Master of Public Administration


Whether you're preparing to launch your career or have years of experience, we have a graduate public administration program to help you excel:

  • Master of Public Administration program: for both pre-career students and mid-career executives.
  • Graduate certificate in public management: for those with some managerial experience.
Courses are taught in an eight-week executive format to work with your schedule. You can also earn your M.P.A. degree or graduate certificate completely online.

Program Offerings

We currently offer two ways to earn your Master of Public Administration degree:

  • MPA online in local government: earn your MPA entirely online.
  • MPA traditional: designed to earn your degree on a full-time or part-time basis, eight-week evening classes, two locations.


Our online program uses an asynchronous format, meaning you do not have to log on at a specific time. Work is assigned each week with specific deadlines to complete each assignment. Our online program is available to midcareer professionals with two years of public sector work experience. To complete two courses per semester, online midcareer you'll typically take one course every eight weeks.


Our program uses a hybrid executive format. Classes meet one night per week for eight weeks for both precareer and midcareer students. Midcareer professionals can focus on one class for eight weeks and complete two classes each semester. Precareer students complete paid internship while attending classes in the evenings.

Degree Requirements

  • Precareer: complete 44 credit hours over the course of five semesters (including summers).
  • Midcareer: complete 39 credit hours over the course of seven to eight semesters (including summers).

In addition to a public management core, you may choose from six different areas of specialization, according to your interests:

Strategic Public Management and Leadership

Students will gain an advanced capacity to assume a leadership role and use strategic management and collaborative processes that facilitate the mission of government and nonprofit organizations.

Course requirements:

  • PSPA 650 - Leadership in Public Sector Organizations
  • PSPA 673 - Strategic Planning for Public Service Organizations
Local Government Management

A thorough study of government administration, focusing on the operations of local governments and the analysis of local government and metropolitan issues. The NIU M.P.A. program is ranked 4th nationally by U.S. News and World Report in local government management. Students gain insight into the latest innovations in local government service delivery, collaborative management and relations with governing boards and the public. Gaining these skills provides opportunities to improve the quality of public service in communities across the country.

Course requirements:

  • PSPA 630 - Local and Metropolitan Government
  • PSPA 632 - Local Government Administration
Fiscal Administration

A critical examination of techniques and problems in the areas of fiscal management, accountancy, budgetary policy and political economy.

Course requirements:

  • PSPA 657X - Accounting for Public Administration
  • PSPA 653 - Intermediate Public and Nonprofit Financial Management


Non-profit Management

A study of the unique challenges posed by the administration of nonprofit organizations in both the domestic and global contexts, including communication and promotion, fundraising and grant writing, and intersectoral collaboration with public and private sectors.

Course requirements:

  • PSPA 624 - Resources Management for Nonprofit Organizations
  • PSPA 626 - Non-Governmental Organizations and Governance


Comparative Public Service

Through a study of public administration and management in a global context, students will gain an advanced capacity to assume a leadership role and use management skills to enhance the mission of government agencies and non-governmental organizations in the U.S. and other countries.

You must demonstrate the ability to advance in one or more of the specialization competencies with a set of four or more courses (equivalent to 12 semester hours) at a university outside the United States, approved in advance by the department.

  • Double degree MPA with Strathmore University, Nairobi, Kenya
Public Service Law

A study of public administration and management in a legal context, students will gain an advanced capacity to assume a leadership role and use management skills to enhance the mission of government agencies and nongovernmental organizations as it relates to public law and management. This specialization requires students to be enrolled in the NIU law school and the MPA program. The student must apply to both schools and complete the degrees simultaneously or have a law degree from a reputable university and apply to the MPA program.

You must be able to demonstrate the ability to:

  • Lead and manage in public governance with legal insights.
  • Analyze, synthesize, think critically, solve problems and make decisions related to the legal issues of a public organization.
  • Articulate and apply a public service perspective while serving in a public organization or a law firm that serves nonprofit, local, state and federal government agencies.
  • Communicate, interact and provide a legal perspective within a diverse and changing citizenry.

Admission Requirements

Successful applicants have completed a U.S. government course and a finite math course (usually basic statistics) in their undergraduate studies and had a GPA of 3.0 or higher. The GRE is not required.

How to Apply

To apply for this program, you'll need to provide the following:

  • Complete application
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Written statement of purpose
  • Transcripts
    • If accepted, you will need to provide official transcripts
  • Current resumé

Note: If you are a precareer applicant you need to submit one professional and two academic letters of recommendation. If you are a mid-career applicant you need to submit one academic and two professional letters of recommendation.

Written Statement

Your written statement of purpose is a short essay (1000-word maximum) that explains the following:

  • Why have you decided to pursue an MPA.
  • Reason for choosing the NIU MPA program.
  • How completing an MPA will enhance your career goals.
  • Describe any experience you have working or volunteering in public and/or nonprofit organizations.

For International Students

All application material must be received by the Graduate School no later than May 1 for admission for the fall semester or October 1 for the spring semester.

Application Deadlines

Semester Deadline
Fall (priority) February 1 - to compete for a limited number of tuition waivers
Fall July 15
Spring (priority) October 1
Spring December 10


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Contact Us

Department of Public Administration
IASBO Building (2nd Floor)
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Office Hours

8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Lunch break: noon-1 p.m.