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Master of Public Administration Details

Columns near Leutze Hall.

Student Announcements

We are looking forward to the Fall 2024 semester! Fall classes begin on August 21st.

Program Details


MPA students have the flexibility to shape their curriculum to fit their career goals. Students begin by selecting one of our four-course concentrations: 
  • Public Management
  • Nonprofit Management
  • Public Policy Analysis
  • Urban & Regional Policy and Planning
  • Coastal Planning & Management
  • Managerial & Analytical Skills (Only one available for online students)
Students also take two skill-based electives designed to complement their career goals.  Typical course offerings include: 
  • Analytics for Public & Nonprofit Management
  • Program Evaluation
  • Applied Management Tools, Skills, and Techniques
  • Leading Public & Nonprofit Organizations
  • Strategic Planning & Management for Public & Nonprofit Organizations
  • Public Economics & Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Nonprofit Resource Development
  • Leading & Managing Volunteers
  • Government Planning & Geographic Information Systems

Students with less than 5 years of professional experience also complete a 300-hour internship or a practicum project. Students have a lot of flexibility in terms of selecting their host. Students with 5+ years of professional experience or who complete a fellowship can have their internship requirement waived.   

Learning Competencies

To lead and manage in public governance by:
  • Demonstrating an ability to lead, motivate, and manage a diverse workplace within and across organizations.
  • Demonstrating an understanding of 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.

Financial Aid

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 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.

The MPA program faculty select 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. Please contact the UNCW Office of Scholarships & Financial Aid if you have any questions.

Scholarship Opportunities

Elton & Michelle Daniels Capstone Scholarship in Public Administration

This scholarship was created by Elton and Michelle Daniels to Assist the University in meeting its commitment to maintaining a campus environment that values rich diversity in its student body. The scholarship is awarded to a student who has demonstrated significant academic ability and possesses a record of community involvement and leadership working with historically underserved populations. 

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. 

North Carolina City and County Management Association (NCCCMA) 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

MPA GTA Out-of State Scholarship

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. 

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. 

Additional Graduate School Scholarships and Fellowships

Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTA)

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 listserv. 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, indicate any knowledge, skills, and abilities that are relevant to the position. 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 coordinator, Craig Kelly ( 

Non-MPA Graduate Assistantships 

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

Local Government Fellowships

This is an innovative partnership where local organizations select students to work as fellows while they are enrolled in the MPA program. Students will gain invaluable experience while working on a variety of projects that will meet their host organization's needs. 
Host Organizations:
  • New Hanover County
  • Town of Carolina Beach
  • City of Wilmington
  • Cape Fear Public Utility Authority

Job Resources

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 the 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. 

Accreditation Details

2022-23 Enrollment Numbers

Table  shows enrollment numbers for the 2022-23 academic year
Year: 2022-23 MPA EMPA Total
Applications 26 42 68
Admitted 26 42 68
New Enrollments 18 35 53

Fall 2023 Total Enrollments

Table shows total enrollment for Fall 2023
 Fall 2023 MPA  EMPA  Total
Enrolled  45  68  113
Part-Time  54%  100%*  84%

*Half of part-time students in the program were taking one course per semester.

Fall 2023 Enrollment Data

Table shows Fall 2023 by demographic group
Demographic  Percentage
Female  59% 
Minority  18% 
Out-Of-State  5% 
International Student 1%


Graduation Rates (2017-2018)

Table shows graduation rates for the 2017-18 academic year
Initially Enrolled Graduated within 2 years Graduated within 3 years Graduated within 4 years Graduated within 5 years
27 12 19 22 23

Number of MPA program graduates employed, unemployed or seeking jobs within six months of graduation.

Table shows employment placement for UNCW MPA graduates within six months of graduation
Type of Organization # of MPA Graduates # of EMPA Graduates Total
National or central government in the same country as the program  0 0
State, provincial, or regional government in the same country as the program  0 5
City, county, or other local government in the same country as the program  0 4
Government not in the same country as the program (all levels) or international quasi-governmental  0 0
Nonprofit, domestic-oriented  1 8
Nonprofit/NGOs, internationally oriented  0 0
Private Sector - Research/Consulting  1 1
Private Sector but not research/consulting  0 1
Obtaining further education  0 1
Military Service  0 0
Unemployed (not seeking employment)  0 0
Unemployed (seeking employment)  0 0
Status Unknown  0 0
Total Degrees Awarded  18  2 20


Contact Us

Mr. Craig Kelly, MPA Program Coordinator

Leutze Hall
601 S. College Road
Wilmington, NC 28403