Master of Public Administration


The Master of Public Administration (MPA) Program at Stanislaus State offers a well-regarded and well-established professional graduate-level course of study designed to prepare our students for the challenges and opportunities of a career in public service, non-profit entities, or for-profit firms that have close ties with the public sector.  The MPA Program provides education and training of public administrators and policy analysts for leadership and management careers at the local, state, and national levels--with particular emphasis on government and non-profit organizations in California. The Program covers management science and the political, ethical, and organizational challenges that will be and are encountered in the public sector of the 21st century.

Program faculty and the comprehensive MPA curriculum provide students the foundational knowledge, practical skills, administrative capacities, and intellectual tools necessary for effective public management and the successful fulfillment of their professional duties and responsibilities. The MPA at Stanislaus is nationally accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) and the program has served for many of our graduates as a successful launching point for careers in both government service and non-profits as well as providing opportunities for those already working in the public sector to expand and further hone their administrative skills, assisting them in advancing within and beyond their current organizations. Stanislaus MPA faculty are effective and committed teachers and scholars who train students to become tomorrow's productive public sector professionals in an increasingly challenging and complex governance environment. MPA professors promote proficiency in analysis, knowledge of theory and practice, and a genuine appreciation of service in and to the public interest.

Conducted primarily as an evening program—the typical class goes from 6:00 – 8:40 pm, meeting once a week—the  MPA Program requires 42 units for graduation. This equates to 14 courses total, which are broken down as 9 core, required courses and 5 electives, with an internship required for pre-service students (students who have not yet worked for a public agency). Students most commonly finish up their studies with comprehensive examinations during their last semester—there is also a master’s thesis option as an alternative to the comprehensive examinations. The normative time to degree is 3 years (6 semesters) with students typically taking 2-3 classes a semester. As a professional degree program, the MPA stresses both hands-on, practical elements of public and non-profit administration and the theoretical underpinnings and scholarly understanding of those structures and accompanying behavior. This critical connection behind theory and practice is a core linchpin of the MPA curriculum.  MPA faculty also work in cultivating and fostering in our graduates a strong commitment to the public interest and public service. MPA courses are offered at both the main Turlock campus and the Stockton Center.

The public sector is truly at the heart of democratic governance--every issue that excites people's highest hopes and aspirations, or deepest fears and frustrations, is addressed first and foremost here. Problems concerning healthcare, unemployment, environmental quality, crime and safety, education, transportation, aging, housing, equal opportunity, and emergency preparedness compete for our attention and resources. These problems demand answers--answers developed by men and women in public administration. The effectiveness with which public problems are addressed depends on the education and training received by public service professionals working in government and non-profit agencies.  The MPA Program at Stanislaus has a proven history of playing a positive and successful role in this regard.  Back to top

Program and Learning Objectives

This comprehensive program of professional graduate-level study, which leads to the Master of Public Administration degree, is designed to educate and train administrators and policy analysts to pursue leadership and management careers at local, state, and national levels.

Program Objectives

  • To provide education and skill acquisition for public service professionals with particular emphasis on the needs of government and not-for-profit organizations in Northern and Central California.
  • To maintain and improve the capacity of local and regional governments to provide excellence in public service.
  • To conduct research that will broaden the base of knowledge and skills in the field of public administration.
  • To serve the regional community through faculty and student involvement in public affairs.

Learning Objectives

  • Students have sound and appropriately comprehensive knowledge of the problem-context and environment of public administration.
  • Students have sound and appropriately comprehensive knowledge of organizational decision-making processes.
  • Students have appropriate personal competencies in problem analysis and decision-making.

The program serves public service professionals seeking advanced education and training as part-time students and also serves full-time students preparing for careers in public service. Courses are offered on both the Turlock and Stockton campuses.  Back to top

Careers and Public Administration

A wide range of career opportunities are available in public administration and having an MPA clearly elevates the attractiveness of an applicant to the employer for such positions. Gainful employment in the federal government, state and local governments, and non-profits are the common professional routes for those with MPAs. Both federal and state/local government service offer interesting and stimulating work, the psychological and emotional rewards of public service, good entry-level salaries, comprehensive benefit packages, excellent retirement programs for long-term workers, and outstanding opportunities for promotion and advancement. Non-profit entities as well can also provide very satisfying work and healthy levels of financial compensation.

