Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.) Major in Public Administration (Thesis Option)

The M.P.A. program cultivates practical, research-oriented students for careers as reflective practitioners guided by democratic values, integrity and service. Students work with faculty who have been recognized nationally for their contribution to outstanding teaching, research, and service. The M.P.A. program is accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA).

Application Requirements

The items listed below are required for admission consideration for applicable semesters of entry during the current academic year. Submission instructions, additional details, and changes to admission requirements for semesters other than the current academic year can be found on The Graduate College's website. International students should review the International Admission Documents webpage for additional requirements.

  • completed online application
  • $55 nonrefundable application fee

          or

  • $90 nonrefundable application fee for applications with international credentials
  • baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited university
  • official transcripts from each institution where course credit was granted
  • minimum 3.0 GPA in the last 60 hours of undergraduate course work (plus any completed graduate courses)*
  • GRE not required* 
  • statement of purpose (two pages in 12-point Times New Roman font, double-spaced with one-inch margins and full name in the header) addressing the following: academic interests, personal and professional experiences relevant for graduate work, motivations and accomplishments, potential as a graduate student and readiness for graduate school, interest in the M.P.A. program at Texas State and reasons the student would be a good fit, and aspirations and the specific goals
  • two letters of recommendation
  • public sector experience

TOEFL or IELTS Scores

Non-native English speakers who do not qualify for an English proficiency waiver:

  • official TOEFL iBT scores required with a 78 overall
  • official IELTS (academic) scores required with a 6.5 overall and
    • minimum individual module scores of 6.0

The student may qualify for English-based conditional admission if the minimum scores below are met:

  • official TOEFL iBT scores required with a 59 overall
  • official IELTS (academic) scores required with a 5.5 overall and
    • minimum individual module scores of 5.5

*Additional Information 
If the last-60-hours GPA falls below the minimum requirement of 3.0, the student must submit the following:

  • official GRE (general test only) with competitive scores in the verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning sections

The GRE may be waived if the student holds a master's or doctoral degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution. If the student holds a master's or doctoral degree (or the equivalent thereof) from an accredited international institution, the GRE may be waived on an individual basis.

Degree Requirements

The Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.) degree with a major in Public Administration requires 39 semester credit hours.  All students will be required to complete a thesis and an oral defense of the thesis.  

Background

Students who have not completed a statistics course in the last five years with a grade of B or better will be required to take PA 5311 as a required elective.  Students who do not have administrative experience must take PA 5389 Internship in Government. The internship can be waived by sending documentation of administrative experience directly to the M.P.A. director. 

Course Requirements

Required Courses
PA 5300Introduction to Public Policy and Administration3
PA 5310Public Finance Administration3
PA 5320Organizational Theory, Change, and Behavior3
PA 5330Public Personnel Administration3
PA 5340Introduction to Public Law3
PA 5350Public Policy Processes3
PA 5370Public Management and Ethics3
PA 5390Applied Research Methodology3
Electives
Choose 9 hours from the following:9
Introduction to Statistical Analysis
Program Evaluation and Administrative Statistical Analysis
Public Administration and Information Technology
Public Performance Management
Labor Management Relations
Management Practices in Public Personnel Administration
Environmental Policy
Introduction to the Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector
Alternative Public Service Delivery Systems
Research Practicum
Directed Reading and Research
Internship in Government
May choose advisor-approved electives from outside the department
Thesis
PA 5399AThesis3
Choose a minimum of 3 hours from the following:3
Thesis
Thesis
Thesis
Thesis
Thesis
Total Hours39

Thesis

Students registering for PA 5399A must prepare a thesis proposal under the guidance of a thesis chair that includes a statement of the problem, literature review, theoretical framework, research design, data collection procedures, and a representative bibliography. Upon successful completion of PA 5399A, students may register for PA 5399B with thesis chair approval. 

Comprehensive Examination Requirements

An oral thesis defense is required. The oral thesis defense will serve as the comprehensive examination requirement.

If a student elects to follow the thesis option for the degree, a committee to direct the written thesis will be established. The thesis must demonstrate the student’s capability for research and independent thought. Preparation of the thesis must be in conformity with the Graduate College Guide to Preparing and Submitting a Thesis or Dissertation.

