MPA Program Course Offerings

The MPA program offers a variety of courses which are listed below. In addition, on-campus students may take selected courses from other departments, and even from other universities (e.g., Duke University and NC State University), when such courses best meet a student’s individual needs.

View a typical first-year and second-year on-campus MPA course schedule.

Click here for the on-campus Spring 2016 course schedule.

Click here for the on-campus Fall 2016 course schedule.

View a typical MPA@UNC course schedule.

Click here for the MPA@UNC Summer II 2015 schedule.

Core Courses (Residential and Online)

Electives (Residential)


Electives (Online)















Course Descriptions

PUBA 709 PA INSTITUTIONS AND VALUES. This foundation course introduces students to the historical and contemporary social, economic, political, and ethical context of public administration and governance in the United States. Students gain an understanding of public institutions and values and develop skills for interpreting and critically evaluating American public service issues. Stenberg. Back to top.

PUBA 710 ORGANIZATION THEORY. Provides a conceptual and experiential grounding in theories of management and organizational operation. Students learn how to analyze organizations and their environments from multiple perspectives. Students systematically examine important dimensions of organizational life—what motivates people, how decisions are made, challenges of diversity, conflict, and power dynamics.  Jacobson. Back to top.

PUBA 711 PUBLIC SERVICE LEADERSHIP. Students learn about their leadership style and values, as well as strengths and weaknesses, with regard to public leadership at the personal, interpersonal, organizational, and community levels. Readings, assignments, and class activities focus on developing knowledge and skills necessary to successfully lead in public service settings. Morse. Back to top.

PUBA 719 PA ANALYSIS AND EVALUATION I. First course in a two course sequence introducing students to applied research design, data collection, data management, data analysis, and analytical reporting to allow them to conduct original research, be informed consumers of other research, and ultimately improve public program planning and evaluation decisions.  To be taken with PUBA 720. Berner. Back to top.

PUBA 720 PA ANALYSIS AND EVALUATION II. Second course in a two course sequence introducing students to applied research design, data collection, data management, data analysis, and analytical reporting to allow them to conduct original research, be informed consumers of other research, and ultimately improve public program planning and evaluation decisions. Berner. Back to top.

PUBA 721 PROFESSIONAL COMMUNICATIONS. Prepares students to communicate clearly and effectively as public service leaders, which includes reading, listening, and thinking critically; writing and speaking clearly, concisely, and unambiguously; giving organized and convincing oral presentations; and using appropriate tools and tone in preparing oral and written communications for diverse audiences. O’Brien. Back to top.

PUBA 722 FEDERAL POLICIES AND INSTITUTIONS. The motivations of public agency officials, interactions between bureaucracies and other political actors, and alternative strategies to control bureaucratic power and discretion in making, implementing, and evaluating public policies. Hoyman. Back to top.

PUBA 723 HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT. Students gain skills in traditional HRM functions such as hiring, compensation, and discipline, as well as contemporary managerial responsibilities, such as motivating a diverse workforce.  This course provides students with an overview of traditional and contemporary issues and trends in HRM and introduces core legal constraints on personnel systems. DeHart-Davis. Back to top.

PUBA 730 GOVERNMENTAL AND NOT-FOR-PROFIT ACCOUNTING AND REPORTING. Teaches the principles of accounting and financial reporting in governmental and not-for-profit environment. Provides skills for analyzing the financial condition of governments and the efficiency and effectiveness of governmental programs. Allison. Back to top.

PUBA 731 PUBLIC FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT. Introduces students to the basic principles of public finance and covers the fundamental areas of public financial management, including the operating and capital budgeting processes used to obtain and allocate public resources, the role of public debt, and the issuance of annual financial statements. Afonso. Back to top.

PUBA 733 STRATEGIC INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY MANAGEMENT. This course provides public managers with the basic knowledge to successfully invest in and manage strategic information technology projects. Tufts. Back to top

PUBA 734 COMMUNITY REVITALIZATION METHODS. Graduate and professional students from varied backgrounds will learn key revitalization techniques and put them into practice by working directly on community economic development projects in NC. Mulligan. Back to top.

PUBA 735 COMMUNITY REVITALIZATION APPLIED. Interdisciplinary teams of students in this workshop-style course will engage in intensive experiential learning while assisting NC communities to achieve their community and economic development goals. Mulligan. Back to top.

PUBA 736 ADVANCED BUDGETING AND FINANCIAL ANALYSIS. (Spring) The purpose of this course is to assist students with further development of their skills, approaches, and philosophies in the functional areas of public budgeting and financial management. The course requires students to analyze case situations commonly found in public organizations, to identify possible solutions in response to the analysis and in response to the student’s professional and educational experiences, and to justify final recommendations during classroom discussion and in writing. Rivenbark. Back to top.

PUBA 737 PUBLIC SECTOR LABOR RELATIONS.  (TBD) This course explores the dynamics of labor relations in the public sector (local, state, and federal government). Includes an overview of current labor issues and both an arbitration and bargaining scenario. The course is designed for any student who might work in the public sector at any level. Hoyman. Back to Top.

PUBA 738 MANAGING LOCAL GOVERNMENT SERVICES. (Spring) Course addresses current trends affecting the management of service delivery in local governments of all sizes. Case examples and guest practitioners will offer glimpses into real world challenges and solutions. Stenberg. Back to top.

PUBA 739 INTERGOVERNMENTAL RELATIONS. Examines conflict and cooperation among governmental officials representing national, state, and local government in the United States; changing roles of governments; and new mechanisms for intergovernmental collaboration. Lundy. Back to top.

PUBA 740 DECISION ANALYSIS. Course will provide introduction to a process for systematically thinking about decisions and valuable techniques for analyzing decisions. Students will learn how to construct models for decision making and how to use these models to analyze decisions. Roenigk. Back to top.