A quick sampling below of the position titles in government and non-profits gives a helpful flavor of the array of employment prospects (some are entry level, others are found in the later stages in a career) that await a skilled and well-trained public administrator:

Federal Government—tax inspector, Treasury Department; special agent, Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF); consumer safety officer, Food and Drug Administration (FDA); inspector, Homeland Security; intelligence specialist, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA); White House advisor; Foreign Service Officer, State Department; staff aide, congressional committee; program officer, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education; program analyst, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); management auditor, Department of Labor; researcher/analyst, Congressional Research Service; chief historian, Bureau of Prisons; budget analyst, Social Security Administration; deputy archivist, National Archives and Record Administration; Lieutenant, US Park Police.

State/Local Government—city planner; commissioner, state department of human resources; deputy secretary to the governor; city manager; county manager; labor relations specialist; county purchasing officer; county clerk/recorder; legislative coordinator, mayor’s office; city budget analyst; county treasurer; county CEO; city human resources specialist; captain, city police department; undersheriff, sheriff’s office; state agency employee; city housing administrator; state senior criminologist; city project coordinator; deputy secretary, state department of natural resources; county economic development officer; analyst, water district.

Non-profits—public affairs officer, National Rifle Association; program manager, American Civil Liberties Union; director of political affairs, Telecommunications Industry Association; senior research analyst, Center for Budget and Policy Priorities; senior representative/lobbyist, National Publishers Association; director of university advancement, University of the Pacific; research analyst, NARAL Pro-Choice America; deputy director of communications, National Right to Life Committee;  vice president, policy development, Airlines for America; political director, AFL-CIO; director of development, Saint Mary’s Dining Room; vice president of media relations and external affairs, California Chamber of Commerce.

Useful websites for careers in government and non-profits include:

Class Schedule Fall 2016

Course Number Title Day Time Instructor

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Class Schedule Spring 2017 

Course Number Title Day Time Instructor

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Contact Us

Department Office Location: Bizzini Hall, Room 132

Office Staff:

Cheryl Sweeten, Administrative Support Coordinator
e-mail --
telephone – (209) 667-3388
office – Bizzini 132

Office Telephone: (209) 667-3388
Office Fax:  (209) 667-3724

Department Chair:

David Colnic, PhD
e-mail --
telephone – (209) 667-3363
office – Bizzini 130-C

MPA Program Co-Directors:

Umar Ghuman, PhD
e-mail –
telephone – (209) 667-3682
office – Bizzini 130-A

Gerard Wellman, PhD
e-mail -
telephone - (209) 667-3291
office - Bizzini 132D

Department Mailing Address:

Department of Political Science and Public Administration
California State University, Stanislaus
One University Circle
Turlock, CA 95382

The Department Office is open during the academic year Monday – Friday, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm. Winter session and Summer hours may vary.    Back to top

Faculty and Staff

The Department has a legacy of outstanding teaching, advising, scholarship, and service that continues today in both the Political Science Program and the Master of Public Administration Program. The ranging expertise and extensive knowledge of our faculty allows the Department to offer courses in all of the major fields of Political Science and a comprehensive graduate-level curriculum in Public Administration.

As’ad AbuKhalil – Professor, Political Science: BA 1981, MA 1983, American University of Beirut; PhD 1988, Georgetown University. At Stanislaus since 1993. Dr. AbuKhalil teaches the following courses in the Political Science Program: Politics of the Middle East; Gender & Sexuality in the Middle East; Arab-Israeli Conflict; International Relations; Model United Nations & Model Arab League; and Introduction to American Government. 

