About the Program
The Clemson Master of Public Administration program is a “live,” synchronous online graduate program. The program does not require students to attend class on campus; however, the Program has several “optional.” opportunities each year where students can come together on the University campus. For example, all educational requirements of the program, student advising and technology training, comprehensive exams, and the capstone defense are all accomplished online.
The majority of students in the program are working public administrators or non-profit professionals. The professional expertise of students and faculty is diverse, with representation from local government, state agencies, non-profit organizations, and non-governmental organizations. Student's and faculty's diverse expertise is a critical component to the MPA educational experience, contributing to an engaging and collaborative learning environment. Coupled with our faculty's outstanding professional and academic experience, the Clemson MPA program provides excellent value in a flexible environment for busy professionals.
Over 85% of our current students are currently employed full-time and take classes on a part-time basis. Of those employed full-time, over 50% are employed in the public sector (local, state, or federal government). Another 25% of current students are employed in the nonprofit sector, with the remaining employed in various private sector positions. The majority of students were drawn to the program to improve their management and leadership skills within their current organization or make horizontal movements into different industry sectors.
The average size of an incoming cohort is approximately 15-20 students in the fall and spring semesters, respectively. Approximately 75% of MPA students take two courses per semester, including the summer semesters. For the MPA program, the average time to completion is 7 semesters. On average, the Program graduates 8-10 students per semester.
All course work for the Clemson Master of Public The administration (MPA) program is offered using Zoom online technology, and students generally meet live one evening per week (per course) from 6:30-9:10 pm. All courses are recorded, and asynchronous course components are accessed through Clemson's online course management platform.
The program of study for the MPA program requires completing 39 or 42 total credit hours, depending on the student’s choice of the comprehensive exam or a capstone final research project. If a student chooses the comprehensive exam, they are required to complete 39 total credit hours. Because the capstone project is an actual course, if a student chooses this as their final project, they must complete 42 total credit hours.
The program requires the following 7 (21 hours) core courses:
Perspectives on Public Administration - PADM 8210
Public Policy Process PADM - 8220
Research Methods for Public Administration - PADM 7020
Public Data Analysis - PADM 8410
Administrative Leadership - PADM 8620
Public Personnel Administration - PADM 8270
Public Financial Management - PADM 8290
You must take all of the courses listed above, plus one of the government courses described in the next column and five electives. There are some exceptions to this policy. Please inquire as to these exceptions during your advising sessions.
American Government - PADM 8600
State Government Administration - PADM 8670
Local Government Administration - PADM 8680
We strongly suggest that students take Research Methods and Public Data Analysis in sequence. Additionally, once students have completed the core coursework, they may take the comprehensive exams if they are not choosing the capstone project.
Students must complete 18 or 21 elective hours depending on their choice of the comprehensive exam or capstone final research project. One course (3 hours) of total elective hours must be a government course.
Students may declare a specialization from one of five MPA specializations, or they may create a hybrid specialization with a mix of courses from MPA elective courses.
This specialization is designed to provide students with the theoretical and practical knowledge necessary to meet the complex challenges faced by the non-profit sector across the United States and globally. To ensure the program's success, input from professionals currently working in the non-profit sector contributed to the course design. The 15-credit specialization includes one core MPA course and four concentration classes designed to meet nonprofit organizations' unique needs. Issues addressed are the history, values, ethics, and philosophies of non-profits, legal structures, revenue sources, governance, and human resource management. Students develop their skills in program evaluation, budgeting and resource management, public relations and marketing, quantitative analysis, and policy-making and analysis.
South Carolina was the only state that did not offer emergency management training. Now, Clemson University offers such training to emergency management professionals. The 15-credit specialization includes one of the MPA core classes and four courses built around the four phases of emergency management, Preparation, Response, Recovery & Mitigation. Each semester will include at least one emergency management course and one Homeland Security course, among the other MPA courses that may be of interest.
We are striving to prepare Emergency Management professionals for their desired professional credentials. Courses offered will be determined, in part, through the requests of state emergency management associations and affiliated groups. Students in this specialization often take coursework in Homeland Defense and Security to supplement their academic program.
This specialization provides administrators with an understanding of sustainable development practices. Students learn about the public services needed to build sustainable and resilient communities, the challenges associated with the process, and the ways to address those challenges through implementing policy change.
Local and State Government
The Local Government Specialization is the cornerstone of the Clemson MPA. Many of our current students and graduates work within the local
and county government department heads in city and county management. The specialization focuses on the policy environment in which the local manager must operate. Special emphasis is placed on policy implementation and evaluation.
Homeland Defense and Security
This specialization provides technical training and builds management skills for professionals who work with threats and vulnerabilities systems. The focus is on key institutions, actors, and legal structures. Students examine current homeland security initiatives and learn to analyze their theoretical underpinnings and application features. Students in this specialization often take coursework in Emergency Management to supplement their academic program.