School of Government (GRAD)
The School of Government was established at UNC–Chapel Hill in 1931 as the Institute of Government. The school has long focused on state and local government in the broader study of government, public law, public finance, and public administration. Today, it is the nation's leading university-based provider of instructional and advisory services to state and local government practitioners. Through instructional programs, advising, research, and publishing, the School of Government advances general understanding about government and shares that information with practitioners and other scholars. Through instructional programs, advising, research, and publishing, the School of Government impacts government practice and scholarship.
Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.) Degree Program
Willow S. Jacobson, Program Director
M.P.A. Program Teaching Faculty
Afonso, Allen, Allison, Berner, Ballard, Barbaree, Barrett, Bartz, Bland, Brenman, Brown-Graham, Caesar, Cody, Crumpton, Dehart-Davis, Diaz, Dickerson, Edmundson, Ferrell, Fikes, Fotheringham, Glasener, Hall, Heckscher, Hemphill, Jacobson, Johnson, Kinsley, McCartha, Miles, Millonzi, Morgan, Morse, Mulligan, Nelson, O'Brien, Pasha, Quinterno, Riggs, Rivenbark, Roscoe, Russell, Stenberg, Stephens, Strachota, Szypszak, Towne, Tufts, Wade Williams, and Wilkins.
M.P.A. Mission: To prepare public service leaders and create usable knowledge that improves governance.
M.P.A. Vision: A nationally recognized leader in engaged scholarship whose faculty, students, and alumni transform thought, organizations, communities, and lives.
Rated among the nation's best, the M.P.A. program focuses on it's mission to prepare public service leaders. In pursuing this mission, the program offers a curriculum that helps students reach their potential for leadership through rigorous academic study and practical experience. The M.P.A. program is offered in two formats, on campus and online. The online format is designed for working professionals and others who aspire to become public service leaders but require the flexibility of an online format.
Accredited by the Network Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration, the M.P.A. program has produced graduates serving in all sectors with a high concentration of alumni in government and nonprofit organizations. In local government, alumni serve as city and county managers, budget and finance directors, personnel directors, and in other administrative positions. In state government, alumni serve in management and staff positions in policy planning, finance and management, personnel, water resources, health services, education, and other areas. Alumni serve as administrators and analysts in a variety of agencies at the federal level, including the Office of Management and Budget, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Labor, the Government Accountability Office, and on Senate and House committee staffs. In the nonprofit sector, M.P.A. alumni lead and administer programs in the arts, education, economic development, and human services.
More information is available on the program's website.
The M.P.A. program welcomes diverse applicants from a wide variety of academic and professional backgrounds. While many applicants come from political science backgrounds, we receive applications from those with academic backgrounds in communications/journalism, sociology, psychology, music and arts, and business.
Materials needed for admission consideration:
Online application ($95 application fee)
Statement of purpose
CV or resume
Unofficial transcripts from all higher education schools attended
3 letters of recommendation
Graduate entrance exam test scores (GRE, LSAT, and GMAT accepted)
Standardized test waivers are granted in some cases where an applicant has an advanced degree (M.A. or Ph.D.).
Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The M.P.A. program is committed to preparing public service leaders, and we seek to admit candidates who demonstrate the ability to succeed in a graduate environment as well as a passion and commitment for public service. We utilize a holistic admissions process. There are no minimum requirements for admission besides having earned a B.A. or B.S. degree from an accredited institution of higher education. Recommended requirements include:
- Accredited institution of higher education
A recommended grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher
While public service experience is not required, we do look at involvement and/or understanding of public service and how previous experiences align with career goals.
A recommended score that is at or near the 50th percentile for both the verbal and quantitative sections of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
All admissions decisions are made during the spring for fall semester matriculation into the UNC M.P.A. on-campus format. Applications must meet the deadlines of The Graduate School. Admissions decisions for the UNC M.P.A. online format are made on a rolling basis as there are four start times per year (January, May, August, and September).