(209) 667-3536 / Bizzini 126-A

David Colnic – Professor, Political Science: BA 1987, University of California, Irvine; MA 1994, PhD 2003, University of Arizona. At Stanislaus since 2004. Dr. Colnic serves as Department Chair and is the Department Coordinator for both undergraduate and graduate student internships. In the MPA Program, he teaches the following courses: Public Policy; Environmental Planning, Policy & Law. In the Political Science Program, he teaches the following courses: Media & Politics; Environmental Policy & Politics; Introduction to American Government; and Introduction to Political Science.

(209) 667-3520 / Bizzini 130-C

Umar Ghuman – Assistant Professor, Public Administration: BS 2001, Excelsior College; MBA 2003, PhD 2011, Florida Atlantic University. At Stanislaus since 2012, Dr. Ghuman is the Co-Director of the MPA program.  Dr. Ghuman teaches the following courses in the MPA Program: Public Policy; Organizational Development; Human Resources; Organization Theory; Quantitative Analysis; Bureaucracy in Novels & Plays; and Non-profit Administration. In the Political Science Program, he teaches Introduction to American Government.

(209) 667-3682 / Bizzini 130-A

Lawrence L. Giventer – Professor Emeritus, Public Administration: BSME 1967, New Jersey Institute of Technology; MS 1968, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; PhD 1976, University of Pittsburgh. At Stanislaus since 1975. Dr. Giventer teaches Quantitative Analysis in the MPA Program. In the Political Science Program, he teaches Politics & Film and Introduction to American Government.

(209) 667-3388 / Bizzini 132-A

April Hejka-Ekins – Professor Emerita, Public Administration:  BA 1969, Northern Illinois University; MSW 1971, University of Illinois at Chicago Circle; PhD 1987, University of Southern California. At Stanislaus since 1988. Dr. Hejka-Ekins teaches the following courses in the MPA Program: Organization Theory; Combating Political Corruption; Public Service Ethics; Case Analysis; and Administration in Public Affairs.

(209) 667-3388 / Bizzini 132-A

Nancy Hudspeth -- Assistant Professor, Public Administration: BA & BS 1986, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; MA 1999, PhD 2011, University of Illinois, Chicago. At Stanislaus since 2015. Dr. Hudspeth teaches the following courses in the MPA Program: Public Policy Analysis, Urban & Regional Planning, Quantitative Analysis, and Public Agency Budgeting. In the Political Science Program, she teaches Introduction to American Government and Land Use Planning.

(209) 667-3285 / Bizzini 132-B

Jason Myers – Professor, Political Science: BA 1989, Columbia University; MA 1993, PhD 1998, University of California, Berkeley. At Stanislaus since 2001. Dr. Myers teaches the following courses in the Political Science Program: Ancient & Medieval Political Thought; Modern Political Thought; Political Thought in the Modern World; Political Ideologies; Money & Power; Marx on the Human Condition; American Political Thought; and Introduction to American Government.

(209) 667-3388 / Bizzini 132-C

Wendy Olmstead -- Lecturer, Political Science: BA 2006, MPA 2014, MS 2015, Stanislaus State. At Stanislaus since 2016. Prof. Olmstead teaches Agricultural Policy and Regulations in the MPA Program.

(209) 667-3388 / Bizzini 132-A

Elaine Peterson – Professor, Economics: BA 1982, Colby College; MS 1990, PhD 1996, University of Wisconsin-Madison. At Stanislaus since 1996. Dr. Peterson is a faculty member of the Department of Economics and in the MPA Program she teaches Public Finance and State & Local Public Finance.

(209) 667-3327 / Bizzini 101-D     

Nicholas Pinhey – Lecturer, Public Administration: BA 1975, Stanislaus State; MPA 1989, Stanislaus State; DPA 1998, University of Southern California.  At Stanislaus since 1999. Dr. Pinhey teaches Public Agency Budgeting in the MPA Program.

(209) 667-3388 / Bizzini 130-E

Richard Randall – Lecturer, Political Science:  BA 1982, Stanislaus State; MA 1985, ABD 1991, University of California, Davis. At Stanislaus since 2011. Prof. Randall teaches the following courses in the Political Science Program:  Introduction to American Government; Introduction to Political Science; and Global Politics.

