MPA Curriculum

The program features a 39-hour curriculum with a nine-course core sequence, plus four specialization/elective courses in either of two tracks: Nonprofit Management or Public Management and Planning. Students may pursue a generalist MPA degree as an alternative to selecting one of the above specializations.

University Boulevard at night. Students without professional public service experience are required to do a three-hour internship (20 hours/week) in addition to required coursework, bringing the total hours of coursework plus the internship to 42 hours for the MPA degree. Previous graduate work at UAB or another NASPAA-accredited MPA program may be credited toward the degree if it is directly applicable.

Students may select a thesis or non-thesis option.

Required Courses & Electives

All students are required to take core courses and a number of electives. The most up-to-date course information can be found in the UAB Graduate Catalog.

Course Plan

MPA courses should be taken in the correct sequence. Course plans for both specialization tracks and the generalist track can be obtained from a faculty advisor and are available in a downloadable pdf. Course descriptions can be found in the UAB Graduate Catalog.

Specialization Tracks

Students must complete courses in one of the two specializations: Nonprofit Management or Public Management and Planning. In addition to these specialization courses, students in the non-thesis option must take one elective course.

Generalists must take courses from each specialization; no electives are required.

Nonprofit Management Specialization

Students interested in improving their nonprofit organizational management, fundraising, and grant management skills should select this specialization. This specialization prepares students for a wide range of careers within the nonprofit sector, including middle and upper management positions, fundraising and development, grant management, and program evaluation.

Public Management and Planning Specialization

Students interested in public management or planning should select this specialization. It prepares students for a wide variety of positions, including federal, state, and local government management; budget and financial management; planning; economic development; community development; program analysis; and evaluation.

Generalist MPA Degree

Students may pursue a generalist MPA degree as an alternative to selecting one of the above specializations. The generalist degree should be chosen if the student desires a broadly based degree and some familiarity with subjects in each of the specializations.

Students who desire a public administration education transferable to many different public or nonprofit settings may want to take this course of study. To complete this degree, students must take the core curriculum and at least two required courses from each of the two specializations.

Graduation Research Portfolio (Non-Thesis) and Thesis Options

Students taking the thesis option (Plan I) must takes three hours of Independent Study under the guidance of the thesis chair and six thesis hours.

During the last semester of study, students opting for the non-thesis (Plan II) must register for MPA 697: Graduation Research Paper, and successfully complete a graduation research paper. Such a paper will require the student to synthesize material learned over the course of the program.


Contact the MPA Program Coordinator.