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Why choose an MPA? Students come from a variety of backgrounds, with and without work experience, to our MPA program. However, all of them are interested in public service. Professionals with Master of Public Administration degrees often work in non-profits, government agencies, NGOs, and the political sphere. Some even apply their skills in the private sector. The MPA is designed to offer students the analytical and organizational tools to implement public policy to address complex social, economic, and political issues. If you already work in the public sector, an MPA can provide the tools you need to advance in your career; it also can equip those that are just starting their careers.

The 40-semester hour MPA program offers rigorous academic and practical training for persons pursuing management careers in public and non- profit organizations, building upon strong foundations in management, finance, and analysis. There are two models for program completion: the two-year program and the one-year accelerated program. Both models are classroom-based and conducted on the University of Kentucky's main campus in Lexington. In the Martin School's MPA program you can expect:

  • An outstanding multidisciplinary approach that encourages broad-based understanding for a successful public and non-profit career;
  • An innovative learning environment, with strong commitment to public service values, strategic thinking, and integrity;
  • Interaction with faculty members engaged in cutting edge research who are also dedicated to student success.

You will be provided with tools that:

  • Prepare you for a career addressing complex social, political, and economic issues;
  • Foster the analytical ability to clarify problems, identify alternatives, and formulate solutions;
  • Cultivate leadership skills and the ability to communicate effectively, both orally and in writing

The MPA program is taught by Martin School’s core faculty members and professionally qualified adjunct faculty members, with additional electives being offered by joint faculty members from various departments on campus.

Two-Year v. Accelerated Program

Trying to decide which flavor of the MPA is right for you? Below is a comparison of the two options.

  Traditional Accelerated Part-Time
Program Length 2 years (9-12 credit hours per semester) 1 year (accelerated modules) 3-8 years (less than 9 credit hours per semester)
Time of Day Evening Day (expect some evening sessions) Evening
Cost 4 semesters' graduate student tuition 2 semesters' graduate student tuition + $8,000 accelerated fee Per credit

- Core coursework

- Internship (usually summer between years 1 and 2)

- Capstone Project

- Core coursework

- MartinServes (group service project fulfilling internship requirement)

- Capstone Project

- Core coursework

- Capstone Project

- Internship (may be waived for relevant work experience)

Class Size ~30 students Smaller Cohort (10-15 students in the past) In class with full-time students

- Allows students time to explore passions

- Able to tailor coursework, concentration, and internship to personal goals

- Able to work part-time or a flexible full-time position

- Special emphasis on group work and team-building skills

- Covers material of the 2 year program in a shorter time frame

- Do not have to find internship independently

- Complete at your own pace

- Able to balance with work, personal commitments

- Able to waiver internship requirement for relevant work experience

Things to Consider

- Takes longer than accelerated program

- Program is a full-time commitment; do not expect to work during business hours

- Less flexibility with selection of experiential learning (internship, etc.)

- May not have as much choice or flexibility with concentration courses

-Internship in form of group service project is selected by faculty and staff

- Requires more time

- All courses are not offered every semester; may have to wait to complete some requirements if taken out of sequence


In preparation for the program, students should have taken a microeconomics (ECO 201 at UK) course. This may be completed in the first semester of the program; however, it will not count towards your MPA degree.  It is recommended to complete a college algebra course prior to the program.



The MPP curriculum consists of four major components: (1) the policy core (2) an area of concentration, (3) an internship or equivalent experience, and (4) Capstone Project. More information about the Capstone and internships can be found here and here.

Policy Core

All students take 31 hours of policy core courses. The core provides the analytic and conceptual foundations necessary for successful entry into and advancement within public and nonprofit agencies. The core covers the areas of economics, finance, budgeting, accounting, management, statistics, research methods, policy formulation and analysis, and the political and legal environments of public administration.

Fall (Year 1) Spring (Year 1) Fall (Year 2) Spring (Year 2)

PA 621: Quantitative Methods of Research

PA 631: Public Financial Management

PA 651: Policy Process

PA 691: Ethics in Public Policy (1 hour)

Total: 10 credit hours

PA 622: Program Evaluation

PA 632: Public Funds Management

PA 652: Public Policy Economics

Total: 9 credit hours

PA 602: Organization Change & Strategic Planning in the Public Sector

PA 623: Decision Analysis

PA 642: Public Organization, Theory, and Behavior

Total: 9 credit hours

PA 681: Capstone

Area of Specialization

Area of Specialization

Total: 9 credit hours

Note: Doesn't include 3 hours credit for summer internship

Areas of Concentration

The area of concentration consists of two related courses that apply the concepts of the policy core to a particular subject or policy area. The following areas of concentration are available to MPA students.

  • Economic Development
  • Education Policy
  • Environmental Policy
  • Health Policy
  • International Policy and Management
  • Non-Profit Management
  • Policy Analysis
  • Public Financial Management
  • Transportation Systems Management (certificate program offered through the Kentucky Transportation Center)