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Master of Public Administration

Advance your career and the institutions you serve—across government, nonprofit, military or private sector settings—with our exceptional MPA online.

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Fill out this form to hear from a Price admissions counselor, get invited to webinars for prospective students, and learn more about admissions and financial aid.



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Fill out this form to hear from a Price admissions counselor, get invited to webinars for prospective students, and learn more about admissions and financial aid.





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Final Deadline: 07/15/2024

Advance Vital Institutions

The NASPAA-accredited Master of Public Administration online program is for working professionals looking to make a social impact while advancing in their current field, as well as for passion-driven individuals looking to make a career shift. Our prestigious, nationally recognized program provides valuable education and experience you can immediately apply in the workplace to make an impact.

As a student in our competitive MPA program, you will receive exceptional instruction from world-class faculty as well as unrivaled opportunities for professional development and networking. Combine your professional experience with excellent coursework and mentorship to advance your career.

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Comprehensive Curriculum

Develop key analytical, political, and communication skills through core classes and elective coursework.

Engaged Students & Faculty

Learn from a supportive student cohort with diverse professional backgrounds as well as renowned faculty.

Two On-Campus Intensives

Network with peers, faculty, and alumni through in-person residencies in the heart of Los Angeles.

Real-World Experiences

Build hands-on research and soft skills as you consult with senior decision-makers for your capstone project.
MPA Careers

MPA graduates gravitate toward diverse career opportunities in nonprofits, government, and the private sector.

99.5% of MPA online graduates are employed in government, non-profits, or the private sector.

Government Career Opportunities

  • City Manager / Deputy City Manager
  • Community Development Director
  • Intelligence Officer / Senior Law Enforcement
  • Fire Chief
  • Director, Office of the Assessor
  • Public Information Officer
  • Management Analyst
  • Strategic Project Manager
  • Emergency Management Coordinator

Recent Nonprofit Positions Taken

  • Board of Directors Member
  • Executive Director
  • Grants Administrator
  • Social and Community Services Director
  • Postsecondary Education Administrator
  • Financial Literacy Advocate

Recent Public Policy Positions Taken

  • Legislator Senior Legislative Aide
  • Lobbyist
  • Government Affairs Director
  • Public Affairs Manager
  • Speechwriter
  • Director of Development
  • Senior Field Representation, State Senate Office
  • Deputy State Director, U.S. Senator
  • Deputy District Director, U.S. House of Representatives

Recent Military Positions Taken

  • Navy Lieutenant Commander
  • International Program Officer, U.S. Army
  • Legal Administrator, U.S. Army
  • Project Specialist, U.S. Army
  • Analyst, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Curriculum & Courses

MPA Online classes allow you to finish your degree while continuing in your current position by scheduling weekly evening online lectures. The program combines core courses with electives and offers graduate certificates in either Public Policy or City and County Management.

Two mandatory on-campus residencies (one at the beginning of your program, and one at the end) allow you to meet fellow students, faculty, staff, and alumni in person. The coursework concludes with a capstone project in which you will consult with a real-world client and conduct valuable research.

USC Price's MPA online is accredited by NASPAA's Commission on Peer Review and Accreditation

Curriculum & Course Sequence

The MPA curriculum focuses on two areas of managerial competency: 1. institutions and organizations and 2. analytics. Within these areas, you will combine core classes with elective coursework to develop key skills relevant to your career goals.

You may select electives to develop your professional expertise and pursue a certificate in Public Policy or City and County Management.

The skills and knowledge you develop through your online courses and experiential learning activities will help you effectively lead institutions and organizations—across public, non-profit, and business sectors—that ultimately serve the global public good.

Course Sequence

Individual course plans will depend on course offerings, which vary by semester. Elective choices will vary depending on certificate track and course offerings for each semester.

