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 diversity management and leadership.


The MPA 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. Sixty-one percent (61%) of the students enrolled in academic year 2013-2014 graduated within four years. Current graduation rates and employment outcomes for the most recent graduating class are available here.  To see additional information on where our graduates are working and what they think about their jobs, view the most recent  alumni survey results.

About 50 students are enrolled in the MPA program. Half are already working in the public or nonprofit sectors (in-service) and half are preparing for a career in the public or nonprofit sector (pre-service). All MPA courses that are delivered in a traditional classroom setting are offered on weekday evenings. Some MPA courses are a hybrid format (reduced meeting times with an online component) and others are offered entirely online. The flexibility in coursework serves the needs of both our on-service and pre-service students.

Like its private sector counterpart, the Master of Business Administration, the MPA is a terminal degree designed for managers. Rather than focus on one aspect of public management, the MPA degree encompasses all of the skills expected of the public or nonprofit manager.


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 in a relevant elective (1 class), and 6 credit hours which consist of a practicum/ internship or a thesis.  The practicum/internship involves a minimum of 300 real-time hours of practical experience over a period of not less than one semester.  

The concentrations reflect the program’s mission and urban focus. Each concentration has a faculty leader who has experience in that area and will advise students on internships and careers in the field.

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




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


Nonprofit Management Concentration
PADM 609: Management of Nonprofit Organizations                                                 3
PADM 611: Nonprofit Financial Management 3
PADM 612: Nonprofit Grantsmanship and Fundraising 3
PADM 615: Leadership and Community Engagement 3
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 Management 3
PADM 605/609: Public Management or Nonprofit Management 3
PADM 615: Leadership and Community Engagement 3
PADM 663: Social Equity 3
Diversity management focused elective* 3
Faculty Leader:  Dr. Aaron Rollins


The MPA Student Guide provides the schedule of course offerings for both full-time and part-time students, along with more detailed information about the MPA program.


The MPA degree requires 300 hours of professional practice in addition to coursework. Because the MPA is a professional degree, the degree holder is expected to understand the theory behind each management component, know best practices in the field and demonstrate the ability to put theory and practice together in the capstone course, PADM 682. The internship/practicum should be completed at or near the end of a student’s program of study. Both the internship and practicum require approximately 300 hours of professional practice and a paper that applies theory and best practices to the student’s professional experience.

For pre-service students, internships are available in public and nonprofit organizations in the Louisville area, as well as in Frankfort (state government) and beyond. Students will work with their faculty leader to identify and secure an internship that is consistent with their career goals. These are paid internships; no student is required to perform an unpaid internship as a condition of receiving the MPA degree.

The practicum is designed for the in-service student. All students currently working the public or nonprofit sectors will have an opportunity to complete a special project within their organization to satisfy the requirement. The practicum also requires a (shorter) paper that includes a description of the project and the project results. 

For more information about the internship/practicum, download the internship handbook.

Joint Degree Programs

The MPA program partners with the Urban Planning Program (MPA/MUP), the Brandeis School of Law (MPA/JD), and the Department of Fine Arts (MPA/MA in Curatorial Studies) to offer joint degrees. The MPA Program Director can provide additional details on these joint degree programs, include admission requirements and curricular guidelines.


Tuition rates for academic year 2019-2020 are:  

 Public Administration Program

Per Hour Full-Time*
Resident $825 $7,400
Non-Resident $1,607 $14,457

* 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 has limited scholarship funding for MPA students. The amount of the funding varies from year to year, but is typically about $1000 per semester. Scholarship awards are highly competitive. Scholarship decisions are made in the late spring for the upcoming fall semester, so students wanting to apply for the scholarship should plan to have a complete application packet by April 1 and should contact the program director for more information.

The university also offers financial support for graduate students. Interested students should check the Graduate School Financial Support website regularly for financial aid opportunities.


Applicants must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. There is no preferred bachelor’s degree. MPA students come from a diverse educational background including the social sciences, natural sciences and humanities. A completed application form, a transcript of all undergraduate course work, a statement of purpose, and two letters of recommendation are required. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores are recommended, but are not required.

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 MPA program has a “rolling” admissions policy; the admission decision is made as soon as the application package is complete. Students may begin in any semester, but beginning the program in the fall semester ensures the program can be completed on schedule.

After applying and submitting the application fee online, please be sure to send all application materials (transcripts, GRE scores (optional), personal statement of interest, and letters of recommendation) directly to:

Graduate School University of Louisville
105 Houchens Bldg. 
Louisville, KY 40292

The Graduate School also accepts electronic documents at

Active Military and Veterans

The University of Louisville has been named a Military Friendly School for 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. 


The MPA faculty includes most of the faculty in the Department of Urban and Public Affairs. Five faculty members are “nucleus” MPA faculty, denoted by the asterisk beside their names. These five faculty members are responsible for the governance of the MPA program, including admissions, course offerings, internships and practica, advising and career counseling.

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

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

Frank Goetzke, Ph.D.  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 H. Ruther, Ph.D.  Associate Professor of Urban and Public Affairs, Director, Kentucky State Data Center. 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.


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