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Master of Public Administration Curriculum

Our NASPAA-accredited online MPA is designed for busy working professionals.

At a Glance

  • Graduate in as few as 2 years
  • 100% online coursework
  • 36 credits total*
  • 8 required courses, 3 electives and 1 final capstone project
  • Courses last 7 weeks each, with 2 courses taken sequentially each semester
  • 3 start dates: January, May, August

All courses are worth 3 credits each unless otherwise indicated.

*Note: Those without substantive full-time administrative experience in a public service organization (as assessed by the MPA program coordinator) must complete at least 3 credit hours of an internship in addition to the 36 credit hours of coursework.

Master's Courses

Postbaccalaureate Certificate in Nonprofit Management Curriculum

Kent State also offers a 12-credit online certificate option.

At a Glance

  • Graduate in as little as 1 year
  • 100% online coursework
  • 12 credits total
  • 1 core management course, 3 electives
  • Credits can be applied toward the online MPA after graduation
  • Courses last 7 weeks each, with 2 courses taken sequentially each semester
  • 3 start dates: January, May, August

All courses are worth 3 credits each unless otherwise indicated.

Certificate Courses

What You’ll Learn

These online programs from Kent State build critical, graduate-level knowledge and skills in areas including:

  • Budgeting and financial management in public and nonprofit organizations
  • Strategic planning
  • Nonprofit organization law and financial characteristics
  • Ethics in public service

The online MPA integrates experiential learning activities with your coursework, including conducting interviews, attending fundraisers and producing an actionable strategic plan as a program-culminating capstone project.

Graduates have found careers within a variety of different public services organizations. These include organizations and agencies of the federal government, state governments, cities, counties and regions, as well as international, military, higher education and nonprofit organizations.

Course Descriptions

Required Core Courses (27 credits)

PADM 60371 Graduate Introduction to Public Administration

This course is designed to introduce students in the MPA program to the theory and study of public administration. Topics include: evolution and characteristics of the modern nation state, the critical role that public bureaucracies play in any nation-state, intergovernmental relations, formal and informal groups and their role in policy, legal-regulatory processes, historical evolution of public administration as an academic field, major paradigms in public organizational theory and internal organization dynamics. This course has no prerequisites and does not assume any previous knowledge of the subject matter.

PADM 60375 Public Personnel Administration

This course provides a foundation for leading and managing people in public organizations. This includes an examination of public personnel systems, and the public service values that underlie these systems. The emphasis is on skill development and techniques for public personnel managers, which include recruitment and selection, motivation, performance appraisal, diversity management, and cultural competence.

PADM 60377 Public Budgeting and Financial Management

This course focuses on two aspects of public finance: budgeting and financial management. Relative to budgeting, students are taught about budgets as mechanisms for resource control and allocations, as legal documents, different formats and cross-walking of formats, budget preparation, legislative review, budget implementation, and auditing. Relative to financial management, students are taught budget analysis, debt management, fund accounting, and forecasting.

PADM 60379 Program Evaluation I

Introduction to evaluation of government programs. Emphasis on familiarizing students with the theory and, specifically, the techniques utilized under different evaluation formats.

PADM 60381 Methods in Public Administration

This course is a graduate-level introduction to statistical methods and their use in public administration.

PADM 60574 Strategic Planning

This course is designed to introduce students to the practice of strategic planning as it relates to program design and implementation by public and nonprofit organizations. Consideration is given to concepts, frameworks, and methods of program/policy analysis; as well as understanding the institutional context, agency-environment linkages, and internal dynamics of organizations.

PADM 60470 Personal Accountability in the Public Service

This course is concerned with basic issues of morality and ethics associated with public service roles in a democratic society. The focus is on students internalizing their role in the public sector as stewards of the public trust. Topics covered include the dimensions of stewardship, maintaining personal honor, protecting the dignity and liberty of citizens, the dimensions of justice, anti-corruption devices and incorporating these dimensions as managers in their personal decision-making and throughout the organization.

PADM 60386 Public Sector IT Management

This course focuses on the management of information technology (IT) systems in public sector agencies. Specific topics covered include: planning and acquisition of hardware and software and networks, organizational governance and implementation, information security and privacy legal issues surrounding IT management, service delivery and emerging enterprise technologies.

