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Our History

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 (MPFM) 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. in Public Administration program 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 institute offers five different opportunities (including an MPP or MPA) for international officials and professionals in the fields of public policy and government.



Who is James W. Martin?

When James W. Martin came to the University of Kentucky in 1928, he was already a recognized and respected scholar in the field of government finance. His employment with UK continued until his retirement as Distinguished Professor of Economics in 1964, although he continued a variety of professional and research activities with the university through the next two decades.

As director of UK's Bureau of Business Research, the forerunner of the Center for Business and Economic Research, he inspired and guided a large number of significant research programs, and he was skillful in mobilizing resources for their advancement.

As a consultant to governmental agencies in Kentucky and elsewhere, he brought to public policy the benefits of sound economic analysis and sophisticated research techniques. In Kentucky, Martin served at the Commissioner level in three divisions of the state government during leaves of absence from the university.