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Public Policy and Administration


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Public Policy and Administration

West Chester University
1160 McDermott Drive #101
West Chester, PA 19380

Phone: 610-436-2438

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Thank you for your interest in the MPA Program. The information that follows has been prepared to address questions frequently asked by applicants to the MPA Program. If you have additional questions, please contact us at or (610) 436-2438.


Will I be able to work full-time and still succeed in the program?

Yes, this program is specifically structured to accommodate professionals who work full-time and want to enhance their professional credentials on a part-time basis. All classes are scheduled in the late afternoon and evening hours. Students employed full-time usually take one or two courses a semester. The program is designed to allow a part-time student to earn the MPA degree in two to three years (including summer sessions).

Can I attend the program on a full-time basis?

Yes, although most students in the program work full-time and attend part-time, a number of students are enrolled on a full-time basis and complete the program in one and a half to two years.

It has been a long time since I was in school. Will I feel out of place?

No, the vast majority of students in the program have already gained full-time professional work experience prior to entering the program and are currently working full-time.

How does the MPA differ from the MBA?

While both degrees focus on developing an administrative skill set, the MPA is more oriented toward enhancing the practice of these skills within the field of public service. The MPA program is most suitable for those whose interests primarily lie with operating in the area of public service, organizational development and "people management."

Individuals who are currently in the private sector will find the skills learned in the MPA program to be applicable and highly valuable especially for those in the area of "people management."

Is the MPA degree recommended for someone who wants to earn a Ph.D.?

While the MPA degree is intended to be a "terminal" degree for professionals desiring to enhance their administrative skills, a growing number of individuals have gone on to pursue their PhD after completing a MPA.

Can I earn a Pennsylvania elementary or secondary school certification by completing the MPA degree or the MPA certificate?

No, the MPA degree is not meant for persons who want to earn a state recognized principal or superintendent's certificate. However, for a variety of other reasons, we do have a number of educators enrolled in our program who find the curriculum useful for their career development.


I have already earned a master's degree from another institution, do I need to meet the MPA application requirements?

Individuals with graduate degrees in other areas have gone on to also attain an MPA degree and are required to fulfill our admissions criteria. Upon admittance to the program, the student will complete a minimum of twenty-four credits in order to earn the MPA degree. The specific number of credits required will vary depending on the student's background and intended concentration.

May I earn a second master's degree from West Chester University?

Absolutely. Students wishing to attain a second master's degree from WCU will meet all admissions requirements set by the Office of Graduate Studies and the MPA program and must earn a minimum of twenty-four credits beyond the credits applied toward the first master's degree.

What are the application procedures for international students?

International students should follow the same application procedures on the Admissions page. Additionally, applicants whose native language is not English must submit evidence of satisfactory performance on either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing Systems (IELTS–academic version).

Satisfactory TOEFL scores are:

  • 550 for the written exam
  • 213 for the computer-based exam
  • 70 for the Internet-based exam

Satisfactory IELTS scores are at the sixth band.

An official transcript evaluation by World Educational Services (WES) or any other NACES participating organization is also required.

How do I answer the section of the graduate application that asks for a statement of short-term and long-term career objectives?

This is a critical part of the MPA application. This question must be answered in essay form (your goal statement) and explain the applicant's undergraduate area of study, relevant professional experiences since receiving the undergraduate degree, and motivation for pursuing graduate study at this time. In addition, the statement must cover short-term career objectives (the next 3-5 years) as well as long-term objectives (10-15 years out). Please be specific about career goals as this information will be used for advisement purposes. Further, the applicant must include a recent resume.

How does the Certificate in Public Administration compare to the MPA degree?

Besides the full MPA degree, the MPA Program does offer a Certificate in Public Administration. Applicants must meet the same entrance requirements as for the MPA degree and complete the six administrative core courses, for a total of eighteen credits.

As a student in another program, may I take MPA courses?

