Public Administration

Degree Offered

  • Master of Public Administration

The Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree prepares individuals for a career in public service.  WVU's Department of Public Administration offers the only nationally accredited MPA program in West Virginia.  The MPA degree prepares individuals to work in government and nonprofit agencies to develop and implement public policies and programs.  The MPA program offers flexible class times, full and part-time enrollment, small class settings, and opportunities to work directly with community and government organizations through team-based class projects, the internship experience, professional development activities and community service.

Dual Degrees

The department has established dual degree programs with a number of other graduate programs. A dual JD/MPA degree program established with the College of Law provides preparation in both law and public administration. A dual MSW/MPA degree in cooperation with the School of Social Work provides preparation for administrators in the social services. Dual degree programs may also be arranged with other academic programs and professional schools. Graduate studies regulations permit limited credit from one graduate degree to be applied to a second degree. Students may pursue two degrees and use approved coursework for both degrees.


Candidates must meet the WVU general admission requirements for a bachelor's degree from an accredited college.  Admission into the MPA program is competitive with decisions based on the following material:

  •  Application for admission and transcripts. Apply here
  • Two Recommendations. Recommendations from professional or academic references should be requested through the online Graduate Application portal. 
  • Current Resume. Please list work experience, volunteer activities, internships, academic degrees and honors, and other accomplishments you feel the admissions committee should take into account in reviewing your application.
  • Personal Statement.  Provide a letter of intent indicating your interest in a career in public service, what you hope to gain from the MPA program, and why WVU offers you the best opportunity for achieving your professional goals.  Please note in the letter of intent if you are applying for a graduate exam waiver request in the application based on one of the exceptions noted below.
  • Graduate Exam Scores (GRE, GMAT or LSAT).  Submit standardized test scores from one of the following Graduate Exams:
    • Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
    • Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT)
    • Law School Admissions Council Exam (LSAT)

Exemptions to the Graduate Exam requirement

The requirement that applicants submit GRE, GMAT, or LSAT scores will be waived under the following circumstances:

Expedited Admission based on Undergraduate GPA:  The applicant who earned a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university in West Virginia and achieved a cumulative GPA of 3.4 or higher are eligible to waive the GRE/GMAT/LSAT requirement to apply for the program.  Please note in your letter of intent that you are applying for an expedited admissions.

Evidence of Graduate Level Competence:  Applicants who already hold a graduate degree or have successfully completed at least 18 semester hours in another accredited graduate program, may request a waiver of the GRE/GMAT/LSAT requirement.  Please state in your letter of intent that you are requesting a waiver based on graduate level competence. 

Significant Managerial Administrative Experience:  Applicants with at least 5 years of managerial administrative experience after completing their undergraduate degree may request a waiver of the GRE/GMAT/LSAT requirement by providing a letter of intent about their verbal/written competency and quantitative competency.  The letter of intent should provide specific examples of their ability to write effectively, analyze complex situations, and complete quantitative analysis.

Application Deadline

The MPA program accepts students for both Fall and Spring admission.  The deadline for all application materials for Fall admission is April 1.  Applicants will be notified of the committee’s decision around April 15. The deadline for all application materials for Spring admission is October 15. Applicants for the spring term will be notified around October 31. Applications for admission may be considered after these deadlines on a space-available basis. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

For further information, please contact:

Department of Public Administration
P.O. Box 6322
Morgantown, WV 26506
(304) 293-2614

General Requirements

The MPA degree requires the completion of forty-five (45) credit hours in the following courses:

Master of Public Administration

Major Requirements

Minimum GPA of 3.0 is required.
Minimum grade of C is required in all required courses.
Integrative Seminar3
Scope and Practice
Foundation Courses12
Public Management Theory and Practice
Public Financial Management
Research Methods
Legal and Political Foundations
Advanced Courses9
Public Budgeting
Applied Research in Public Administration
Human Resources Systems
Elective Courses *12
Public Service Internship
Integrative Capstone3
Capstone Seminar
Total Hours45

Concentrations using electives from Public Administration and other fields as developed with your advisor.

