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Department of Political Science

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Master of Public Administration

The Master of Public Administration program (MPA) at the University of South Carolina seeks to educate students to meet the growing demand for professionally-trained public administrators in the public and non-profit sectors. Graduates from our NASPAA-accredited program work in prominent positions at all levels of government and the non-profit sector.

The MPA Mission

The mission of the Master of Public Administration (MPA) Program at the University of South Carolina is to provide an education that imparts the managerial and analytical skills necessary for students to ethically and effectively serve the public interest in increasingly diverse societies; and to improve the understanding and practice of public affairs through our research, teaching and service.

Why the MPA degree?

The MPA program enables students to:

  • Develop the knowledge and skills sought by employers in the public and non-profit sectors.
  • Gain valuable professional experience through internships and capstone projects.
  • Build a professional network in the public and non-profit sectors.
  • Learn from leading scholars in the fields of public policy and administration.

Who should consider the MPA degree?

  • Good students from any major who are motivated to serve the public by working in public affairs are encouraged to apply for admission to our program.
  • Working professionals who wish to enhance their skills and abilities, advance in their organization, or transition into public service from another career path.  All of our classes are in the evenings, making it possible to pursue a graduate degree while working full-time.

Susan Miller, Ph.D., Associate Professor

JoEllen Pope, Ph.D. Candidate, Visiting Assistant Professor

Kelsey Shoub, Ph.D., Assistant Professor

Miyeon Song, Ph.D., Assistant Professor

Xuhong Su, Ph.D., Associate Professor

Neal Woods, Ph.D., Professor

Todd Shaw, Ph.D.

Susan L. Cutter, Ph.D. 

Diansheng Guo, Ph.D. 

Kelli Kenison, Ph.D. 

Monique Lyle, Ph.D



Tuition rates apply to the 2018-2019 academic year:

Typical Admission Requirements

  • An undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0.
  • Two strong letters of recommendation
  • GRE requirement is waived for students applying in 2020
  • Please see the MPA Handbook for more details
  • Strength in one area of the application can compensate for weakness in another area to some degree
  • But all students must have a passion for public service!
  • MPA program applicants are eligible for a variety of university fellowships, assistantships and, of course, student loans.  Please see the USC Office of Student Aid website for some more information.
  • All out-of-state applicants are automatically considered for the Sam Carter Fellowship, which comes with a $250 award, and more importantly, in-state tuition benefits.

Program Details

  • All courses offered as traditional, in-person classroom courses
  • 39 credit hours to earn degree, which can be completed in two years for full-time students
  • We typically have around 30 students enrolled in the program (34 students - Spring 2018).
  • 11 faculty members (MPA and affiliated faculty)

Accelerated MPA Program

The accelerated MPA program is designed for USC undergraduates who wish to complete a bachelor degree and an MPA degree. This program enables students to earn both degrees within approximately 5 years. Completion of the MPA degree is accelerated because up to 12 credits can double count toward the bachelor and MPA degrees. Initially, a student completes a simple form to begin taking MPA classes while still an undergraduate student. Students should apply for admission to the accelerated program in the spring semester of their junior year and then the regular MPA program in the last semester of their senior year. All other degree requirements are the same for accelerated and regular MPA students.

The initial form to apply to the accelerated program (the Accelerated Bachelor's/Graduate Study Plan, G-ABGSP) can be found on the Graduate School web page.

MPA Concentration


Students enrolled in the MPA program can concentrate their studies in Emergency Management and Planning.

Operating in conjunction with the highly-ranked Geography Department, this program is designed to provide knowledge to practitioners regarding emergency planning, hazard mitigation and responses to emergencies in the state of South Carolina and beyond.

In addition to the management and analytic skill studies gained in the core courses, students in the EMP concentration will gain an understanding of the substance of natural and man-made disasters and technical skills like GIS mapping that are highly valued by employers. Beyond basic course requirements, students will be able to choose elective courses in the MPA program and other graduate programs that will enhance their knowledge of hazards and emergency management and their skills in planning for and responding to natural and man made disasters.  

Courses taken as part of the concentration count toward program elective requirements.

Emergency Management and Planning Concentration Requirements (9 Hours):

  • GEOG 530 - Environmental Hazards
  • GEOG 535 - Hazards Analysis and Planning
  • GEOG 563 - Advanced Geographic Information Systems

Joint Degree Options

Through special arrangement, the university offers dual degree programs in certain areas to permit a student to work on two degrees concurrently by combining credits, resulting in the student's taking fewer courses than the total required if each degree were pursued independently.

This program, offered by the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Law, culminates in a master of public administration and a Juris Doctor.

Application information for this degree is available through our Graduate School.

Through special arrangement, the university offers dual degree programs in certain areas to permit a student to work on two degrees concurrently by combining credits, resulting in the student's taking fewer courses than the total required if each degree were pursued independently.

This program, offered by the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Social Work, culminates in a master of public administration and a master of social work.

Application information for this degree is available through our Graduate School.

The Department of Health Services Policy and Management in the Arnold School of Public Health and Department of Political Science in the College of Arts and Sciences offer a coordinated program that leads to the Master of Public Health (MPH) in Health Services Policy and Management and the Master of Public Administration (MPA). Some courses fulfill requirements for both portions of the dual degree. Through academic advisement, specific courses are chosen for each individual student to satisfy both sets of program requirements. 

Application information for this degree is available through our Graduate School.

Career Placement

Graduates from our program currently work in all levels of government, non-profit organizations, and the private sector. Recent graduates work all around the country, in offices such as:

  • The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
  • The U.S. Department of Justice
  • The South Carolina Energy Office
  • The South Carolina Department of Public Safety
  • The South Carolina Medical Association
  • Fulton County (GA)
  • The City of Cayce (SC) 
  • The City of Springdale (SC)


Graduate Data

Percentage of students entering program who graduated within 2 and 4 years (data for the 2015-2016 cohort)

  • Initial enrollment: 14 students
  • 2 years graduation rate:  79%
  • 4 years graduation rate: 79%
  •     State Government - 5
  •     Local Government - 1
  •     Non-profit - 1
  •     Military Service - 1
  •     Private, for-profit - 3
  •     Unknown - 2
data for AY 18-19 (total grauates 13)


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