Yes, students majoring in other graduate degree programs may, under advisement, enroll in MPA courses on a space available basis. Approval is needed both from the student's adviser and the MPA director. Class priority is given to MPA degree and certificate students.

Can I take courses as a non-degree student?

Non-degree students may, with approval from the MPA director, take up to nine credits without formally applying to the MPA Program. To be considered, potential non-degree students must submit copies of their undergraduate transcripts from all colleges attended as well as a resume.


Who advises me in the area of concentration?

An adviser is assigned to each area of concentration from among the faculty teaching in that particular area. Advisors are available during office hours and by phone, email and appointment.

May I apply for a concentration which is different from that of my undergraduate degree?

MPA students often have their undergraduate degree in an area related to their concentration area; however, such is not a requirement for admission. Indeed, many applicants are routinely admitted whose academic credentials are in an area different than their intended MPA concentration. The career goal statement in the graduate application should address this change in direction (from an applicant's undergraduate major).

Should I be employed in the same area as I chose for my MPA concentration?

Many students in the program are already employed in the same field as their concentration, but this is not an admission's requirement. The MPA Program is designed to serve those seeking a career change, as well as those hoping to enhance their present employment. Along with earning a formal degree, students are advised to also "build a resume" to support their intended career change and to plan to take an internship or otherwise acquire appropriate experience in the career area into which they intend to transition.

My undergraduate major is in the same area as my MPA concentration. Will I have to repeat courses?

No, even though the course titles may be similar, courses at the graduate level are qualitatively and quantitatively different from those offered at the undergraduate level. However, students with an especially strong background in a particular area are encouraged to discuss alternative concentration courses with their concentration adviser. Students have been able to broaden their backgrounds by substituting alternative concentration courses for those required in the concentration; approval to do so must be granted by a student's concentration adviser.

Scheduling and Registration

How often are the courses offered in the MPA Program?

All Public Administration (PPA) core courses are offered every semester and some in the summer. The schedule for concentration courses varies by concentration, but most are offered at least once a year.

Can I substitute courses from another concentration for those required in my concentration?

Possibly, but this is decided on a case-by-case basis and should be discussed with your adviser.

Can I transfer credit for courses taken at other colleges that are comparable to the courses in the MPA Program?

Yes, if approved, up to six credits may be transferred. The credits submitted for possible transfer must have been earned at an accredited institution and completed within the previous six years. A grade of "B" or better must have been earned in the course(s). Requests for transfer credits to substitute for PPA core courses will not be approved once a student starts the MPA program.

Can I receive credit for my life experience (CLEP)?

No, WCU policy does not permit the granting of graduate-level academic credit for life experience. However, students should confer with their concentration adviser regarding which courses to take that will enhance their background and not merely duplicate their previous experiences.

Can I earn graduate "Credit by Examination (CBE)"?

No, this program is not designed to grant credit by examination. However, students are encouraged to discuss their competencies with their concentration advisers and, with adviser approval, substitute alternative concentration courses for those which would merely duplicate past learning.

Do I need a math/accounting/finance background for the Public Finance and Budgeting Course?

No, these courses do not focus heavily on "technical" matters but rather are designed to introduce the future administrator to these technical areas from a manager's perspective and, hence, are intended to give individuals the opportunity to become knowledgeable about these fields from a management perspective. No prerequisites are required.

Is a thesis required for this degree?

The research requirements are all contained within the respective concentration areas and differ for each concentration. To gain a better understanding of research requirements, consult the curriculum advising sheet (available from the MPA Office) for the concentration or the concentration adviser.

How will I be billed for classes for which I register?

The Bursar's Office will send a tuition bill after the student has properly registered for classes. All deadlines stated in the registration materials must be observed or the student risks cancellation of all scheduled courses.

Can I defer these payments?

WCU does offer payment plans for full and part-time students. Students should contact the Bursar's Office and the Financial Aid Office directly for more information. WCU does permit students to charge tuition fees on VISA, Mastercard, or American Express. If you have questions about this option, please call the Bursar's Office at (610) 436-2552.