MPA Handbook

 

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HANDBOOK:  Masters in Public Administration (MPA) Degree

Table of Contents

Point of contact

Quick Links to MPA Student FORMS:

Note: All forms should be viewed and completed using Adobe Reader (free) or Adobe Acrobat.  The "Preview" application on Mac computers may not work properly with these forms.

HANDBOOK SECTIONS

I. Key guiding documents

II. The purpose and uses of the MPA degree

III. TSU MPA degree Program Competencies and Student Learning Outcomes 

IV. Applying for admission to the MPA degree

V. Graduate Assistantships and other funding support

VI. Advising and course selection

VII. Succeeding in your coursework and making satisfactory progress towards your degree

VIII. The MPA internship requirement and exemption

IX.  The MPA writing portfolio requirement

X.  The MPA comprehensive exam requirement for students admitted for semesters prior to Fall 2020

XI. The MPA Capstone Course and project requirement for students admitted for the Fall 2020 semester and after

XI.  Preparing to graduate


HANDBOOK:  Masters in Public Administration (MPA) Degree 

Point of contact for prospective students:  Dr. Rodney Stanley, Department Chair
Point of contact for admitted students: Advisors

I. Key guiding documents | back to Table of Contents

  1. TSU Graduate Catalog - Relevant policies are found in the Policies section of the TSU Graduate Catalog , which apply to all TSU graduate students. It's important to also visit the College of Public Service section which includes the MPA degree specifics. Please note that this handbook, while it provides useful details for prospective and current students, does not replace or supersede the Graduate Catalog, nor does it cover all the important elements of policy included in the Catalog. All applicants and students are responsible for knowing and abiding by TSU, Graduate School, and program policies outlined in the Catalog.
  2. The MPA program mission and values statement

II. The purpose and uses of the MPA degree| back to Table of Contents

  1. Why public service?  Our accreditor, the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA), provides background on the MPA degree and its uses. Information is also available from our accrediting agency on accredited programs.
  2. To learn more about our program's goals, please review our MPA program mission and program factsheet.

III. TSU MPA degree Program Competencies and Student Learning Outcomes | back to Table of Contents

  1. MPA graduates in our program are expected to achieve the following five overarching Program Competencies (PCs; derived from the standards of our accrediting body, NASPAA), consistent with our mission:
    1. Each MPA graduate will be competent to lead and manage in public, nonprofit, or public affairs governance.
    2. Each MPA graduate will be competent to participate in and contribute to the policy process.
    3. Each MPA graduate will be competent to analyze, synthesize, think critically, solve problems, and make decisions appropriate to public and nonprofit administration settings.
    4. Each MPA graduate will be competent to articulate and apply a public service perspective.
    5. Each MPA graduate will be competent to communicate and interact productively with a diverse and changing workplace and citizenry. (see also our Communication Resources page)
  2. A set of more detailed student learning outcomes (SLOs) are associated with each of the five PCs above. To understand what specific skills, abilities and knowledge areas are included in the MPA degree at TSU, review our competency and learning outcomes by course.
  3. For more insight into how the detailed course content in various topic areas of the curriculum relate to the SLOs and program-level competencies, examine sample syllabi (these are past examples provided for prospective students; current students should always ask the instructor for a current syllabus.)
  4. Please review this advice about textbooks.

IV. Applying for admission to the TSU MPA degree | back to Table of Contents

  1. There are two paths to the MPA, which are (1) Direct Admission to the MPA - have an undergraduate GPA of 2.7 or higher from an accredited college or university, or (2) Graduate Certificate Bridge Admission to the MPA - have an undergraduate GPA between 2.5 and 2.69 from an accredited college or university, begin in one of our five graduate certificate programs, and complete the selected graduate certificate program with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Please note there are additional Graduate School admissions requirements for international students.
  2. Apply Today!

V. Graduate assistantships and other funding support | back to Table of Contents

  1. Students directly admitted to the MPA can apply for a graduate assistantship, subject to available openings and funds. This is a selective process and only individuals who have been directly admitted to the MPA (or current MPA students) may apply. Please note that we cannot guarantee that graduate assistantships, once awarded, will be available in subsequent years to the same student.
  2. For further details, please consult the FAQ about financial support for the MPA program.
  3. To apply, complete the graduate assistantship application and submit to Department of Public Administration via fax to 615/963.7245 or via email to the Department Chair Dr. Rodney Stanley

