA coursework (27 units - plus 3 to 12 units depending on whether you need to take an internship),
  • Elective MPA coursework (9 units), and
  • A capstone project or a thesis (included in core coursework count).

Core MPA coursework:

  • P A 600 - Scope of Public Administration - Units: 3 (only offered in the fall)
  • P A 604 - Methods of Analysis in Public and Urban Affairs - Units: 3 (only offered in the fall)
  • P A 605 - Seminar in Applied Research - Units: 3 (only offered in the fall)
  • P A 606 - Seminar in Quantitative Approaches to Public Administration - Units: 3 (only offered in the spring)
  • P A 630 - Seminar in Public Personnel Administration - Units: 3 (only offered in the spring)
  • P A 642 - Seminar in Administrative Theory - Units: 3 (only offered in the fall)
  • P A 650 - Seminar in Public Financial Management - Units: 3 (only offered in the fall)
  • P A 660 - Administration and Public Policy Development - Units: 3 (only offered in the spring)
  • P A 795/799 - Capstone Experience or Thesis - Units: 3 (capstone only offered in the spring)

Electives (9 units):

  • Graduate Elective #1 - Units: 3
  • Graduate Elective #2 - Units: 3
  • Graduate Elective #3 - Units: 3


See the Graduate Bulletin for details.


For more information, contact: