Department of Public Administration

The Department of Public Administration offers the Master of Public Administration, as well as the Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Administration and Leadership.

Master of Public Administration Degree

The Master of Public Administration (MPA) program is fully accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA).

Mission Statement

The UTSA MPA program contributes to regional governance by educating skilled and responsible leaders and managers for the public and non-profit sectors. The program faculty, comprised of academics and practitioners, guide students to broaden their world views and develop their analytical and decision-making capacity through teaching informed by community-relevant research and public sector experience. The MPA course of study enables a diverse body of pre-service and mid-career students who are passionate about public service to improve their organizations and communities. The program empowers students to fulfill their potential as public servants who formulate and solve complex problems collaboratively. Possessing breadth of management and analytical knowledge, MPA graduates are cognizant of the diversity of values, interests, and stakeholders in a free society, address public issues with effectiveness, professional skill and transparency, and advocate public policies for the advancement of justice, fairness, and democracy.

Program Admission Requirements

Applicants for unconditional admission must satisfy University-wide graduate admission requirements as well as the MPA program requirements.

All applications must include:

  • A completed UTSA Graduate School application;

  • Official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended;

  • Letter of Intent;
    A carefully written letter of intent is a significant part of the application.  The 500-word letter of intent must state the applicant's reasons for pursuing a MPA, how their educational and/or career experience has prepared them for a MPA program, and how they anticipate that the degree will help them achieve their stated goals.

  • Letter of Recommendation;
    One letter of recommendation is required, although up to two letters of recommendation may be provided.  The letter(s) should be from a professor or work supervisor who can address the applicant's academic or work abilities relevant to success in a graduate program.

  • Résumé;

  • At least one successfully completed undergraduate course in U.S. government or politics, or an equivalent as determined by the Graduate Program Committee.

Students who do not meet these criteria may be admitted conditionally or on probation as degree-seeking, depending on the nature of the deficiency. Admission as a special graduate student may be considered by the Graduate Program Committee.

Degree Requirements

The minimum number of semester credit hours required for the degree, exclusive of coursework or other study required to remove deficiencies, is 40. In addition to these basic degree requirements, students without previous work experience that supports attainment of careers and leadership roles in public and nonprofit organizations must complete 3 semester credit hours of PAD 6963 Internship; 43 credit hours are required for students without prior work experience.

Degree candidates must complete the following requirements:

A. 25 semester credit hours of core courses:25
Introduction to Public Service Leadership and Management
Professional Skills Seminar
Managing Public Organizations
Public Policy Process
Public Budgeting and Finance
Economics for Public Affairs
Research 1: Design
Research 2: Applied Quantitative Methods
Capstone Seminar: Research Paper in Public Administration
Students enroll in PAD 5003 and PAD 5011 during their initial semester.
B. 15 semester credit hours of Public Administration electives. (NOTE: Up to 6 semester credit hours of graduate-level courses may be taken outside of public administration in related UTSA graduate programs with approval of the Graduate Advisor of Record (GAR).15
C. Comprehensive examination. The oral comprehensive examination is administered in the form of a research presentation to a faculty committee, and includes a review of essential competencies.
Total Credit Hours40

Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Administration and Leadership

The Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Administration and Leadership (NPAL) is a 15-semester-credit-hour program offered by the Department of Public Administration established to provide students who are currently managing or working in the nonprofit sector, or who seek careers in the nonprofit sector, with essential management skills and a foundation in the theory and values fortifying the nonprofit sector in America.

The certificate enables graduate students with good academic standing from multiple program areas to develop their expertise, explore the current issues facing the sector, enhance their employment opportunities with nonprofit and public agencies, and meet the growing complexity and demands of the nonprofit sector.

To meet the curricular requirements for the Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Administration and Leadership, students must complete 15 semester credit hours from the following:

A. 9 semester credit hours of required courses:9
Managing Public Organizations
Foundations of Nonprofits
Nonprofit Leadership and Management
B. 6 semester credit hours selected from the following courses:6
Program Evaluation
Managing Human Resources in Public Organizations
Development and Management of Nonprofit Resources
Strategic Management
Grant Development and Proposal Writing
Special Topics (with permission from Advisor)
Total Credit Hours15

Course substitutions for non-PAD graduate students in UTSA graduate-level degree-awarding programs may be allowed for Section B in the Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Administration and Leadership, with the approval of the program advisor for the graduate student's degree-seeking program and the approval of the Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Administration and Leadership Program Advisor.

If it is determined by the Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Administration and Leadership Program Advisor that a student requires prerequisite background courses to adequately prepare for the courses included in the Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Administration and Leadership Program, this will be noted in the student’s file. Prerequisite courses must be taken before enrolling in Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Administration and Leadership Program coursework or within the first semester of coursework.

Students not currently enrolled in a graduate degree program are required to apply for admission to UTSA as a special (non-degree-seeking) graduate student and indicate their intent to seek admission into the certificate program. Applicants must meet University admission requirements for special graduate students. Once admitted as a special graduate student, the student should contact the Certificate Program Advisor and complete the formal intent form.

Completion of the Certificate program will be recorded on the student’s transcript if the student has applied for and been admitted into the Certificate program and after completion of all coursework, and has applied for the Certificate by submitting the necessary application to the Enrollment Services Center. It is the student’s obligation to apply for the Certificate, much like applying for graduation, after completion of the coursework.

Students should note that if they are currently pursuing a degree in a graduate program and pursuing the Certificate, and they graduate from the graduate program before they complete the Certificate, they must reapply for admission to UTSA as a special (non-degree-seeking) graduate student and indicate their intent to seek readmission into the Certificate program.

All other requirements for certificate programs, described in Certificate Program Regulations of this catalog, apply to this program.

Public Administration (PAD) Courses

PAD 5003. Introduction to Public Service Leadership and Management. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

This course introduces students to the discipline of public administration with an emphasis on the expectations and ethics of service in civil society. Students have the opportunity to develop the skills and knowledge of effective public servants in a diverse world. In addition to a basic introduction to the field of public administration, other topics may include a general overview of leadership and public service values, including justice, fairness and transparency. Students should take this course in their first 6 hours of coursework. (Formerly titled "Introduction to Public Administration.") Course Fee: STSP $9.

PAD 5011. Professional Skills Seminar. (1-0) 1 Credit Hour.

This is the professional development course in the MPA program. The course is designed to enhance the professional skills of students as they enter or continue in the public, nonprofit, and private sectors. The primary focus is on communication and presentation skills that, per the MPA mission, demonstrate a broad perspective cognizant of the conflicting values and interests in a free society. The grade report for the course is either “CR” (satisfactory performance) or “NC” (unsatisfactory performance). (Formerly PAD 6001. Formerly titled " Leadership and Communication Skills Development Seminar.") Credit cannot be earned for both PAD 5011 and PAD 6001.) Course Fee: STSP $9.

PAD 5033. Managing Public Organizations. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

Building from foundation in organization theory, this course is an overview of the unique management challenges in organization s serving public purposes. Topics include public organization environment and stakeholders, organizational processes and structures, organizational design and change, accountability and transparency, performance measurement and management. (Formerly titled "Theories of Public Organizations.") Course Fee: STSP $9.

PAD 5103. Planning and Land Use Law. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

Designed to provide a core background of the legal environment of planning and land use, this course will cover the various levels of government involved in defining this environment, with an emphasis on crucial historic and contemporary legal decisions that inform planning and land-use decisions. Special attention is given to the ethical and philosophical background that informs the balance of property rights and the public good. Topics covered may include regulatory mandates, eminent domain and takings, the local tools of land use control, and the impact of land use law on a more diverse public, such as renters and low income residents. Course Fee: STSP $9.

PAD 5223. Urban Management. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

With a focus on local government, this course examines the intersection of administrative, political, fiscal, economic, and social processes for delivering public services. Students will explore the ways government creates opportunity and incentives, implements policy, serves citizens, and provides basic services in a complex environment. Topics may include contemporary issues in urban areas, urban finance, citizen participation, local government tax policies, sustainability, and intergovernmental dimensions of urban management. Course Fee: STSP $9.

PAD 5243. Management Information Systems. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

This course examines managerial means of accessing, organizing, and using information and data in public and nonprofit organizations. The course emphasizes using information and communication technology to enhance managerial decision making. The major technologies and issues in management information systems are covered such as databases, telecommunications, Internet, wireless technology, and information security. Course Fee: STSP $9.

PAD 5303. Ethics in Government Administration. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

Those who work in public service are responsible for developing and maintaining public trust by behaving ethically and with accountability. This course provides an introduction to the philosophy of ethics as it has developed in Western society. Students in this class will be introduced to ethics and how to analyze and confront ethical challenges as professional public servants as they relate to power, authority, accountability, justice, divided allegiances, and citizen priorities. Course Fee: STSP $9.

PAD 5313. Public Policy Analysis. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

This course examines the core component of policy making—the examination, comparison, and choice of policy alternatives. The values, assumptions, and tools associated with welfare economics, as well as alternative approaches to analysis will be studied in detail. Key issues such as informational capacity, public input, rhetorical tools of argument, and ethical obligations of the policy analyst may also be covered. Course Fee: STSP $9.

PAD 5323. Public Policy Process. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

This course provides a broad overview of the process of formulating, deciding on, and implementing public policies. Through theoretical approaches and case studies, this course examines issues such as the impact of politics on policy formulation, the role of nongovernmental actors in the policy process, the complexities of decision-making, and the challenges and opportunities facing policy makers in a diverse, global society. (Formerly titled "Public Policy Formulation and Implementation.") (Credit cannot be earned for both PAD 5323 and POL 5173.) Course Fee: STSP $9.

PAD 5333. Program Evaluation. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

The course provides an overview of the design and methodological issues in evaluating public programs and policies. Addresses the uses and limitations of methods such as cost-benefit analysis, time-series analysis, case studies, and the logic of experimental, quasi-experimental and nonexperimental assessments. Course Fee: STSP $9.

PAD 5343. Managing Human Resources in Public Organizations. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

The course explores key managerial and leadership challenges involved in leading employees towards achieving public organizations' missions while promoting public values, fairness, and social justice. Topics include history and legal framework of human resource management, strategic analysis of human resource challenges, recruitment and retention, rewards and motivation, performance appraisal, diversity and inclusion, teamwork and collaboration, work design, and ethical leadership. (Formerly titled "Human Resource Management in the Public Sector.") Course Fee: STSP $9.

PAD 5363. Public Budgeting and Finance. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

This course provides a foundation in public budgeting and finance that includes an exploration of concepts, processes, and principles essential to effective professional practice in the public sector. Topics include the politics of the budgetary process, budget preparation, budgeting for performance, capital budgeting, revenue strategies, debt management, and budget reporting and analysis. (Formerly titled "Public Sector Financial Management.") Course Fee: STSP $9.

PAD 5393. Economics for Public Affairs. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

This course introduces the use of economic reasoning and tools of analysis with a primary focus on application to issues in public policy and administration. Concepts and principles addressed include demand and supply, consumer choice, market structures, market failure, tax systems, inequality, redistribution, and cost-benefit analysis. The interrelationship between government and the private sector in a market economy is also explored with a particular emphasis on implications for public policy. (Formerly titled "Economics for Public Administrators.") Course Fee: STSP $9.

PAD 5473. Land Use Policy. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

A broad overview of the formulation and implementation of land use policies in the United States, with an emphasis on South Texas. Special attention is given to traditional local land use tools such as platting and zoning, as well as more contemporary and innovative strategies such as form-based zoning and regional planning bodies. Topics may also include: how our changing orientation to land functions as a key determinant of land use policy; environmental protection; the provision of affordable housing. Course Fee: STSP $9.

