Are you interested in being a leader in your local government, or confronting complex policy issues for your community? Do you ever wonder what it takes to develop, implement, administer, and evaluate public policy initiatives across governmental and non-profit boundaries?

The MPA degree is designed to provide students with basic administrative concepts and skills necessary to be successful in a variety of administrative careers in the public, including legislative, executive, and judicial agencies, and not-for-profit agencies. The MPA program is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA).

Our mission is to prepare professionals to meet the needs and challenges of public service; conduct scholarly and applied research in public administration and policy; and engage students and faculty in partnerships with governmental, non-profit, professional, and educational organizations.

While our primary service area is eastern North Carolina, our aim is to offer educational opportunities that enable our graduates to be competitive far beyond this geographic area. Our student body is comprised of roughly equal proportions of in-service students and pre-service students. As with most programs. in-service students, these individuals work primarily in eastern North Carolina. Our pre-service students, on the other hand, tend to come from all across the state, with some coming from other states and countries. While our graduates are employed heavily in the eastern of North Carolina, many are also employed outside this region at all levels of government and non-profit organizations.

ECU Advantage

What makes the MPA degree distinctive among academic degrees is its focus on the public sector and issues of policy making and governance. MPA degrees are specifically designed to enable students to work at all levels of government, although our program focuses more on local government in North Carolina. The MPA degree is also broader in its focus, allowing our graduates to work across multiple policy/administrative areas such as city/county government, human resources, budgeting, police, planning, economic development, health care administration, or non-profit management.

Our faculty bring their experiences working in diverse capacities with non-profit agencies as well as county, city, and federal government, to their teaching and research. They do work on such topics as transportation policy, homelessness, human resource management issues, electronic governmental information management, state-federal interactions, and social welfare policy.

Our classes are offered in the evening or online. About one third of our classes are offered online.

What You Will Study

Program Coordinator: Carmine Scavo (135-A Brewster Building; 252-737-2335; scavoc@ecu.edu)

The master of public administration program is designed to provide students with basic administrative skills which can be utilized in a variety of administrative careers. It is based on a core curriculum of required public administration and quantitative analysis courses with a variety of related electives that will provide students with a choice of emphases depending upon career objectives.

All students applying for the MPA program are expected to take the GRE. Requests for exceptions will be considered only if the student presents recent acceptable scores on a comparable standardized entrance exam.

Students may transfer up to 15 s.h. from an institution accredited by a regional accrediting organization with the approval of the director of the MPA program and the dean of the Graduate School. Requests for transfer credit should be made at the time of admission. Students may earn the MPA degree by completing 45 s.h. as follows: 27 s.h. in core public administration and quantitative analysis courses, 3 s.h. of internship work for pre-service students, 12 s.h. electives in public management and/or public policy to be approved by the director of the MPA program, and 3 s.h. for the MPA professional paper.

Public administration required core courses - 27 s.h.
  • PADM 6100 - Politics and Management in Public Agencies
  • PADM 6101 - Analysis for the Public Sector
  • PADM 6102 - Quantitative Methods for Public Administration
  • PADM 6110 - Human Resource Management in Public Agencies
  • PADM 6120 - Public Budgeting and Finance
  • PADM 6160 - Public Policy Formulation and Implementation
  • PADM 6161 - Applied Policy Analysis
  • PADM 6220 - Leadership and Ethics in the Public Sector
  • PADM 6260 - Management of Public Information Technology
Internship - 3 s.h.

Pre-service students are required to complete a 3 s.h. internship prior to the semester before graduation (approximately 300 hours of work). This requirement may be waived by the internship director and the MPA director if the student has substantial previous or current work experience in public sector or non-profit employment. To have this requirement waived, the student must submit a request documenting the nature of this work experience to the internship director. The internship director will provide guidelines for this documentation to the student seeking a waiver from this requirement. After submission of the documentation, the waiver will be granted if the student has had significant public sector work experience. Those students who are exempted from this requirement will complete 42 s.h. instead of 45 s.h.; however, no academic credit will be awarded for work experience.

  • PADM 6887 - Internship in Public Administration or
  • PADM 6888 - Internship in Public Administration or
  • PADM 6889 - Internship in Public Administration
MPA professional paper - 3 s.h.

All students must enroll in PADM 6900 and complete an MPA professional paper in which they identify a public management problem or policy issue and develop a problem-resolution strategy. The completed paper must be defended successfully before a three-member committee of MPA faculty members (one member may be from outside the MPA faculty upon approval of the director of the MPA program).

    Electives - 12 s.h.

    All students must complete  12 s.h. of MPA elective courses in public management and public policy. Students completing a graduate certificate may substitute the coursework in that program for their areas of emphasis. The graduate certificates taken by MPA students generally require 15 s.h. or one additional course beyond the 12 s.h. of elective credit needed for the MPA degree. Students should consult the director of the MPA program prior to making their selections. Other related courses may be substituted if approved by the MPA director.

      For more information about this degree visit the university's academic catalogs.

      Careers With This Degree

      Graduates with this degree are successful in many fields and careers, including the following:

      • Public Administration
      • Public Administration and Legal Services
      • Transportation
      • Chief Executives
      • General and Operations Managers
      • Legislators
      • Administrative Services Managers
      • Transportation, Storage, and Distribution Managers
      • Postmasters and Mail Superintendents
      • Social and Community Service Managers
      • Emergency Management Specialists
      • Public Administration

      Career Opportunities

      ECU has developed resources to help you learn more about career opportunities and job market outlook. In addition, the websites below provide specific information on careers in the various majors from which students may choose:

      NC Tower

      This website provides graphs and tables of in-depth information on employment rates, wages and ongoing higher education enrollment of graduates from the North Carolina Community College System and from the University of North Carolina system schools. NC Tower includes data on former UNC students who are working in roughly 90% of all jobs in North Carolina. This database excludes information for graduates who are:

      • Self-employed;
      • Work for the federal government, including the military: or
      • Work outside of North Carolina.

      US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook

      This website also provides in-depth information regarding pay, projected new jobs, required education, growth rate and on-the-job training information on various occupations.

      Degree-specific internships

      For information on internship information for specific majors, go to the home page of the department in which the major is located and, as available, find the link to the information on internships in that major.