Indiana State Online

Master of Public Administration


Indiana State University offers a master of public administration (M.P.A.) for working professionals who have experience in public or nonprofit organizations and now seek a graduate-level degree for career advancement.

  • The M.P.A. is a 36-credit-hour program (39 credit hours if an internship is required).
  • The program includes a focus in public and non-profit organizations. The program requires a three-credit-hour internship with a public agency, but only of those students without public or non-profit work experience.
  • Although the program may be completed in just over two calendar years of full-time study, most students complete the program in about three years of part-time study. The University allows part-time students to take up to seven years to earn the degree, although the program is typically completed in far less time.
  • The department may approve up to 9 credit hours—3 semester courses—or the equivalent for transfer into the student's program from other universities.
  • All seven core courses and the final capstone course are offered by political science department faculty. With approval, students may take elective courses outside the department. Both core and elective courses may be transferred from other institutions with the approval of the program director. The capstone course must be completed at ISU.
  • The program now offers elective concentrations in four other ISU online master's programs. They are nonprofit management, criminology/criminal justice, human resources development, and public health.

Most of our students are mid-career, full-time employees of public or non-profit organizations. The M.P.A. is meant to enhance their ability to:

  • Implement public and social policy to improve the lives of the general public
  • Deliver services to citizens through plans that are transparent, efficient, and ethical
  • Influence the direction of both public and private organizations
  • React to the complexities of government, configure budgets, and advocate for public services

In addition to the M.P.A., the University offers online graduate certificate programs in public administration and public personnel administration. Courses in either of these certificate programs can be applied toward completion of the master of public administration.


Courses are delivered via the Internet by two methods: by purely asynchronous web format and by web-based videoconferencing. The elective course may be offered in either format.

Web Format

Four core courses (PA 601, 605, 606, and 607) are entirely asynchronous Web courses.


Three other core courses (PA 600, PA 602, PA 604) require students to log in as participants in a Web-based conference during weekly class meetings. However, these courses are also posted in the online platform, Blackboard, used by all Web-based programs at ISU.

Access to Blackboard

Students may log into courses in Blackboard at any time to send and receive emails, view assignments, and join class discussions. Students must have access to the following to enter classes with web-based videoconferencing components:

  • Access to high-speed Internet
  • Headsets (or microphones and speakers)
  • PC- or MAC-compatible speakers
  • Web cameras are optional

Required Courses:

All courses are offered online. On-campus visits are not required. High-speed Internet access is required.

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Admission Requirements:

This program is open to in-state and many out-of-state students. This program is closed to all students residing abroad (including international students) except for U.S. military and State Department personnel and their family members with APO/FPO addresses.

Applicants must satisfy the following minimum requirements:

  • Hold a bachelor's degree in any academic field from a regionally accredited college or university.
  • Hold a minimum undergraduate grade point average of at least 2.75 on a 4.00 scale.
  • Have administrative or managerial experience in either the public or nonprofit sector; this requirement does not apply to students who plan to attend scheduled courses on campus in Terre Haute.
  • Submit official transcripts of undergraduate and any graduate work from an accredited institution.
  • Submit or have sent three letters of reference from past or present employers, professors, teachers, and/or colleagues.
  • Write and submit a brief one- or two-page statement of purpose.
  • Complete the TOEFL and submit a score of at least 600 (or the equivalent) as evidence of English proficiency if the applicant's first language is not English. See the note below for exemptions.

Please note that while the minimum accepted GPA is 2.75, the average GPA of students accepted into the program is higher. Also note, however, that GPA is just one of several variables the M.P.A. admission committee considers when reviewing admission applications. We may admit conditionally students who have promise but whose undergraduate GPAs may fall under 2.75.

Applicants who do not possess the public or nonprofit experience (listed above) required of all online students are invited to complete the M.P.A Program on the Indiana State University campus, located in Terre Haute, Indiana. The on-campus M.P.A. Program enables students to satisfy the work experience requirement by completing a three-hour, semester-long internship at a site determined by the M.P.A. director. This internship option is open only to on-campus students.

Applicants may submit unofficial transcripts to the department during the application process. However, unconditional admission may only be granted if official transcripts from the applicant's undergraduate institution have been submitted and are on file with ISU.

Contact Indiana State Online (below) for more information. The program may require evidence of experience as a part of the admissions process. Evidence may be included in letters of reference from past or present employers and colleagues; in resumes or curricula vitae; or in written statements from employers.

The Political Science Department regards a TOEFL of 600 (or the equivalent) as evidence of English proficiency from students whose first language is not English. Please note that this is higher than the default standard 550 TOEFL required for admission to graduate study by ISU's graduate school. International students with undergraduate degrees from certain countries, or whose undergraduate study was done in English, may be exempt from the TOEFL requirement.

