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Master of Public Administration (MPA) Program

Director: Dr. Georgette Dumont

About the program

The UNF MPA is northeast Florida's only NASPAA accredited degree program in public policy, public administration, and related fields. The UNF MPA prepares students for successful careers as managers in the public and nonprofit sectors. The curriculum enables the student to understand the scope and activity of governance in modern society, and to administer public and nonprofit programs effectively. For the student who already has significant work experience, the program provides opportunities to gain new skills and obtain a broader perspective on the responsibilities and obligations of public and nonprofit sector management. While public administration is generally associated with a political science background, students from any discipline who are interested in public or nonprofit careers, or who are currently employed in the public or nonprofit sectors, are encouraged to apply to the program.

The program caters to beginning and mid-career professionals, offering almost all courses in the evening, generally from 6:00-8:45 pm. In order to provide flexibility with full career schedules, we offer some hybrid and full distance learning courses as well, though the prospective student should expect to take the majority of courses on campus in the evening. We have made a commitment to work with serving active duty Jacksonville Navy personnel to craft a program that works around deployment obligations.

The mission of the Department of Political Science and Public Administration is to serve the State of Florida through excellent educational opportunities involving teaching, quality research, and effective civic engagement. The department focuses its resources to provide both undergraduate and graduate students with the knowledge, skills, and abilities for understanding, participating in, and managing institutions, process, and behaviors characteristic of national and international politics and public affairs. With excellent instruction as the highest priority, the department also supports extensive interaction with external constituencies through local, regional, state, and national professional service, and applied and theoretical research. The department is dedicated to maintaining program effectiveness for both students and community partners through continuous self-assessment and improvement.

UNF-MPA mission

The Masters of Public Administration program at the University of North Florida is committed to providing graduate professional education in northeast Florida, in the administration and management of public and nonprofit agencies.

In the fulfillment of this mission, the program focuses on six key competencies: the ability

  • to lead and manage in public governance;
  • to participate in and contribute to the policy process;
  • to analyze, synthesize, think critically, solve problems and make decisions;
  • to articulate and apply a public service perspective;
  • to communicate and interact productively with a diverse and changing workforce and citizenry; and
  • to understand local governance in a global context.

Program Outcomes

MPA program assessment. The attached document presents performance measures for the UNF-MPA program. Data includes results of an alumni survey, student skills self-assessment, and direct measures of student learning outcomes.

Program governance

Faculty governance takes place through the Graduate Steering Committee, which includes all faculty who teach in the program. Community involvement in program governance occurs through the UNF-MPA Stakeholder Advisory Committee. The duties of both the Program Director and the Graduate Steering Committee can be found in the appropriate section of the Graduate Program Director Handbook. The Stakeholder Advisory Committee includes a combination of students, alumni, and a cross section of members of public and nonprofit agencies.

"The beauty of local government is that you can see the outcomes of your labors. You can see buildings coming out of the ground and people using them - and that's very gratifying." -- Lex Hester

"The young adults of tomorrow will be citizens of the world. We must prepare them." -- Adam Herbert.

Advising

Advising in the MPA Program at the University of North Florida includes at least five elements.

First: Pre-enrollment

Immediately after your acceptance in the MPA program, it is important that you do at least three things:

  1. Graduate School's Online Orientation and New Student Orientation web pages. The Graduate School has an online orientation for graduate students, as well as a shorter list of topics for students to review after admission, and prior to starting classes. These sources provide a range of information about the broader context of study here at the University of North Florida.  
  2. Graduate School's Student Loans page. The Graduate School strongly advises all students to fill out and submit a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form, even if you do not anticipate needing loans. If you change your mind, costly delays can be prevented by having a completed FAFSA on file.
  3. The MPA program webpage has other information (beyond this Advising page) intended to provide students with a range of information specific to the MPA program. This includes career opportunities, curriculum, faculty backgrounds, funding sources, and various other resources.

Second: Self Advising

Within the structure provided by the curriculum and scheduling, students make their own decisions regarding what to take when. The program curriculum is available on the next tab, The MPA Checklist is available, and a 2-3 year projected course offerings is sent out each semester. This should facilitate student planning. myWings also makes it easy for students to check their academic progress (though the 'audit' function isn't always accurate!), as well as to enroll for classes.

