Executive Master of Public Administration


Thank you for your interest in the online Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA) program at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Housed in the Department of Public and International Affairs in the College of Arts and Sciences, the EMPA program is a 36-hour degree program accredited with the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration. Students are given up to 5 years to complete the degree; however, most working professionals can complete the degree in as little as two years by attending part-time and taking two classes a semester during the fall, spring, and summer.

  • The EMPA is designed for busy working professionals with 5 or more years of experience
  • Only 36 credit hours
  • No GRE scores needed to apply
  • It can be completed in 2 years by taking 2 courses per semester
  • Courses taught by MPA faculty
  • Program is accredited by NASPAA
  • It is affordable and the same cost per credit hour as the MPA program
  • EMPA students receive the same degree as students in the MPA program

A Master of Public Administration degree can help to provide you with a wide variety of job opportunities. Visit the NASPAA website for more details. 

EMPA Virtual Open House

Reserve your spot now!

Want to learn more about our program?

Come to our next monthly virtual open house!


Next Open House:

Wednesday, November 9th, 2022, from 5:30-6:30 on Zoom

Click here for more details! 

Contact Craig Kelly to register. 

Contact Us!

Craig Kelly
Program Coordinator
Email:  kellyc@uncw.edu

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NASPAA or the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration is the global standard in public service education

Our Mission

The mission of the MPA program is to advance effective public and nonprofit governance in southeastern North Carolina and beyond through the education of future leaders, relevant research, and a commitment to service that strengthens communities.

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Program Overview

The Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA), housed in the Department of Public and International Affairs in the College of Arts and Sciences, is an interdisciplinary, terminal professional degree designed for working professionals who seek to develop their professional skills and abilities and want to pursue careers as managers, analysts, supervisors, and program specialists in the public and nonprofit sector. The program is designed for busy working professionals who plan to attend part-time. Courses are delivered asynchronously online in a semester format, which includes a summer term that spans both regular summer sessions. Students can complete the degree in 2 years by taking 2 courses during the fall, spring, and summer semesters. We admit students in each term.

The EMPA program is a 36-hour program accredited with the Network of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration. Our required coursework emphasizes developing the following learning competencies:

  • To lead and manage in public governance;
  • To participate in and contribute to the policy process;
  • To analyze, synthesize, think critically, solve problems, and make decisions;
  • To articulate and apply a public values perspective; and
  • To communicate and interact productively with a diverse and changing workforce and citizenry.

Students develop these competencies by completing 36 credit hours of approved graduate level courses. If a student is admitted who does not have 3 years of professional experience, an additional 3 credit hours of a professional internship is required or a total of 39 credit hours. All students are required to complete the 18 credit of core classes designed to enhance the skills and abilities needed my leaders, managers, and analysts pursuing careers in the public or nonprofit sector. Students then complete 18 additional credit hours of approved electives that focus on developing their analytical and managerial skills and abilities. We have detailed our Learning Competencies (pdf) and Assessment Plan (pdf) to collectively assess the progress students make toward achieving these competencies by using a variety of methods including but not limited to case analyses, internship reports, critical essays, and the capstone projects.

Students are given five years to complete the degree, but most can complete it in as little as two or 3 years.

Admission Requirements

Required Documents 

  1. An application for graduate admission
  2. Official transcripts of all college work (undergraduate and graduate).  A GPA of at least 3.0 at the undergraduate level is required for admission. Students with a GPA below 3.0 may be accepted provisionally when there is a record of professional work experience longer than 5 years or other evidence that suggests the ability to successfully complete graduate coursework (e.g., standardized test scores on the GRE or GMAT, successful completion of other graduate coursework). 
  3. Three recommendations from individuals who are in a position to evaluate the applicant’s professional competence as well as potential for graduate study (ideally at least one reference should be an academic instructor).
  4. A personal statement describing your professional experiences, reasons for pursuing graduate study in the Executive MPA program, and your professional career goals
  5. Resume
  6. 5 or more years of professional work experience

The entire portfolio of information and when indicators of success warrant, individuals who fall below the established criterion in one area may be considered for admission.

Degree Requirements 


The Executive Master of Public Administration program requires the satisfactory completion of 36 credit hours of approved graduate level courses,18 credit hours of core requirements and 18 hours of approved electives designed to enhance analytical and managerial skills.

Core Requirements (18 credit hours)

The core requirements include completing the following courses with the grade of “B” or better:

  • MPA 500 – Public Management Credits: 3
  • MPA 501 - Quantitative Methods Credits: 3
  • MPA 502 - Public Human Resources Development and Administration Credits: 3
  • MPA 503 - Financial Management and Decision Making Credits: 3
  • MPA 505 - Policy Analysis Credits: 3
  • MPA 596 - Capstone Project in Public Administration Credits: 3

(pre-requisite is successful completion of 30 credit hours and completion of all of the core courses)

Electives (18 credit hours)

Students also select six courses as electives to improve your analytical and managerial skills:

  • MPA 506 - Program Evaluation Credits: 3
  • MPA 507 - Applied Management Tools, Skills, and Techniques Credits: 3
  • MPA 508 - Ethics in Public Life Credits: 3
  • MPA 509 - Leading Public and Nonprofit Organizations Credits: 3
  • MPA 517 - Strategic Planning and Management for Public and Non-Profit Organizations Credits: 3
  • MPA 531 – Nonprofit Resource Development Credits: 3
  • MPA 536 – Nonprofit Business Law Credits: 3
  • MPA 541 - Public Economics and Cost-Benefit Analysis Credits: 3
  • MPA 514 - Conflict Resolution Credits: 3
  • other approved electives

Our Faculty 

EMPA faculty names, positions, and education

Abraham_Headshot.jpgDr. Romeo Abraham

Assistant Professor

Ph.D. in Public Affairs, University of Texas at Dallas. 2020. 

Dr. Biddle

Dr. Jennifer Biddle

Associate Professor

Ph.D. in Environmental Science and Policy, George Mason University. 2011.

Dr. BrennanDr. 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. ImperialDr. Mark Imperial


MPA and EMPA Director

Ph.D. in Public Affairs, Indiana University. 2001. 

 Dr. KinzerDr. Kirsten Kinzer

Assistant Professor

Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning, University of Pennsylvania. 2014.

Dr. PrenticeDr. Christopher Prentice

Associate Professor

Ph.D. in Public Administration, North Carolina State University. 2013. 


This page is 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.

Town Managers Needed! Read this Star News article about the demand for town managers.

Public Service Job Banks

Government Positions

Apply Now!

Begin your journey today! Applying to the EMPA Program is only one click away. We are here to help you each and every step of application process. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to Mark Imperial, EMPA Program coordinator at imperialm@uncw.edu.

We are excited you have expressed an interest in the profession of Public Administration, and even more so that you have chosen to explore UNCW.

Apply to the Executive MPA (EMPA) Program! »

Request More Info!

The request link below is undergoing technical maintenance. If you have questions or would like more information about the EMPA Program, please contact Craig Kelly, our Program Coordinator, at kellyc@uncw.edu

Contact Us!

Dr. Mark  Imperial
MPA Director
Email:  imperialm@uncw.edu 

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