Master of Public Administration Questions

Below are some frequently asked questions regarding the M.P.A. program offered by the School of Public Affairs and Administration at Western Michigan University. Additional admission questions can be found in the application section. If you have more in-depth questions, not found below, regarding the M.P.A. program, please contact us. Prospective students may wish to contact an M.P.A. advisor for more information on the admissions process or the program itself. Advisors are available at the WMU Kalamazoo campus and all of the regional locations offering M.P.A. courses.


Are there different tuition rates for a resident student versus a non-resident?

Yes. The current tuition and fee rates are available at the WMU Registrar's Office web page.


Am I required to submit GRE or GMAT scores?

No. If you have taken these tests, you may choose to submit your scores to the admission committee as additional evidence of your academic preparation.

What are the M.P.A. admission standards?

You must complete an undergraduate degree program before you matriculate. If you earned an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0, you may be granted regular admission. If you earned less than a 3.0, you may be admitted on a conditional status. In general, the lower the undergraduate GPA, the greater the importance of your employment history and references. A discussion of the admission process is available on the admissions page.

Does the M.P.A. program have any prerequisites?

There is not a specified list of courses that you must complete before you begin the M.P.A. program. However, you are expected to have a basic understanding of computers (word processing and spreadsheets) and the American political processes at the local, state and national levels (how a bill becomes law, the roles of the three branches of government, etc.).

What application materials am I required to submit?

To apply for admission to the M.P.A. program you must submit:

  • The Graduate Application.
  • Official transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate institutions that you attended, except WMU.
  • Concentration Form.
  • Resume.
  • Personal Essay.
  • Three letters of recommendation. For more information concerning the application process and materials, consult the Master of Public Administration: How to Apply page.

What are the deadlines for submitting application materials?

The M.P.A. deadlines are Feb. 1 for summer (May or June) and early fall (September) admission, June 1 for second fall (September) admission and Oct. 1 for spring (December) admission. For more information on the deadlines, consult the deadlines list.

If I submit my application materials after the deadline, can I take classes during the ensuing term or semester?

Yes. As a prospective student, you may complete the Graduate Non-Degree application. You must submit evidence that you have completed an undergraduate degree program. The evidence includes unofficial transcripts or an undergraduate diploma. The granting of non-degree status enables you to register for and take classes but does not guarantee admission to the M.P.A. program. In the event that you are admitted to the M.P.A. program, no more than nine credits completed under non-degree status may be used to satisfy M.P.A. requirements.

University policies

Is there a time limit for completing the M.P.A. degree?

Yes. University policy stipulates that all M.P.A. requirements must be completed within six years of enrolling in the first course. The six year clock starts when the first class is taken, not when you are admitted to the program. If program requirements are not completed within this time frame, you must:

  • Provide evidence that you have remained current on course content that is older than six years.
  • Retake the courses that were completed more than six years ago.
  • Apply for an extension using the Program Time Extension Form. Approval of an extension request is not guaranteed so you are strongly encouraged to schedule your courses so that all program requirements can be completed within six years.

What is the policy concerning religious holidays and class attendance?

The University recognizes religious holidays of many faiths. If, due to the observance of a religious holiday, you are unable to attend class, discuss the matter with your instructor in advance of the holiday.

Under what conditions are incompletes granted?

Incomplete courses are typically permitted only in unusual circumstances. The decision of whether to approve an incomplete rests with the professor and is determined by his or her course syllabus and policies. If you need to request an incomplete, discuss the matter with your professor as early as possible. Do not wait until the last week of the semester or term.

Is there a deadline for fulfilling the requirements of an Incomplete?

Yes. University policy stipulates that all work must be completed within one year. If the remaining tasks for the course are not completed within this time period, the incomplete is automatically translated into an X. This grade has the same impact on the GPA as an E.

Scheduling courses

How long will it take to complete the M.P.A. program?

If you finish two three-credit hour courses in each of the fall and spring semesters and the summer sessions, you will conclude your coursework in two years and one semester or session. If you complete one three-credit hour course in each of fall and spring semesters, and take no courses during the summer sessions, you will fulfill the M.P.A. degree requirements in six years plus one semester or session. Since the latter time period exceeds the University's six year time limit, you should enroll in one spring or summer course or request an extension. Please consult the Graduate Catalog for a discussion of the six-year time limit.

Is there an order in which courses should be taken?

