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MPA Requirements

Credit Hours

To earn an MPA degree the student must:

  • complete a minimum of 36 semester hours of graduate work with a total grade-point average of B or better; 
  • receive a grade of B- or better in all required core courses. Students who do not meet this minimum grade requirement in a core course must re-take the course until they meet the requirement. No graduate course in which the student has earned a grade less than a C- is accepted toward the degree. 
  • pre-service students (those who have not had the equivalent of at least one year of professional practice experience in a public or nonprofit organization) are required to take an additional three semester hours of field study, bringing their minimum total hours to 39 credit hours. These three credit hours are met by taking PUAD 6910, Field Study in Public Administration.

Course Load

The normal course load for a full-time student is 9 to 12 credit hours per semester. For financial aid purposes, full-time status for graduate students is five credit hours per semester. Students who work full time should not carry more than six semester hours.  Students who would like to carry a course load above 12 hours per semester should consult their faculty advisors.

Time Requirements for the MPA degree

Although the MPA program requires intensive commitment, it does not require full-time study.

  • The Traditional MPA program offers courses evenings, weekends, weekend intensive format, or online.
  • The MPA Accelerated Option offers courses during daytime hours.  All students take all 12 MPA courses with their cohort.   
  • Students should expect to complete the Traditional MPA program in no less than one and no more than six years (the average is about two and one-half years). Time spent on Leave of Absence (i.e., when the student is not enrolled in courses) does count toward the six-year limit.
  • With the approval of their faculty adviser and the MPA Program Director, students who are making steady progress toward the degree may be allowed to extend the six-year limit by one or two additional semesters.Such approval should be sought as far as possible in advance of the student's planned graduation date.

​MPA Common Core Courses

All MPA students must complete the following seven common required core courses:

  • PUAD 5001 Introduction to Public Administration and Public Service
  • PUAD 5002 Organizational Management and Behavior
  • PUAD 5003 Research and Analytic Methods     
  • PUAD 5004 Economics and Public Finance OR PUAD 5503 Public Budgeting and Finance
  • PUAD 5005 The Policy Process and Democracy
  • PUAD 5006 Leadership and Professional Ethics​
  • PUAD 5008 Evidence-Based Decision-Making                                

*Course descriptions can be found in the course catalog​.

MPA Electives

Students must complete four elective courses (12 credit hours) to be selected with the approval of their faculty adviser. SPA offers a wide variety of electives in management and policy areas. Some are offered on a routine basis; others may be a one-time offering.

Concentration courses are electives that may be taken by students pursuing that concentration, or students who have an interest in a particular course. Some examples of other elective courses offered by SPA include but are not limited to:

  • PUAD 5220 Managing People in Public and Nonprofit Organizations
  • PUAD 5310 Policy Formulation and Implementation
  • PUAD 5420 Law and Public Policy
  • PUAD 5440 Negotiation and Conflict Resolution
  • PUAD 5503 Public Budgeting and Finance
  • PUAD 5626 Local Government Politics
  • PUAD 5650 Disaster and Emergency Management Policies

In addition, students may take up to nine credit hours at other colleges and universities or in other schools and colleges within the University of Colorado Denver. | Physical Address: 1380 Lawrence St., Ste. 500  Denver, CO  80204 | Mailing Address: University of Colorado Denver, SPA, Campus Box 142, P.O. Box 173364, Denver, CO 80217-3364 | ph: 303.315.2228 | fax: 303.315.2229 | SPA Website Feedback

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