Master of Public Administration in Political Science

MPA program contact

Program Director: Xiaoyu Pu
Phone: (775) 682-7759

*The MPA in political science handbook is currently being revised. To request a current version, contact the Program Director, Xiaoyu Pu.

Application deadlines

Fall application deadline: April 15. (If seeking funding, assistantship application deadline: January 15).

Spring Application Deadline: November 15

The Master of Public Administration program has the following general goals:

  • To prepare people for careers in public administration and policy analysis
  • To improve managerial competence of persons presently in public service through the advanced study of administrative processes and problems and through an increased understanding of policy issues and research skills
  • To support additional university-based research in public administration and policy analysis

The courses in public administration are designed to increase the student's understanding of the internal organizational environment and to help the student develop needed managerial skills. Courses in public policy give the student an understanding of the social, political and economic environment in which public programs develop and operate. Courses in research methods provide the skills necessary in today's complex government agencies and activities. A track of specialization provides the student with additional competence in an area linked to individual interests and/or career goals.

Minimum requirements

  • Undergraduate degree (B.A./B.S.)
  • Minimum 2.75 overall GPA (B.A./B.S.) or a 3.0 GPA for last two years of B.A./B.S.
  • GRE Scores: verbal and quantitative scores should be a minimum of 154, though some exceptions are made for students based on upon their skill set and other qualifications (or GMAT equivalent)
  • 18 credit hours (six courses) of coursework in political science/social science

Please note that these are minimum requirements. Meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee admission to the program. Students are admitted on an increasingly competitive basis. The admission committees take into consideration a student's overall record, as well as the department's ability to accommodate a student's research/teaching interest. Application materials need to be mailed to the Graduate School. Please check the Graduate School website for additional information and deadlines.


All MPA students are required to complete the following 36 credits of course work:

General core courses (18 credits)

  • PSC 604B - Public Personnel Administration
  • PSC 741 - Seminar in Public Administration
  • PSC 744 - Governmental Budgeting
  • PSC 750 - Seminar in Public Policy
  • PSC 780 - Research in Political Science
  • PSC 751 - Public Policy Analysis

Specialization track (nine credits)

The program offers three defined specialization tracks: public management, policy analysis and evaluation, or environmental policy and management.

Thee courses supporting each track may be interdisciplinary, in which case those courses may be taken outside of the department. Other courses may be included to match the special interests of individual students, in consultation with the student's committee chair and the director of graduate studies. Students can augment the required nine credits in the track with additional elective courses.

Students also can devise more specifically defined specialization tracks (e.g., comparative administration, urban management and planning) upon consultation with and approval by their advisory committee and graduate studies director

General electives (six credits)

  • PSC 795 - Comprehensive examinations (three credits total)

MPA students are required to pass comprehensive examinations in three of the six required general core courses, excluding PSC 780 for which there is no comprehensive examination offered. The procedures for the comprehensive examinations are as follows:

  1. Students decide in consultation with their advisor which comprehensive examination they would like to take.
  2. When students sign up to take the class in which they would like to take the comprehensive examination, they inform the instructor at the beginning of the semester that they wish to take the comprehensive examination for that course.
  3. The student then registers for one credit of PSC 795 Comprehensive Examination and two credits of PSC 791 Special Topics. Why register for the Special Topics? Because students taking the comprehensive examination also have to study additional material for the comprehensive examination, as well as the regular course material. The department grants students extra credits for the time students use to study that material.
  4. The student takes the comprehensive examination at the end of the course.
  5. The instructor grades the examination and submits grades for both the course and separate grades for the comprehensive examination and special topics.

To apply

The following documents must be submitted to the Graduate School, University of Nevada, Reno:

  • Undergraduate and graduate transcripts
  • GRE/GMAT scores
  • Three letters of recommendation of which a minimum of two are from professors with whom you have taken and completed coursework.
  • Statement of purpose: This one-to-two page statement should be 500 words, double-spaced and printed in a standard font. In this statement, you should discuss your career and educational goals and how those goals fit into the research specializations of the department. Please make sure your name is at the top of the each page.

A departmental selection committee makes the admission decisions.

Apply to the program