PAD 5513. Urban and Regional Economic Development. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

Focus on economic development theory and tools for urban-regional economic development. Analyses of factors contributing to the economic growth or decline of U.S. cities or regions. Research approaches and development theories and practices provide the student with options for approaches and policies for economic development. Case studies of specific urban areas are analyzed. Course Fee: STSP $9.

PAD 5573. Public Policy and Policymaking in San Antonio. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

The politics, economy, and built form of a city shaped by decisions and choices, both public and private, made over decades. Contemporary San Antonio shares a great many common dimensions with the “new cities” of the Sunbelt. At the same time, its economic and political development reflects many unique characteristics and its own history. The purpose of this course is to develop a framework for understanding the present day circumstances and needs of the San Antonio area, as they have been shaped over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Students have the opportunity to understand how various elements of the city’s environment, society, and economy have developed, and how today’s issues, problems, and policy making processes have been shaped. Course Fee: STSP $9.

PAD 5913. Foundations of Nonprofits. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

This introductory overview course examines the history, theoretical and legal foundations, unique values, and major trends currently shaping the nonprofit sector. The intention is to help students develop a 'cognitive map' of the nonprofit sector that helps them to understand how to foster sustainable organizations given their political roles, various challenges and unique contribution to governance and service delivery in the United States. (Formerly titled "Nonprofit Organizations.") Course Fee: STSP $9.

PAD 5923. Nonprofit Leadership and Management. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

Prerequisite: PAD 5913 is recommended. This course focuses on leadership and managerial responsibilities and techniques in nonprofit organizations. Topics may include the roles and functions of boards of directors, recruiting and retaining volunteers and staff, and understanding the complex context of nonprofit organizations. Case studies are analyzed to further integration of course material and student experience. Course Fee: STSP $9.

PAD 5933. Development and Management of Nonprofit Resources. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

This course addresses two integrated management functions central to strategic decision making for successful nonprofits: financial management and resource development. The objectives of the course are to provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to manage and generate financial resources, including financial roles and responsibilities within an organization, financial reporting, budgeting, and management tools. Students will learn how to build a comprehensive development program, the fundraising cycle, organizational stewardship and accountability with regard to fundraising and philanthropy. (Formerly titled "Fiscal Resource Development in Nonprofit Organizations.") Course Fee: STSP $9.

PAD 5943. Strategic Management. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

This course introduces students to the concepts and techniques of strategic management. Particular topics to cover are mission and vision, goal setting process, environmental scanning and analysis, issue identification, strategy formulation, implementation, and control techniques. Case studies may be utilized to demonstrate strategic management applications in public and nonprofit organizations. (Formerly titled "Research in Health and Kinesiology Nonprofit Organizations.") Course Fee: STSP $9.

PAD 5953. Grant Development and Proposal Writing. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

Provides preparation for public managers to develop effective grant proposals. Examines important trends in philanthropy, specifically outcome measurement and program evaluation. Other topics include: creating partnership proposals, identifying possible funding sources, program design, and effective writing for grants. Course Fee: STSP $9.

PAD 6243. Administrative Law. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

This course covers the rules that govern the activities of administrative agencies and the body of law that defines those requirements. Topics may include rule-making, administrative hearings, and freedom of information, as well as broader questions of agency discretion, and the appropriate scope of judicial review. Course Fee: STSP $9.

PAD 6343. Study Abroad: International Public Administration. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. A lecture/seminar course associated with a study abroad program related to the study and practice of comparative governance. Involves international travel and field trips. May be repeated for credit when the destination country varies. Course Fee: STSP $9.