Thesis Proposal

The student must submit an official Thesis Proposal Form and proposal to his or her thesis committee. Thesis proposals vary by department and discipline. Please see your department for proposal guidelines and requirements. After signing the form and obtaining committee members’ signatures, the graduate advisor’s signature if required by the program and the department chair’s signature, the student must submit the Thesis Proposal Form with one copy of the proposal attached to the dean of The Graduate College for approval before proceeding with research on the thesis. If the thesis research involves human subjects, the student must obtain exemption or approval from the Texas State Institutional Review Board prior to submitting the proposal form to The Graduate College. The IRB approval letter should be included with the proposal form. If the thesis research involves vertebrate animals, the proposal form must include the Texas State IACUC approval code. It is recommended that the thesis proposal form be submitted to the dean of The Graduate College by the end of the student’s enrollment in 5399A. Failure to submit the thesis proposal in a timely fashion may result in delayed graduation.

Thesis Committee

The thesis committee must be composed of a minimum of three approved graduate faculty members.

Thesis Enrollment and Credit

The completion of a minimum of six hours of thesis enrollment is required. For a student's initial thesis course enrollment, the student will need to register for thesis course number 5399A.  After that, the student will enroll in thesis B courses, in each subsequent semester until the thesis is defended with the department and approved by The Graduate College. Preliminary discussions regarding the selection of a topic and assignment to a research supervisor will not require enrollment for the thesis course.

Students must be enrolled in thesis credits if they are receiving supervision and/or are using university resources related to their thesis work.  The number of thesis credit hours students enroll in must reflect the amount of work being done on the thesis that semester.  It is the responsibility of the committee chair to ensure that students are making adequate progress toward their degree throughout the thesis process.  Failure to register for the thesis course during a term in which supervision is received may result in postponement of graduation. After initial enrollment in 5399A, the student will continue to enroll in a thesis B course as long as it takes to complete the thesis. Thesis projects are by definition original and individualized projects.  As such, depending on the topic, methodology, and other factors, some projects may take longer than others to complete.  If the thesis requires work beyond the minimum number of thesis credits needed for the degree, the student may enroll in additional thesis credits at the committee chair's discretion. In the rare case when a student has not previously enrolled in thesis and plans to work on and complete the thesis in one term, the student will enroll in both 5399A and 5399B.

The only grades assigned for thesis courses are PR (progress), CR (credit), W (withdrew), and F (failing). If acceptable progress is not being made in a thesis course, the instructor may issue a grade of F. If the student is making acceptable progress, a grade of PR is assigned until the thesis is completed. The minimum number of hours of thesis credit (“CR”) will be awarded only after the thesis has been both approved by The Graduate College and released to Alkek Library.

A student who has selected the thesis option must be registered for the thesis course during the term or Summer I (during the summer, the thesis course runs ten weeks for both sessions) in which the degree will be conferred.

Thesis Deadlines and Approval Process

Thesis deadlines are posted on The Graduate College website under "Current Students." The completed thesis must be submitted to the chair of the thesis committee on or before the deadlines listed on The Graduate College website.

The following must be submitted to The Graduate College by the thesis deadline listed on The Graduate College website:

  1. The Thesis Submission Approval Form bearing original (wet) and/or electronic signatures of the student and all committee members.
  2. One (1) PDF of the thesis in final form, approved by all committee members, uploaded in the online Vireo submission system.  

After the dean of The Graduate College approves the thesis, Alkek Library will harvest the document from the Vireo submission system for publishing in the Digital Collections database (according to the student's embargo selection). NOTE: MFA Creative Writing theses will have a permanent embargo and will never be published to Digital Collections. 

While original (wet) signatures are preferred, there may be situations as determined by the chair of the committee in which obtaining original signatures is inefficient or has the potential to delay the student's progress. In those situations, the following methods of signing are acceptable:

  • signing and faxing the form
  • signing, scanning, and emailing the form
  • notifying the department in an email from their university's or institution's email account that the committee chair can sign the form on their behalf
  • electronically signing the form using the university's licensed signature platform.

If this process results in more than one document with signatures, all documents need to be submitted to The Graduate College together.

No copies are required to be submitted to Alkek Library. However, the library will bind copies submitted that the student wants bound for personal use. Personal copies are not required to be printed on archival quality paper. The student will take the personal copies to Alkek Library and pay the binding fee for personal copies.

Master's level courses in Public Administration: PA

Courses Offered

Public Administration (PA)

PA 5199B. Thesis.

This course represents a student's continuing thesis enrollment. The student continues to enroll in this course until the thesis is submitted for binding.

1 Credit Hour. 1 Lecture Contact Hour. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Exclude from 3-peat Processing
Grade Mode: Credit/No Credit

PA 5299B. Thesis.