Term 1 (5 total units)

  • Fundamentals of Public Administration (4 units)
  • Professional Residency in Public Administration (1 unit)

Term 2 (6 total units)

  • Essential Statistics for Public Management (2 units)
  • Analytic Elective (4 units)

Term 3 (8 total units)

  • Economics for Public Policy (4 units)
  • Management Elective (4 units)

Term 4 (8 total units)

  • Elective Option 1 (4 units)
  • Elective Option 2 (4 units)

Term 5 (9 total units)

  • Public and Nonprofit Organizational Behavior (4 units)
  • Public Financial Management and Budgeting (4 units)
  • Capstone Residency* (1 unit)

*This course occurs in the summer term.

Term 6 (4 total units)

  • Capstone in Public Administration (4 units)

For a detailed breakdown of each course, please view the course descriptions.

Certificates

As a student, you may select electives to develop professional expertise and pursue a certificate in either Public Policy or City and County Management. Each certificate can be completed within the 40 total units (41 for pre-service students) of the degree program.

Public Policy

The USC Price Certificate in Public Policy exposes students to policy issues of global interest, while fostering analytical skills built around the most forward-looking methodologies useful for advocacy, legislative impact, government policy setting and implementation across a spectrum of institutions.

City and County Management

The USC Price Certificate in City/County Management is designed for students interested in acquiring the foundational training to advance a career in public service leadership. Working with top faculty and mentors, students gain professional skills and knowledge to achieve career aspirations managing and leading at the forefront of change.

Capstone

Your capstone is more than just a course — it’s an opportunity. During this portion of the program, you will network with senior public policy and government leaders, build hands-on skills, and examine how you can help communities create real-world solutions.

The capstone is the culmination of the Master of Public Administration online program. In teams of three to four students, you will consult with a client and produce valuable research. The course connects online students with senior decision-makers from local and state government, nonprofit organizations, criminal justice, federal agencies, private sector firms and key public sector service providers. During the course, students develop “soft skills” such as consulting, advising, and communicating while developing new networks of professional contacts and are responsible for the academic effort necessary to develop strategic solutions to real issues.

At the end of the course, you and your team will produce a project report and communications briefing for your client. You will meet with the client to present your findings, answer questions and suggest next steps.

The most outstanding project among all USC Price MPA student teams will receive the Haynes Award for academic honor (and a cash prize) at our annual Price School Awards Ceremony.

Residencies

A group of Price MPA students gather during an on-campus residency

Our program includes two in-person campus residencies — one at the beginning of the program and one at the end — to allow you to build hands-on skills and network with your peers, alumni, and faculty in person.

The residencies take place on USC’s campus in Los Angeles and include intensive class sessions during which you will participate with faculty, peers and alumni. Residencies also include social events and networking opportunities to connect colleagues, members of the Trojan Family and our campus community.

The Professional Residency is an onboarding experience which includes a brief orientation to our MPA online program and services available to you throughout. The long weekend also includes educational seminars focused on digital literacy, communications and writing techniques, research, quantitative methods, and more. These seminars are delivered by the faculty who teach our courses. Beyond meeting local alumni, all your key faculty (including the dean) and your individual cohort coach, you can use this opportunity to tour the USC campus and stop by the bookstore for Trojan gear.

The Capstone Residency takes place during the week before graduation and includes a capstone event where you will prepare various presentations and studios and share your best work focused on a current problem with your peers and expert judges. Highly competitive analysis and presentation skills are rewarded with engraved USC medals to be worn with graduation robes. The experience is a final opportunity to develop and solidify relationships with fellow students and alumni, reinforcing the USC Price professional network that you can leverage long after graduation.

Professional Residency (For new students)

For students starting in Spring or Summer 2024: May 6-7, 2024
For students starting in Fall 2024: September 6-8, 2024 (tentative dates)

Application Fee Waiver

Application fee waivers are available for the Master of Public Administration program online. To receive a fee waiver, applicants must schedule a meeting with Cyndee McDougal, MPA online program administrator, or attend an info session. Due to processing times, you must meet one of these requirements at least one week before the final deadline for the term you are applying.