While students can take courses in any order (with a few exceptions), there is a recommended order of courses to maximize learning. This recommended order includes taking 6001, 6000, and 6010 before taking other core courses. Taking the introductory concentration-required course (applicable to one's concentration) before other concentration courses can also enhance learning. But since the order mostly depends on student needs and course availability, students are expected to pursue cumulative learning throughout the program.

Should I complete all of the core requirements before I enroll in my concentration elective courses?

No. The concentration elective courses can be taken in conjunction with core courses. A tentative schedule course schedule is available on the S.P.A.A. website.

At what point in the program should I enroll in Capstone Portfolio I and II (PADM 6001 and 6800)?

Capstone Portfolio I introduces students to the program and helps create a customized plan of action for Capstone Portfolio II. It is important that students begin the program with PADM 6001 and end it with PADM 6800. It is also notable that students will be asked to incorporate concepts and artifacts (papers, quizzes, exams, presentations, etc.) in preparing their final analytical portfolio as a part of PADM 6800.

How many credit hours should I complete before enrolling in PADM 7120: Professional Field Experience?

At least 24 credit hours (consisting of all core courses and at least two required concentration courses in the M.P.A. program) must be completed before enrolling in PADM 7120: Professional Field Experience. In order to secure an internship that conforms to your needs and skills or ensure that the internship you arrange meets the requirements of the program, contact your advisor at least one semester prior to the desired internship start date. You are also encouraged to take the internship in conjunction with the Project Paper Seminar. By following this scenario, the internship assignments can furnish a foundation for the project paper.


How can I get information about available internships?

Contact the M.P.A. internship coordinator, Dr. Udaya Wagle. Dr. Wagle will have information on available internships and will be able to help you set one up. In addition, as the school is made aware of internship opportunities, they will be posted online. If you need an internship, contact Dr. Wagle at least one semester prior to enrolling in PADM 7120.

How many hours must I work in order to fulfill the internship requirement?

The internship is a 300-hour commitment. This requirement translates into 20 hours per week for 15 weeks. There is, however, the option of spreading the hours over a longer period of time. The internship's duration as well as the starting and ending dates are negotiated with your advisor and the sponsoring agency supervisor.

Project Paper Seminar

What types of topics may I pursue?

Although the following list is not exhaustive, there are five recommended classes of M.P.A. Project Paper approaches. These options include:

  • Applied analytical research
  • Empirical or scholarly research
  • Legal or historical studies
  • A contemplative treatise
  • Other projects approved by the instructor of record.

More information on Project Paper topics is available in the Project Paper Guidelines.

Under what circumstances do I need to submit my Project Paper proposal to the Human Subjects Institutional Review Board?

The HSIRB protects the rights and welfare of human research participants. Any Project Paper proposal that involves educational testing, observation of public behavior, surveys and interviews must be submitted to HSIRB for its review and approval. More information concerning HSIRB can be obtained online, by contacting the board at (269) 387-8293, or consulting an M.P.A. advisor or the instructor of record for your Project Paper Seminar course.

What are the Project Paper's components?

The Project Paper consists of:

  1. A title page that adheres to Graduate College guidelines.
  2. A 200-word abstract that summarizes the topic, major findings and conclusions.
  3. The executive summary.
  4. The table of contents.
  5. The introduction which states the paper's purpose and organization.
  6. The literature review.
  7. Research design and methodology.
  8. Data analysis and findings
  9. Conclusions and recommendations.
  10. References (APA style).
  11. Any appendices.
  12. An agency approval letter when necessary.

For more information on the content of the project paper, please consult the Project Paper Guidelines.

University administration

How do I change my address with the University?

You can submit address changes to the University via GoWMU. You are also encouraged to submit address and email changes directly to the School of Public Affairs and Administration to ensure the program has current contact information.

How do I register for classes?

Registration for classes takes place via GoWMU. See more information relating to the registration process and how to use GoWMU to register for classes.


What are the deadlines for applying for graduation?

The deadlines for application for graduation are:

  • April graduation deadline: October 1
  • June graduation deadline: February 1
  • August graduation deadline: February 1
  • December graduation deadline: February 1

See more information on graduation as well as an application form.

What is the process for applying for graduation?

You may apply for graduation through the GoWMU portal. See more information relating to graduation procedures and commencement.

Please inform your M.P.A. advisor(s) that your permanent program needs to be completed and submitted to the graduation auditor.

Library services

What services are available to School of Public Affairs and Administration students?

University Libraries offer numerous services for graduate students. In addition, Waldo Library provides an A-Z database for the academic journals and periodicals to which they subscribe.