Apr 01, 2023  
2021-2022 Graduate Catalog 
2021-2022 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Public Administration, MPA

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Program Description

The Clemson Master of Public Administration program is a “live,” synchronous online graduate program. The program does not require students to attend class on campus; all educational requirements of the program, for example, student advising and technology training, comprehensive exams, and the capstone defense are accomplished online.

The majority of students in the program are working public administrators or non-profit professionals. The professional expertise of students and faculty is diverse, with representation from local government, state agencies, non-profit organizations, and non-governmental organizations among others. The diverse expertise of students and faculty is a critical component to the MPA educational experience, contributing to an engaging and collaborative learning environment. Coupled with the outstanding professional and academic experience of the faculty, the Clemson MPA program is one that provides excellent value in a flexible environment for busy professionals.

Currently, over 85% of the program’s current students are employed full-time and take classes on a part-time basis. Of those employed full-time, over 50% are employed in the public sector (local, state, or federal government). Another 25% of current students are employed in the nonprofit sector, with the remaining employed in various private sector positions. The majority of students are drawn to the program in order to improve their management and leadership skills within their current organization or make horizontal movements into different public or non-profit sectors.

An average size of an incoming cohort is approximately 15-20 students in the fall and spring semesters, respectively. Approximately 75% of MPA students take two courses per semester, including the summer semesters. The average time to completion is seven semesters, with 10-15 students graduating per semester.

Summary of Degree Requirements

The program of study for the Master of Public Administration (MPA) program requires the completion of 39 or 42 total credit hours, depending on the student’s choice of the comprehensive exam or a capstone final research project. If a student chooses the comprehensive exam, they are required to complete 39 total credit hours. Because the capstone project requires three hours of course credit, if a student chooses this as their final project they are required to complete 42 total credit hours.


The program requires the following seven (21 hours) core courses:

Additional Coursework

  • One of the following government courses: PADM 8600 - American Government , PADM 8670 - State Government Administration , PADM 8680 - Local Government Administration , or another government elective with approval (Administrative Law, Lobbying, etc.). On occasion, students may choose a Special Topics government course to count towards the government course requirement. Students should inquire as to any possible exceptions or substitutions during their advising sessions.
  • Five electives of the students choosing. Students must complete 15 or 18 elective hours depending on the student’s choice of the comprehensive exam or capstone final research project.

Note: Students must take Research Methods and Public Data Analysis in sequence. Additionally, once students have completed the core coursework they may take the comprehensive exams if they are not choosing the capstone project.

Outcomes, Learning Objectives, and Graduation Requirements

The Clemson University Master of Public Administration program has  a primary objective of being a nationally recognized leader in preparing public and nonprofit professionals to be renowned public service leaders for the 21st century.

To meet this objective all program and course learning outcomes are centered around:

  1. Effective, inclusive, and participatory leadership skills;
  2. Ethical and equitable decision making;
  3. Knowledge and application of core public administration foundations (public budgeting and finance, public personnel, public policy, research methods and data analysis); and
  4. Knowledge and application of a select set of  elective, specialized public administration and/or non-profit management concepts and principles (non-profit management, emergency management, homeland defense and security, local and state government, and regional sustainability).

Graduation requirements include:

  • A minimum 3.0 GPA
  • A GS2 form approved by the program and graduate school
  • Proof of successful completion of either a capstone research project or the comprehensive exam

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