PAD 6823. Research 1: Design. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

An introduction to conducting social science research, with emphasis on research design as the means to address the common obstacles to making appropriate comparisons and drawing casual inferences. The course prepares students to develop their own research projects, and to understand and habitually articulate and incorporate the elements of effective research design in their work and in assessing the work of others. The course reviews common quantitative and qualitative methodologies for answering research questions, and also includes modules on skills such as professional writing, source and data acquisition, evaluation, and management. (Formerly PAD 5233 Applied Research I. Credit cannot be earned for both PAD 6823 and PAD 5233.) Course Fee: STSP $9.

PAD 6833. Research 2: Applied Quantitative Methods. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

Prerequisite: PAD 6823. A review of basic statistics, the course develops an intuitive and practical understanding of statistical techniques, and prepares students to generate, manage, evaluate, analyze, and present data. The course reviews descriptive statistics, exploratory data analysis, probability theory, statistical inference, hypothesis testing, and regression analysis, and provides the skills to describe data sets, and to use them to make inferences about the entities they describe to aid analyzing management, public policy, program evaluation, or public opinion issues for which appropriate data exist. (Formerly PAD 5023 Research Design and Methods. Credit cannot be earned for both PAD 6833 and PAD 5023.) Course Fee: STSP $9.

PAD 6923. Capstone Seminar: Research Paper in Public Administration. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

Prerequisites: PAD 6823, PAD 6833, and at least 24 completed MPA credit hours. This course enables students to integrate the knowledge, skills and values gained in the MPA program by applying theory to practice on a research topic of each student’s choice. It serves as an important bridge between the classroom and the world of professional practice. This class is usually taken in the last semester in the program. The grade report for the course is either “CR” (satisfactory performance) or “NC” (unsatisfactory performance). Course Fee: STSP $9.

PAD 6951. Independent Study. (0-0) 1 Credit Hour.

Prerequisites: Graduate standing and permission in writing (form available) of the instructor and the Graduate Advisor of Record. Independent reading, research, discussion, and/or writing under the direction of a faculty member. For students needing specialized work not usually available as part of the regular course offerings. May be repeated for credit, but not more than 3 hours, regardless of discipline, will apply to the Master’s degree. Course Fee: STSP $3.

PAD 6953. Independent Study. (0-0) 3 Credit Hours.

Prerequisites: Graduate standing and permission in writing (form available) of the instructor and the Graduate Advisor of Record. Independent reading, research, discussion, and/or writing under the direction of a faculty member. For students needing specialized work not usually available as part of the regular course offerings. May be repeated for credit, but not more than 6 hours, regardless of discipline, will apply to the Master’s degree. Course Fee: STSP $9.

PAD 6961. Comprehensive Examination. (0-0) 1 Credit Hour.

Prerequisite: Approval of the appropriate Graduate Program Committee Chair to take the Comprehensive Examination. Independent study course for the purpose of taking the Comprehensive Examination. May be repeated as many times as approved by the Graduate Program Committee. Enrollment is required each term in which the examination is taken if no other courses are being taken that term. The grade report for the course is either “CR” (satisfactory performance on the Comprehensive Examination) or “NC” (unsatisfactory performance on the Comprehensive Examination). Course Fee: STSP $3.

PAD 6963. Internship. (0-0) 3 Credit Hours.

Prerequisites: Consent of instructor and 18 semester credit hours of graduate work. Work-oriented experience in a public service related setting where the principles, theories, concepts, and methods of the discipline can be applied. A research paper under the supervision of assigned faculty is required. Course Fee: STSP $9.

PAD 6966. Internship. (0-0) 6 Credit Hours.

Prerequisites: Consent of instructor and 18 semester credit hours of graduate work. Work-oriented experience in a public service related setting where the principles, theories, concepts, and methods of the discipline can be applied. A research paper under the supervision of assigned faculty is required. Course Fee: STSP $18.

PAD 6973. Special Topics. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

An organized course offering the opportunity for specialized study not usually available as part of the regular course offerings. Special Topics courses may be repeated for credit when topics vary, but not more than 6 hours, regardless of discipline, will apply to the Master’s degree. Course Fee: STSP $9.