So it is the student's responsibility to know the curriculum, and to have a plan for completion. We do make an effort to get students graduated on their timing if our schedule doesn't permit that. However this only applies if the student has taken classes when offered.

Some tips: 

'Normal load'. There is no normal load, or standard progression through the program. Generally students follow one of the following models:

  • One class per semester. Perhaps 10% of our students take one class per semester. These generally work full time, have family and social obligations, are comfortable in their careers, and so are not in a hurry. It can take 4-5 years to finish.
  • Two classes per semester. Students who work full time and have family obligations find that two classes per semester (and one per summer semester) keeps them busy. These generally finish within three years.
  • Three classes per semester. Students who work part-time find three classes per semester to be feasible. They finish in two years.
  • Four classes per semester. Full-time students find this load challenging, but manageable. Note that you will likely have classes every evening, Monday through Thursday. It can also be hard to complete a concentration (especially local government or public policy) in this compressed time frame. These students finish in a year and a half.
  • Go with the flow. Many students vary: take two classes, find it manageable and so try three. Or take three classes if one is online. Or take a semester off due to work or family issues. Again, there is no set load, and progress is up to the student.
  • Don't overdo it. One of the most common causes of failure in the UNF-MPA is over-zealous students taking more classes than they can handle. Especially then if they do not withdraw in time, a couple of early grades of 'F' will make graduation impossible. So especially be conservative when starting.

Core courses. Core courses are offered annually, except for PAD 6060 (the introductory course in the program), which is offered both Fall and Spring semester (enrollments permitting). 

The current rotation for core courses is as follows:

Fall -- PAD 6060, PAD 5700, PAD 6417, PAD 6436

Spring -- PAD 6060, PAD 6227, PAD 6106, PAD 6066

Summer -- PUP 6006 (a six week, online intensive class: clear the decks!)

Other core course tips:

PAD 6060 is the introductory, gateway course to the program, and should be taken very early, preferably in the first semester of study. 

PAD 5700 is a pre-requisite for some other classes, and so taking it early is also a good idea to avoid bottlenecks later.

PAD 6066 (Capstone) should be taken in the last Spring semester you expect to be in the program. So if you expect to finish your required credits in the Fall, take Capstone in the preceding Spring.

Nonprofit certificate and concentration. Nonprofit certificate students want to finish this program in a year, and there is high demand for these classes. As a result, all required Nonprofit Concentration and Certificate classes are offered annually. The current rotation is as follows:

Fall -- PAD 6142 Nonprofit Management

Spring -- PAD 6208 Nonprofit Financial Management

Summer -- PAD 6164 Nonprofit Stakeholder Relations (a six week, online intensive class: clear the decks!)

Note that we rotate some classes in at the Jesse Ball duPont Center, a new nonprofit hub for Jacksonville. Check the course rotation for details.

Health administration concentration. Classes for the Health Administration concentration are offered by the Masters in Public Administration program through the Brooks College of Health. As a result, these courses are also offered annually. The current rotation for required courses is as follows:

Fall -- HSA 6114 Health Organization and Delivery, and HSA 6435 Health Economics

Spring -- no required course

Summer -- HSA 6905 Health Policy

Local government. The Local Government concentration can be completed within two years, rather than one. As a result, students in this concentration should prioritize these classes (even over core courses) when they are offered.

Public policy. Like Local Government, this concentration will also be scheduled to be completed in two years, rather than one. Again, it will therefore be imperative to take these classes when they are offered.

National security. Concentration courses are taken through the Naval War College's Fleet Seminar program, available only to serving Navy officers, officers from other uniformed services, and some senior federal personnel. Admission to the Fleet Seminar program must be applied for through the Naval War College.