Connect with Cyndee

Join an info session

Admissions

All USC Price graduate candidates must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university in order to apply. Explore application requirements, review deadlines, or register for an info session below. All applicants who apply by the first scholarship deadline are eligible to receive a fee waiver.

Upcoming Application Deadlines

TermFall 2024Spring 2025Summer 2025
Dean’s Merit Scholarship & Fee Waiver Deadline05/15/202409/15/202401/15/2025
Professional Scholarship / Financial Aid Deadline06/15/202410/15/202402/15/2025
Final Deadline07/15/202411/15/202403/15/2025
Term Start08/28/202401/08/202505/07/2025
Apply Now

Info Sessions

Register below to join MPA faculty, students, and alumni for live information sessions to learn more about the application process, financial services, and program curriculum.

Students who attend a webinar will have the option to request an application fee waiver at the end of the presentation.

For information on pending webinars, please email Cyndee McDougal at [email protected].

Admissions & Application Requirements

All USC Price candidates must have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university in order to apply. An undergraduate GPA of 3.0 is recommended to apply to the Master of Public Administration online program.

To complete your application, you must submit the following:

Resume

Your resume should include a summary of your academic background, your professional work history and any other relevant work or volunteer experience you’d like to highlight. Two years of relevant work experience are recommended, but not required, to apply.

Official Transcripts

We recommend that you request transcripts when beginning the application, as the turnaround time can vary from school to school. USC requires official transcripts from all postsecondary schools (including community colleges) you have attended, regardless of transfers or whether a degree was earned. Your application processing may be delayed if you fail to submit all undergraduate transcripts.

Transcript submission is a two-step process.

  1. Upload scanned copies of official registrar-issued transcripts to the online application. Please note that these must be official transcripts printed on university letterhead. Printouts from online student portals are not acceptable.
  2. Request an official registrar-issued transcript be sent to the USC Office of Graduate Admissions.

If your university is in the United States and offers e-transcripts, advise the university to send the e-transcript to [email protected]. The transcript must originate from a secure site formally linked to the sending institution. If your university does not offer e-transcripts or is located outside of the United States, advise the university to send a sealed official transcript.

If sending your transcripts via regular mail,
University of Southern California
USC Office of Graduate Admission
3601 South Flower Street, Room 112
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0915

If sending your transcripts via courier service, such as DHL or FedEx,
University of Southern California
USC Office of Graduate Admission and Financial Aid
3601 South Flower Street, Tyler 112
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0915

Statement of Purpose

Your statement should be approximately 1,000 words. You will be asked to address the following questions: Why are you interested in pursuing the Master of Public Administration degree? How will a Master of Public Administration degree affect or enhance your career aspirations and goals? Please share how your experiences, background, and/or interests have shaped you and will shape your engagement in the Price community.

Letters of Recommendation

We require three letters of recommendation. These should come from professionals in your field who can provide meaningful input on your previous work experience and career goals. A letter of recommendation from a professor, faculty member and/or academic adviser who can provide meaningful input regarding your academic record is also welcome. We only accept recommendation letters through the application portal. In the Program Materials section, enter the names and email addresses of the three people you would like to write your recommendation letters. The system will email a link to your recommender to upload their letter.

Test Scores

Price has discontinued the GRE/GMAT requirement for admissions review. Applications will be reviewed holistically.

Application Fee

There is a nonrefundable application fee of $90. USC offers several options for graduate application fee waivers including Military active-duty personnel, spouses, dependents or veterans. Click here to learn more and to determine if you qualify.

To learn about additional fee waiver opportunities, click here.

Pre-service Internship Requirement

Pre-service students are required to complete a 300 hour internship and a one-unit Internship Seminar course (PPD 543). Students may choose to fulfill their internship requirement with their current employer. Otherwise, students will be required to secure an appropriate internship location on their own or with the help of the USC Price Career Services staff.

