Master of Public Administration overview

The mission of the M.P.A. program at Wayne State University is to provide superior graduate education to students aspiring to or committed to public service careers. To that end, the program provides an academically rigorous, political science-based curriculum relevant to public policy and public management. The program serves a select group of academically capable pre-service and in-service students and is an integral part of a major urban university that affords unique opportunities for public affairs research and public service.

To accomplish this mission, the M.P.A. program has established competencies and objectives related to teaching, research, and service activities.


Teaching activities

  1. Provide high-quality instruction to M.P.A. students in order to:
    1. Foster an understanding of public values promoting democratic accountability, equity diversity, and responsiveness.
    2. Promote an understanding of the political, social, legal, and economic environments in which public service organizations operate.
    3. Provide an understanding of, and insight into, the nature of the administrative process and bureaucratic behavior, leadership, and decision making.
    4. Promote an understanding of quantitative methods of analysis and research methodology required for management and policy analysis and evaluation.
    5. Promote a basic knowledge of skills and techniques required to administer public service organizations effectively to include such administrative specialties as budgeting, personnel management, and policy evaluation.
    6. Promote familiarity with the substantive character of, and problems in the implementation of specific areas of public policy.
  2. Promote written and oral communication skills.
  3. Promote the professional development of M.P.A. students.

Research activities

  1. Promote the advancement of the discipline through the active participation of faculty in research activities.
  2. Engage in research relevant to problems of governance in Michigan and its localities.

Service activities

  1. Support Wayne State University's urban mission which is to create and advance knowledge, prepare a diverse student body to thrive, and positively impact local and global communities;
  2. Participate in public service activities.

M.P.A. domains and competencies

Students who graduate from an accredited M.P.A. program have the ability to perform effectively in the following "domains." Our specific competencies for each domain are highlighted below. These competencies were defined and refined beginning with the 2011 2012 academic year. Numbers in parentheses refer to the competency number for the "Comprehensive Exam Domain and Competency Cycle" document.

I. Lead and manage in public interest

A graduate of our program will:

  • Be able to understand how both the structure and culture of public service organizations affect organizational effectiveness (1A)
  • Know how to effectively manage human resources and provide leadership in this regard (1B)

II. Participate in and contribute to the policy process

A graduate of our program must be able to:

  • Identify key stakeholders, their positions, coalitions, and the political context (2A)
  • Understand and apply the different aspects of the policymaking cycle (2B)

III. Analyze, synthesize, think critically, solve problems and make evidence-informed decisions in a complex and dynamic environment;

A graduate of our program:

  • Will be able to utilize data and analytic techniques, scholarly research, and best professional practices in systematically analyzing and making policy and administrative decisions in public service organizations (3A)
  • Will be able to apply these concepts to a real-world (substantive) case (3B)

IV. Articulate and apply a public service perspective

A graduate of our program will:

  • Be able to make informed decisions and manage public service organizations in the public interest by effectively utilizing and balancing key public service values (4A)
  • Understand the value of fair and transparent administration and will be able to effectively and ethically engage citizens in public service organizations (4B)

V. Communicate and interact productively and in culturally responsive ways with a diverse and changing workforce and society at large

A graduate of our program will:

  • Have the ability to develop and exercise intercultural sensitivity with employees and other stakeholders (5A)
  • Be able to communicate and engage appropriately, effectively and respectfully with multiple audiences (5B)

Enrollment and Graduation statistics

Our M.P.A. program typically serves about 45-55 students per year. Of the total number of students currently enrolled in the Fall 2023 term, 67% are females, and 48% are racial/ethinic minorities.

As a nationally NASPAA-accredited program, we strive to be as transparent as possible with regards to our graduation data.

ARY-5 cohort 2017-2018 graduation numbers

Statistic Total number of students
Initially enrolled 20
Graduated within two years 6
Graduated within three years 13
Graduated within four years 14
Total students graduated and persisting to graduation 16

These figures satisfy NASPAA's reporting requirements for our most reaccreditation annual review period.