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Program Details & Accreditation

Learning Competencies and Faculty

To lead and manage in public governance by:

  • Demonstrating an ability to lead, motivate, and manage a diverse workplacewithin and across organizations.
  • Demonstrating an understanding the impact of changing market and political conditions on organizational practice and resource streams. To participate in and contribute to the policy process by:
  • Demonstrating an ability to analyze policy alternatives and use policy instruments and management tools to address social problems
  • Demonstrating an ability to participate in the policy process, communicate policy alternatives, and work effectively with government and nonprofit institutions, and community stakeholders.

To analyze, synthesize, think critically, solve problems, and make decisions by:

  • Demonstrating an ability to define, frame, think critically about and analyze important problems.
  • Demonstrating an ability to utilize analytical tools to analyze, present, and interpret data, including appropriate design, statistical, and evaluative techniques for both organizational decision-making and policy decisions.
  • Demonstrating an ability to apply management theories and tools for organizational decisionmaking including but not limited to strategic planning, performance measurement, group decision making, forecasting, program evaluation, and cost-benefit analysis.

To articulate and apply a public values perspective by:

  • Demonstrating an ability to identify ethical dilemmas and to then systematically apply ethical principles to identify appropriate courses of action

To communicate and interact productively with a diverse and changing workforce and citizenry by:

  • Demonstrating an ability to communicate effectively and professionally to diverse audiences.
  • Demonstrating an understanding of how to work effectively in diverse groups.


  • Dr. Mark Imperial
    MPA Director 
    Ph.D. in Public Affairs, Indiana University. 2001. 

  • Dr. Romeo Abraham
    Assistant Professor 
    Ph.D. in Public Affairs, University of Texas at Dallas. 2020.  
  • Dr. Jennifer Biddle
    Associate Professor 
    Ph.D. in Environmental Science and Policy, George Mason University. 2011. 
  • Dr. John Brennan 
    Associate Professor 
    Ph.D. in Urban Studies and Public Affairs, Cleveland State University. 2006. 
  • Dr. Richard Clerkin 
    Distinguished Professor 
    Ph.D. in Public Affairs, Indiana University. 2006.
  • Dr. Kirsten Kinzer
    Assistant Professor 
    Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning, University of Pennsylvania. 2014. 
  • Dr. Christopher Prentice 
    Associate Professor 
    Ph.D. in Public Administration, North Carolina State University. 2013.  


  • Craig Kelly, MPA 
    MPA Program Coordinator 
    MPA, University of North Carolina Wilmington. 2013. 


Student Resources

The MPA program faculty selects students based on their distinguished academic and service performance for scholarships courtesy of the Graduate School. These awards are available to current and prospective students.

A one-time, $1,000 award is given to an incoming student who has demonstrated significant scholastic ability. Other scholarships include several $500 awards to current and prospective students.

One tuition reduction scholarship is provided to an out-of-state student working as a departmental graduate assistant who has demonstrated significant scholastic ability. This award traditionally adjusts out-of-state tuition to meet in-state costs.

All Graduate School scholarships are contingent on budget availability. None are guaranteed until disbursement. 

North Carolina City and County Management Association Scholarship 

This scholarship, for tuition, is presented to a current student who satisfies the following requirements:

  1. resident of NC
  2. experience or exposure to local government (city or county)
  3. have career plans that relate to local government
  4. must be enrolled as a degree-seeking student in the MPA program 
  5. must be a full-time student or a part-time student with more than two semesters of coursework remaining.  

The Stephanie F. David Scholarship 

This scholarship is presented to a full-time MPA student who has demonstrated a commitment to community and public service and/or volunteerism in support of nonprofit organizations and programs. 

The Holt Oil Fellowship in Public Administration 

This fellowship award is granted to an incoming or returning MPA student who has demonstrated academic ability and special achievement. The fellowship is renewable for returning students, as approved by the scholarship committee, provided they continue to meet the award criteria. 

Additional Graduate School Scholarships and Fellowships 

Local Government Fellowships 

New Hanover County and Town of Carolina Beach MPA Fellows programs 

This is an innovative partnershipwhere the county selects four new MPA students to work as fellows with the county for one year (renewable for two years) while they are enrolled in the MPA program. The students will be placed in policy, planning and human resource offices and work on a variety of projects that will meet county needs while also providing the students with invaluable experience. 

