Public Administration

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences
Dean: Joel Kassiola

Department of Public Administration
HSS 236
Director: Genie Stowers

Graduate Coordinator: Genie Stowers


ProfessorsóLeGates, Stowers

Associate Professor—Naff

Assistant Professors—Gen, Paarlberg


Master of Public Administration

Program Scope

The goal of the program is to prepare people for responsible positions in the public and nonprofit sectors. This includes positions in government but also in such entities as community development corporations, nonprofit social service agencies, planning and consulting organizations, and activities of private firms in public affairs and public policy areas. Applications are welcome both from persons proceeding directly from an undergraduate degree without prior experience and from those with experience who wish to strengthen their capabilities or prepare themselves for new opportunities.

The Master of Public Administration is fully accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA).

The program is based on the premise that policy and administration must be understood in relation to each other, and the core of the program seeks to develop knowledge, skills, and understanding in both public policy and public administration. The common core of the program is heavily focused on essential knowledge and skills for public and nonprofit management. Beyond the core, the program offers five areas of emphasis as an opportunity for specialization. They are Integrated and Collaborative Service Delivery, Nonprofit Administration, Policy Making and Analysis, Public Management, and Urban Administration. The requirements for the M.P.A., in general, and the specialty emphases, in particular, are shown in detail on the following pages. Taking an emphasis for specialization is optional. Those who choose not to pursue an emphasis may take appropriate electives to satisfy their professional needs, and students may opt to design their own emphasis. Students may choose courses relevant to their professional interests offered by other departments and programs throughout the university.

Career Outlook

Graduates from the M.P.A. program pursue their professional careers in various government agencies at federal, state, and local levels, such as the Federal Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Government Accounting Office, city management, and state offices. In addition, those interested in the nonprofit field find careers in the numerous varieties of nonprofit organizations. Those in both areas may also go to work for consulting and research firms. Some go on to the Ph.D. in Public Administration at other universities to enter into a career in higher education.


Graduate Advisers—Gen, LeGates, Naff, Paarlberg, Stowers

Admission to Program

After submitting the application for post-baccalaureate study to the university graduate admissions office, applicants should:

Applicants must meet all university admission requirements to be accepted into the MPA program. Applicants are judged on a competitive basis.

For fully classified status in the program, applicants must meet the following prerequisites:

Applicants who do not meet the prerequisites may be admitted on the condition that they complete these prerequisites within one academic year.

Potential applicants who are still completing their undergraduate work should strengthen their preparation for the program with courses in public administration, economics, politics, public policy, and research techniques.

Written English Proficiency Requirement

Level One: satisfactory performance on the Graduate Essay Test (GET) before or during the first semester of attendance. Level Two: master's thesis or strategic assessment memo from PA 800 must be written at a level commensurate with professional standards in the field.

Advancement to Candidacy

Approval of a student's proposed course of study (the Graduate Approved Program) advances a student to candidacy. Completion of the Graduate Approved Program requirements qualifies the student to apply for the award of the master's degree. Besides meeting university requirements for advancement to candidacy, students are required to:

On-line course descriptions are available. Upon advisement, upper division and graduate courses in other disciplines may be accepted if they contribute to a coherent program related to the student's educational objectives.

Core Requirements Units
PA 700 Introduction to Public Administration & Public Policy 3
PA 705 Research Methods and Data Analysis I 3
PA 706 Research Methods and Data Analysis II 3
PA 710 Microeconomic Analysis for Public Administration 3
PA 715 Policy-Making and Implementation 3
PA 720 Managing Organizational Behavior 3
PA 725 Managing Human Resources 3
PA 730 Managing Budgets in the Public Sector 3
Internship Requirement 1
PA 803
PA 804
Public Affairs Internships (3)
Internship Seminar (1)
Culminating Experience Requirement 3
PA 800
PA 898
Capstone Course
Master's Thesis
Emphasis or Electives on advisement 12
Minimum total 39-43


Nonprofit Administration Units
PA 744 Nonprofits, Public Policy, and Society 3
Units selected from the following: 9
PA 742 Strategic Public and Nonprofit Management  
PA 745 Administration of Nonprofit Organizations
PA 747 Developing Nonprofit Resources
PA 749 Management of NGOs in an International Context
PA 750 Financial Management in the Public Sector
PA 755 Managing Information Systems in the Public Sector
PA 760 Diversity in Public Organizations
PA 762 Leadership for the Public and Nonprofit Sectors
PA 770 Policy Analysis
PA 775 Program Evaluation
MS 800 Museum Management, Law, and Ethics
MS 860 Fundraising in Museums
SW 800 Planning and Program Development
Total for emphasis 12


Policy Making and Analysis Units
PA 770 Policy Analysis 3
Units selected from the following: 9
PA 775 Program Evaluation  
ECON 508 Economics and Public Policy
ECON 505/805 Applied Public Finance
ECON 630 Introduction to Econometrics
One substantive policy area course like ENVS 450, URBS 560, or URBS 570, upon advisement, is also required.
Total for emphasis 12


Public Management Units
PA 740 Public Sector Management 3
Units selected from the following 9
PA 742 Strategic Public and Nonprofit Management  
PA 750 Financial Management in the Public Sector
PA 752 Public Administration and the Law
PA 755 Managing Information Systems in the Public Sector
PA 757 E-Government
PA 760 Diversity in Public Organizations
PA 762 Leadership for the Public and Nonprofit Sectors
PA 770 Policy Analysis
PA 775 Program Evaluation
ECON 601 Applied Microeconomics
PLSI 731 Ethics and Politics (4)
Total for emphasis 12


Urban Administration Units
PA 780 Urban Administration 3
Units selected from the following 9
ECON/URBS 535 Urban Economics  
GEOG/URBS 433 Urban Transportation (4)
GEOG/PA 858 Seminar in Environmental and Land Use Planning
PA 752 Public Administration and the Law
PA 755 Managing Information Systems in the Public Sector
PA 757 E-Government
PA 760 Diversity in Public Organizations
PA 762 Leadership for the Public and Nonprofit Sectors
PA 770 Policy Analysis
PA 775 Program Evaluation
PA 782 Community and Economic Development
PA 784 Intergovernmental Relations
URBS 560 Urban Poverty and Policy (4)
URBS 565 Social Policy and Family Systems (4)
URBS 570 Urban Health Policy
URBS 580 Urban Housing
URBS 582 Homelessness and Public Policy
Total for emphasis 12

Culminating Experience Requirement

Students in the public administration program can choose between two options for their culminating experience:

Public Administration Program Portfolio

San Francisco State University public administration students graduate with a portfolio of work products and evaluations of student work designed to demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and abilities acquired in the public administration program. The required components of the portfolio have been chosen based upon a careful assessment of the skills that are crucial for the success of the public administrator in the new millennium.

Eugene I. Pearl Memorial Scholarship

Students specializing in urban administration are eligible, on a competitive basis, for the Eugene I. Pearl Memorial Scholarship. This scholarship reimburses students for the cost of their textbooks; can be renewed each semester, also on a competitive basis.

Cho Public Service Scholarships

SFSU Cho Public Service Scholarships are available on a competitive basis for incoming and continuing students. Students are selected on the basis of outstanding academic achievement, outstanding community service, and potential for excellence in the public and nonprofit sectors.

Please contact the program office for information and applications.


  1. Internship requirement may be waived upon evidence and approval of previous or concurrent educationally appropriate work experience in public policy or administration or may be met with equivalent courses in related programs.

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Last modified July 06, 2012 by