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Department of Political Science

Master of Arts in Public Administration

The MPA Curriculum

Advising for MPA Students

MPA Comprehensive Examinations


Financial Assistance


MPA Student Organization



John Carlin Scholarship

Krishna Tummala Scholarship


Appendix A

Appendix B


The Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.) Degree at Kansas State University is a flexible professional degree designed for those who wish to hold administrative positions in the public sector.  Graduates are trained for employment with government agencies at the federal, state, or local level, and with regional or sub‑state organizations.  Opportunities are also available for graduates of the program with non‑profit corporations, public interest groups or commissions, charitable organizations, private corporations that work with government agencies, and international organizations.  The M.P.A. degree thus prepares a person for a professional career in a wide range of administrative environments.

The M.P.A. program has expanded dramatically over the past several years, serving both pre- and in-service students.  Its quality is indicated by the fact that it is accredited, and re-accredited  (through 2003-2004) by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA). Pre‑service students without prior administrative experience have enjoyed great success in obtaining both valuable internships while pursuing their degree, and challenging employment upon graduation.  For in-service students the program has been valuable in their present administrative positions as well as in career advancement.  It is especially attractive for the latter group by virtue of our evening offerings.  Through careful scheduling, all "core" and most of the "elective" courses for the M.P.A. degree may be completed "after hours".

Perhaps the most recent noteworthy development is the agreement reached between the MPA program and three Universities in South Africa (University of Port Elizabeth, Port Elizabeth Technikon– both in Port Elizabeth, and the University of Orange Free State in Bloemfontein for exchange of faculty and students. 

The M.P.A. degree requires 42 semester hours of graduate work, distributed as follows into four components:

Core curriculum............................................ 18 semester hours

Electives........................................................ 9 semester hours

Area of Specialization.................................. 12 semester hours

Intern Report................................................ 3 semester         

Total.............................................................. 42 semester hours

The program usually takes two years of full‑time study to complete.  For part-timers it may take longer, but there is a Graduate School stipulation that the program should be completed in six years.  In order to provide students with experiences which will prepare them for the wide range of career options mentioned above, the M.P.A. curriculum is designed as both flexible and interdisciplinary. Details of the above four components are given below.


I.          "Core" Courses (18 credits)

The "core" curriculum is composed of six required courses which focus upon subject matter that any administrator needs to master and use.  They are:

1.         Research Methods in Political Science (POLSC 700):  Principles of scientific inquiry, research design, and the measurement and analysis of social phenomena will be covered.

2.         Public Personnel Administration (POLSC 708):  The policy aspects of public personnel  administration at all levels of government are examined.  Specific attention is given to personnel issues unique to the public sector such as rights of public employees, civil service systems, and public service ethics in a democratic society.

3.         Policy Analysis and Evaluation (POLSC 710):  Focus is upon the relationship between public policy and the distribution of values, goods, and services in society.  Students analyze and evaluate policies in an area of their choice.

4.         Public Organizational Theory (POLSC 735):  Theories concerning the structure and mission of public organizations, and the role of administrative leadership in applying theory to solve organizational problems will be examined. 

5.         Public Budgeting Techniques (POLSC 737):  Budgeting, as a fiscal management tool, is examined within the political decision making process.  Several budgetary techniques such as Line-item, Performance Budgeting, PPBS, and Z-B B will also be studied. 

6.         Seminar in Public Administration (POLSC 831):  Capstone seminar

Students are advised to take the first five "core" courses early in their degree program as internships cannot be arranged unless these are successfully completed.  The Seminar in Public Administration itself may be taken only on completion of the  other "core" courses.  All these courses are offered in the evening, usually once every academic year.  POLSC 700, 708, and 735 are normally offered in the Fall semester, with POLSC 710 and 737 being taught in the Spring term.  Summer offerings vary from year to year.

II.         Elective Courses (9 credits)

This component includes the following:   One of the following three Political Science courses- 607 Administrative Law, 707 Comparative Administration, and 711 Administrative Ethics; any one course at 600 level, or above, in Political Science; and one other Political Science Seminar.  Students may choose from a range of graduate seminars and courses offered by the Department of Political Science.  For example, students interested in public administration in federal, state, or local government in the United States may wish to take their electives in American Politics or Political Thought.  Those desiring a career overseas, or with an international agency, may find it useful to pursue courses in the fields of International Relations and Comparative Politics. 

