Public Administration

Program Overview

MPA Admissions are still open until May 1st!  During this crisis, we are extending our Fall 2020 Admissions Deadline to allow potential students more time to complete their appilcations, The SF State Public Administration is a pioneer in the field with using hybrid courses; our Program is moving smoothly into the remote delivery of our curriculum and is looking forward to a robust schedule of courses for Fall 2020. 

Be a part of our innovative and rewarding professional program, geared for working adults. Our program is built uopn high impact educational practices, traditional and hybrid courses, a convenient location in downtown San Francisco right over the Powell Street BART Station, and the best value for your tuition dollar in the Bay Area. Get more details about admissions below and come to the next Information session and be a part of the Fall 2020 Class of our innovative and rewarding professional program.    The list of information sessions are available under Admissions

The SF State Master of Public Administration (MPA) Program offers students the opportunity to earn their MPA by taking a mix of in-person and hybrid courses in the heart of downtown San Francisco. The MPA Program is nationally accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, & Administration (NASPAA). 

The MPA Program is home to five full-time tenured faculty members. In addition, between three and eight part-time affiliated faculty also teach MPA classes. Part-time affiliated faculty include colleagues from other PACE programs, professors emeriti, and practitioners. 

Our courses are taught using effective, so-called high impact practices (HIPs) like collaborative assignments, community-based learning, and capstone experiences. All students in our Program complete an eportfolio highlighting the knowledge and skills they have gained over the course of the degree. Two examples of the eportfolios from recent graduates emphasize the types of learning in which our MPA students engage, the variety of assignments and course content they complete, and the quality of SF State MPA students' work.  



The mission of the SF State MPA Program is to enhance individual and organizational capacity to serve the public and nonprofit sectors through engaged and innovative teaching, research and service.

  • We teach effective public administration by enriching students with knowledge and skills to inspire innovation and motivate continuous improvement.
  • As faculty and students, we work to provide applied research and service to the community.
  • We instill an appreciation for public service values such as: accountability, civic engagement, equity, social justice, and sustainability.


Program-Level Student Learning Outcomes

1. Lead and manage in public governance;

a. Apply a wide range of knowledge about the public service;
b. Apply a wide range of knowledge about an elective area within public service;
c. Evidence of professional skills necessary for the public service.
2. Participate in and contribute to the public policy process.
3. Analyze, synthesize, think critically, solve problems and make decisions.
4. Articulate and apply a public service perspective.
5. Communicate and interact productively with a diverse and changing workforce and citizenry;
a. Write effectively and concisely for an audience of professionals;
b. Present effectively to small and large groups;
c. Work effectively in groups and teams.
6. Communicate and work to ensure social justice, equity and other public service values highlighted by the Program.


Students applying to San Francisco State University’s Public Administration Program should familiarize themselves with its prospective student information in addition to the  requirements and relevant deadlines for admission set by the Graduate Division.

Applicants to the MPA program are accepted both Fall and Spring.  The Public Administration Admissions Committee will begin to review completed applications as of March 1, 2020 for the Fall 2020 admissions cycle.  Applicants must submit all application materials by the May 1, 2020, deadline. 

To learn more about the program and the admission process attend a Prospective Student Informational Session.

Public Administration Prospective Student Information Sessions

 View a video for prospective students about the program.

Cost of Degree

The cost to earn the entire degree is currently approximately $23,000 for in-state tuition and $39,000 for out-of-state tuition. The Bursar’s Office maintains a complete schedule of tuition and fees. 

In addition to general scholarships offered across the University, the Public Administration Program offers two scholarships exclusively to MPA students each year (the Willie Brown Fellowship [$10,000 per year for two years with internship] and the Barney T. Deasy Honorary Scholarship [$9,000 for students with interest in affordable housing).  Information about other scholarships and financial assistance can be found at the University’s Office of Financial Aid  or by visiting a financial aid counselor at the Student Service Building during their office hours. In addition, SF State’s Fellowships Office is available to assist undergraduates, graduate students and recent alumni in applying for nationally competitive fellowships, scholarships and grants, as well as system-wide awards offered by the California State University system.

Degree Requirements

The degree requires students to complete 39-42 units (the difference is dependent upon whether or not a student needs to take an internship or already has significant work experience) and can be completed in six to seven semesters; most students in the Program are working professionals who take classes part-time. Students choose to specialize in one of seven areas of elective emphasis: Nonprofit Administration, Public Management, Public Policy, Urban Administration, Criminal Justice Administration, Gerontology and Environmental Administration & Policy, or they can self-design an area of elective emphasis.  Degree requirements for the MPA program can be found in the University Bulletin.

Fourteen percent of incoming students in 2013-2014 finished the degree in 2 years and sixty seven percent had finished within 4 years. With eighty-one students initially enrolled in 2013-2014, fourteen percent of them finished the degree in 2 years and sixty seven percent had finished within 4 years.


Advising for majors is provided by faculty members in the program. If you have questions about non-major requirements, please contact the Graduate Studies Advising Center.
The Public Administration Program provides sample syllabi of it courses for students to gain a understand of the scope of a course.

Division of Graduate Studies

For non major advising for new and continuing graduate students - please visit the Division of Graduate Studies on the main campus in Administration Building 254 or at

Current and Projected Course Schedule


The projected MPA course schedule plots the courses for the several years.  In order to better plan for the most efficient program possible, the Program provides this projected schedule of courses for each semester, to help students make long-range scheduling plans.  These projections are tentative for course offerings, so students should check for updates each semester.


Most of our students are employed full-time and attend school part time. Consequently, only a small minority of students are required to complete an internship to meet the degree requirements; most are able to obtain a waiver of the internship requirement. Requests for waivers to the internship requirement must be made in writing and submitted to the MPA Graduate Coordinator for review and approval. During academic year 2017 – 2018, MPA students held internships at the following agencies:

  • International Rescue Committee
  • City of Martinez Park and Recreation Department
  • Neighborhood Empowerment Network, City & County of San Francisco
  • Project Rebound
  • San Francisco City Supervisor Malia Cohen’s Office
  • U.S. Government Accountability Office
  • Veterans Services, SF State University

Graduate Careers

One-hundred percent of students who graduate in academic year 2017-2018 were employed when they began the MPA Program. Many of them experienced career changes while pursuing their degrees, with 44% getting new jobs, 32% being promoted, 40% changing agencies, and 12% changing sectors.
Forty-seven percent (20) of those graduates responded to a survey we conducted asking about their employment status six-months after graduation. Of those, all were employed at the time the survey was conducted and 85% were employed within six months of graduation. Many of these graduates work in nonprofit organizations or local government agencies (29% each). Eighteen percent work for state government agencies, while 12% work for the federal government. The remainder work in the for-profit sector, evenly divide between research/consulting firms and non-research positions. All but one reported working at the same organization within six months of graduating as at the time of the survey.

Public Administration PROGRAM

SFSU Downtown Campus, 835 Market Street, 6th Floor, Room 679
San Francisco, CA 94103

Phone Number: (415) 817- 4455