International Students

Please refer to USC’s Office of Graduate Admissions website for additional items required for international students to apply. The USC Price Master of Public Administration online program is currently not authorized for students living in Puerto Rico. On this page you will find a comprehensive checklist to complete your application if applying from outside the US.

Are you ready to start your application?

Begin Today!

Tuition & Aid

When making admission decisions, USC does not consider a student’s ability to pay or interest in financial aid.

Tuition

The current tuition rate is $2,354 per unit. Students should expect a moderate increase in tuition each academic year.

Credits Required: 40 (41 for pre-service)
Estimated Total Tuition: $94,160 ($96,514 for pre-service)
New student fee: $50
Student programming: $20 for online students
Norman H. Topping Student Aid Fund fee: $8
Mandatory Fees: $250 MPA Lab Fee*
*This is a one-time charge for first year MPA students split upon enrollment in each residency.

Financial Aid

U.S. citizens and permanent residents are eligible to apply for federal student aid. Additionally, some employers may offer tuition benefits, including tuition reimbursement and low-cost loans. The University of Southern California Financial Aid Office (FAO) will provide you with the details of applying for financial aid, understanding your financial aid award and properly securing your loans. Visit the FAO website for detailed information regarding dates and deadlines and to find downloadable forms that are needed to process the financial aid application.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Graduates working in the public service field may qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. To qualify, you must have made 120 qualifying loan payments while employed by a qualifying employer. There is no income requirement for the PSLF program.

For more information regarding financial aid at USC, visit https://financialaid.usc.edu/.

City Year AmeriCorps Scholarships

USC Price is a proud partner with City Year. Any City Year member, staff, or alumnus admitted to the MPA Online program will receive a $5,000 per year scholarship, renewable up to a total of $10,000, as well as an application fee waiver. Click here to learn more.

Explore more funding options

Scholarships

At USC Sol Price School of Public Policy, we are dedicated to increasing access to a high-quality public administration education. We offer several scholarships that are awarded to applicants who demonstrate the potential to become leaders in local government and public policy, based on academic merit and professional experience.

  • The Dean’s Merit Scholarship, USC Price’s flagship scholarship, is available to applicants to USC’s online MPA program. Awards are based on academic merit, consist of partial tuition, and are renewable in the second year assuming satisfactory academic progress.

Scholarship Criteria: Academic merit

How To Apply: Submit a 300-word essay directly through the online application that answers the following questions:

    • Why are you considering completing your graduate studies at USC’s Sol Price School of Public Policy?
    • Which USC Price faculty are you interested in working with, and why?
    • What do you consider USC Price’s most unique features to be?
  • Professional Scholarships will be offered each semester to a limited number of incoming students beginning the online MPA program. To be considered for the scholarship, you will include in your online application a 200-word essay that explains your professional experience, career potential, and how this scholarship will help you. Also include whether you plan to pursue a certificate.

Scholarship Criteria: Professional experience

How to Apply: Submit a 200-word essay directly through the online application that explains:

    • Your previous experience related to city/county management, local government or public policy
    • Your potential for a successful career in those fields
    • How receiving this professional scholarship will assist you in achieving your career goals
  • Military Service Members. There are a number of dedicated resources and scholarships available for military applicants and students. Please review the dedicated Military Service Members section for more information.
  • Agency Affiliations awards require the applicant to complete the Dean’s Merit Scholarship application within the admission application portal. Applicants must indicate their affiliation to one of the following organizations by checking the corresponding box in the application: City Hall Fellow, Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, Coro Alumni, Coro Fellow, Korean Government, Public Policy and International Affairs Program, Peace Corps, or Teach for America.