III.        Internship (3 credits)

Pre-service students are required to complete an internship (POLSC 897).  This entails serving in a full‑time administrative position for a period of at least 10 weeks (400 hours) in the public sector, or in a not-for-profit agency.  Internship positions are coordinated by the M.P.A. Director.  All internships are competitive in nature and are available on a regular basis with state, county, and local governments.  Others are posted from time to time.  A student's progress in the internship is monitored by the student's immediate supervisor and by the Director of the Program.  In addition to performance evaluations, satisfactory completion of the internship involves an internship paper which is prepared and submitted by the student for examination by individual Graduate Committees.

In-service students with significant employment experience may have the internship requirement waived.  However, they must still complete the internship paper in consultation with their individual Graduate Committees.  Students who wish an internship waiver should request the M.P.A. Director in writing.          

Guidelines for the internship paper may be seen in Appendix A

IV.        The Area Specialization (12 credits)

Each student must develop a particular specialty in one of the three areas listed below through additional interdisciplinary course work. However, other area needs of students are met on a case-by-case basis under special circumstances with the advice of the Director of the program.

Each specialty consists of four/five courses that are linked together logically.  Interdisciplinary study is encouraged.  Courses in bold letters in each of the areas are strongly recommended.   Students are advised to plan on taking these courses early as they are offered by other Departments in other Colleges, and as the Department of Political Science has no control on their scheduling.

1.         Advanced Personnel Administration

MANGT 633                Advanced Personnel Administration
PSYCH 876                 Industrial Psychology: Work Motivation
PSYCH 877                 Industrial Psychology: Leadership
PSYCH 880                 Industrial Psychology: Performance Appraisal
MANGT 531                Personnel and Human Resources Management

2.         Public Budgeting and Finance

ECON  532                 Fiscal Operations of State and Local Government 
ECON  633                 Public Finance                           
FINAN 670                  Financial Management 
MANGT 596                Business, Government & Society
ECON  555                 Urban and Regional Economics
ACCTG 434                  Accounting for not-for-profit entities

3.         Planning (can be done in conjunction with an M.R.C.P. degree, or Planning Certificate)

PLAN  700                   Planning Analysis
PLAN  715                   Planning Principles and Process
PLAN  725                   Planning Theory
PLAN  721                   Institutional Planning & Development           
POLSC 618                  Urban Politics



Initial advising for all students will be done by the M.P.A. Director.  After the first semester, each student will select one of the MPA faculty members as the Principal Advisor and Chair of the student's Graduate Committee.  Students are strongly encouraged to meet regularly with their individual Committee Chairs in order to plan course work, to map out the Area of Specialization, and to make career plans.  Students must see their Committee Chair in order to register for courses each semester.  Internships are planned in consultation with the Director, MPA program.

At the completion of nine hours of course work, each student must prepare a Program of Study for the Graduate School in consultation with the Chair of the Graduate Committee.  The Program of Study serves two purposes.  First, it identifies all courses which the student plans to take in order to complete the M.P.A. degree.  Second, it designates the members of the student's Graduate Committee (two from among the MPA faculty, and the other representing the Area of Specialization. If the M.P.A. Director is not the Chair of the student's Committee, the Director must be included as one of the members. 

Students who plan to graduate during a particular semester should obtain a Graduation Scheduleand file a Graduation Check Sheet with the Graduate School.  Both may be obtained from the Graduate School office in Fairchild Hall.  The schedule announces all the important dates and deadlines which a student needs to know for graduation, and the check sheet will instruct the Graduate School to confirm the student's degree status. 


Students are required to complete successfully a comprehensive examination which includes both a written and an oral test.  Written comprehensive examinations are given to eligible students early in the Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters.  A detailed policy statement on the comprehensive examinations may be found in Appendix B.

After successful completion of the written exam,  an oral examination is conducted by the student's Graduate Committee.  It consists of presenting and defending the Internship Paper.  At the end of the oral examination the student's committee votes on whether the student has passed or failed.  In case of a "fail," the student may take another examination after a waiting period of at least two months, but no longer than 15 months.  According to the rules established by the Graduate School, a third examination is not permitted.



Each year the Department of Political Science awards the John Carlin Scholarship in Public Administration to an M.P.A. student who demonstrates outstanding potential as a public administrator.  Students are encouraged to apply for this prestigious award which is made available through the generosity of former Governor John Carlin, Kansas state.

Contingent on funding by the United States government, also available are the US Housing and Urban Development Fellowships.

There is also an Educational Opportunity Fund Scholarship meant for minority and foreign students, when funded by the KSU Student Senate.



Graduate Assistantships are competitively awarded by the Department of Political Science.  Those who wish to be considered for an Assistantship should submit an application for graduate financial assistance  along with a cover letter  by April 1, for the Fall term and by November 1, for the Spring term.    