The M.P.A. program strives to provide some sort of financial assistance to all incoming students. Scholarship and research assistantships are available to our on-campus applicants, and scholarships are available to our online applicants. Applicants are automatically considered when they apply for admission, and nothing additional needs to be submitted in order to be considered. Amounts and opportunities vary and are based on many things including candidacy, diversity, academic merit, leadership, and potential for future success.
Coursework and requirements for the M.P.A. degree include a minimum of 45 semester hours of credit, a practicum, an applied research problem, and a final oral examination. These requirements are designed to ensure that each graduate possesses the core set of competencies that supports the M.P.A. program's mission of preparing public service leaders.
Core course requirements:
PUBA 709 - Public Administration Institutions and Values (3)
PUBA 710 - Organization Theory (3)
PUBA 711 - Public Service Leadership (3)
PUBA 719 - Public Administration Analysis and Evaluation I (3)
PUBA 720 - Public Administration Analysis and Evaluation II (3)
PUBA 721 - Professional Communication (3)
PUBA 723 - Human Resource Management (3)
PUBA 731 - Public Financial Management (3)
PUBA 760 - Law for Public Administration (3)
PUBA 747 – Applied Research Problem I (1.5)
PUBA 748 – Applied Research Problem II (1.5)
In addition to the core course requirements, each student completes 15 semester hours of elective courses.
Maureen M. Berner, Professor of Public Administration and Government
Frayda S. Bluestein, Professor of Public Law and Government
Anita Brown-Graham, Gladys Hall Coates Distinguished Professor of Public Law and Government, Director, ncIMPACT Initiative
Leisha Dehart-Davis, Albert and Gladys Coates Distinguished Term Professor of Public Administration and Government
Shea R. Denning, Robert W. Bradshaw Jr. Distinguished Term Professor of Public Law and Government, Director, North Carolina Judicial College
Cheryl D. Howell, Albert Coates Professor of Public Law and Government
Willow S. Jacobson, Robert W. Bradshaw Jr. Distinguished Professor of Public Administration and Government and Director, UNC MPA Program, Human Resource Management and Organizational Theory
Robert P. Joyce, Charles Edwin Hinsdale Professor of Public Law and Government
Diane M. Juffras, Albert and Gladys Hall Coates Distinguished Term Professor of Public Law and Government
James Markham, Thomas Willis Lambeth Distinguished Chair in Public Policy
Christopher B. McLaughlin, Professor of Public Law and Government
Kara Millonzi, Robert W. Bradshaw Jr. Distinguished Professor of Public Law and Government
Jonathan Q. Morgan, Albert and Gladys Coates Distinguished Term Professor of Public Administration and Government
Christopher Tyler Mulligan, Robert W. Bradshaw Jr. Distinguished Term Professor of Public Law and Government, and Director, Development Finance Initiative
Kim L. Nelson, Professor of Public Administration and Government
David W. Owens, Gladys Hall Coates Professor of Public Law and Government
William C. Rivenbark, Professor of Public Administration and Government
John Rubin, Albert Coates Professor of Public Law and Government, and Director, Public Defense Education
Jessica Smith, W. R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor of Public Law and Government and Director, Criminal Justice Innovation Lab
Michael R. Smith, Dean
Carl W. Stenberg III, James E. Holshouser Jr. Distinguished Professor of Public Administration and Government
Charles Szypszak, Albert Coates Distinguished Professor of Public Law and Government
Thomas H. Thornburg, Professor of Public Law and Government
Shannon H. Tufts, Professor of Public Law and Government and Director, Center for Public Technology
Aimee N. Wall, Senior Associate Dean; Professor of Public Law and Government
Richard B. Whisnant, Gladys Hall Coates Professor of Public Law and Policy
Jeff Welty, Professor of Public Law and Government
Whitney Afonso, Associate Professor of Public Administration and Government
