Master of Public Affairs (MPA) Frequently Asked Questions



Frequently Asked Questions

1.     Why is NASPAA accreditation important?
The Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA) standards are the quality benchmark used by public administration master degree programs worldwide.  NASPAA accreditation is a rigorous peer review process.  NASPAA describes the value of accreditation in this way:
NASPAA's accreditation process is mission-based and driven by public service values. Accredited programs must contribute to the knowledge, research, and practice of public service, establish observable goals and outcomes, and use information about their performance to guide program improvement.They must practice truth in advertising and ensure their students achieve learning objectives in five domains essential to public service.

2.     How much will my MPA degree cost?
Program costs vary depending on your particular situation.  For the 2014-2015 year, Colorado residents who do all coursework on campus pay around $22,000 for their degree, while on-campus nonresident students pay around $38,000.  Distance and/or local students who complete all degree requirements online will pay around $26,000.  The MPA program also qualifies for some tuition discount packages, including the Western Regional Graduate Program.  You can estimate your specific tuition costs by using the tuition calculator.

3.     Are financial aid programs available?
There are several need and non-need based financial aid programs available to assist MPA students.
4.     Will I need to complete an internship?
Pre-service students (those without at least one year of professional work experience in a public or nonprofit setting) are required to complete a three-credit internship course, bringing the total hours required for the degree to 39. 

Each student's application to the program is examined, and the MPA Program Director determines whether an internship is appropriate or should be waived.  Approximately 25-30% of all MPA students are determined to be pre-service.  Some students who are initially required to take an internship later obtain employment that would merit a waiver while still a student in the MPA program.  In such circumstances, the student may apply for a waiver of the internship requirement. 

Interns will not be placed until at least 9 hours have been completed in the MPA program.  In the internship, students work part-time or full-time as interns for government agencies, legislatures, government-related organizations, and nonprofit groups. 

UCCS MPA students have completed internships in various organizations, including:
·       City of Colorado Springs
·       City of Longmont
·       El Paso County Department of Human Services
·       Pikes Peak United Way
·       The Women's Resource Agency
·       US Air Force Academy Endowment
·       The Navigators

The following chart shows the number and distribution of internships completed over the past couple of academic years:

Internship Participation







State, provincial or regional government in the same country as the program




City, County, or other local government in the same country as the program





Nonprofit domestic-oriented





Nonprofit/NGOs internationally-oriented








5.     How long will it take to complete the MPA program requirements?
UCCS has established that a graduate student is full time if s/he takes at least 5 credit hours per semester (3 credit hours in summer).  If a full time student takes 2 courses, or 6 credit hours, per semester and does not attend summer sessions, a typical occurrence, it will take that student 3 years to complete the MPA program (internships notwithstanding).  Those part-time students who complete only one course per semester, or those not able to attend every semester, will require longer to complete degree requirements. 

The 2008-2009 academic year cohort (NASPAA uses this year for analysis) consisted of 35 students; 23% graduated within six semsters and 54% graduated within 12 semesters.

6.     Where are UCCS MPA graduates employed after graduation?
UCCS Master of Public Administration graduates work for governments at various levels: national, state or regional, and local.  Some of our grads go on to pursue additional education in PhD programs, and many work for nonprofit agencies and foundations.  Others apply their skills in the private sector.  Some of the places where our graduates are employed include:
·       US Air Force
·       US Army
·       US Department of Defense
·       US Environmental Protection Agency
·       Colorado Department of Corrections
·       University of Colorado
·       Local municipal and county government administration
·       Local fire and law enforcement agencies
·       El Pomar Foundation
·       Gill Foundation
·       Local and regional nonprofit organizations