K-State's Placement Center is available for helping students in their job search.  The M.P.A. program maintains contacts with several government agencies and is often asked by potential employers to bring job openings to the attention of recent M.P.A. graduates.  Internships also serve as a vehicle for placement as often interns are retained as permanent employees.  The M.P.A. Director and the student's Graduate Committee will work closely with M.P.A. graduates to help locate public sector employment opportunities.




There is an active M. P. A. student organization (K-ASPA) within the Department of Political Science.  Participation in this organization is an excellent way of meeting other graduate students and keeping up-to-date with departmental news and events.  In general, this organization is expected to foster professionalism among students. There is also a chapter of Pi Alpha Alpha-- the Public Administration honor society. 



The American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) is the professional association of public administrators.  This organization has a very active Chapter in our area.  Frequent meetings consist of a dinner and a presentation by a prominent administrator.  Graduate students are strongly  encouraged to join this association and attend the monthly meetings.



The National Honor Society in Public Affairs and Public Administration
Pi Alpha Alpha, established in 1974, is the national honor society in public affairs and administration recognizing, honoring, promoting, and celebrating excellence in the study and practice of public affairs and administration. Student inductees have achieved the highest performance levels in education programs (3.7 GPA) preparing them for public service careers. Professionals are recognized as honorary members for having best advanced the ideas of integrity, professionalism, and creative performance in public service. 

List of inductees


Jennifer R. Arbuthnot
Im-Tae Bae
Sandra C. Barnett
J. Larry Hackney
Cathy E. Harmes
Kimali J. Kane
Kyle D. Kessler
Susanne G. Kufahl
Stephen D. Payne 
John R. Piskac
John M. Struve
Dr. Margery M. Amrosius (Faculty)
Dr. John A. Fliter (Faculty)
Dr. Dale R. Herspring (Head, Dept of Political Science)
Dr. Aruna M. Michie (Faculty)
Dr. Linda K. Richter (Faculty)
Dr. Krishna K. Tummala (Faculty)
Ron Fehr (Manhattan Asst. City Manager)
Gary Greer (Manhattan city Manager)

Matthew T. Benoit
Carla M. Campbell
Douglas Gerber
Edmond A. Leboeuf
Lorenda Ann Naylor
Ghazala M. Hassan (KS Dept of Transportation)
Curt Wood (Finance Director, City of Manhattan)

Teri Davis
Jason Paul Hilgers
Nadia Z. Khang
Bryan Ray Kidney
Rodney D. Barnes (Finance Director, City of Junction City)

Keith A. Bradshaw
Elizabeth H. Crain
Bret Glendening
Mark B. Tomb
Ryan James Weir

Kari A. Gallagher
John M. Struve(Budget Director, Kansas State University)

Virginia H. Claycomb
Neil C. Gosch
Lingling Zhang
Duane Goossen (Budget Director, State of Kansas)

Sarah A. Bouker
Marcos Medina-Britos
Heather Michelle Jones
Prakash D. Mallegowda
Erin Elizabeth Powell
Junyao Qian
Sondra S. Visser
Gary L. West
Dr. Joseph A. Aistrup (Head, Dept of Political Science)
Dr. William L. Richter (Assoc. Vice  Provost for International Programs)

Mary Beth Cook
Matthew M. Enoch
Kristin Nulik
Heath A. Starr
Dr. Mohamed S. Bayat (Dean of Commerce, Cape Town Peninsula Technical University, South Africa)

Tara Elizabeth Hull
Amy M. Link
Barbara J. Hinton (Chief, Legislative Post-Audit, State of Kansas)

Ranjan Kumar Barua
Christopher Botiette
Teola Watson Dorsey
Tyler M. Ficken
Marcia Hornung
Kevin C. Murray
Justin Stowe
John Michael Hayden (Dept of Administration, State of Kansas)

Nadine Sauerwein 
Dr. Ethan Bernick (Faculty)
Dr. Brienna Heidbreder (Faculty)




Carlin Fellowship was created by former Governor of the State of Kansas, John Carlin, and is awarded to a second year MPA student with the highest GPA.


Award Year

James F. Langford


Carla Wagner Campbell


Irwin Endsley


Thomas Beall


Scott Martis


Kimali Kane


David Wright


John Piskac


Brian Krannawitter


Larry Hackney


Douglas Gerber


Jason Hilgers


Mark Tomb


Brett Glendening


Kari A. Gallagher


Lingling Zhang


Virginia Claycomb


Aroon Manoharan


Sarah Bouker


Justin Stowe


Kevin Murray


Zhiwei Zhang


Daru Zhang






This Fellowship was established to commemorate a quintessential public servant—Raghavaiah Tummala, father of Dr. Krishna Tummala, and is awarded for the best writing—Internship Paper.