Trey Allen, Albert and Gladys Hall Coates Distinguished Term Associate Professor of Public Law and Government
Mark F. Botts, Associate Professor of Public Law and Government
Sara DePasquale, Albert and Gladys Hall Coates Distinguished Term Associate Professor of Public Law and Government
Adam S. Lovelady, Associate Professor of Public Law and Government
Jill D. Moore, Associate Professor of Public Law and Government
Ricardo S. Morse, Associate Professor of Public Administration and Government and Director, LGFCU Fellows Program
Meredith Smith, Albert and Gladys Hall Coates Distinguished Term Associate Professor of Public Law and Government
John B. Stephens, Associate Professor of Public Administration and Government
Connor Crews, Assistant Professor of Public Law and Government
Kimalee Dickerson, Assistant Professor of Public Leadership
Jacquelyn Green, Assistant Professor of Public Law and Government
Kristi Nickodem, Assistant Professor of Public Law and Government
Obed Pasha, Assistant Professor of Public Management, Director of NC Benchmarking Project
Emily Turner, Assistant Professor of Public Law and Government
Brittany Williams, Assistant Professor of Public Law and Government
Teshanee Williams, Assistant Professor of Public Administration and Government
Kristina Wilson, Assistant Professor of Public Law and Government
Professor of the Practice
Peg Carlson, Albert and Gladys Coates Distinguished Term Professor of the Practice in Public Leadership and Organizational Development, Director, Center for Public Leadership and Governance
Gregory S. Allison, Teaching Professor; Secretary, School of Government Foundation Board of Directors
Teaching Assistant Professors
Lydian Altman, Teaching Assistant Professor, Center for Public Leadership and Governance
Phillip Dixon, Teaching Assistant Professor, Public Defense Education
Jonathan Holbrook, Teaching Assistant Professor, North Carolina Judicial College
Amy Wade, Teaching Assistant Professor, Master of Public Administration Program; Director of the M.P.A. Faculty Network
Kirk Boone, Teaching Assistant Professor in Public Finance and Government
Margaret Henderson, Teaching Associate Professor
Norma Houston, Lecturer in Public Law and Government
Adjunct and Visiting Faculty
Monica Allen, Adjunct Instructor
David N. Ammons, Adjunct and Former Albert Coates Professor, Public Administration
Evans Ballard, Adjunct Instructor
Justin Barbaree, Adjunct Instructor
Blossom Barrett, Adjunct Instructor
Alexandra Bartz, Adjunct Instructor
Jerri Bland, Adjunct Instructor
Julie M. Brenman, Adjunct Instructor
Audrea Caesar, Adjunct Instructor
Christopher Cody, Adjunct Instructor
John Crumpton, Adjunct Instructor
Ana-Laura Diaz, Adjunct Instructor
James C. Drennan, Adjunct and Former Albert Coates Professor, Courts Law and Judicial Administration
Sharon Edmundson, Adjunct Instructor
Maurice Ferrell, Adjunct Instructor
Tara Lynne Fikes, Adjunct Instructor
Eric Fotheringham, Adjunct Instructor
Kristen Glasener, Adjunct Instructor
Ruffin Hall, Adjunct Instructor
Jennifer Heckscher, Adjunct Instructor
Mary Hemphill, Adjunct Instructor
Evan Johnson, Adjunct Instructor
Kody Kinsley, Adjunct Instructor
Emily McCartha, Adjunct Instructor
Tracy Miles, Adjunct Instructor
Kelley O'Brien, Adjunct Instructor
John Quinterno, Adjunct Instructor
Erin Riggs, Adjunct Instructor
Emily Roscoe, Adjunct Instructor
G. Dylan Russell, Adjunct Instructor
Amy Strecker, Adjunct Instructor
Sarah Towne, Adjunct Instructor
Joy Wilkins, Adjunct Instructor
This course covers municipal government organization and management, finance, personnel, planning and economic development, and the administration of specific municipal functions.
This course covers county government organization and management, finance, personnel, planning, and economic development, and the administration of specific municipal functions.
Examines the public sector environment as it relates to information technology development. Special attention focused on the complex environment and its influence on information technology-based solutions.