International students who, in the opinion of the admissions committee, do not meet the program's minimum standards for spoken and written English, may choose to take intensive language training at the InterLink Language Center at Indiana State before entering the program The department may admit international students to the program provisionally, on the condition that they successfully complete English training at InterLink. Provisionally admitted students who fail to complete their InterLink programs successfully may not be admitted to M.P.A. study. Students who complete InterLink training will be enrolled in M.P.A. courses during the next semester or summer term after they complete InterLink.


The University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

The Public Administration Program was established as a semi-autonomous unit within ISU's Department of Political Science in 1976. The full-time director of the public administration program manages both the M.P.A. degree program and the two PA certificate programs, and advises students. The program is currently a member of the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) and is associated with the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA).

Application Instructions:

  1. Apply online.
  2. The applicant must submit official transcripts from all colleges previously attended. Transcripts must be sent from the applicant's undergraduate institution (and any graduate institutions) directly to ISU's Graduate Admissions Office. To be official, transcripts must be sent directly from one institution to another.
  3. Applicants may also send unofficial (or official) copies of their transcripts to the M.P.A. director, or upload them into the university's admission system. In some cases, sending transcripts to both the graduate school and the M.P.A. director will help expedite the process. However, official transcripts MUST be sent to the admissions office at the address provided.
  4. Three letters of recommendation are required. Applicants should identify referees who may be able to comment on applicants' potential for graduate work. Letters may originate either from academic or professional referees. These might include current or past professors, or colleagues with graduate degrees, for example. Letters should address applicants' motivation and ability to perform academically at the graduate level. Referees may also comment on applicants' academic preparation and career goals, and how graduate work in public administration fits with those goals. Letters will be requested from referees listed by applicants on their online application forms. However, the referee may also send letters directly to the MPA directly, if that method is preferred.
  5. A written statement of purpose is required that details the applicant's reasons for applying to the M.P.A. program and explains how the degree fits in with the applicant's career goals. The statement should be one to two pages. The document should be double-spaced, and typed in either ten- or twelve-point type face. Applicants should upload the document into their online admissions files.
  6. Graduate Record Examination test scores, or scores from other standardized examinations, are NOT required, although the applicant may at his or her discretion submit test scores for consideration.
  7. International applicants, unless exempt (as noted above), must submit official scores for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or provide equivalent evidence of language proficiency.
  8. Submit a nonrefundable application fee of $45.00 (U.S. citizens and permanent residents) or $65.00 (international students) payable by Visa, MasterCard, or check or money order payable to Indiana State University.

IMPORTANT: Official transcripts, admission application, application fee, and (if applicable) language proficiency test scores such as the TOEFL should be submitted directly to Indiana State University, Graduate Admissions, Welcome Center, 318 North 6th Street, Terre Haute, IN 47809. E-transcripts should be sent to All other documentation (including unofficial transcripts, letters, statement of purpose, and unofficial scores from tests such as the GRE) should be uploaded into the online admission system. Letters of recommendation may be uploaded into the system or sent directly to Dr. Stan Buchanan, Associate Professor, Director, M.P.A. Program, Indiana State University, Holmstedt Hall, room 306, Terre Haute, IN 47809.

Note: Students who are admitted will be notified by the University. Admitted students will also receive information that will permit them to enter and use the MyISU Portal, the University's Sycamore Login information system. After consultation with the M.P.A. director, students may then use the system to enroll online. For further information about using the MyISU Portal, contact Indiana State Online at (812) 237-2345 or


The M.P.A. Program accepts applications for student enrollment throughout the year. There are no application deadlines. The M.P.A. admissions committee meets on a monthly basis, except for August and December, to review applications completed in the previous 30 days. Admission requests are then reviewed by the Dean of the College of Graduate and Professional Studies (CGPS). But normally, applicants should receive word of the final admission decision within a few days after the admissions committee meets.

Fees & Expenses:

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Financial Aid & Assistance:

Graduate students may be eligible for federal student loans if they are admitted into graduate degrees (or first-time teacher certification programs) and meet other eligibility requirements. Certificate programs are not eligible for financial aid. Private alternative loans can help students pay college expenses that may not be covered by federal loan programs or other financial aid. For more information, visit financial aid.

In addition, students may be eligible for payment plans and veterans benefits.

Further Information:

For further information and assistance, contact:

Indiana State Online
(812) 237-2345

Related Links

MPA Program: An Overview

MPA Handbook & Other Details

Indiana State Online Students Residing Outside of Indiana: Each of the states has its own approval processes for out-of-state institutions offering online degrees. While Indiana State University endeavors to offer all of its programs to as wide an audience as possible, all ISU online programs may not be available in all states. Currently, online programs are not offered in the state of Massachusetts. To check the status of programs available in a particular state, visit program availability.

The Graduate Catalog and Undergraduate Catalog of Indiana State University are the documents of authority for all students. The requirements given in the catalogs supersede information issued by any academic department, program, college, or school. The University reserves the right to change the requirements at any time.