MPA Professional Development Financial Assistance 

The MPA program may provide some travel assistance to students for conferences, research, and professional development. These awards are designed to supplement primary funds granted through the Graduate Student Association and the Graduate School Travel Awards program. 

External Scholarship Opportunities 

Jewish Educational Loan Fund 

The Jewish Educational Loan Fund provides interest-free, last dollar loans for higher education.   

Government Finance Officers Association Scholarships 

The Government Finance Officers Association has developed a scholarship specifically intended for students pursuing their MPA and who are interested in a career in government, government finance, budgeting, etc. 

Financial aid is available to those who qualify. The FAFSA is available as well as scholarships, assistantships, fellowships, and employment. Please visit the UNCW Financial Aid Office or Admitted Student Next Steps for more information.  

The MPA program offers a limited about of Graduate Teaching Assistantships to students on a 10 or 20-hour basis. Each year, the program director will email enrolled students with the opportunity to apply for an assistantship. This is based on merit, not financial need. Funding for the GTA positions may or may not be available. 

The MPA Program also awards a limited number of need-based and merit-based scholarships each year to new and returning students. Incoming students interested in obtaining financial support should apply early in the admission cycle. Returning students should maintain a high GPA. 

Please contact the MPA office or Financial Aid if you have questions. 

The MPA program awards several graduate teaching assistantships on a competitive basis.

Students are required to work a total of about 20 hours a week, 10 hours for a half-time GTA. Most GTAs are required to work at least four hours per week in the graduate computer lab that provides professors with help.

GTAs also provide classroom support for faculty in the Department of Public and International Affairs. This involves grading, covering classes in the case of illness, copying, preparing course materials, helping with website development and other related duties.

Each student is also assigned to a research/service cluster for a balance of their time with their assignment designed to further the teaching, research, and service missions for the MPA program. Some of the anticipated service and research clusters are: 

  • Nonprofit Research: This team is actively engaged in conducting research on the nonprofit sector. 
  • Regional Engagement Service/Research: This team will provide support for various regional engagement initiatives. 
  • PIA Service: This team provides support for various initiatives undertaken by PIA. 
  • Coastal/Environmental Service/Research Pod: This team is actively engaged in conducting research on coastal and environmental problems in Southeastern NC
  • Sustainability Project: This team is actively engaged in conducting research on local government sustainability initiatives. 

In addition, all GTAs will provide support to PIA and the MPA program during special events that allow GTAs with an opportunity to network with public and nonprofit administrators. 

GTA Application Process 

When there are openings, a request for applications will be sent out on the MPA listserve. If you are interested in applying for one of our GTA openings, at that time, please send a current resume and a cover letter as email attachments. In your cover letter be sure to indicate any knowledge, skills, and abilities that will enable you to make a contribution as a GTA. You should also indicate your preferences with respect to the research clusters with which you are interested in working. These materials should be submitted electronically via email to the MPA director, Dr. Mark Imperial

Non-MPA Graduate Assistantships 

For information on graduate assistantships at UNCW outside of the MPA program, click here.  

These resources are designed to assist our students and alumni in their job searches. Please take a look at the following websites and announcements to find that perfect position for you.

We also send announcements via the listservs as we receive them. Be sure that you are on one of the MPA listservs. The MPA program does not serve as a staffing agency, so please contact the hiring agencies directly for additional information. 

Public Service Jobs

Government Positions 

Surrounding States 

UNCW's Eight-County Region 

Other NC Counties 

City/Municipal Employment 

Nonprofit Positions 

The Young Nonprofit Professionals Network has a listserv for job postings, community events, and volunteer opportunities from nonprofits in the Triangle area. To join, click here.  

Public Policy 

Higher Education 

Common Search Sites 

Post-Graduate Fellowships 

Professional Organizations 

group of students does "wings up" with their hands

MPA Graduate Student Association

The MPA Graduate Student Association serves the role of organizing social and professional events for the benefit of MPA students and for the Department of Public and International Affairs as a whole.

Contact Us

Dr. Mark Imperial, MPA Director

Campus Box 5956

Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Summer hours:
Monday-Thursday, 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
Friday, 7:30-11:30 a.m.