(209) 667-3359 / Bizzini 132-A

Stephen R. Routh -- Professor, Political Science: BA 1986, University of California, Santa Cruz; MA 1992, San Jose State University; PhD 2000, University of California, Davis. At Stanislaus since 2002. Dr. Routh serves as the Pre-Law Advisor. He teaches the following courses in the Political Science Program: Introduction to American Government; The Presidency; Legislative Process; Judicial Process; Political Campaigns & Elections; Constitutional Law; and Civil Liberties. In the MPA Program, he teaches Administrative Law.

(209) 667-3363 / Bizzini 130-B

Gerard Wellman – Assistant Professor, Public Administration:  BA 2003, Louisiana State University; MPA 2007, University of Memphis; PhD 2011, University of Nebraska, Omaha. At Stanislaus since 2012. Dr. Wellman teaches the following courses in the MPA Program:  Administration in Public Affairs; Public Service Ethics; Urban Affairs; Social Justice; Research Design & Public Evaluation; and Urban & Regional Planning. In the Political Science Program, he teaches Introduction to Public Administration; Ethnic & Gender Politics; and Introduction to American Government.

(209) 667-3291 / Bizzini 132-D 

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MPA Program Requirements

The specific curricular requirements for the Master in Public Administration degree are:

1.  All students are required to complete a minimum of 42 semester units of upper-division and graduate courses and seminars. A minimum of 30 of these units must be in graduate courses and seminars.

2.  Students who have not had formal study in political science, economics, statistics, and introductory computer applications are advised to complete undergraduate courses before enrolling in graduate-level courses in these subjects.

3.  All students are required to complete successfully one of the following options in partial fulfillment of the upper-division degree requirements:

a. Thesis

  • Required and approved elective courses, 36 units
  • Approved research methods courses, 3 units
  • Thesis Research, 3 units minimum
  • Submission of written thesis
  • Passing an oral thesis defense

b. Comprehensive Examination

  • Required and approved elective courses, 42 units
  • Passing a written comprehensive examination

4.  Students must complete the MPA program with a minimum grade point average of 3.0 (on a scale of 0.0 to 4.0) on all upper-division and graduate coursework credited toward the MPA degree.

No grade less than a B– (B minus) is acceptable for the completion of a required course.

A student who receives less than a B– in a required course must take the course again. A student who takes the same required course twice and does not receive a B– or better will be disqualified from the program. No elective course with a grade below B- may count toward completion of the required units for the MPA degree. Students who receive a grade lower than B- will have their performance reviewed by the MPA program director, put on academic probation, and may be disqualified from the program. A student who completes more than two courses with grades below B- will be disqualified from the program. No course which is to be counted toward the MPA degree may be graded credit/no credit, with the one exception of PADM 5940, Public Administration Internship.

5.  A public service internship is required for "pre-service" MPA students. Internship positions and standards of experiential internship education are coordinated with local, county, regional, state and federal administrative agencies, not-for-profit organizations, or the offices of elected officials. The internship course (PADM 5940 - Public Administration Internship) involves 300 hours of work with one or more public sector organization. A non-academic-credit internship of 200 hours will also fulfill this requirement. The intern works on agency assignments under the supervision of agency personnel while maintaining a close liaison with the faculty internship program coordinator. Interns may be voluntary or paid by the sponsoring agency. Interns are required to have passed PADM 5000, Administration in Public Affairs. To receive academic credit, students must pass PADM 5940, Public Administration Internship. Internship experience can be a valuable start to a professional career for the pre-service public administration student. Your academic adviser or the faculty internship program coordinator will be able to provide further specific information and guidance. All paperwork, including from the faculty internship coordinator, must be completed prior to the start of the internship.

6.  The degree of Master of Public Administration will be awarded upon certification of successful completion of degree requirements by the MPA Graduate Studies Committee.

