Public Administration Degree Requirements

Undergraduate Student Degree Requirements

The Public Administration major requires 21 units of lower division course preparation and 36 units of upper division courses. Required upper division courses include 21 units with an additional 15 units of specialization selected through consultation with the student’s adviser.

Lower Division Requirements (21 units)

  • ECON 102 Principles of Economics (3 units)
  • ECON 101 Principles of Economics (3 units)
  • POLS 102 Introduction to American Government and Politics (3 units)
  • A 3-unit course in Statistics
    Students may choose any one of the following statistics courses to fulfill the 3 unit statistics requirement. STAT 119; ARP 201; BIOL 215; CIV E 160; ECON 201; POL S 201; PSY 280; or SOC 201. NOTE: Students will only be awarded a total of four (4) units for two (or more) statistics courses.
  • MIS 180 Principles of Information Systems (formerly IDS 180)(3 units)
  • ACCT 201 Accounting Fundamentals I (3 units)
  • PA 200 The Urban Scene (3 units)

Upper Division Requirements (36 units)

  • PA 301 Concepts and Issues in Public Administration (3 units)
  • PA 310 Management of Urban Governments (3 units) OR
  • PA 312 Management of State Governments (3 units) OR
  • PA 315 Management of Federal Government (3 units)
  • PA 330 Public Personnel Administration (3 units)
  • PA 340 Administrative Behavior (3 units)
    (not open if you have taken MGT 350 -Management and Organizational Behavior or PSY 321 -Organizational Psychology)
  • PA 450 Fiscal and Budgetary Policy (3 units)
  • PA 460 Administration and Public Policy Development (3 units)
  • PA 497 Investigation and Report (3 units) OR
  • PA 498 Internship in Public Administration (3 units)
    NOTE: Students may take up to six (6) units of PA 498; three (3) units may be applied to the elective area.
  • Plus additional 15 units selected under advisement, three of which must be upper division PA courses

Click here to view and print the Public Administration Advising Guide.

Graduate Student Degree Requirements

Communication with the Graduate Adviser should be initiated through e-mail: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

The MPA program consists of 36 units of graduate level coursework; 21 units (seven courses) are required courses with 15 additional units (five courses) to be selected under advisement. This degree permits the selection of a program of course work which may be oriented toward a generalist approach or toward an emphasis in areas such as: public policy, fiscal administration, urban administration, or an area of emphasis specially designed by the student. Also offered are formal concentrations in City Planning, and Criminal Justice Administration.

In addition, a student that has little or no practical experience in the public sector will be required to complete up to 12 units of a supervised Internship.

Required Courses

All students must complete the following seven courses ( 21 units). For descriptions of all courses see the SDSU Bulletin of the Graduate Division

  • PA 600 Scope of Public Administration (3 units) This course must be taken and successfully passed before the student may take additional courses. (PA 604 may be taken concurrently)
  • PA 604 Methods of Analysis in Public and Urban Affairs (3 units)
  • PA 605 Seminar in Research Methods in PA (3 units) OR
  • PA 606 Seminar in Quantitative Approaches to PA (3 units)
  • PA 630 Public Personnel Administration (3 units)
  • PA 642 Seminar in Administrative Theory (3 units)
  • PA 650 Seminar in Public Financial Management (3 units)
  • PA 660 Administration and Public Policy Development (3 units)
  • PA 796 (up to 12 units), if required. Click here for more information regarding the MPA internship requirement.

Elective Courses

Students must complete an additional 15 units of graduate level courses numbered 500, 600 and 700. A maximum of 9 units of 500-numbered courses may be used to satisfy this requirement. These courses may be in public administration or in related fields in other SDSU departments or schools but must be selected under advisement. For descriptions of all courses see the SDSU Bulletin of the Graduate Division.


Students may choose to do a formal concentration and have his/her 15 elective units be as follows:

Formal Concentrations within the MPA Program

Concentration in City Planning

Students must complete 15 units from the following courses as part of the MPA degree:

  • PA 525 The U.S. City Planning Process (3)
  • CP 630 Seminar in Urban Planning Implementation (3)
  • CP 640 Seminar in Urban Planning Theory (3)
  • CP 670 History of Urban Planning (3)
  • CP 690 Seminar in Land Use

Concentration in Criminal Justice Administration

Students must complete 15 units from the following courses as part of the MPA degree:

  • CJ 602 Seminar in Comparative Criminal Justice System (3)
  • CJ 603 Seminar in Community and Restorative Justice (3)
  • CJ 604 Seminar in Criminal Justice and Urban Administration (3)
  • CJ 605 Seminar in Juvenile Justice and Youth Violence (3)
  • Any other Graduate Level course CJ 500+ (3)

Thesis or MPA Comprehensive Examination

The student may choose one of two options for indicating a mastery of the subject matter for graduation, Thesis or Thesis Project OR Comprehensive Examinations selected in two fields of Public Administration.

To be eligible to take the comprehensive exams the student must have completed 24 units of graduate work, have filed an Official Program of Study and been advanced to candidacy prior to signing up for the comps. (No exceptions will be made.)

Students choosing the thesis option should contact the Graduate Division for specific information on procedures for thesis.

The MPA comprehensive exams are given approximately within the 12th week of the Fall and Spring semesters.

Within the first four weeks of the Fall and Spring semesters all students planning to take the MPA comprehensive exams will be expected to attend the MPA Comp Exam meeting. Specific dates will be posted in the PA School and sent to all MPA students.

Each student will take two comprehensive examinations chosen from the following:

  • Public Personnel
  • Public Policy
  • Administrative Theory
  • Methods and Financial Management
  • students with a formal emphasis in City planning must take the CP exam