Public Administration

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences
Dean: Joel Kassiola

Public Administration Program
HSS 382
Director: Genie Stowers

Graduate Coordinator: Genie Stowers


Professors—Berry, Browning, DeLeon, LeGates, LeVeen, Miller, Osman, Pomerleau, Schneider, Seashore, Tabb

Associate Professors—Potepan, Stowers

Assistant Professors—Naff, Scott


Master of Public Administration

Program Scope

The goal of the program is to prepare people for responsible positions in the public sector. This includes positions in government but also in such entities as community development corporations, non-profit 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 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 management. However, beyond the core, the program offers five areas of emphasis as an opportunity for specialization. They are Integrated and Collaborative Service Delivery, Non-profit Administration, Policy 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 page. Taking an emphasis for specialization is optional and not mandatory. Those who choose not to pursue an emphasis may take appropriate electives to satisfy their professional needs. 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, many others find careers in nonprofit organizations, and 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—Berry, LeGates, LeVeen, Naff, Osman, Scott, Seashore, Stowers

Admission to Program

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

Applicants must also meet all university admission requirements to be accepted into the MPA program.

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 them within one academic year.

Potential applicants who are still completing their undergraduate work may wish to 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 project, thesis, or case study analysis 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:

Online 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
Essential Theories and General Skills
PA 700 Democracy and Public Administration in Diverse Environments 3
PA 710 Research Methods for Public Administration 4
PA 720 Microeconomic Applications for Public Administration and Policy 3
PA 730 Politics of Policy-Making and Implementation 4
Essential Management Skills
PA 740 Managing Organizational Behavior 3
PA 745 Managing Human Resources 3
PA 750 Managing Budgets in the Public Sector 4
Internship Requirement 1
PLSI 603 Public Service Internships (3) and 0-4
  PLSI 604   Internship Seminar (1) or
URBS 650 Urban Internship Fieldwork (3) and
  URBS 651   Urban Internship Seminar (1)
Culminating Experience Requirement (select one of the following) 3
PA 890 Master’s Case Study Analysis
PA 895 Master's Project
PA 898 Master's Thesis
Emphasis or Electives on advisement 10
Minimum total 37-41


Integrated and Collaborative Service Delivery Units
PA 725 Public Management (4) or 4
PA 760 Urban Administration or
(If selected, one additional unit of electives is required.)
PA 770 Non-profit Administration (4)
BSS/EDUC 703 Changing Roles of School Professionals 3
EDUC/BSS 803 Integrated and Collaborative Services for Children 3
Total for emphasis 10

Students choosing this emphasis must take the internship, having been placed in an integrated services placement: PLSI 603/URBS 650, Public Service Internship, and PLSI 604/URBS 651, Internship Seminar.

Non-profit Administration Units
PA 770 Administration of Non-profit Organizations 4
Units selected from the following: 6
PA 727 Strategic Public and Non-profit Management
PA 747 Financial Management in the Public Sector
PA 748 Diversity in Public Organizations
PA 765 Managing Information in the Public Sector (4)
PA 775 Developing Non-profit Resources
PA 780 Policy and Organizational Analysis (4)
PA 784 Program Evaluation
MKTG 868 Marketing of Non-profit Organizations
PLSI 731 Ethics and Politics (4)
SW 800 Planning and Program Development
TPW 490 Grant Writing
Total for emphasis 10


Policy Analysis Units
PA 780 Policy and Organizational Analysis 4
Units selected from the following 6
PA 765 Managing Information in the Public Sector (4)
PA 784 Program Evaluation
ECON 320 Introduction to Econometrics
ECON 805 Seminar: Applied Analysis in the Public Sector
Total for emphasis 10


Public Management Units
PA 725 Public Management 4
Units selected from the following 6
PA 727 Strategic Public and Non-profit Management
PA 747 Financial Management in the Public Sector
PA 748 Diversity in Public Organizations
PA 765 Public Sector Information Management (4)
PA 767 Administrative Law
ECON 601 Applied Macroeconomics
PLSI 501 American Bureaucracy (4)
PLSI 731 Ethics and Politics (4)
Total for emphasis 10


Urban Administration Units
PA 760 Urban Administration 3
Units selected from the following 7
ECON 506 Economics of State and Local Government
ECON/URBS 535 Urban Economics
GEOG/PA 858 Seminar in Environmental and Land-use Planning
GEOG/URBS 433 Urban Transportation (4)
PA 748 Diversity in Public Organizations
PA 765 Public Sector Information Management (4)
PA 767 Administrative Law
PLSI 712 Seminar in Urban Politics and Policy Formation (4)
URBS 514 Urban Growth Managment (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 10

Public Administration Program Portfolio

San Francisco State University Public Administration students will 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 will be crucial for the success of the public administrator in the new millennium.

Cho Public Service Scholarships

SFSU Cho Public Service Scholarships are available on a competitive basis for incoming and continuing students. Please contact the program office for information and applications.

Culminating Experience

In the program’s culminating experience course, students complete a case study analysis of some organizational issue (PA 890). This case study allows the student to apply and synthesize what he/she has learned in the MPA program. A student may instead opt to complete a master’s project (PA 895) or a master’s thesis (PA 898).

After initiating their culminating experience requirement (PA 890, PA 895, or PA 898), graduate students must enroll each additional semester in PA 897, Research in Public Administration, until the project or thesis is completed.


  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 03, 2012 by