Study Abroad. Graduate students are able to study abroad through the Master of Public Administration (MPA) program or through other graduate programs at UNF, with approval from the MPA Program Director. Students interested in studying abroad are encouraged to apply for internal UNF funding to cover travel expenses. Examples of UNF study abroad funding opportunities include: the COAS Falloon Study Abroad Scholarship ($1,000); and the International Center Student Affairs International Learning Scholarship (SAILS). Recipients of a SAILS award, for instance, may receive either $1,500 to support a short-term (less than ten weeks) international activity or $2,500 for a long-term (ten weeks or longer) international activity. For more information about MPA study abroad courses, contact MPA Program Director.

Graduation! You must formally apply to graduate. You do this online, through Mywings. There will be reminders sent out about this. If you forget, contact the MPA Director, we've been able to get people graduated as late as a week before the ceremony.

Third: The MPA Director

The third element of UNF-MPA advising involves the MPA Director, who is the formally assigned adviser to all UNF-MPA students. The MPA Director should be consulted whenever self-advising fails, or when there are any questions that the above steps cannot answer. These questions might include program admission, waitlist approvals, registration level restriction over-rides, transfer credits from other institutions, verification of substituted classes, beating my head against the wall to bend a pesky UNF rule, etc. Keep records (copies of emails) of all important communications with the MPA program regarding class substitutions. I do this, but do so yourself as a backup.

As indicated, this element of UNF-MPA advising involves the MPA Director. While maintaining the intellectual integrity of the MPA program is our first priority, we do practice what we preach and remember that the program exists to serve students, not the other way around.

Some tips:  

Student number, and previous thread. Please provide your student number (if you don't use your UNF email) on all advising related communications. As well, include the most recent conversations (email thread) that we have had on the issue.

Make a plan. Review the MPA Checklist and the projected class schedule (updated and sent out each semester) you should be able to project a schedule to completion of the MPA. Do this to ensure you are taking needed classes when offered.

Fourth: The MPA Community

The fourth, and most important part of UNF-MPA advising, involves career planning. You should aim to learn as much as possible from the MPA experience, as well as to take courses that will position you as strongly as possible for the career direction you are aiming for. Also develop your professional skills: work on your resume, develop interviewing skills, learn professional culture, continue to refine your writing, attend public talks, council meetings, keep up with the news, etc.

This element of UNF-MPA advising involves the MPA Director, the entire Department faculty, fellow students, community stakeholders, and other contacts. Individuals who share your interests will be best able to advise you within specialized areas.

Fifth: Keep in Touch!

Please keep in touch. Especially for those of you looking for work, upon graduation you'll fall off of the MPA mailing lists. Join our Facebook page, as we forward job leads there, among other things. For those of you who have found the career that you entered the MPA program for, please become part of the community described in the fourth step, and help us mentor and facilitate the professional careers of current students.

Please contact us if you have any questions.

Curriculum

The program consists of 36-42 credit hours (depending on experience) of approved course work, not counting the required program prerequisites. The program is arranged in a common core of 21 credits (7 courses) that all students are required to take, combined with an additional 15-21 credits (5-7 courses) of electives or concentration courses. Electives for the program consist of all MPA courses offered that are not designated as core courses. Other graduate courses in the University may be considered for meeting MPA elective requirements with the consent of the MPA director… 

Students who wish to specialize to a greater degree in the MPA program have the option of completing up to 12 credits of courses in any one of the following additional concentrations:

Students may also choose the Generalist Option, in which six electives (18 credits) are taken, without focusing on a single concentration. Students interested in pursuing these concentrations should notify the MPA Director of their intentions early in their program.  See the Advising page of this website for further information on these concentrations.

Certificate in Nonprofit Management

The MPA program also offers a 12-hour graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management. Requirements for this certificate consist of a three-course core curriculum and an elective drawn from a variety of courses offered by the Department of Political Science and Public Administration, as well as other graduate programs across the University. Students pursuing the certificate are admitted to the University as non-degree seeking students.

Internship requirement

An internship may be required for pre-service students entering the program, and is certainly strongly recommended.  If an internship is required, it will take the place of one of the required electives.  All students, except those who have met Fast Track or second Master's degree requirements, must take 42 hours to complete the program.  The need for an internship for any individual student is determined in consultation with the MPA Director.

Electives

As necessary to reach the required number of credits.  Elective courses may include any PSPA graduate course not part of the program Core, as well as courses from other departments, if approved by the MPA Director.