PADM 60475 Capstone Seminar

Taken in the last semester of study, the capstone course is a decision-making exercise in which students demonstrate their ability to integrate what they have learned in the MPA program in order to make administrative decisions that reflect a public service orientation. The course is offered over a 15 week format, and consists of a problem statement; a literature review and guiding framework; recommendations; and an implementation plan that addresses actions steps, timeline, personnel and budgetary issues, legal and ethical concerns, and a methodology for assessing the effectiveness of the proposal. At the conclusion of the course, students present their work electronically via web-conferencing technology.

MPA Internship Requirement (3 credits)

PADM 60392 Internship in Public Administration

Required of all students without prior full-time administrative experience in public or nonprofit organizations (pre-service students). Formal field placement of 300 hours in government or nonprofit agency setting. Provides opportunity for students to gain professional experience and apply coursework via direct exposure to management and policy processes. Students with substantive full-time administrative experience in a public service organization (in-service students) are waived from this requirement with permission of the MPA Coordinator.

MPA Electives (9 credits)

Students choose three of the following elective courses in consultation with their advisor. With prior approval of the MPA Coordinator, students may also choose appropriate elective courses from other university departments.

PADM 60200 Nonprofit Advocacy

This course explores the U.S. public policymaking process as it applies to nonprofit organizations. Nonprofits influence policymaking or "advocacy" through a variety of methods, such as lobbying, campaigning, protesting and policy monitoring. The course explores how nonprofit organizations both shape and are shaped by public policy.

PADM 60310 Leadership in the Nonprofit and Public Sector

This course teaches students theory, practice, and skills for leading nonprofit and public organizations. Topics include: organizational theory and behavior, organizational culture, integrity and ethics, group dynamics, conflict management, and creating an environment that promotes diversity and inclusion.

PADM 60376 Labor Management Relations in the Public Sector

This course focuses on issues peculiar to public sector labor relations, including the impact of public employee unionism on traditional merit systems and personnel policy decision processes. Prerequisite: PADM 60375

PADM 60382 Seminar in Public Administration

Study of selected problem areas in public service organizations with emphasis on understanding the factors contributing to them, their solution and literature bearing on the problems.

PADM 60387 Electronic Governance

An introduction to electronic governance with an emphasis on public administration. Examines the implications of information and communication technology in public organizations with regard to democracy, civic engagement, and performance improvement. Through case studies from the United States and across the world, students will become familiar with the factors and issues surrounding the implementation of electronic governance on a comparative basis.

PADM 60471 Nonprofit Law

Introduction to legal issues for nonprofit organizations in the United States, including types of IRS tax-exempt status; basic requirements for establishing/operating nonprofit organizations specifically in Ohio.

PADM 60472 Nonprofit Board Executive Relationships

Key aspects of effective nonprofit governance, major roles of nonprofit board members and their responsibilities, and governance structures.

PADM 60477 Nonprofit Financial Resource Development

Successful strategies for fundraising and resource development for nonprofit organizations. Students will be exposed to fundraising in practice and will write a resource development plan.

Postbaccalaureate Certificate in Nonprofit Management Curriculum (12 credits)

Choose one core management course (3 credits) from the following:

  • PADM 60375 Public Personnel Administration
  • PADM 60377 Public Budgeting and Financial Management
  • PADM 60379 Program Evaluation I
  • PADM 60574 Strategic Planning

Choose three electives (3 credits each) from the following:

  • PADM 60200 Nonprofit Advocacy
  • PADM 60310 Leadership in the Nonprofit and Public Sector
  • PADM 60471 Nonprofit Law
  • PADM 60472 Nonprofit Board Executive Relationships
  • PADM 60477 Nonprofit Financial Resource Development


Courses are delivered through our course management system, Blackboard Learn. Course content consists of text, narrated PowerPoint presentations, video and audio, live chats, discussion groups, and other learning enhancements. To participate in this online program, you will need a computer and broadband internet connection. Your program may have further requirements that include the ability to record video and audio. If you have questions regarding technology requirements for the program, please contact your Admissions Advisor at or toll-free at +1 844-234-4073.

Accelerated MPA Degree Option for Current Kent State University Undergraduates

Kent State offers a special option for undergraduate juniors and seniors with GPAs that meet a high standard of excellence. This option allows KSU undergraduates to apply for and take graduate courses during their undergraduate studies. Specifically, this benefit permits one to double count up to 12 hours of credits toward both an undergraduate degree and the MPA degree. This both shortens the time you need to spend in school to obtain a graduate degree and results in significant savings on tuition. If you are interested in this option, please contact an Admissions Advisor at or toll-free at +1 844-234-4073.

What can you do with an MPA?

View the MPA infographic to learn more, or read about the faculty teaching these courses.

Meet the Faculty