Degree Completion

It usually takes four semesters for full-time students to complete the M.P.A. degree. Students are required to complete 6 credit hours of internship experience.  For those individuals who have had substantial public service experience, internship credit can be awarded.

Healthcare Administration Area of Emphasis

The Public Administration Department offers a healthcare administration area of emphasis for students who are interested in a career in a variety of healthcare settings, including hospitals, health departments, nursing homes, mental health services, home health services, nonprofit voluntary agencies, health research foundations, public and private insurance, and a variety of governmental agencies. 

Healthcare Administration Area of Emphasis Requirements

Required Courses9
Health Systems
Healthcare Organization and Operation
Healthcare Finance
Healthcare Electives3
See electives listed on web page
Capstone Experience3
Healthcare Administration Practicum (or equivalent capstone course approved by the Director.)
Total Hours15

Students who desire to specialize in this area as part of their MPA degree take elective courses offered in healthcare administration. A certificate program is also available for students who are just interested in the healthcare specialization as a non-degree seeking student. For more information, please consult:

Local Governance and Community Development Area of Emphasis

Counties and municipalities are the levels of government most directly involved in community and economic development. Localities are where we live, learn, work, and recreate. These and other local governments, like school districts and public utilities, comprise the largest sector of public employment in the United States. In fact, employment in local government has even been growing while it declines at other levels of government. Adding to this sub-sector the many nonprofit organizations that engage in community and economic development, the opportunities for employment in this field of public service abound.

Local Governance and Community Development Area of Emphasis Requirements

PUBA 650Local Governance3
PUBA 655Public Engagement (or an approved elective)3
PUBA 750Public Planning3
or PUBA 645 Public Administration and Policy Development
PUBA 755Sustainable Community Development3
Total Hours12

Healthcare Administration Certificate

The Public Administration Department offers a healthcare administration certificate for students who are interested in a career in a variety of healthcare settings, including hospitals, health departments, nursing homes, mental health services, home health services, nonprofit voluntary agencies, health research foundations, public and private insurance, and a variety of governmental agencies. The certificate program is available to students pursuing a degree other than the MPA degree or as a non-degree seeking student. For more information, please consult:

Certificate Requirements

Required Courses
PUBA 670Health Systems3
PUBA 671Healthcare Organization and Operation3
PUBA 672Healthcare Finance3
Healthcare Electives
See electives listed on web page3
Capstone Experience
PUBA 780Healthcare Administration Practicum (or equivalent capstone course approved by the Director.)3
Total Hours15

Major Learning Goals

Master of public administration

  1. Define democratic values and explain how they frame public service ethics.
  2. Make personal choices among and synthesis of differing approaches to public service.
  3. Integrate public service values into human resource management.
  4. Explain the changes occurring in society as they affect human capital appropriate and recommend responses.
  5. Interpret and apply concepts of multiculturalism, diversity, acculturation, culture, and theories of difference.
  6. Define and differentiate public management concepts and leadership approaches.
  7. Examine, select, and recommend appropriate management strategies and actions to address public issues.
  8. Define, distinguish, and apply multiple theoretical frameworks to situational analysis and synthesize preferred approaches.
  9. Define, frame, evaluate, and recommend responses to important public issues.
  10. Examine the stages and actors involved in public policy making process.
  11. Engage in evidence-based and empirical analysis and evaluation that informs policy.
  12. Apply management tools and leadership skills in field-based activities.
  13. Participate in the policy decision making process in the public or nonprofit context.
  14. Formulate, practice, and evaluate public service approaches.
  15. Define, frame, evaluate, and recommend responses to specific public contexts.
  16. Generate, co-produce, and share innovative research with students.


PUBA 593A-B. Special Topics. 1-6 Hours.

A study of contemporary topics selcted from recent developments in the field.

PUBA 595. Independent Study. 1-6 Hours.

Faculty supervised study of topics not available through regular course offerings.