The Public Executive Leadership Academy is designed for North Carolina city and county managers to understand themselves as leaders and to prepare the organization to work with others in improving the quality of life within the community.
The CIO Certification Program is designed for chief information officers of local governments in North Carolina. The course lays the foundation for addressing the most critical issues facing IT leadership in local government and equips leaders with tools to manage and improve their organizational assets.
Advanced Undergraduate and Graduate-level Courses
Introduction to local/state public service, including: governmental institutions; ethics and public values; and core functions of administrative governance. Discussions led by MPA faculty with practicing public and nonprofit administrators.
Selected students have the opportunity to build on their experience of grant making to learn more about the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors. Students will follow up with the agencies receiving grants from the spring class and ensure completion of the activities required by the agreements through a reporting and site visit process.
Leadership as taught and demonstrated in the military and how it translates to leadership in public service, including the interrelationship of the military and other public service and the transition of veterans to civilian leadership roles.
This foundation course introduces students to the historical and contemporary social, economic, political, and ethical context of public administration and governance in the United States. Students gain an understanding of public institutions and values and develop skills for interpreting and critically evaluating American public service issues.
Provides a conceptual and experiential grounding in theories of management and organizational operation. Students learn how to analyze organizations and their environments from multiple perspectives. Students systematically examine important dimensions of organizational life: what motivates people, how decisions are made, challenges of diversity, conflict, and power dynamics.
Students learn about their leadership style and values, as well as strengths and weaknesses, with regard to public leadership at the personal, interpersonal, organizational, and community levels. Readings, assignments, and class activities focus on developing knowledge and skills necessary to lead successfully in public service settings.
First course in a two-course sequence introducing students to applied research design, data collection, data management, data analysis, and analytical reporting to allow them to conduct original research, be informed consumers of other research, and ultimately improve public program planning and evaluation decisions.
Second course in a two-course sequence introducing students to applied research design, data collection, data management, data analysis, and analytical reporting to allow students to conduct original research, be informed consumers of other research, and ultimately improve public program planning and evaluation decisions.
Prepares students to communicate clearly and effectively as public service leaders, which includes reading, listening, and thinking critically; writing and speaking clearly, concisely, and unambiguously; giving organized and convincing oral presentations; and using appropriate tools and tone in preparing oral and written communications for diverse audiences.
The motivations of public agency officials, interactions between bureaucracies and other political actors, and alternative strategies to control bureaucratic power and discretion in making, implementing, and evaluating public policies.
Students gain knowledge of the behaviors and practices of human resource management, as well as an overview of diversity and inclusion in public sector work-forces. Class learning is both theoretical and experiential.
Required preparation, minimum of three undergraduate credit hours of American government. Explores contemporary thought on networks and governance and its place in public administration theory and practice. Examines processes and structures, and develops skills relevant to collaborative public management.
Teaches the principles of accounting and financial reporting in governmental and not-for-profit environment. Provides skills for analyzing the financial condition of governments and the efficiency and effectiveness of governmental programs.
Introduces students to the basic principles of public finance and covers the fundamental areas of public financial management, including the operating and capital budgeting processes used to obtain and allocate public resources, the role of public debt, and the issuance of annual financial statements.
Develop an understanding of the relationship between government administration and microeconomic outcomes, as well as the effect of macroeconomic events on government budgets and service demands.
This course provides public managers with the basic knowledge to successfully invest in and manage strategic information technology projects.
Community revitalization requires mastery of community development methods, the real estate development process, and public-private partnerships. Techniques include demographic trend analysis, stakeholder identification, government entitlement review, area and parcel analysis, market research, and pro forma financial analysis.
Students apply their skills in business, planning, or public administration to actual community revitalization projects in North Carolina communities. Projects require an understanding of community development methods, the real estate development process, and public-private partnerships. Students will manage client relationships and learn how their skills contribute to solving community challenges.
The purpose of the course is to assist students with further development of their skills, approaches, and philosophies in the functional areas of public budgeting and financial management. Requires students to analyze case situations in public organizations, identify possible solutions in response to their analysis, and justify final recommendations.