Graduation requirements

In order to graduate from the program: grades of C or above are required in all MPA courses; grades of B or above are required in at least 6 of the 7 required core courses; and MPA students must meet the minimum graduation requirements (especially an overall 3.0 graduate GPA) for master's degree students at the university. All students must apply for graduation during registration for the last semester of courses in the program. Deadlines are published online. 

Accreditation

As is generally appreciated: the gold standard for accreditation of American universities and colleges is provided by six institutional accreditation bodies. The University of North Florida (UNF) is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award baccalaureate, masters, and doctorate degrees.

Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of the University of North Florida. Individual contact to the Commission on Colleges about the University of North Florida accreditation status should occur only if there is evidence that appears to support significant noncompliance with a requirement or standard. SACSCOC accredits the whole institution, not each individual specialized program. Especially graduate professional programs are accredited separately, in addition to the university's institutional accreditation. NASPAA is the accrediting body for Masters degrees in public policy, public administration, and related fields.

Internship Requirement

An internship is required for pre-service students entering the program, though waivers are possible. If an internship is required, five electives plus the internship will be required in addition to the core program courses. If an internship is not required, an additional elective will be required. All students, except those who have met Fast Track, must take 42 hours to complete the program. The need for an internship for any individual student is determined in consultation with the MPA Director, usually on admission to the program.

Details for PAD6946 Internship in Public Administration can be found by contacting Dr. Borg (mborg@unf.edu), the internship coordinator for the Department of Political Science and Public Administration.

Though coordinated by Dr. Borg within the MPA program, to be accepted by a government agency, business, or nonprofit, you need to contact the agency with your resume and see if they have availability. You are expected to be professional in your interaction with the agency, starting with this initial contact and subsequent interview. Likewise, the agency should be professional with you as well. You need to be registered by the end of drop/add week.

Once you are accepted, you have some forms and waivers to fill out at the Political Science Department office - Building 51/2412. At this point, you will be given permission to register for the internship course. You are expected to work 250-300 hours during the semester, and complete assignments indicated in the PAD6946 syllabus. 

Recent internship placements have included Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department, Senator Marco Rubio's office, Beaches Watch, March of Dimes, imethods, American Red Cross, Rick Mullaney for Mayor campaign, the Northeast Florida Regional Council, United Way of St. Johns County, Jacksonville Public Libraries, and Jacksonville Civic Council. Internships have also been available with the PACE Center for Girls, the Jacksonville Ballet Theatre, the Emergency Services and Homeless Coalition of Jacksonville, Planned Parenthood of Northeast Florida, and the Nonprofit Center of Northeast Florida.

