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Master of Public Administration

30 total credits | average 2 years to complete

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Start Date
10 courses

Fall 2024

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Become a Leader Who Inspires Change and Improves the Lives of All Citizens  

In the government and other public organizations, there is a growing need for leadership talent who uses an interdisciplinary approach to shaping impactful change in communities. The skills to succeed involve more than contemporary management practices. Effective public administrators must also learn how to use digital platforms to engage and service stakeholders and understand how to navigate the domains of environmental sustainability and social responsibility.

With the online Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from Wake Forest University, you will sharpen your adaptive leadership skills and rise to the challenge of making our society more equitable in direct and tangible ways. 


projected growth

of overall employment of public administration careers from 2021 to 2031.

median annual earnings

within 120 mile radius of Charlotte, NC


in the Charlotte region of public administration jobs between 2018 and 2022 with 100,002 jobs available in 2022.

“Wake Forest SPS understands that I’m a working individual and created this program for people like me to not only learn what I need to receive a degree but also apply it to what I’m doing now”

— Ellie Matthews, SPS Graduate Student

Core Courses

There are 9 required core courses including the Capstone course. Students may choose 1 elective. There is no prescribed order for the courses. You may take them in the order that works for you when your selection is available.

  • Public Administration Principles

    Examine management principles and practices for public institutions, including how public organizations operate, public personnel management, and budgeting and finance. This course will explore different methods that identify and assess available interventions to further stakeholder well-being in a cross-cultural context. It will help learners develop effective leadership and public engagement strategies.
  • Financial Management and Budgeting

    Gain an understanding of financial management and budgeting in the public administration sector. This course examines areas of financial management including financial statements and reporting, cost analysis, financial forecast, cash flow management, and financial risk management from a leadership perspective.
  • Research Methods for Public Administration

    Develop the tools to effectively collect, analyze, and interpret data research results. This course explores topics such as qualitative and quantitative research methods, experimental and non-experimental research, and secondary data analysis. A focus will be placed on learning how to evaluate and construct sustainable, environmentally aware, and equitable outcomes in research methods.
  • Technology and Public Administration

    Examine the role of emerging technologies in setting and implementing public policy, the role of stakeholders and interest groups, and available tools to apply from a technology and innovation framework. This course will analyze how new technologies improve and impact policy efficacy by assessing key principles and defining opportunities regarding the role and application of technology in public administration.
  • Public Law

    Learn how public law defines the relationship between individuals and the government. This course examines the structure of public law at the local, state, and federal levels alongside the historical context and framework governing these relationships. Learners will develop the skills to help them navigate the legal and regulatory environment where policies are made and applied.
  • Data Analytics and Risk Management

    Examine the important connection between data analysis, ERM, and organizational strategy. This course will dive into traditional and new sources of data, data governance, data quality, digital, legal, and ethical considerations, and challenges associated with forecasting in the context of risk and uncertainty.
  • Leadership & Change Management

    Explore the knowledge, skills, and tools necessary to successfully undertake change. This course delves into the leadership principles, styles, frameworks, and skills required to guide, motivate, and direct teams. Learners will develop the ability to prepare, support, and assist individuals, teams, and organizations in organizational change.
  • Data Analytics and Public Administration

    Develop the skills to effectively analyze and explain complex data to stakeholders in clear, understandable language. The course will focus on analyzing and interpreting data to tell a clear and compelling “story,” manage the projects and programs, and implement policy. Learners will also be exposed to new tech-enabled methods of collecting and understanding data they relate to policy administration.
  • Capstone in Public Administration

    Integrate and apply key skills and knowledge obtained throughout the program into a real-world challenge within the field of public administration. Each specific project will vary based on student interest and will exhibit demonstrated leadership, cultural awareness, and technical skills that produce effective strategies and change.
  • Elective Course Options

    Students may choose 1 elective course. You may take the course at any time your selection is available.

  • Housing and Development

    Dive into the various public-private partnerships for housing and community development. This course explores affordable housing development strategies, commercial reuse and revitalization initiatives, and neighborhood development. Learners will evaluate how housing and development policies impact social, economic, and environmental equity.
  • Sustainability and Environmental Systems

    Develop the skills and insights to effectively lead institutions as they respond to the impact of human activities on natural and environmental systems. This course examines the conflicting objectives that are often part of public administration by exploring environmental justice and the administrative forces that place environmental burdens on some groups and not others. Learners will gain knowledge in the available analytical tools and policies to support environment-focused policymaking.
  • Project Management Essentials

    This course introduces the foundational concepts of project management. It provides an overview of the PM lifecycle as defined in the Project Management Body of Knowledge. Several PM knowledge areas such as risk, scope, schedule, quality, monitoring, and communication, among others, will be introduced. Distinctions between project, program, and portfolio management are explored.
  • Strategic Planning and Decision Making for Healthcare Leaders

    Examine the principles, process, and applications of strategic management. This course covers methods for assessing key features of organization environments and competitive situations, approaches to demand management, and processes for ensuring successful strategy implementation.
  • Communications Leadership, Organizational Culture & Ethics

    Most organizations have a mission or values statement. How many organizations are living it? This course helps identify leadership strategies for ensuring organizational strategies are aligned with organization mission and values and serve the broader goals of business and society.
  • Leading through Intercultural Communications

    It is necessary for communications leaders to develop intercultural awareness and build communications strategies that reflect diversity of thought, culture, and experience. Equitable practices foster trust and commitment to organizations and brands. Diverse workforces are more creative and innovative. Learn how to assess and design aligned, inclusive communications strategies.