VI. Advising and course selection | back to Table of Contents

  1. Advisors are assigned by program and/or certificate being pursued; see this list of advisors and their contact information.  
  2. In your first semester you should arrange a meeting with your advisor to complete a draft program of study (plan for graduation). After completing 9 credits successfully, arrange a second meeting to finalize your program of study which will be submitted to the Graduate School, and to discuss the internship or internship waiver requirements. Continue to check in with your advisor every semester before course selection to verify that your choices are appropriate and to complete any necessary paperwork to complete program benchmarks. You should arrange a meeting with your advisor prior to your last semester in the program to discuss necessary steps for graduation. Seeking advising regularly is your responsibility as a graduate student and will help to ensure a smooth path through the program.
  3. Admitted students may access the course schedule and register for a semester's coursework in the myTSU system.  That system is also where you confirm your registration, access information about billing and financial aid status, view your unofficial transcript and see which programs you have been admitted to,  apply to graduate. While registration and the most current course schedule information is inside myTSU, for our students' convenience we also produce a summary sheet periodically showing the upcoming semester's course schedule.  These summaries are available here with other resources for registration. A 3-semester course schedule is provided as an aid to planning, but does not replace advising.
  4. Upon successfully completing 9 credits in the program and satisfying any outstanding conditions on your admission, you must contact your advisor and schedule an appointment to complete the program of study for MPA students.  This form is essential for continuing in the program and ensuring that you have a plan for completion that has been approved by your advisor.
  5. Most MPA students choose to complete a graduate certificate along with their MPA. It's important that you choose your certificate early in your studies to allow for proper advising, because the certificate you choose dictates what three electives you will take in the MPA. Complete this Change of Program form to add a certificate to the MPA in consultation with your advisor.
  6. If you are pursuing a certificate as well as the MPA, read the relevant FAQ carefully. Students in the Public Administration Executive Leadership certificate must consult their advisor directly.
    - Course selection and forms - MPA plus Graduate Certificate - Public Policy
    - Course selection and forms - MPA plus Graduate Certificate - Nonprofit Management
    - Course selection and forms - MPA plus Graduate Certificate - Healthcare Administration and Planning
    - Course selection and forms - MPA plus Graduate Certificate - Local Government Administration
  7. To learn more about earning a graduate certificate along with your MPA degree, review these frequently asked questions about completing both the MPA degree and one of the PA department graduate certificates.
  8. This summary sheet provides an overview of the Department of Public Administration course offerings.  It should not be a replacement for consulting your advisor, but it can help you understand which semester courses are typically offered.
  9. With advisor permission, under certain circumstances we allow students to substitute specific courses from the MPS program (through TN eCampus, formerly known as Regents Online Campus Collaborative) for specific required courses in the MPA program.  If your advisor gives you permission for this substitution, review this FAQ about taking an MPS course.

VII.  Succeeding in coursework and making satisfactory progress toward your degree | back to Table of Contents

  1. Review this FAQ on Taking graduate courses and maintaining good standing.
  2. Review this FAQ on Advice about textbook and other required course materials.
  3. Consult our Communication Resources selected by the program faculty, which can benefit MPA students throughout their studies,

VIII.  The MPA Internship requirement and exemption | back to Table of Contents

  1. MPA students have a six-credit internship requirement.  Those students with a year or more professional-level experience in the public, nonprofit, or healthcare sectors may apply for the internship exemption subject to advisor and department approval. You should discuss your professional experience with your advisor at the Program of Study advising appointment, which you should schedule as soon as you have 9 credits successfully complete in the MPA program.
  2. Read the frequently asked questions about the MPA internship requirement, and exemption from the requirement; including necessary forms and links to recent internship host examples. Information on recent internships by year of graduation is also included in our MPA program factsheet.

    Direct links to internship documents are as follows:

    - MPA internship instructions for host organizations
    - MPA internship syllabus (instructions for students re: internships for credit requirements)
    - MPA internship details FORM (student submits to internship coordinator/dept. chair prior to starting internship)
    - MPA internship evaluation FORM (internship supervisor to complete)

  3. If your advisor has approved you to apply for exemption from the internship based on your professional experience, then review the materials you will need to submit:  application for exemption from the internship requirement.  The internship exemption materials are due to your advisor by the Friday two weeks after the comprehensive exam.

IX.  The MPA writing portfolio requirement | back to Table of Contents

  1. All MPA students must submit the writing portfolio for evaluation to their advisor in their last semester (by the Friday two weeks after the comprehensive exam). To make this process easier, make sure you save your papers as you take your MPA coursework. Back up your electronic files regularly.
  2. For details on the materials to be included in the portfolio, read these instructions for submission of MPA writing portfolio.

