Master's in Public Administration Program Curriculum

The Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree at George Mason University's Schar School of Policy and Government is offered on both a part-time and full-time basis on the Arlington, Virginia campus. The program can be completed on a full-time basis in four semesters. Classes are primarily held on campus with some online coursework available. There are two paths to degree completion:

  • 36 total credits (12 courses) - This path to degree completion is available with an advanced seminar/practicum waiver
  • 39 total credits (13 courses) - This path to degree completion includes the advanced seminar/practicum course

Within the total credits required for degree completion, MPA students must complete eight required courses and four elective courses.


Within the MPA program, students can tailor their studies to align with their interests by pursuing one of the following optional program concentrations.

Administration of Justice

This concentration provides students with an overview of justice organizations and processes, as well as program planning, implementation, and evaluation. Students expand their knowledge of justice issues and develop the skills needed for effective management of contemporary justice.

Emergency Management and Homeland Security

This concentration enhances the capabilities of people working in federal, state, local, and volunteer agencies, and the public and private sectors in order to minimize the impact of disasters on the American public. The coursework places a particular emphasis on how the various institutions involved in disaster responses can work together in emergencies to save lives and protect property.

Environmental Science and Public Policy

In this concentration, students focus on political and ethical perspectives, environmental planning, and environmental law. They study the policy-making process as it applies to environmental and natural resources issues, both nationally and globally.

Human Resource Management

In this concentration, students focus on the complex set of relationships, laws, policies, and systems through which individuals are hired, evaluated, and managed within the public sector. This concentration is designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills to be effective human resource managers.

International Management

This concentration prepares students to manage organizations that have an international dimension, such as nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).

Nonprofit Management

In this concentration students examine nonprofit organizations, their wide range of interests and causes, and their role in contemporary society. The coursework focuses on governance structures, fundraising, advocacy and lobbying, and marketing activities.

Public Management

In this concentration students develop public management skills by honing in on the overview of the operations required in public management and the processes that support them. The coursework prepares students to succeed in today’s increasingly complex public organizations. Coursework includes program planning and implementation, social entrepreneurship, public accounting and finance, human resources, leadership skills development, and managing information recourses. 

Public and Nonprofit Finance

This concentration provides students with a working knowledge of basic financial management standards, budgeting tools, analytical techniques, local, and volunteer agencies, and the public and private sectors and processes relevant to public sector and nonprofit financial operations and management.

Policy Studies

This concentration provides students with an understanding of the dynamics of policy making and policy analysis. Students evaluate, analyze, and develop solutions to policy problems within the political and public arenas.

State and Local Government

This concentration exposes students to electoral processes, governmental institutions and processes, and nongovernmental actors in state and local government.

Managing Across Sectors

In this concentration, students examine the design and management of government programs that rely on other levels of government and the private sector for the delivery of service, with a focus on contracts, grants, loans, regulation, and tax credits.

Enrollment and Graduation Rates (NASPAA accreditation reporting).

Recent MPA Student Internship Sites.

Want to browse the MPA program curriculum in more detail? Click here to read the degree completion worksheets posted on the current students section of the website.