PUBA 741 STATE GOVERNMENT. This course examines the legal, administrative, and organizational framework of state government with emphasis on how state government impacts local governments and nonprofits. Class assignments and final projects focus on practical skills development. Houston. Back to top.

PUBA 743 DIVERSITY IN PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION. (TBD) The U.S. public sector workforce is increasingly diverse in race, ethnicity, gender, religion, socioeconomic status, sexual preference, physical and mental abilities, and gender identity. Increased workplace diversity requires a new knowledge base, which this course seeks to impart through thought-provoking readings, in-class exercises, and lively and respectful discussions. DeHart-Davis. Back to top.

PUBA 745 PROFESSIONAL WORK EXPERIENCE. The MPA professional work experience consists of 10-weeks of full-time employment in a public agency or nonprofit organization. This course requires students to demonstrate and expand on this learning experience within the context of public service leadership and management. Staff. Back to top.

PUBA 746 MPA PORTFOLIO. The purpose of the portfolio is for students to demonstrate and further develop their public service leadership potential through a collection of academic and professional products. Students take this course during their final semester, allowing them to integrate and build upon core competencies of the program. Staff. Back to top.

PUBA 751 CITY AND COUNTY MANAGEMENT. Nature of city or county manager's job: expectations of elected body, staff, public and professional peers. Examines contemporary issues in departmental operations that have significant effect on how manager's performance is perceived. Stenberg. Back to top.

PUBA 752 PRODUCTIVITY IMPROVEMENT IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT. This course will acquaint students with the concept of productivity, its importance in the public sector, principal techniques used to improve productivity in local government, and barriers to productivity improvement initiatives. Ammons. Back to top.

PUBA 756 NONPROFIT MANAGEMENT. Examination of the managerial challenges posed by nonprofit organizations and of techniques and practices used by managers of nonprofit organizations. Henderson. Back to top.

PUBA 757 FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT OF NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS. This course provides basic financial skills for leaders of nonprofits, including bookkeeping fundamentals, interpreting financial statements, budgeting, cash management and investment, and legal compliance. Staff. Back to top.

PUBA 758 NAVIGATING NONPROFIT-LOCAL GOVERNMENT RELATIONSHIPS ORGANIZATIONS. This course is designed for graduate students who are seeking professional positions in local government or nonprofits. The overall objectives are to exchange information about issues of mutual concern to both nonprofits and governments. Henderson. Back to top.

PUBA 760 LAW FOR PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION. Introduction to basic law subjects likely to be encountered in public administration.  Topics include constitutional foundations, due process and equal protection, and First Amendment rights;  property, contracts, employment, torts, criminal law, administrative law, and public ethics laws; and basic legal research, managing litigation, and working with lawyers. Szypszak. Back to top.

PUBA 764 GRANT WRITING. (Online Students Only) Students will hone their grant writing skills as they critique grant proposals, draft their own grant proposal, and learn about the role of program evaluation in grant writing and grant reporting. Staff. Back to top.

PUBA 765 CAPITAL BUDGETING AND FINANCE. Analysis of alternative approaches to planning and administering the budgets and financial operations of public agencies. Extensive use of case materials. Millonzi. Back to top.

PUBA 768 MEDIATION SKILLS. Theory and practice of dispute resolution and consensus building processes for public policy and program implementation. Utilizes exercises to develop skills in multi-party conflict analysis, negotiation, and intervention for inter-governmental, nonprofit, and community disputes. Workshop-style course focuses on workplace and service provision conflicts to develop mediation skills; is comprised of short lectures, demonstration, and student practice of a mediation model/specific skill sets. Stephens. Back to top.

PUBA 769 FACILITATION SKILLS. Course is workshop-style that requires preparation via conference call or webinar; separate session on skills; and final requirement is a reflection paper. Course focuses on inter-organization and community settings to develop facilitation skills and is comprised of short lectures, demonstration, and student practice of facilitation strategies. Stephens. Back to top.

PUBA 770 POLITICS OF COMMUNITY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: STRATEGIES AND CHOICES. This course covers economic development from the community as perspective. The class develops criteria that a community should use in making economic development choices. The course presents a wide range of strategies. Hoyman. Back to top.

PUBA 771 MANAGING ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. Emphasizes the practical application and implementation of various approaches to economic development. Students will apply tools/strategies by doing case studies and small group projects based on real-world scenarios faced by local practitioners. Morgan. Back to top.

PUBA 777 TECHNOLOGY AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT. This class is about understanding community engagement, how to get people involved with, invested in, and informed about your organization, and learning how to identify, assess, and propose the tools that will help your organization use community engagement to further its mission. Nicolet. Back to top.

PUBA 780-001 SPECIAL TOPICS IN PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION. Prerequisite, permission of the instructor. Seminar in selected areas of public administration. Topics will vary from year to year. May be repeated for credit. Staff. Back to top.

PUBA 780-003 MILITARY LEADERSHIP AND PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION. (Fall) Topics will include a study of leadership as taught and demonstrated in the services, how it translates to leadership in the government and nonprofit sectors, and issues concerning the transition of military leaders to civilian management and leadership roles. Military experience is not a prerequisite. Szypszak. Back to top.

PUBA 780-008 GRANT WRITING. (Residential Students Only) Students will hone their grant writing skills as they critique grant proposals, draft their own grant proposal, and learn about the role of program evaluation in grant writing and grant reporting. Clark. Back to top.

PUBA 787 APPLIED ENVIRONMENTAL FINANCE. This applied course looks at the diverse tools and strategies environmental service providers use to pay for their programs. It also examines the policy implications of deciding how to pay for these services. Hughes/Barnes. Back to top.