Stake Holder Advisory Committee

Members of the UNF-MPA Stakeholder Advisory Committee

  • Chair: Brian Corrigan; Director of Communications, Duval County Clerk of Courts Office 
  • Ywana Allen; Chief Strategist, Thomas & James Consulting.
  • Dave Austin; Director, Public Works, Glynn County Georgia.
  • Brenda Boydston;  Nonprofit Management Consultant (Independent), Board Secretary, MetroNorth CDC
  • Bob Buehn; Capt., U.S.N. (ret). Director, U.N.F. Military Veterans Resources Center.
  • Sarah Campbell; Town Manager. Orange Park, FL
  • Kevin Carrico; City Council member, City of Jacksonville. Vice President of Operations, Boys & Girls Club.
  • Xzavier Chrisholm; Downtown Investment Authority
  • James Croft; Assistant Director of Public Affairs, City of Jacksonville.
  • Tony Davis; Director of Security, UF Health. Retired JSO Officer.
  • Robert Devers; Director of Development, Salvation Army.
  • Lara Diettrich; Director, Baker County Planning Department
  • Nicky Dorvil; Human Resources Director, U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Jacksonville.
  • Julia Figura; Coordinator, Financial Aid, U.N.F.
  • Olga Florez; Director, Disability Support Services, Jacksonville University.
  • Robin Gainey; District Chief, Jacksonville Fire and Rescue.
  • Arayna Hamilton; Access Control Manager, J.A.A. Public Safety and Security.
  • Travis Hawkins; Major, U.S. Army.
  • Todd Higginbot; Public Policy Research Assistant, Jacksonville Civic Council.
  • Arayna Hamilton; Access Control Manager, JAA Public Safety and Security 
  • Chas Jordan; Senior Consultant, Kessler Consulting Inc.
  • Julia Kalinski; Director of Alumni Engagement and Annual Giving, The Bolles School
  • Amy Kennedy; Vice President of External Affairs, Planned Parenthood Southeast 
  • Scott Kornegay, Chairman of Intergovernmental Relations and Business Development, Keystone Heights, FL.
  • Sarah Kurtz; Programs Manaer, Can Do Multiple Sclerosis
  • Sean Lahav; Resiliency Coordinator, Northeast Florida Regional Council.
  • Kenneth Lamb; Lieutenant, Jacksonville Sheriff's Office
  • Kim Logan; Data Manager, TNTP
  • Ryan McDongah; Senior Consultant, Booz Allen Hamilton.
  • Thad Moseley; Retired.
  • Brett Nolan; Office of General Counsel, COJ
  • Jim Overton; Duval County Tax Collector.
  • John Randle; RN, Baptist Heart Hospital
  • Joshua Rose; Commander, US Coast Guard
  • Kyle Sanchez; Health and Wellness Special Projects Coordinator, ElderSource
  • Meghan Smalley; Emergency Preparedness Officer, Jacksonville Aviation Authority.
  • AJ Souto; Budget Officer, City of Jacksonville Beach.
  • Thomas Sterle; Teacher, Duval County Public Schools.
  • Jen Stockman; Foundation Development Manager, Ascension St. Vincent's Foundation
  • Kara Tucker; Chief Disabled Services, City of Jacksonville.

     

Scholarships

 

MPA Scholarships & Other Funding Opportunities

Internal Funding

The MPA Steering Committee currently administers the following funding sources. The annual announcement for these awards is made in mid-April, with an application deadline of June 1 (revised from the earlier announced date of July 1). Decisions are made by late June.

Nina Waters Nonprofit Leadership Endowed Scholarship

The Department of Political Science and Public Administration, and the Master of Public Administration Program (MPA), are pleased to announce the availability of the Nina Waters Nonprofit Leadership Endowed Scholarship for students in the Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management.

Requirements: In order to receive the Nina Waters award, a student must have spent the past 12 months working in a paid staff position for a nonprofit organization in North East Florida, currently be employed by a nonprofit organization in North East Florida, and have been admitted as a student in the Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management. In addition, the applicant must maintain a graduate GPA of at least 3.0, a minimum of three hours enrollment, and earn a minimum of 6 credits by the end of each academic year.

Please note that the Nina Waters scholarship offers an award for one academic year and is not renewable. 

 

See here to apply for this scholarship on  Academic Works  and type in the name of the scholarship in the search bar. Please follow the  steps for getting started on Academic Works  before applying.  

 

The Ed Austin Graduate Fellowship at the University of North Florida

The Department of Political Science and Public Administration, and the Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree program, are pleased to announce the availability of the Ed Austin Endowed Fellowship. The fellowship is to recognize Mr. Austin's long career and many achievements as a public sector leader in the State of Florida and in the City of Jacksonville. The fellowship was endowed and established by the friends and colleagues of Mr. Austin.

The fellowship is intended to provide a source of funding for selected graduate students in the MPA program at the University of North Florida. Thus, this fellowship recognizes the quality of the UNF MPA program, and the contributions its graduates have made to public life in Florida and elsewhere.

The MPA program annually seeks applicants for the award of this prestigious fellowship. A fellowship will be awarded to a student chosen from among the applicants who demonstrate high academic achievement and a significant potential for public or community service. 

See here for  Purpose and Selection Criteria  

See here to apply for this scholarship on  Academic Works  and type in the name of the scholarship in the search bar. Please follow the  steps for getting started on Academic Works  before applying.  

 

Lex Hester Endowed Fellowship for Public Administration 

The Lex Hester Endowed Fellowship for Public Administration is a competitive award to an outstanding student in the University of North Florida MPA program.