X.  The MPA comprehensive exam requirement for those admitted for semesters prior to Fall 2020| back to Table of Contents

  1. All MPA students admitted for semesters PRIOR TO FALL 2020 must pass a comprehensive exam in order to graduate with the degree, unless they choose (with advisor permission) to switch to the newer program of study including the PADM 6700 Capstone course/project requirement that became mandatory for Fall 2020 admits and after. If you are interested in learning how this would work in your particular case, contact your advisor as soon as possible.  You cannot make the switch without advisor permission. No one may choose to go in the reverse direction (i.e., switch from the Capstone requirement to the comprehensive exam requirement).
  2. You can request to take the MPA comprehensive exam when you have at least 30 credits complete in the program and you have completed (or are completing that semester) your core courses. You must have a 3.0 GPA to sit for the exam. The exam covers core courses, not electives.
  3. Upcoming MPA comprehensive exam dates
  4. Review these frequently asked questions about the MPA comprehensive exam. They include details of exam format; a link to sample comprehensive exam questions; and also study strategies. NOTE: 2020-2021 Comprehensive Exams administered virtually on the scheduled date; contact Dr. Stanley. Fall 2020 MPA Comps date is October 23, 2020 from 9am - 12pm.
  5. You must submit the request to take the MPA comprehensive exam to your advisor at the beginning of the semester in which you would like to take the exam.
  6. All major degree exam dates for the Public Administration department are listed here. If you don't see the MPA comp exam date for the semester you are interested in, contact your advisor.

XI. The MPA Capstone Course and Capstone project requirement for those admitted for Fall 2020 and after | back to Table of Contents

  1. All MPA students admitted to begin the program in Fall 2020 and after must successfully complete, as part of the nine required core courses, PADM 6700 Capstone Course and its associated project requirement in order to graduate with the degree (instead of taking PADM 6150 IT & the Public Sector and passing the MPA comprehensive exam.)
  2. The Capstone Project, completed during the capstone core course (PADM 6700) offers each student the opportunity to demonstrate mastery of the theory and practice of public administration by applying the knowledge and skills gained in the MPA program to a client-based project of the student’s choice (subject to the course instructor’s advanced approval). As part of this course, the student will complete a project report for the client organization that reflects application of knowledge, skills, and abilities developed in the MPA program to the project. The products from this course will serve as tangible evidence of a graduating MPA student’s qualifications and expertise. More information on the structure of the course and the nature of the project is included in this sample Capstone syllabus (note, however, that the controlling syllabus will be the one distributed by the course instructor to registrants in a given semester -- this is just a sample).
  3. The course is intended only for students who are completing their Masters of Public Administration (MPA).
  4. In order to enroll in this course, MPA students must have completed PADM 6130 (Research Methods), PADM 6500 (Internship) if required, and be no more than one (1) semester away from graduating. Therefore, a student who wants to graduate in the Spring, could take this course during the Spring when they expect to graduate or during the preceding Fall semester. Students who are unsure about whether they are eligible to take this course yet should consult their advisor.
  5. The Capstone course (PADM 6700) and project requirement became effective for all students admitted to the MPA program for the Fall 2020 semester and following. No student subject by their semester of admission (admitted for Fall 2020 and after) to the Capstone plan may choose instead to take the comprehensive exam.
  6. Students who were admitted for earlier semesters prior to Fall 2020 are required instead to take a different ninth core course - PADM 6150 Information Technology for Public Administrators - and to complete the MPA comprehensive exam successfully (there are no credits associated with the exam itself). Such students have an option to switch to the PADM 6700 Capstone Course and project requirement, as a replacement for the PADM 6150 core course and the MPA Comprehensive Exam. Students must request this change from their advisor. The advisor will go over the implications with them given their particular circumstances, particularly whether they have already taken PADM 6150 and what certificate, if any, they have pursued along with the MPA. Advisor permission is required to switch to the capstone pattern and associated curriculum, and once chosen it is not possible to revert to the earlier comprehensive exam plan.
  7. See also the MPA portion of the Graduate Catalog.

XII. Preparing to graduate | back to Table of Contents

  1. Please read this detailed FAQ on preparing to graduate. Important points are summarized below, but full information is in the FAQ.
  2. If you are planning to graduate in the upcoming semester, you must apply online inside myTSU to notify the Graduate School.  Apply to graduate inside that system separately for each program you plan to complete (MPA and/or certificate(s)).   Check the Graduate School graduation information website  for deadline. Application is mandatory whether or not you plan to attend Commencement ceremonies; instructions on how to apply to graduate are available. If you have any problems registering to graduate for all program(s) you are completing, contact your advisor immediately.
  3. Also complete the Graduate School survey for commencement book information (link available on this page).
  4. Visit the TSU commencement site to obtain important information on the "Grad Finale" which you must attend to get fitted for cap and gown; this event typically occurs before mid-semester) as well as on Commencement exercises themselves. Commencement ceremonies are held only in May and in December.  In May, the ceremony for graduate students may be held at a different time than the undergraduate ceremonies; the site will have these details.
  5. Students who have achieved at a high level during their MPA studies may be eligible for membership in the Pi Alpha Alpha Public Administration honor society; please consult this FAQ.






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