This course represents a student's continuing thesis enrollment. The student continues to enroll in this course until the thesis is submitted for binding.

2 Credit Hours. 2 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Exclude from 3-peat Processing
Grade Mode: Credit/No Credit

PA 5300. Introduction to Public Policy and Administration.

This course introduces students to the study and practice of US public administration and policy. It also focuses on the dynamics of the democratic governance process.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Exclude from 3-peat Processing
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

PA 5310. Public Finance Administration.

This course examines the applied aspects of public finance including operating budgets, revenue estimation, capital budgeting, financial planning, budgetary decision-making, cost benefit analysis, and life-cycle costing. In addition, strategies for budget justification, presentation, and implementation are examined. The use of various budgetary tools and techniques are emphasized.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Exclude from 3-peat Processing
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

PA 5311. Introduction to Statistical Analysis.

This course applies quantitative methods to problems faced by public administration practitioners. Topics include the use of descriptive and inferential statistics as they apply to decision-making in public management. Students gain hands-on experience with data collection, analysis, and interpretation.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Exclude from 3-peat Processing
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

PA 5312. Program Evaluation and Administrative Statistical Analysis.

This is an advanced course in the application of quantitative methods for the evaluation of public policies and programs. The course emphasizes the administrative and managerial environment. Prerequisite: PA 5311 or a graduate level statistics course, with a grade of "B" or better.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Exclude from 3-peat Processing
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

PA 5313. Public Sector Economics.

This course presents basic concepts of economics as applied to the public sector. Principles of economics for policy analysis and management are examined in the context of collective action, public choice, resource allocation, and service delivery. The course also examines the financing of national, state, and local governments.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Exclude from 3-peat Processing
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

PA 5314. Public Administration and Information Technology.

This course explores the use of information technology in the public sector. It emphasizes the issues that public administrators need to know concerning the impact of information technology on their organizations. The course covers E-Democracy, E-Governance, Enterprise Architecture, Public Management Information Systems (PMIS), E-Procurement, and E-Commerce.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Exclude from 3-peat Processing
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

PA 5315. Public Performance Management.

This course examines public sector performance management and measurement as tools for improving strategic planning, resource allocation, organizational learning, and internal operational processes. It also examines accountability, managerial performance, and evaluation processes.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Exclude from 3-peat Processing
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

PA 5320. Organizational Theory, Change, and Behavior.

This course analyzes classic and contemporary literature on organizational theory and behavior in the public sector. Emphasis is placed on history and development of organizational theory and core concepts such as organizational culture, power, and change. The implications of organizational theory for democratic governance are explored.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Exclude from 3-peat Processing
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

PA 5330. Public Personnel Administration.

This course introduces students to public personnel functions from a managerial perspective. Examples of topics covered include: recruitment and selection, perfomance evaluation, discipline, collective bargaining, classification, and compensation. Constructive leadership of government personnel that encourages a more competent, motivated, and representative administration workforce is emphasized.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Exclude from 3-peat Processing
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

PA 5331. Labor Management Relations.

This course examines the historical development of public employee unions and the effects of collective bargaining agreements on personnel policy development. Public laws concerning collective bargaining procedures and strategy on the part of public managers are covered.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Exclude from 3-peat Processing
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

PA 5332. Management Practices in Public Personnel Administration.

This course is a seminar-based examination of selected topics in public personnel administration including job analysis, position classification, test construction, performance appraisal, succession planning, and affirmative action. The role of the personnel office as a strategic partner in accomplishing organizational goals is also explored.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Exclude from 3-peat Processing
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

PA 5340. Introduction to Public Law.

This course examines the regulatory environment, legal requirements, and constraints that public officials face when carrying out their durties. The use of online research tools to find adminstrative materials and analyze public law issues is emphasized.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Exclude from 3-peat Processing
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

PA 5350. Public Policy Processes.

This course is an overview of the process of public policymaking including policy formulation and implementation. Emphasis is placed on actors in the policy process and on the political environment.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Exclude from 3-peat Processing
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

PA 5351. Urban Transportation Policy.

This course presents basic components of transportation policy and planning. In addition to building an understanding of the historic foundation of transportation policy, students explore the underlying concepts related to congestion management, transit and active transportation planning, and impacts on land use and sustainability.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Exclude from 3-peat Processing
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

PA 5352. Comparative Public Administration.

