Master of Public Administration (MPA)

Founded in 1990, the Department of Urban and Public Affairs (UPA) offers a Master of Public Administration (MPA) with an urban focus. Fully accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA), the MPA offers concentrations in urban governance, non-profit management, and sustainable urban development. Read more about College of Arts & Sciences accreditation.



The Master in Public Administration Program is a dynamic, collaborative interdisciplinary degree program committed to preparing students for career success in the public and nonprofit sectors. The program content reflects the urban/metropolitan setting of the University as well as the focus of the Department of Urban and Public Affairs. We are committed to:
• Providing our pre-service and in-service students with a flexible program of study that emphasizes critical thinking, evidence-based problem solving and engaged service learning.
• Encouraging diversity and inclusiveness in the curriculum, in the classroom and by engaging with the community we serve.
• Advancing scholarship, competence and professionalism in program and public service activities. 

Students in the MPA program are recent college graduates and not-so-recent college graduates, many of whom are already working in the public and nonprofit sectors. Employers value the MPA degree as an indication of a graduate’s readiness to assume an executive-level management position as well as a commitment to public service.  

The typical program length is two years for full time students and four years for part time students. Seventy-five percent (75%) of the students enrolled in academic year 2013-2014 graduated within the expected length. Ninety percent (90%) of the 2018 graduating class were employed in the profession within six months of graduation. To see where our graduates are working and what they think about their jobs, click here.

The MPA offers three areas of concentration; each provides an opportunity to develop a focus through formal studies and professional career development. The concentrations are: Urban Governance, Non-Profit Management, and Sustainable Urban Development.  Approximately 50 students are enrolled in the degree program.

The Program requires a minimum of 42 credits for completion: core requirements of 18 credits, 6 credits of practicum or internship or 6 credits of thesis, 12 credits from one of the areas of concentration, and 6 credits from elective courses. Most courses are offered once a week in the late afternoon to accommodate students holding full time jobs. Some classes are offered as hybrid distance course, requiring less frequent than weekly meetings. Students enrolled in the hybrid courses often have an initial meeting to determine a convenient time for the portion of the course that takes place in the classroom. A few courses are entirely online, offering the student maximum flexibility with the guarantee of working one-on-one with the professor. 

Joint MPA/MUP, MPA/JD and MPA/MA (Curatorial Studies) programs are available. 


Applicants must have a bachelor's degree, and provide a completed application form, a transcript of all undergraduate course work, scores for the Graduate Record Examination, a statement of purpose, and two letters of recommendation. There is no preferred bachelor’s degree. MPA students come from a diverse educational background including the social sciences, natural sciences and humanities. However, if the undergraduate course of study did not include some coursework relevant to the public sector, a public policy course may be required as a condition of admission.

Admission is competitive and generally requires a GRE score of 153 (verbal) and 144 (quantitative) and a GPA of 3.00. Students who have a deficiency in either the desired GPA or GRE score may be admitted conditionally, after review by the MPA admissions committee.  The GRE code for the University of Louisville is 1838.

Applicants whose native language is not English and who do not hold a degree from a university where the language of instruction is English must complete the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) with a score of at least 79 on the Internet-based test.

The Department of Urban and Public Affairs maintains a rolling admissions policy.  Students may begin in either the Fall or Spring semesters.



Application Checklist 

1) Completed application form.

2) All transcripts of previous undergraduate and graduate study 

3) Graduate Record Examination scores (verbal, quantitative, and analytical) 

4) At least two letters of recommendation (from former professors) 

5) TOEFL  (if required; native language or degree not English; see above)

After applying and submitting the application fee online, please be sure to send all application materials (transcripts, GRE scores, personal statement of interest, and letters of recommendation) directly to the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies University of Louisville, 105 Houchens Bldg.  Louisville, KY 40292 and/or


Military and Veteran Students

The University of Louisville has been named a Military Friendly School for 2017 by G.I. Jobs, a monthly magazine designed to help veterans make the transition from military service to the civilian workforce. U of L has made the magazine’s list five years in a row. The Office of Military and Veteran Student Services assists students with their GI Bill benefits and links students to services and events that  create community and support academic success. 

More information...


Tuition Rates

Tuition rates for academic year 2019-2020 are:  

 Public Administration Program

Per HourFull-Time*

* 9 or more credit hours per semester

Courses at Fort Knox for active duty are $250 per credit hour.

Distance education carry a $50 per course surcharge.

Explanation of bundled tuition and fees.


Financial Aid

The Department of Urban and Public Affairs administers a number of Graduate Research Assistantships (GRAs).

GRAs carry a monthly stipend and are granted tuition remission. In return students are required to carry at least nine hours of courses per semester and assist a faculty member for 20 hours per week over a 10-month period. GRAs are required to carry at least 9 hours of courses per semester. Students interested in a GRA should consult the program director and apply here.