PUBA 600. Scope and Practice. 3 Hours.

Orientation to the field of public administration, ethics and professional standards and professional skills. Review of foundations, theories, scope and methods. Study of public management heritage and exploration of current trends and issues.

PUBA 610. Public Management Theory and Practice. 3 Hours.

Graduate-level introduction to management theory and practice in the public sector, including contextual influences, administrative behavior and motivation, decision-making, leadership, organizational design, communication, and evaluation.

PUBA 620. Public Financial Management. 3 Hours.

PR: Consent. Principles and practices of public sector financial management including management control concepts, governmental financial accounting and reporting, analytical and managerial techniques, and microcomputer applications to public financial management.

PUBA 630. Research Methods. 3 Hours.

Introduction to the foundations and processes of applied research applicable to public administration, with emphasis upon data collection and analysis, statistical modeling and research design.

PUBA 640. Legal and Political Foundations. 3 Hours.

PR: Consent. Constitutional-legal basis of American public administration; the policy making process; administrative agency relationships with executive, legislative, and judicial branches; bureaucratic power and legitimacy; and administrative legal process.

PUBA 645. Public Administration and Policy Development. 3 Hours.

Policy development examined in terms of values, process, specific policy cases, alternative "futures analyses, and policy science.

PUBA 650. Local Governance. 3 Hours.

Introduction to the institutions and processes of local governance. Institutions include: government structures (county, municipal, special districts), volunteer boards and commissions, and various types of community-based organizations.

PUBA 655. Public Engagement. 3 Hours.

Explores theories of community engagement. Develops skills in techniques for engaging citizens and other stakeholders in collaborative local governance and community building efforts.

PUBA 670. Health Systems. 3 Hours.

Graduate-level introduction to the development, structure, and current issues in the healthcare in the United States including health promotion, disease prevention, epidemiology, delivery and utilization of health services, financing, policy, regulation, and ethical concerns.

PUBA 671. Healthcare Organization and Operation. 3 Hours.

PR: PUBA 670 or PR or CONC:CHPR 635. Examines the organization and management of health-care settings including system influences, leadership, communication, organization behavior, team development, organization design, evaluation, productivity, performance improvement.

PUBA 672. Healthcare Finance. 3 Hours.

PR or CONC: PUBA 670 or CHPR 635. Examines financing of health-care, financial management concepts, insurance mechanisms, reimbursement, cost accounting, budgeting, and staffing for healthcare organizations, including integrated networks and managed care. The course focuses on concepts needed by first line and mid-level managers.

PUBA 673. Alternative Healthcare Delivery Systems. 1 Hour.

PR or CONC:PUBA 670. Examines the key management issues in a variety of nontraditional settings, such as but not limited to, birthing centers, physician practice management, PATCH. Settings chosen will be determined from current developing areas in health-care.

PUBA 674. Rural Healthcare. 1 Hour.

PR or CONC: PUBA 670 or CHPR 635. Provides an overview of the issues affecting healthcare in rural settings, the health status of rural populations, and initiatives to provide improved access and address issues in service delivery and administration of rural health-care settings.

PUBA 675. Organization Performance Improvement. 1 Hour.

Introduces tools used to measure and improve organizational performance. The focus is on health-care organizations, with general application to public management. Techniques of total quality management and continuous quality improvement are covered.

PUBA 678. Population Health Management. 1 Hour.

PR: PUBA 670. Examines concepts of populations' health, managerial uses of epidemiological data, and population management approaches to health maintenance.

PUBA 691. Advanced Topics. 1-6 Hours.

Investigation of advanced topics not covered in regularly scheduled courses.

PUBA 693. Special Topics. 1-6 Hours.

A study of contemporary topics selected from recent developments in the field.

PUBA 697. Research. 1-15 Hours.

PR: Consent. Research activities leading to thesis, problem report, research paper or equivalent scholarly project, or a dissertation. (Grading may be S/U.).

PUBA 700. Capstone Seminar. 3 Hours.