Scholarship & Application Deadlines

Explore more funding options

Alumni Spotlight:
Godfrey Gozos, MPA '21

"If someone in public service wants that spark in their career, the [MPA] online program is a great path towards new opportunities. The USC network is a very large community that is great in supporting fellow Trojans, regardless of field of study."
Godfrey Gozos, Budget Analyst, LA County Child Support Services Department
MPA online alum Liz Oh explains how organizational leadership skills impact career growth.

Alumni Spotlight:
Liz Oh, MPA '21

"I think it was a really great way, especially when you go through the residency project or the capstone project, to have an opportunity to build strong relationships with your cohort and with folks that you are working so hard with. The program itself is such a unique experience and opportunity."
Liz Oh, Researcher, Braided River Consulting

Faculty

USC Price MPA Online Faculty are distinguished scholars and professionals who share a deep and abiding commitment to research and teaching. Click here to learn more about MPA online faculty.

MPA Student Support

As a student in the Master of Public Administration online program, you have a team of people working hard every day to ensure your success. Each professional has a specific primary focus, but they are all valuable to interact with on a regular basis because they will help you navigate our program more successfully.

Office of Academic Programs

Cyndee McDougal and Cole Yamada, program administrators, provide academic and administrative policy counseling. The Office of Academic Programs is the administrative hub for the master’s programs at the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy, and is primarily concerned with student progress, university compliance, and other matters.

Cohort Coach and Mentorship Program

Still thinking about applying? Cohort Coaches can answer any questions you might have about becoming an MPA online Trojan. Speak with an alum who has been through the program.

Once you enroll, our program pairs you with a Cohort Coach, a program alumnus who will act as your personal “go-to person” throughout your program. In many cases, our Coaches also act as a front-line professional mentor. Your Cohort Coach is an excellent resource for professional development as well as any questions, issues, or concerns you may have regarding your educational journey. The coach works alongside students in the first Residency as a type of TA, providing valuable tips on time management, communicating within the program, and communicating about the program as you work to organize your life for academic success. Following the first semester, your coach will host monthly meetings for your cohort to check in, ask questions, and learn more about certificates and career opportunities. Cohort coaches have assisted with job interview preparation, salary negotiations for new jobs, and dozens of introductions to the Trojan Family and our network of professional job leads. Alumni of the MPA online program frequently seek out new graduates to help grow their organizations, so staying in touch with the network, coaches, and their contacts is beneficial.

Connect with a Cohort Coach Today




USC Office of Student Accessibility Services

Office of Student Accessibility Services (OSAS) is the unit at USC responsible for ensuring equal access for students with disabilities in compliance with state and federal law. OSAS serves undergraduate, graduate and professional students; on-ground and on-line students; and students in all credit-granting courses and programs of study.

Military Service Member Support

The USC Price MPA online program welcomes active duty, military dependents and veterans. Among our alumni (and faculty) are both active duty and veterans of military service. Many of the skills you developed in military training—navigating uncertainty, strategic leadership, effective decision-making, and more—are extremely valuable in the public administration field. Whether you are continuing to serve or transitioning out of the military, building on your experience with an advanced degree can be a path to becoming more versatile as a higher-ranking officer or to adapting your skill set to a civilian job. An MPA online degree from the Price school will rigorously prepare you for a career working in city/county management, emergency services, criminal justice, nonprofit management, shaping public policy, leading in the private sector, and more.

There are a number of dedicated resources available for military applicants and students. Active-duty military and veterans can request an application fee waiver from the graduate school and the USC Veterans Certification Office can assist with using your military tuition benefits. The USC Price School is also proud to partner with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide Yellow Ribbon benefits up to $5,000 for each award to qualified students. In addition, you will have the opportunity to work with a dedicated USC student success advisor who will support you throughout your time in the program, to assist you with scheduling courses, accessing funding, planning for deployment, and more. And you’ll connect to a worldwide network of Trojan alumni who have also served.

Ready to get started?

Contact us to learn more, or start your application.


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