College of Social and Behavioral Sciences2021-2022

Department of Politics and International Affairs

Public Administration, Master of Public Administration

Learning Outcomes

Purpose Statement

The purpose of the Master of Public Administration is to prepare both pre-service and mid-career professionals for leadership and management roles in public and not-for-profit sectors.  As the preeminent public MPA program in Northern Arizona, we play a unique role in serving the people and public institutions of this region at the county, municipal, state, tribal and federal levels. In addition to this regional focus, we aspire to serve students from throughout the state, the nation and even internationally. To make ourselves as accessible as possible, our classes can be taken both in-person at our residential Flagstaff campus, or online from anywhere with an Internet connection.

The NAU MPA also has a unique and innovative partnership with the Department of Applied Indigenous Studies that allows students to concurrently complete a certificate program in Indigenous and Tribal Nation-Building, Leadership, Management, and Administration. Because of this partnership, as well as our geographical proximity to a number of indigenous nations, students who are interested in tribal government and administration have access to educational resources and opportunities that are not available at most other institutions.

The curriculum of the NAU Masters of Public Administration builds a strong foundation in the theoretical and practical dimensions of public management and educates students within a program of study that facilitates intellectual development, promotes scholarship, and integrates the theory and practice of public administration with the promotion of public service values. Because effective leaders and managers need to be adaptable and creative, this degree provides a broad perspective on political science, leadership, implementation of policies, problem-solving, analysis, ethics, and improved organizational performance. Students will be able to use key concepts and analytical approaches from human resource administration, public budgeting, ethics and administrative law, within the context of the public service values of equity, accountability, transparency, access and responsiveness to diversity.

Our curriculum ensures that students can engage in the core competencies of enhancing leadership and decision-making, communicating effectively in diverse organizational settings, contributing to the public policy process, advancing a public service perspective, and using critical thinking and problem solving in organizational settings.

The faculty of this department are innovative teachers and researchers who engage students in their classes, research agendas and co-curricular activities. Faculty regularly encourage students to engage in research projects, therefore exposing them to professional political science research. Additionally faculty may guide students towards internships, help them to develop independent studies, and work with them to develop emphasis areas that suit their needs and interests. These broad opportunities and perspectives help students understand our diverse world.

Our goal is to train pre-career and in-service professionals to be active, engaged and informed participants in the public and not-for-profit sectors.
Student Learning Outcomes

Core Outcomes 

Graduates of the MPA program should demonstrate the following abilities.
  1. Lead and manage in public governance, including being able to:
    1. Apply theories of management, leadership and organization to deliver effective governance in public and non-profit organizations.
    2. Assess the major theories of human resource management to select approaches that will best support the professional development and management of human resources in various areas.
    3. Apply current legal requirements guiding human resource management in public and non-profit settings.
    4. Demonstrate a working understanding of the budgeting process in public and non-profit settings, including the ability to create, read and analyze a budget.
    5. Apply ethical reasoning to administrative design and decision-making in the context of public management and leadership.
  2. Participate in and contribute to the policy process, including being able to:
    1. Demonstrate knowledge of policy analytic techniques and presentation.
    2. Produce a professional quality policy analysis of a real policy problem.
    3. Plan an evaluation of an existing policy or program.
  3. Analyze, synthesize, think critically, solve problems and make decisions, including being able to:
    1. Compare and contrast different theories of management, leadership and organization in terms of each theory’s assumptions, applications, insights and limitations.
    2. Formulate, develop and support arguments and recommendations in written essays and research papers.
    3. Design quantitative and qualitative research projects, analyze data and draw conclusions.
    4. Use ethical and practical reasoning in class assignments and discussions.
    5. Explain and apply different models of decision making.
  4. Articulate and apply a public service perspective, including being able to:
    1. Describe the importance of democratic and constitutional values in public management.
    2. Analyze and explain how different theories of public management and organizations define and attempt to realize democratic and constitutional values.
    3. Define and discuss the importance of equity, transparency, participation, accountability and diversity in public management and organizations.
    4. Define and discuss efficiency and effectiveness from a public service perspective.
  5. Communicate and interact productively with a diverse and changing workforce and community, including being able to:
    1. Critically reflect upon the nature and consequences of diversity (e.g. race, gender, class, ethnicity, religion, culture, nation), and develop an understanding of how this diversity both alters and is altered in a world characterized by global interaction.
    2. Demonstrate professional behavior in terms of demeanor, personal presentation, ethics, and civic participation in experiential learning and classroom settings.
    3. Write effectively and persuasively about the key principles, theories and issues of public administration.
    4. Speak and/or interact in diverse public and professional settings.

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