PR: All PUBA 600 level and PUBA 751 or concurrent. Links MPA academic preparation to professional career through analysis of practice settings, professional literature, and internship/professional experience of student; integrates coursework, practice themes, competencies, and ethics.

PUBA 710. Administrative Behavior in Public Organizations. 3 Hours.

Introduces and familiarizes the student with the nature of individual and group behavior in public organizations and bureaucratic settings.

PUBA 712. Administrative Ethics and Justice. 3 Hours.

PR: PUBA 610 or consent. Analysis of ethical issues in public administration. Study of the concepts of distributive and procedural justice and their applications to administrative decision-making.

PUBA 715. Organizational Development and Change Management. 3 Hours.

Examines organization development and change management applied to public agencies. Explores basic organization development skills, and techniques for effective change management.

PUBA 716. Creativity and Innovation. 1 Hour.

Examines knowledge about creativity and innovation in public organizations. Explores approaches to increasing creativity for individuals and groups. Reviews organization structure and processes as they relate to creativity.

PUBA 717. Performance Management. 2 Hours.

Examines the principles of performance management in public organizations. Explores a variety of performance management models and practices with emphasis on service delivery to improve organizations.

PUBA 720. Public Budgeting. 3 Hours.

PR: PUBA 620. Advanced study of public budgeting at the federal, state, and local levels of government. Emphasis is placed on principles of public finance, budgeting processes and approaches; revenue sources and tax structures; and budget preparation and analysis.

PUBA 730. Applied Research in Public Administration. 3 Hours.

PR: PUBA 630. Completion of an original, quantitative, applied research project dealing with issues and/or problems in the public sector.

PUBA 741. Human Resources Systems. 3 Hours.

PR: Consent. Examines competing values, systems, processes, and methods for managing human resources in government and non-profit organizations; including merit, patronage, professional, collective bargaining, and entrepreneurial models.

PUBA 743. Conflict Management. 3 Hours.

PR: Consent. Explores the nature and causes of organizational, personal, and policy conflict in the public and non-profit sectors; develops approaches and tools for managing, negotiating, and resolving conflicts.

PUBA 750. Public Planning. 3 Hours.

Examine the substantive range of public planning arenas. Principles and practices of organizational, program, project, or physical planning with consideration of the political and economic context.

PUBA 751. Public Service Internship. 1-6 Hours.

PR: Consent. A working internship in a government or public service related agency, designed to provide students with an opportunity to gain field experience, and to relate knowledge gained through course work situation. (Grading will be S/U.).

PUBA 755. Sustainable Community Development. 3 Hours.

PR: PUBA 645 or PUBA 750. Explores the theory, principles, and ethics of economic, environmental, and social sustainability as applied to community and economic development activities, with a focus on project and program implementation.

PUBA 770. Managed Care. 1 Hour.

PR or CONC: PUBA 670. Examines the key management issues in the managed care environment. General organization of managed care entities, key management control issues, financing, and reimbursement mechanisms and trends in managed care will be covered.

PUBA 772. Integrated Delivery System. 1 Hour.

PR: PUBA 670. Examines organization and management of integrated delivery systems in healthcare including models of integration.

PUBA 773. Policy Issues in Women's Health. 1 Hour.

PR: PUBA 670 or consent. Provides an overview of women's helathcare issues involving the interaction of medical and social systems. How to facilitate quality care will be examined from policy, administrative and advocacy standpoints.

PUBA 774. Healthcare Law and Ethics. 1 Hour.

PR or CONC: PUBA 670. Explores legal and ethical issues in the healthcare setting for administrative and medical managers.

PUBA 775. Healthcare Policy. 1 Hour.

PR or CONC: PUBA 670. Provides an introduction to policy issues in healthcare including state and federal roles in healthcare, the policy process and various healthcare policy. Explores values and American political processes as they influence health policy.

PUBA 776. Healthcare Planning/Marketing. 1 Hour.

PR: PUBA 670. Examines planning and marketing for healthcare settings. Includes strategic planning. Serves to introduce key issues for administrators.