There are four different types of GRAs available to students within the Department of Urban and Public Affairs.  They all include full tuition remission, a monthly stipend, and health insurance and are all highly competitive.  The first is departmental funding awarded primarily based on merit, thus the higher the GRE score and GPA, the better the chances of the student receiving funding.  There are typically 1-2 available positions per academic year and thus are highly competitive and students can apply here at the Graduate Research Assistantship/Fellowship Application.  The second type is offered via grant or contracts obtained by our various research centers within the department: Kentucky State Data Center, Center for Hazards Research and Policy Development, Center for Sustainable Urban Neighborhoods, Center for Land Use and Environmental Responsibility, Center for Environmental Policy and Management.  These funds are awarded based on the student’s skills and experience with similar projects.  The third type of funding is awarded through departments outside of Urban and Public Affairs.  In the past, some students were able to secure funding through positions in the International Center, Cultural Center, Athletics, and Alumni Center and the REACH campus tutoring service.  These funds are awarded based upon the student’s skills and experience related to the position.  Contact information for these departments is available on the University of Louisville A-Z website.  The fourth type of funding is available to qualified Ethnic Minority Students through the graduate school and is awarded through a competitive nomination process.

The deadline for application for the departmental GRA application is March 1st.

Please fill out the application below to be considered for funding.

Graduate Research Assistantship/Fellowship Application

For more information on general student financial aid (loans, grants, and work study) contact the UofL Financial Aid Office.


MPA Curriculum

The MPA curriculum is flexible and allows students to choose a concentration that meets their interests and career aspirations.  The MPA degree plan consists of 21 credit hours (7 classes) in the MPA core requirements, 12 credits (4 classes) in a concentration area chosen by the student, 3 credit hours (1 class) of electives, and 6 credit hours which consist of a practicum/ internship or a thesis.  The practicum/internship involves a minimum of 400 real-time hours of practical experience over a period of not less than one semester.  

PADM 600: Foundations of Public Administration3
PADM 601: Research Methods for Public Administration             3
PADM 603: Program Evaluation3
PADM 606: Urban Policy Analysis3
PADM 624: Ethics in Public Administration3
PADM 642: Human Resources Management  3
PADM 664: Cultural Competency and Action3
Four courses within specialization           12
One elective course3
Practicum, internship, or thesis*6



*A list of internships and agencies that our students have worked with can be found here.


MPA Concentrations


Urban Governance Concentration
PADM 604: Public Budgeting and Finance                                                                3
PADM 605: Public Management3
PADM 645: Economic Development3
PADM 663: Social Equity3
Urban governance focused elective*3
Faculty Leader:  Dr. Steven Koven


Nonprofit Management Concentration
PADM 609: Management of Nonprofit Organizations                                                3
PADM 611: Nonprofit Financial Management3
PADM 612: Nonprofit Grantsmanship and Fundraising3
PADM 615: Leadership and Community Engagement3
Nonprofit management focused elective*3
Faculty Leader:  Dr. Lindsey Evans


Diversity Management and Leadership Concentration
PADM 604/611: Public Budgeting and Finance or Nonprofit Financial Management3
PADM 605/609: Public Management or Nonprofit Management3
PADM 615: Leadership and Community Engagement3
PADM 663: Social Equity3
Diversity management focused elective*3
Faculty Leader:  Dr. Aaron Rollins

*Many PADM, PLAN, and UPA courses are eligible electives. MPA students require faculty leader approval in choosing their elective.

MPA Faculty

Daniel DeCaro, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Urban and Public Affairs.  Sustainability, sustainable socio-ecological systems, urban environment and sustainability.

Lindsey Evans, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Urban and Public Affairs.  Public administration, social equity, program evaluation, policy implementation, nonprofit management.

John I. Gilderbloom, Ph.D., Professor of Urban and Public Affairs. Research methods, housing, community development, planning, and design.

Frank Goetzke, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Urban and Public Affairs. Urban economics, spatial analysis and transportation policy.

Janet Kelly,   Ph.D.,  Professor of Urban and Public Affairs, Executive Director, Urban Studies Institute, Director, Master of Public Administration Program. Public financial management, nonprofit financial management.

Kelly L. Kinahan, Ph.D., AICP, Assistant Professor of Urban and Public Affairs. Urban revitalization, historic preservation, community and economic development, legacy city planning and policy.

Steven G. Koven, Ph.D., Professor of Urban and Public Affairs.  Organizational administration, research methods, public budgeting.

Aaron Rollins, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Urban and Public Affairs. Public administration, cultural competence, social equity, public management.

Matthew Ruther, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Urban and Public Affairs, Director, Kentucky State Data Center and Kentucky State Demographer. Urban demography, research methods, metropolitan growth and development, spatial analysis.

David M. Simpson, Ph.D., AICP, Fifth Third Bank Professor of Community Development, Professor of Urban and Public Affairs and Director, Center for Hazards Research and Policy Development. Planning, environmental policy, disaster preparedness.

Sumei Zhang Ph.D, Associate Professor of Urban and Public Affairs. Location theory, quantitative methods, geographical information systems.


Contact Details

Aaron Rollins, Ph.D., Program Director
Phone: (502) 852-7955

Master of Public Administration Program
Department of Urban and Public Affairs
426 W. Bloom Street
Louisville, Kentucky 40208

Phone: (502) 852-7906
Fax: (502) 852-4558


Additional Information

MPA Student Guide
MPA Internship Handbook
Graduate Research Assistantship/Fellowship Application
Accrediting Organization: NASPAA
Phi Alpha Alpha Honor Society