Public Adminstration, Master of Public Administration

The Master of Public Administration program is selective. Students may enroll in the fall and spring terms.


Please see the Graduate Admission section of this catalog for a complete listing of materials required to complete a graduate application.

Curriculum Requirements and Course Sequencing

Curriculum Requirements

PPOL 6007Policy Process3
PPOL 6010History and Social Context of American Policy3
PPOL 6015Policy Implementation3
PPOL 6020Research Methods3
PPOL 6030Public Policy Analysis3
PADM 6085Public Administration3
PADM 6170Public Finance3
PADM 6175Public Sector Decision-making3
PADM 6180State & Local Government3
PADM 7020Final Project: Professional Project in Public Administration3
Total Credits30

Transfer Credit

After admission, students should discuss the possibility of transfer credit with their academic advisor. To request transfer credit, students complete the Transfer Request Form available through the Quicklinks box of the Graduate Student Center on the MySUNYEmpire portal.

Typically, 9 credits are acceptable for transfer subject to the Transfer Credit Policy (located elsewhere in this catalog).

Final Project

The final project represents the capstone experience in the MPA program. This shall take the form of a Policy Memorandum written by an administrator to a governing board or a government oversight authority. This culminating exercise is designed to support the personal and professional goals and objectives of students. Final project proposals are submitted to the course instructor for consultation and approval.

This assignment is a culminating requirement, which draws on and brings together the skills and concepts learned through the MPA program. It requires identification of an administrative issue or proposal facing a director, coordinator, or CEO. The assignment may be designed to simulate the working environment of public or not-for-profit administrators. The exercise draws on current public policy issues facing administrators, examination and interpretation of various sources of information relating to the issue including scholarly sources, analysis of possible approaches to the issue, and the student’s recommendations regarding the issue.

Learning Activities and Course Goals

As the capstone project for the MPA program, the policy memo builds on prior coursework and provides the opportunity for the student to engage in a sustained examination of a major policy issue. The purpose is to reinforce the knowledge and skills required to analyze policy issues, develop defensible positions on policy issues, and clearly communicate a position taken by an administrative leader in the form of a policy memo, which is standard fare in the work of legislators, elected officials, agency heads and other organizational leaders involved in the formation of policy.

The policy memo includes the exploration of a critical issue facing the organization, the development of alternative approaches to the issue and a reasoned, evidence-based, defensible argument about how the issue should be addressed. It is important to keep in mind the distinction between a policy memo and other academic papers. Whereas academic papers build arguments by gradually introducing the least important ideas first, a policy memo uses an “inverted pyramid” of ideas, delivered as efficiently as possible, beginning with the most important. In a policy memo getting at the truth through the exploration and the interpretation of what is known about an issue is more important than developing new knowledge. As such, no thesis statement or theoretical framework underpins a policy memo.

Course goals:

  • the ability to clearly identify a critical administrative issue;
  • the ability to identify and access relevant information related to the problem;
  • demonstration of a nuanced comprehension, evaluation and interpretation of the body of knowledge surrounding the issue;
  • exhibition of a disciplined application of knowledge in the formulation of alternative, feasible approaches to the issue; and
  • presentation, in tightly-constructed prose, of a well-reasoned defensible approach to the issue that draws on relevant concepts from previously completed coursework.

The student will engage in the relevant readings for this project and prepare drafts of the policy memo. As opposed to preparing the entire memo all at once, the student will develop the memo in sections as follows: Executive Summary (while this appears first in a policy memo, its exact contents will change as the student progresses through this course); Argument, Counter Arguments, Analysis, Recommendations.

Following instructions in the online course, drafts will be submitted to the instructor for review and comments; the student will revise project drafts and return. This process will be repeated until the draft is accepted by the instructor. While there is no set number of pages for a policy memo, which can range from a page to a hundred pages, for the purposes of this program, 20-30 pages is the target. The specific task should dictate the length. The writer should use a direct, efficient style of writing that results in a “tight” memo that does not ramble or engage in needless repetition.

Upon successful completion of this program, students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of the historical development of the field and recent trends in public administration.
  • Characterize leading theorists and their contributions to the field.
  • Differentiate between the structures and functions of bureaucracy.
  • Exhibit an understanding of government intervention in the economy.
  • Characterize and differentiate taxation, government expenditures, revenue models, program reporting, and budgetary processes.
  • Demonstrate a comprehension of federalism and intergovernmental relations.
  • Characterize how policy programs create binding relationships between levels of government administration.
  • Characterize and differentiate administrative decision-making models: Rational Choice, Incremental, Bargaining, Participative.
  • Analyze policy and programs using analytical methods and tools used by administrators.
  • Perform cost-benefit/cost effectiveness analysis on government of not-for-profit program.
  • Explain political factors in policy formulation and implementation: lobbying, interest group politics, ideology, political pluralism, and elite model.
  • Characterize the role and behavior of bureaucrats and end-users in policy implementation.
  • Explain ethical implications and approaches to social and public policy issues.
  • Articulate views and perspectives based on evidence and data.
  • Create sound social science-based study projects. They will be able to articulate clear, concise, persuasive research methods with ethical considerations observed.
  • Differentiate between policy formulation and implementation and categorize the range of actors from political appointees to top level administrative decision makes and to civil servants.
  • Integrate theories and concepts studied over the course of the program by producing a summative project in the form of a policy memorandum by a program administrator to a governmental oversight committee.