PUBA 777. Healthcare Information Systems. 1 Hour.

PR: PUBA 670. Provides an overview of major factors influencing health care information systems, categories of healthcare information technology; and legal, ethical, human resource issues within management systems.

PUBA 779A-Z. Special Topics in Health Care. 1-6 Hours.

PR: PUBA 670. Focuses on those subjects of most topical concern in health care administration.

PUBA 780. Healthcare Administration Practicum. 3 Hours.

Students will develop and execute a field experience or scholarly research project that applies and integrates knowledge gained during healthcare administration course work into a functional capstone experience.

PUBA 790. Teaching Practicum. 1-3 Hours.

PR: Consent. Supervised practice in college teaching of public administration. NOTE: This course is intended to insure that graduate assistants are adequately prepared and supervised when they are given college teaching responsibility. It also provides a mechanism for student not on assistantships to gain teaching experience.

PUBA 791A-Z. Advanced Topics. 1-6 Hours.

PR: Consent. Investigation of advanced topics not covered in regularly scheduled courses.

PUBA 792. Directed Study. 1-6 Hours.

Directed study, reading and/or research.

PUBA 793A-Z. Special Topics. 1-6 Hours.

A study of contemporary topics selected from recent developments in the field.

PUBA 794A-Z. Seminar. 1-6 Hours.

Seminars arranged for advanced graduate students.

PUBA 795. Independent Study. 1-9 Hours.

Faculty supervised study of topics not available through regular course offerings.

PUBA 796. Graduate Seminar. 1 Hour.

PR: Consent. Each graduate student will present at least one seminar to the assembled faculty and graduate student body of his or her program.

PUBA 797. Research. 1-15 Hours.

PR: Consent. Research activities leading to thesis, problem report, research paper or equivalent scholarly project, or a dissertation. (Grading may be S/U.).

PUBA 798. Thesis or Dissertation. 1-6 Hours.

PR: Consent. This is an optional course for programs that wish to provide formal supervision during the writing of students reports (698), or dissertations (798). Grading is normal.

PUBA 799. Graduate Colloquium. 1-6 Hours.

PR: Consent. For graduate students not seeking course work credit but who wish to meet residency requirements, use of the University's facilities, and participate in its academic and cultural programs. Note: Graduate students who are not actively involved in coursework or research are entitled, through enrollment in their department's 699/799 Graduate Colloquium to consult with graduate faculty, participate in both formal and informal academic activities sponsored by their program, and retain all of the rights and privileges of duly enrolled students. Grading is P/F; colloquium credit may not be counted against credit requirements for masters programs. Registration for one credit of 699/799 graduate colloquium satisfies the University requirement of registration in the semester in which graduation occurs.



  • Maja Husar Holmes - Ph.D. (Syracuse University)
    Public Management, Public Leadership, Environmental and Energy Policy


  • L. Christopher Plein - Ph.D. (University of Missouri)
    Eberly Professor of Outstanding Public Service, Legal and Political Foundations, Public Policy Analysis, Social Policy, Community and Economic Development

Associate professors

  • Karen Kunz - D.P.A. (University of Illinois, Springfield)
    Financial Management, Corporate Use of Public Funds, Political Economy
  • Margaret Stout - Ph.D. (Arizona State University)
    Local Government, Community Development, Public Policy and Public Planning

Assistant professors

  • Matthew Barnes - Ph.D. (Princeton University)
    American, state and local politics, environmental and energy politics and policy, and public opinion
  • Paolo Farah - LLM, JD (College of Europe, University of Paris)
    Energy, Environment, and Natural Resource Law, Human Rights

Clinical Assistant Professor

  • Nancy L. Adams - Ph.D. (Fielding Institute)
    Healthcare Management, Organization Development, Service Delivery Systems, Organization Behavior, Social Change

Professors Emeriti

  • Gerald M. Pops - Ph.D. (Syracuse Univesity)
  • David G. Williams - Ph.D. (State University of New York at Albany)