Prospective Student Information

Learn More about SFSU MPA Program

Housed in the School of Public Affairs & Civic Engagement (PACE) in the College of Health & Social Sciences, the 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.  Through the MPA program, students build the analytical, management, and technical skills necessary to thrive in the rapidly changing public sector.  

The goal of the MPA is to prepare students for leadership positions in the public and nonprofit sectors. This includes positions in government, community development corporations, nonprofit social service agencies, planning and consulting organizations, and activities of private firms in public affairs and public policy areas.  

The degree requires students to complete 42 units and is designed to be completed in 7 semesters, so that working professionals can take classes part-time. Most of our students are employed full-time and attend school part time. 

The MPA Program is nationally accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, & Administration (NASPAA).  

Learn more about PACE programs and admissions, by meeting our faculty and learning about the admissions processes.

Why SF State?

  • Rigorous curriculum and highly trained and experienced faculty
  • NASPAA accreditation: highest level of accreditation in public administration education
  • Convenient downtown San Francisco location
  • Flexible class schedule
  • Unmatched value
  • Access to Bay Area professionals

Application Deadline

Spring Admission Deadline:  November 1: begin to review completed applications on October 1

Fall Admission Deadline:  April 1:   begin to review completed applications on March 1

What is Public Administration?

Public Administration attempts to explain how decisions in government are made as well as administrating projects to carry out those decisions. A public administration degree prepares students for a career in government or non-profit work. Studying public administration builds the skill set for anyone looking to give back to their community by solving difficult problems.

Who Studies Public Administration?

While elected officials are the most visible part of our government, it is the daily government workers, or “bureaucrats,” who do the majority of governmental tasks and functions. They come up with implementing solutions to the most daring of society’s challenges. They advise elected officials of the strengths and weaknesses of public programs. A public administrator manages public agencies, sets budgets, and creates government policies. 

Graduates of our MPA program work for agencies such as Bureau of Labor Statistics,  Social Security Administration, U.S. Government Accountability Office, California State Senate and Assembly, CA State Transportation Agency, CA State Auditor, Emergency Management with Office of the Controller City and County of San Francisco, City Manager and Mayor of Daly City, Administrative and Fiscal Services Manager at the City of Berkeley and non profit organizations such as Oakland Family Resource Center, Legal Services for Children, CompassPoint, East Bay Community Foundation, As You Sow, Go Public Schools, Urban Solutions, and On Your Feet Foundation amongst others.

Some examples of public administration job titles include auditor, administrator, director, manager, specialist, and systems analyst.

MPA vs MPP vs MBA Overview of Degrees

Master degree programs in Public Administration (MPA), Business Administration (MBA) and Public Policy (MPP) have plenty of common ground. 
  • MPA is for those seeking leadership roles in the public and nonprofit sectors. 
  • MPP is for those interested in analyzing and evaluating aspects of policy in the public and nonprofit sector. 
  • MBA is for those seeking to develop skills required for careers in business and management. 

Differences between the Degrees

  • Both an MPA and an MBA degree offer advanced management courses as part of their core curriculum. An MPA degree, while still flexible enough to apply to the private sector (where many graduates work), is a degree focused for a career in public service. If you want a career in a government agency, a nonprofit, or in a philanthropic institution, an MPA degree is ideal.
  • A MPP tends to focus more upon the research that is required to make public policies than implementing them. People who hold an MPP degree will conduct extensive research that allows them to create programs and policies that are used in the public sector. It is up to a person who holds a MPA degree to implement these polices and make sure people are following them.


Public Administration (MPA)

Public Policy (MPP)

Business (MBA) 

Career Pathways

  • Federal, state, and local government management 
  • Criminal justice 
  • Nonprofits 
  • Urban planning 
  • Research and budget analysis 
  • Government affairs 
  • Advocacy 
  • National security 
  • Consulting
  • Health policy 
  • Environmental policy 
  • Government affairs 
  • Policy advising 
  • Consulting 
  • Marketing 
  • Management 
  • Human resources 
  • Financial advising 
  • Entrepreneurship 

Skill Set

  • Project and program management 
  • Policy implementation 
  • Public financial management 
  • Human resources 
  • Organization behavior
  • Strategic and analytical thinking 
  • Data management 
  • Qualitative and statistical analysis 
  • Policy analysis and creation 
  • Financial cost/benefit analysis and modeling 
  • Human resources management 
  • Strategic and analytical thinking 
  • Financial analysis 
  • Consumer targeting 


  • Public organization management 
  • Program evaluation 
  • Public finance and budgeting 
  • Human resources
  • Statistics and data analysis 
  • Policy analysis methods
  • Public policy 
  • Statistics and data analysis 
  • Public finance 
  • Micro/macro economics 
  • Accounting 
  • Marketing 
  • Human resources 
  • Economics 
  • Business communications