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About the Program

Program Mission

Our mission is to prepare public service leaders. Upon graduation our students will have the ability to think critically and creatively about public issues, the dedication and capacity to serve a diverse community and the skills to enter a professional position in a public organization. To accomplish our mission, our program provides the following:

  • A rigorous core curriculum that examines the theoretical underpinnings of public service and provides concentrated areas of study in arts management, environmental policy, nonprofit management, and urban and regional planning;
  • An environment that nurtures a commitment to service;
  • Opportunities to support collaboration and the creation of partnerships among communities and public service organizations.

Program Description

The MPA program at the College of Charleston is fully accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA). The program operates under the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. 

The MPA program at The Graduate School of the College of Charleston is designed to provide the following:

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  • A carefully structured core curriculum that focuses on the major components of modern public management.
  • An elective curriculum that allows the student to develop a program of study suited to his/her career goals.
  • Opportunities to apply administrative knowledge and skills and gain practical experience in a public or nonprofit agency. 
  • Opportunities for graduate assistants to learn through participation in various research and community service projects.

The MPA is offered in two convenient formats, both of which allow full time students to complete the degree within two years.  While students earn the exact same degree regardless of the format, there are a few distinctions.

Traditional MPA

The traditional format follows a full semester schedule with in-class meetings every week, typically in the evening. Classes are held on the College of Charleston’s downtown campus. The traditional format is convenient for pre-service students, students interested in studying full-time in a traditional format, or students who are interested in studying part-time.    

Executive Format

The College of Charleston now offers the only Executive MPA format in South Carolina, providing mid-career professionals who have an interest in advancing or changing their career paths through graduate education.  The Executive format admits students in the fall only as a cohort and is designed for working professionals with at least five years of relevant experience.   

The Executive format also operates on the College’s express 7-week schedule and is delivered using a hybrid-format consisting of online coursework and in-person seminars. The in-person sessions will be held on intermittent Saturdays at the College of Charleston’s North Campus.

Part-time students must take classes in the traditional format. Additionally, part-time students have five years from the date of enrollment to earn the degree.

Applied Focus

Students are introduced to practical administrative and analytic skills in a variety of ways. The joint program regularly uses adjunct faculty to teach elective courses. These practitioners instruct students in their particular specialty, providing them with a valuable, hands-on perspective useful in supplementing their broader training. In addition, the program fosters contacts with professional mentors. A variety of workshops, training sessions, and speakers are sponsored by the program and by the MPASA (The Master of Public Administration Student Association). Finally, students gain practical experience in the internship component of the program by working with practitioners on a daily basis.

Application Procedures and Admission Requirements

Students from diverse undergraduate backgrounds are strongly encouraged to apply. In certain cases, students with no prior training in American administrative institutions or the social and behavioral sciences may be required to enroll in undergraduate courses to properly prepare themselves for graduate study in the MPA program. Additional Information