History & Fast Facts

The James W. Martin School of Public Policy and Administration is an academic, research, and service unit of the University of Kentucky Graduate School. It was named in honor of Dr. James W. Martin, a scholar, public servant, and teacher whose accomplishments have created a lasting legacy of scholarship and service.

The first class entered the James W. Martin Center in fall 1976. In 1984, the unit was named the James W. Martin School of Public Administration and was designated a "Center of Excellence" by the University of Kentucky in 1985. The name was changed again in 1994 to the James W. Martin School of Public Policy and Administration. This change was made to better reflect the research, public service, and academic activities of the school.

The master of public administration (MPA) was the first-degree program in the Martin School. There are now over 650 graduates of this program. Graduates of the MPA program occupy positions as city and state finance officers, as city planning officers, as health services executives, and numerous other positions in the public and nonprofit sector in Kentucky and across the nation.

In the late nineties, the Martin School introduced the master of public policy (MPP). This degree prepares students for a fulfilling career in research.  Alumni of the MPP program have taken positions as policy analysts, researchers, and at Ph.D. programs across the nation.

The Graduate Certificate in Public Financial Management and the Master of Public Financial Management were introduced in 2016.  These programs are offered 100% online and provide unique course content focused on public budgeting, public sector accounting/auditing, and other financial matters unique to public and non-profit organizations.  The programs are offered in cooperation with the Von Allmen School of Accountancy in the Gatton School of Business and Economics.

The Ph.D. program in public administration began in 1988. Ph.D. students have specialized in areas including welfare policy, education policy, environmental policy, human resources management, public finance, and financial management and budgeting. Most graduates of this program hold academic positions.

In 2009 the International Public Policy and Managment Institute (IPPMI) was founded. Housed in the Martin School, the IPPMI Institute offers five different opportunities (including an MPP or MPA) for international officials and professionals in the field of public policy and government. For more information about IPPMI, please click here.


Martin School Organizational Chart


Fast Facts

Job Placements

Our graduates work all over the world. In 2017, 28 master's students graduated from our programs. Around a quarter have found jobs in all three levels of government; another quarter are working internationally in government or quasi-government organizations post-graduation. The rest work in nonprofits, the private sector, the military, or are continuing their education. 

Below is a breakdown of job placements for the 5-year MPA cohort starting in 2012-2013:

Graduation Rates ARY-5 MPA Cohort (2012-13)

  • Initially enrolled: 38
    • Graduated in 100% program length: 28
      • Full-time students typically graduate in two years.
    • Graduated in 150% program length: 2
      • Part-time students may take up to 8 years
    • Graduated in 200% program length: 2
      • Dual Degree students (Pharm.D./MPA and JD/MPA students take 4 years to complete their degree)

Job Placement Stats for 2017 MPA Graduates using NASPAA Categories: 16 Students Total

  • US Government: 2
  • State Government: 4
  • U.S. Local Government: 0
  • International Quasi-Government or Government All Levels: 4
  • Nonprofit (domestic-oriented): 5
  • Nonprofit (international): 0
  • Private Sector (research/consulting): 0
  • Private Sector (not research/consulting): 0
  • Obtaining Further Education: 1
  • Military Service: 0
  • Unemployed (not seeking employment): 0
  • Unemployed (seeking employment): 0
  • Status Unknown: 0

*Due to our close collaboration with the government of the Republic of Korea through the International Public Policy & Management Insitute, Ministry of Personnel Management, and the Korean Development Institute we typically have a number of Korean Government Officials who return to their jobs in Korea, hence the high number of International placements. Due to the Pharm.D./MPA dual degree program, we typically have a high number of placements in the Health Care Sector, including Health Administration. The Nonprofit area of specialization is one of the most popular, and typically a high percentage of graduates remain in this field. Due to the number of University employees in our program, we typically have a high number of placements in Higher Education Administration. 

The University of Kentucky at a Glance

Comprised of six colleges, with eleven "top ten" departments, UK boasts a student population of 30,131 as of 2015. 23.8% of the student body are graduate students; as of 2013, minority and international students totaled 18%. For more information about UK as a whole, click here.