Master of Public Administration



Thank you for your interest in the Master of Public Administration program at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. We are housed in the Department of Public and International Affairs in the College of Arts and Sciences. The MPA program is a 39-hour program accredited with the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration. Students are given five years to complete the degree but most complete it in as little as two years. For students who want to graduate within two academic years, we suggest they take nine credit hours for four semesters and three credit hours during their first summer enrolled in the 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.

We offer afternoon and evening courses (3:30-6:15 pm, 6:30-9:15 pm) Mondays through Thursdays and periodically offer courses that meet on Saturday. We also offer some classes that are available exclusively online. Students interested in completing a degree fully online should consider our Executive MPA program designed for working professionals with more than 5 years of professional experience.



The deadline for submitting applications for fall admission is July 1, December 1 for spring admission, and May 1 for summer admission. Applicants seeking admission to the Master of Public Administration program are required to submit the following to the Graduate School:

  1. An application for graduate admission
  2. Official transcripts of all college work (undergraduate and graduate)
  3. Three recommendations from individuals who are in a position to evaluate the applicant's professional competence as well as the potential for graduate study (ideally at least one reference should be an academic instructor).
  4. A personal statement describing educational and professional experiences, their reasons for pursuing graduate study in public administration, and career goals
  5. Resume
  6. Optional writing sample

Applicants seeking admission to the program must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university or its equivalent from a foreign institution of higher education based on a four-year program; a strong academic record; academic potential as indicated by the application. As of Fall 2019, the GRE is not required to apply.

Individuals who fall below a specified criterion may be admitted if other factors indicate the potential for success. Individuals with identified deficiencies may be accepted provisionally with specified plans and goals for the remediation of these deficiencies. Such remediation may include a requirement of additional hours beyond those normally required for the degree.

Students with a GPA below 3.0 may be accepted provisionally if there is other evidence that suggests the ability to successfully complete graduate coursework. Such evidence could include work experience in excess of three years, standardized test scores on the GRE/GMAT, and/or successful completion of other graduate coursework.  Contact the program coordinator for additional clarification.

Please contact us or come to an open house. We look forward to meeting you!


Core Requirements

The Master of Public Administration program requires the satisfactory completion of 39 credit hours of approved graduate-level courses, 18 core requirements, 6 applied skill-based, 12 concentration requirements, and 3 internship or practicum. A minimum of 36 credit hours is required if the internship or practicum requirement is waived due to having a minimum of 5 years of professional experience. 

See the Graduate Academic Catalogue here (when clicking this link, please check that you are in the current academic year in the drop-down list on the upper right-hand corner of the screen)

Core Courses: 18 credit hours designed to provide the basic skills needed by managers and policy analysts working in public and nonprofit organizations.

  • Public Management
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Public Human Resources Development and Administration
  • Financial Management and Decision Making
  • Policy Analysis
  • Capstone Seminar in Public Administration

Internship/Practicum: 3 credit hour internship or practicum.

  • Practicum in Public Administration
  • Internship in Public Administration

A waiver to the internship requirement may be granted when the student can demonstrate a minimum of five years of significant management or policy-related professional experience or completes a comparable experience that the MPA director determines is a suitable replacement for the requirement. Requests for a waiver must be made in writing and be approved by the MPA director. If the internship requirement is waived, the student is only required to complete 36 credit hours in order to graduate.

Applied Skill-Based Elective: 6 credit hours. For the complete list of applied skill-based electives, please see the academic catalog. Students should consult their advisor to select the appropriate course.

Concentration: 12 credit hours. All students are required to pursue a concentration in one of the following areas:

  • Public Management
  • Nonprofit Management
  • Public Policy Analysis
  • Urban and Regional Policy and Planning
  • Coastal Planning Management