This course examines differences in various national administrative systems and the role of international organizations. It explores differences that influence various public policy issues from countries around the world. Policy issues examined include poverty, human rights, health care, and the environment.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Exclude from 3-peat Processing
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

PA 5353. Ecology and the Politics of Sustainability.

This course is an exploration of problems and policies dealing with air, water, waste, energy use, natural resources, sustainability, and global environmental issues. This class highlights the historical drivers of environmental policy. Implementation strategies, policy mechanisms, and compliance adherence are also examined.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Exclude from 3-peat Processing
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

PA 5355. Environmental Policy.

This course will introduce students to the public policy process and the details of U.S. environmental policy and administration. Problems and policies dealing with air, water, solid waste, hazardous waste, energy use, natural resources, climate change, sustainability, and global environmental governance will be discussed.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

PA 5361. Introduction to the Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector.

This course provides a foundation for understanding the history, scope, and function of the American nonprofit and voluntary sector. It includes an examination of the conceptual and theoretical underpinnings of the sector, and assessment of the role of these organizations in society, and their impact on public policy.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Exclude from 3-peat Processing
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

PA 5362. Alternative Public Service Delivery Systems.

This course examines alternative delivery of public services. The reliance on market mechanisms, contracting out, and privatization are explored.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Exclude from 3-peat Processing
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

PA 5370. Public Management and Ethics.

This course explores issues of morality and ethics in the public sector. It also considers subjects such as administrative discretion, the public interest, democratic values, and dissent. The course aims to formulate a frame of reference for judging behavior and clarifying our role and responsibility as moral agents.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

PA 5380A. Texas Water Law and Policy.

This course examines the chief policy issue that will determine the future of Texas: how state and local agencies administer the state’s ground- and surface water legal regimes. With the legal and regulatory framework in place, the course investigates pressing water policy issues that confront Texas.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Exclude from 3-peat Processing|Topics
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

PA 5387. Research Practicum.

This course uses structured group research to analyze a current policy, management, or administrative issue. A professor-led research team completes a final report detailing findings and recommendations for action. May be repeated once for additional credit. Instructor permission is required.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Exclude from 3-peat Processing
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

PA 5388. Directed Reading and Research.

This course guides students in directed reading and research on various topics in public policy and administration under the direction of a graduate faculty member. The course may be repeated once with a different emphasis for additional credit for a maximum of 6 credit hours. Instructor permission is required.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Exclude from 3-peat Processing
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

PA 5389. Internship in Government.

This course provides students with the opportunity to integrate classroom learning with practical experience. Students with little or no work experience related to public service are required to complete an internship. Students considering a career change should consider an internship. Instructor permission required. May be repeated once for additional credit.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Exclude from 3-peat Processing
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

PA 5390. Applied Research Methodology.

This course is an introduction to applied research methods in the public sector. Topics include the scientific method, research design, measurement, qualitative research, and sampling. Data collection methods such as survey research, content analysis, and secondary data analysis are also covered.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Exclude from 3-peat Processing
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

PA 5397. Research Design and Proposal Development for Public Administration.

This course prepares students for the demands of academic and professional writing. Students learn how to identify a public problem, develop a research purpose statement, and complete a literature review around a conceptual framework. This course prepares the student for their Applied Research Project (ARP). Prerequisite: PS 5390 with a grade of "B" or better and instructor permission required.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

PA 5398. Applied Research Project.

This course serves as the capstone experience for MPA students. Students complete an original and empirical Applied Reserach Project (ARP), complete an oral defense of the ARP, and prepare the ARP for publication. Prerequisite: PA 5397 with a grade of "B" or better and instructor permission.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

PA 5399A. Thesis.

This course represents a student’s initial thesis enrollment. No thesis credit is awarded until student has completed the thesis in public administration.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Credit/No Credit

PA 5399B. Thesis.

This course represents a student's continuing thesis enrollment. The student continues to enroll in this course until the thesis is submitted for binding.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Exclude from 3-peat Processing
Grade Mode: Credit/No Credit

PA 5599B. Thesis.

This course represents a student's continuing thesis enrollment. The student continues to enroll in this course until the thesis is submitted for binding.

5 Credit Hours. 5 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Exclude from 3-peat Processing
Grade Mode: Credit/No Credit

PA 5999B. Thesis.

This course represents a student's continuing thesis enrollment. The student continues to enroll in this course until the thesis is submitted for binding.

9 Credit Hours. 9 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Exclude from 3-peat Processing
Grade Mode: Credit/No Credit