Award Year

Elizabeth Crain


Prakash Mallegowda


Justin Stowe


Kristen Rottinghaus


Jason Christenson




M.P.A. Director, Department of Political Science
Waters Hall
Kansas State University
Manhattan, KS 66506
Phone: 785-532-6842
Fax: 785-532-2339

To be eligible for admission, a student must have a Bachelor's degree with a minimum of 3.0 GPA (on a four point scale).  Others with at least a 2.7 GPA may be admitted on "probation," or on "special student" category.  Application materials for admission to the M.P.A. program must be returned to the Department and should include a completed application form, two official transcripts from all colleges previously attended, three letters of recommendation (on official letterhead), and a statement of the candidate's personal objectives.  Foreign students, in addition to the above materials, need to submit a TOEFL score (a minimum of 550), a financial affidavit, and a $40.00 fee for domestic students ($55 for international), payable to "KSU Graduate School," either by International Cashier's Check or Money Order.  The application for the Graduate Program is located on the Graduate School website http://www.k-state.edu/grad/gsprospective/apply/index.htm.



As the MPA program is on non-thesis basis, it is important to understand the scope and style of the Internship Paper each student is required to satisfactorily complete.  There are two important stages in writing this paper: selecting a topic, and writing the paper.

(a) Selecting a topic:  For pre-service students completing an internship, the paper will of necessity be the outcome of the internship itself.  It may deal with an aspect of the work being done, or relate to any project that the Intern is asked to complete by the hiring agency.  It is important to note, however, that a  journal kept during the Intern's work does not suffice.   For in-service students who obtained a waiver of Internship, the paper topic should be related to their work. 

Selection of a topic must be done in consultation with both the Chair, Graduate Committee, and Director, MPA program (if he/she is not the Chair of the Committee).  Pre-service students are advised to do this, and start working on the paper mid-way in their internship.  In-service students should start as soon as the waiver is approved, around their third semester work.

(b) Writing the paper:  The intern should (a) identify precisely the issue to be studied; (b) gather evidence (which need not necessarily be primary); (c) review the relevant literature, and (d) write an integrated paper.   While the "core" courses will come in handy in the search for literature, it is important to note that the paper need not relate to all the courses.  Neither is it adequate simply to mention some aspect of each course as an addendum to the paper.  

The paper should be in the proper research format and style with a table of contents, end-notes and bibliography.  The proper length of the paper is difficult to prescribe, and is often driven by the chosen topic.  But it is clear that a paper cannot be completed in ten or fifteen pages.  It is important to keep in mind that this is more demanding than a research paper normally written for a course.

While writing the paper, the student and the Chair should be in constant communication.  Once the paper is acceptable to the Chair (and corrected for all spelling, grammar and typographical errors), copies of the same should go to the other two members of the Committee.  Then a mutually agreeable time will be set for the oral examination.  (The  oral examination consequent to the successful completion of the written comprehensive examinations cannot be scheduled until the Internship Paper is read by the student's Graduate Committee.)  It is quite likely that some re-writing would be needed subsequent to the discussion during the oral examination.  Two copies of the final paper, one for the Department and the other for the Chair of the Committee, are required.



It is the responsibility of individual students to let the Director of the program know when they intend to take the Comprehensive examinations.

The comprehensive examinations will be in two areas: the "P A core," and the "Area of Specialization."  The "P A core" area will cover four fields: Personnel, Budgeting, Organization Theory, and Research Methods & Policy Analysis.  To be eligible to take this part of the examination, students must have successfully completed all the "core" courses.  (POLSC 831, Seminar in Public Administration need not be completed prior to the examination.)  Three to four questions will be given in advance and only one question (at the discretion of the MPA faculty) in each of the fields (for a total of four) will be answered. The examination will last for four hours on the third Thursday after the questions are given (9:00 AM to 1:00 PM).

The Area of Specialization examination may be taken while students are enrolled in the last of the Area courses.  Individual student Graduate Committees will take the responsibility for this part.  There will be three questions, out of which two will be answered at the discretion of the Graduate Committee.  This examination will be held on the day following the "core" examination (9.00AM to 11.00AM).

Questions in each of the two areas will be given in advance, early in each semester.  Students are free to consult with any library material and discuss with any faculty member.  The examination itself will be closed book.  Students may not bring any material to the examination.

A student is deemed to have "passed" only when a "pass" is awarded in both the areas.  If there is a "fail" in only one question in either area, then the student can re-take the examination covering that part only.  If a student fails in two or more questions in either area, a new examination, in its entirety, shall be repeated, subject to Graduate School's restriction of a two month lapse of time between the initial examination and the re-take, and no later than 15 months.