7.  All students are required to complete the following nine courses, 27 units:

8.  In addition to the required courses, all students will complete a minimum of 15 elective units chosen in consultation with the adviser. Up to 6 units may be 4000–level courses. These electives permit some specialization and may be selected to meet each student’s career needs.

Other 4000- or 5000-level courses, besides those listed, may also be taken as electives toward the MPA degree if deemed relevant and approved in writing by your graduate adviser.   Back to top

National Accreditation

The MPA Program at Stanislaus is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA). This program accreditation signifies a high quality education in public administration and that a number of dimensions of a program has undergone a rigorous review and assessment by an external evaluator. As the NASPAA website ( states:

“All NASPAA accredited programs have successfully met NASPAA Standards for Professional Master’s Degree Programs in Public Affairs, Policy and Administration.

The NASPAA Standards are the quality benchmark used by graduate public service programs around the world. NASPAA’s accreditation process is mission-based and driven by public service values. Accredited programs must contribute to the knowledge, research, and practice of public service, establish observable goals and outcomes, and use information about their performance to guide program improvement. They must practice truth in advertising and ensure their students achieve learning objectives in five domains essential to public service.

The purpose of NASPAA accreditation is to promote and maintain educational quality for professional public service degrees. NASPAA accreditation recognizes that a master’s program in public affairs has undertaken a rigorous process of peer review conducted by the Commission on Peer Review and Accreditation (COPRA).

NASPAA is the global standard in public service education. It is the membership organization of graduate education programs in public policy, public affairs, public administration, and public & nonprofit management. Its nearly 300 members - located across the U.S. and in 14 countries around the globe - award MPA, MPP, MPAff, and similar degrees.

NASPAA is the recognized global accreditor of master's degree programs in these fields.

NASPAA's twofold mission is to ensure excellence in education and training for public service and to promote the ideal of public service.”   Back to top

Graduate Internships

An internship experience can be an invaluable start to a professional career for a “pre-service” public administration student (that is, a student who has yet to be employed in the public sector). Internships provide an important and highly useful practical component to the academic program. Having direct exposure to the hands-on/experiential side of public administration is a true boon to students’ professional growth and intellectual development. The MPA Internship Program coordinates the establishment of internship positions with governmental and non-profit agencies. An internship generally involves part-time work for at least 300 hours with a public sector organization. An intern works on assignments under the supervision of agency personnel while maintain close liaison with the Public Administration Internship Coordinator, currently Dr. David Colnic, and enrolling and participating in PADM 5940/Public Administration Internship for 3 units of academic credit. Back to top

Application and Admission Process

Application to a graduate program at Stanislaus State is in two parts—students must apply both to the Graduate School and to the individual graduate program. Qualified individuals holding a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university may apply to the Graduate School. Each applicant must submit the following directly to the Graduate School office:

  • Completed application on
  • Official transcripts from each college or university attended. International students must have transcripts evaluated by an approved institution.  Back to top

Program Admission Requirements

  • A baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university.
  • A grade point average of 2.7 or better in the last 60 semester units. The GRE is not required.
  • Three letters of recommendation from individual who can evaluate the applicant’s work or academic studies and can comment on the applicant’s potential as a graduate student and professional in the field of public administration. These three letters of recommendation should be mailed to the Department of Political Science and Public Administration.
  • A current resume or vita that details the applicant’s education work experiences, and other qualifications.
  • A one- to two-page letter of interest explaining the applicant’s purpose and career objectives in pursuing an MPA degree.
  • Application evaluation and approval by the Director of the Master of Public Administration program.
  • Regardless of citizenship or residency, persons who have not attended schools at the secondary level or above for at least three years (full-time) where English is the principal language of instruction must submit satisfactory scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).
  • Prerequisites: If a student has not had formal study in American government, statistics, and economics, they will be advised to take basic undergraduate courses in these three subjects before registering for certain graduate level courses in the MPA Program. Graduate students should also have a personal computer and sufficient study or experience to provide a basic introductory capability in computer applications.

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