This course explores the dynamics of labor relations in the public sector (local, state, and federal government). Includes an overview of current labor issues and both an arbitration and bargaining scenario. The course is designed for any student who might work in the public sector at any level.
Students learn about the operations functions of local government. Each class will focus on a single local government department. Students will understand techniques and tools used to manage local governments effectively, efficiently, and equitably. Students learn the current issues, management trends, and problems associated with each local government department function.
This course is designed to enhance the practical skills of future public administration practitioners in navigating our complex intergovernmental system and supporting elected officials and others in influencing the outcome of public policy issues, consistent with professional ethics guidance.
Course will provide introduction to a process for systematically thinking about decisions and valuable techniques for analyzing decisions. Students will learn how to construct models for decision making and how to use these models to analyze decisions
Course examines the legal, administrative, and organizational framework of state government and its interrelationship with federal and local governments. Topics include legal authorities, federalism, roles and responsibilities of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches, legislative process by which laws are enacted, state budget and revenues, influence of external factors.
The U.S. public sector workforce is increasingly diverse in race, ethnicity, gender, religion, socioeconomic status, sexual preference, physical and mental abilities, and gender identity. Increased workplace diversity requires a new knowledge base, which this course seeks to impart through thought-provoking readings, in-class exercises, and lively and respectful discussions.
How do concepts learned in the classroom translate into real-world practice? The Carolina MPA Immersion Experience offers both online and on-campus students the opportunity to make this connection and learn from MPA faculty with expertise in government and non-profit administration. Held at the UNC School of Government, the course allows students and faculty to come together for three days to focus on a relevant topic in the field of public administration.
Additionally, students will have to have completed the Professional Work Experience Practicum prior to enrolling in this course. The M.P.A. professional work experience consists of 10 weeks of full-time employment in a public agency or nonprofit organization. This course requires students to demonstrate and extend this learning experience within the context of public service leadership and management.
The purpose of the portfolio is for students to demonstrate and further develop their public service leadership potential through a collection of academic and professional products. Students take this course during their final semester, allowing them to integrate and build upon the core competencies of the program.
Students required to reflect on and demonstrate how they apply and integrate their learning from six required MPA courses and their professional public service work experiences to successfully respond to an applied research problem. Students will select from a list of applied research problems, conduct a literature review, collect data, and identify their preliminary findings.
Students will continue to work on their applied research problem from PUBA 747. Students are expected to enter PUBA 748 with a complete (clean) dataset, including a preliminary analysis that has been revised to include the feedback from PUBA 747 instructors. In this course, students will continue with the data analysis, discuss the findings, and develop recommendations.
The role(s), function(s), and strategy of public administrators in the formulation, adoption, and implementation of public policies. Policy from the perspective of the policy maker; cases exploring the relationship of theories to actual policy processes.
Nature of city or county manager's job: expectations of elected body, staff, public and professional peers. Examines contemporary issues in departmental operations that have significant effect on how manager's performance is perceived.
This course is designed to acquaint students with concepts associated with strategic planning, productivity improvement, the importance of innovative service delivery, the measurement of performance, the gauging of constituent satisfaction, the viability of major proposals offered for improving operations, and the techniques for improving effectiveness. The course prepares students to conduct productivity analyses and to design realistic strategies for improving organizational operations.
The purpose of Performance Management in Local Government is to introduce students to how local officials measure the inputs, outputs, and outcomes of service delivery and how they use these performance data for making management and policy decisions. The course also includes how local officials use other types of data to information decision-making, including content analysis, benchmarking, financial condition analysis, and benefit-cost analysis.
Examination of the managerial challenges posed by nonprofit organizations and of techniques and practices used by managers of nonprofit organizations.
Provides basic financial skills for leaders of nonprofits, including bookkeeping fundamentals, interpreting financial statements, budgeting, cash management and investment, and legal compliance.