Requirements: In order to receive the Lex Hester Scholarship, a student must be a Duval County resident who is currently enrolled or accepted into the University of North Florida MPA program by Fall of the academic year, or an upper level undergraduate with a commitment to a career in public service.

See here for Purpose and Selection Criteria. 
See here to apply for this scholarship on  Academic Works  and type in the name of the scholarship in the search bar. Please follow the  steps for getting started on Academic Works  before applying.  

 

Madison-Mullis-Deming Endowed Scholarship

The Madison-Mullis-Deming scholarship is a competitive award to one or more outstanding students in the University of North Florida MPA program.

 
Requirements: In order to receive a Madison-Mullis-Deming award, a student must be registered for at least six hours in the MPA program and have been admitted as a graduate student. In addition, the applicant should have a graduate GPA of at least 3.0 or above. Applicants receiving the award will be expected to maintain a minimum of six hours enrollment in the program for the term of the scholarship.

See here for Purpose and Selection Criteria. 

See here to apply for this scholarship on  Academic Works  and type in the name of the scholarship in the search bar. Please follow the  steps for getting started on Academic Works  before applying. 

 

COAS (UNF College of Arts & Sciences) Graduate Teaching Assistantship in Political Science and Public Administration

The College of Arts and Sciences expects to award annual Graduate Teaching Assistantships, each of at least $10,000, to Masters of Public Administration students with a demonstrated record of commitment to public service, and a record of academic excellence.

Recipients must be enrolled in a minimum of nine graduate credits per semester while receiving the award, and must be able to work twenty hours per week, during the day. Duties will include assisting a UNF political science faculty member in an undergraduate class. This might include leading discussion groups, monitoring exams, attending lectures, and generally help the instructor create a learning environment. Applications will be judged on two criteria: evidence of commitment to public service, especially service to less privileged segments of the community, and academic excellence.

 See here for further information and application.

 

Public Opinion Research Laboratory Graduate Student Internship

The Public Opinion Research Laboratory (PORL) is looking for a graduate student in the Master of Public Administration program to join our team! Candidates should possess a cursory knowledge of survey research; strong analytical skills; data analysis experience; and be meticulous and organized.

For further information email porl@unf.edu.

Other COAS (UNF College of Arts & Sciences) Scholarships

 For further information see here.

 
 Student Affairs International Learning Scholarship (SAILS) 

 

If you want to study abroad, you can apply for the Student Affairs International Learning Scholarship (SAILS). This competitive scholarship provides funding for undergraduate and graduate approved international educational experiences that enrich academic and individual development. Scholarship recipients may receive either $1,500 to support a short-term (less than ten weeks) international activity or $2,500 for a long-term (ten weeks or longer) international activity. Funded by Student Life and Services Fee. 

Graduate School Awards

The following programs are administered by The Graduate School at UNF:

The Graduate Scholars Program

Dolores Auzenne Fellowship for Graduate Study

Graduate Research Grant Program

 For further information see here.

External Sources of Funds

Additional funding can be found through outside sources. See below.

Lex Hester Memorial Scholarship Applications Now Open

The City of Jacksonville is now accepting applications for the Lex Hester Memorial Scholarship through April 1. The $1,500 scholarship award is applied to tuition and fees for students accepted and enrolled in UNF'S Master of Public Administration (MPA) program who wish to pursue a career in the field. Awardees must be accepted or currently enrolled in the UNF MPA program, reside in Duval County, maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher as an undergraduate or current graduate student, and complete an online application. Learn more and apply at Lex Hesters Scholarship.

 

 Florida Gubernatorial Fellows 

 American Society for Public Administration, Walter W. Mode Scholarship 

 City of Jacksonville, ‘Achieving the Dream’ Scholarship 

 Florida City and County Management Association, B. Harold Farmer Scholarship
(Visit our Scholarships Link on the page.)

 ISNA (Islamic Society of North America) Fellowship
 Wallace O. Keene ASPA Conference Scholarships 

 Jesse B. Smith Memorial Scholarship 

 Southside Business Men's Club 

 Student Loans