Master of Public Administration

Why choose a Master of Public Adminstration?

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 offers students the analytical and organizational tools to implement public policy to address complex social, economic, and political issues. Students already working in the public sector can use the knowledge and skills acquired in the MPA to their advance careers; it also can prepare and equip those just starting careers in the public or nonprofit sectors. 

The 40 credit-hour MPA program offers rigorous academic and practical training for persons pursuing management careers in public and nonprofit organizations, building upon strong foundations in management, finance, and analysis. Students can attend classes on the University of Kentucky's main campus in Lexington and starting Fall 2021, online classes will be available for students preferring online modality. Students attending fulltime can complete the program in four semesters (two years). Students also have the option to study part-time, taking fewer courses per semester. It will take correspondingly longer to complete the degree.  Please contact our Director of Graduate Studies, Dr. Bill Hoyt with any questions.

The Martin School's MPA program provides:

  • 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.

Students acquire tools to:

  • Prepare 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.

Full-time vs. Part-time

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




Program Length 2 years (9-12 credit hours per semester) 3-8 years (less than 9 credit hours per semester)
Time of Day Evening Evening
Cost 4 semesters' graduate student tuition Per credit
  • Core coursework
  • Internship (usually summer between years 1 and 2)
  • Capstone Project
  • Core coursework
  • Capstone Project
  • Internship (may be waived for relevant work experience)
Class Size ~30 students
  • 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
  • Complete at your own pace
  • Able to balance with work, personal commitments
  • Able to waiver internship requirement for relevant work experience
Things to Consider
  • Requires enough time and energy to complete full load of coursework
  • Requires more time to complete program
  • 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 college level microeconomics course (ECO 201 at UK, or equivalent). The economics course may be completed in the first semester of the program; however, it will not count towards your MPA degree. Students also need to demonstrate ability to succeed in the program’s quantitative economics and statistics courses before entering the program and enrolling in PA 621. Such evidence may come from success in quantitative undergraduate courses at least a college algebra course (MA 109 at UK, or equivalent)—or from quantitative scores on the GRE (if provided).

Application Deadlines:

  • January 15: Deadline to apply for Ph.D. and masters students to be considered for funding for the fall 2022 semester.
  • February 1: Deadline for international applications (all programs) to be submitted to the Graduate School for the fall 2022 semester.
  • March 15: Notification letters concerning fellowships, assistantships, and scholarships sent out for the fall 2022 semester.
  • July 24: Deadline to apply to the Graduate School for the fall 2022 semester. 
  • October 1: Deadline to apply for masters students to be considered for funding for the spring 2023 semester.
  • December 6: Deadline to apply to the Graduate School for the spring 2023 semester. 

Application Materials


The MPA 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.

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 602: Organization Change & Strategic Planning in the Public Sector

PA 652: Public Policy Economics

Total: 9 credit hours

PA 623: Decision Analysis

PA 642: Public Organization, Theory, and Behavior


Total: 9 credit hours

PA 681: Capstone



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. Areas of concentration for the MPA program include, but are not limited to:​

  • Non-Profit Management
  • Public Financial Management
  • Policy Analysis
  • Social Policy 

In consultation with the DGS, students can create their own concentrations with relevant courses from other departments.