This course is designed for graduate students who are seeking professional positions in local government or nonprofits. The overall objectives are to exchange information about issues of mutual concern to both nonprofits and governments.
Social capital can come in many forms (trust, civic engagement, community attachment, and social networks) and has become one of the most contested concepts in social sciences. This course is designed to balance theories, methods, and applications, drawing on literatures from sociology, public policy, public administration, communication, media studies, and management.
Introduction to basic law subjects likely to be encountered in public administration. Topics include constitutional foundations, due process and equal protection, and First Amendment rights; property, contracts, employment, torts, criminal law, administrative law, and public ethics laws; and basic legal research, managing litigation, and working with lawyers.
Overview of key legal concepts affecting local government operations. Topics include relation to federal/state governments, legal structures, finance and regulatory powers, plus introduction to the legal system and analysis.
Addresses legal issues in the exercise of governmental power by federal, state, and local agencies in the United States. Topics include legislative and executive oversight, rule making, adjudication, and judicial review. Fall.
Nonprofit leaders and public officials rely on grants to help fund their grand plans. You will learn the process of finding grants, how to prepare a grant proposal, and how to plan for and manage grant funds. This course will address some of the similarities and differences between the funding process from federal/state agencies and private foundations. Students may not receive credit for both PUBA 763 and PUBA 764. On campus MPA students only.
This course is designed to acquaint students with the grant seeking process for not-for-profit and public sector agencies. Through a review of specific writing techniques, students will practice and learn how to produce proposals that are comprehensive, cogent, and accountable to the objectives of the grantor agency. Students may not receive credit for both PUBA 763 and PUBA 764.
Analysis of alternative approaches to planning and administering the budgets and financial operations of public agencies. Extensive use of case materials.
Workshop-style course focuses on workplace and service provision conflicts to develop mediation skills; is comprised of short lectures, demonstration, and student practice of a mediation model/specific skill sets. May not be taken in addition to PUBA 772.
Course is workshop-style that includes advance reading, videos and online assignments; concentrated two-day instruction on skills; and a reflection paper. Course focuses on inter-organization and community settings to develop facilitation skills and is comprised of short lectures, demonstration, and student practice of facilitation strategies.
The goal of this course is to acquire a command of the fundamentals of economic development from the community's perspective. This is done by reading and absorbing the theoretical literature on economic development from the fields of urban politics, planning, sociology, economics, political science, and sociology.
Emphasizes the practical application and implementation of various approaches to economic development. Students will apply tools/strategies by doing case studies and small group projects based on real-world scenarios faced by local practitioners.
Examination of ombudsman and mediation principles, roles, ethics and techniques in public sector. Students expected to develop mediation skills through observation, in-class practice and feedback. Models of mediation are compared and students share in class their application and/or adaptation of mediation to their current or desired public sector duties. An introduction to dispute systems design frames how mediation, and its variants can benefit students' public service. May not be taken in addition to PUBA 768.
This course provides public managers with the basic knowledge to successfully manage technology projects and government information. The use of information technology has become an indispensable part of the public sector. Governments now use technology to communicate with citizens, disseminate information, and engage in digital democracy. This course is for oncampus MPA students. Students cannot take PUBA 777 in addition to this course.
This course is designed to help students develop a deep understanding of concepts, techniques and theories of nonprofit fundraising. After an introduction to philanthropy, students will utilize tools and resources for fundraising and analyze and evaluate fundraising methods. This course is applied meaning it is important to have a relationship with a nonprofit organization where you can access current fundraising collateral and apply principles of fundraising to the improvement of fundraising methods/products.
Seminar in selected areas of public administration. Topics will vary from year to year. May be repeated for credit.
Directed readings in a special field under the direction of a member of the graduate faculty.
How can governments, communities, organizations, and businesses fund environmental services? This applied course reviews the diverse tools and strategies that environmental service providers use to pay for programs. The course will focus on environmental services related to: drinking Water, wastewater, storm-water, watershed protection, energy efficiency, renewable energy, sustainability, and wetlands.