Division of Continuing & Distance Education, Summer School Off-Campus & Distance Learning

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Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA)



Program Overview:

The mission of the Executive Master's degree of Public Administration program at the University of South Dakota is to strengthen the administrative competencies of public service professionals who are committed to leading public and nonprofit organizations with personal integrity, professional competence, constitutional principles, and respect for human dignity.


The online Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA) program is designed for seasoned public service professionals who seek to advance their understanding of administration in public and nonprofit organizations. To that end, students build the essential skills needed to provide effective leadership, communication, innovation, and change management in the public and nonprofit organizations of the twenty-first century.  This online distance learning Master's degree in Public Administration program offers a curriculum rooted in core professional competencies which ensure that graduates of the EMPA program are prepared to lead and manage organizations; participate in the public policy process; analyze, synthesize, think critically, solve problems and make decisions; articulate and apply a public service perspective; and communicate and interact productively with a diverse and changing workforce and citizenry.  

EMPA Admission Requirements:

Applicants to the EMPA program are required to demonstrate their likelihood of success as graduate students in the program.  Along those lines, the program will consider the following when making admissions decisions:

  • Undergraduate record and grade point average (Minimum of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale required)
  • Professional experience (Minimum of 5 years required)
  • Prior graduate education (if applicable)
  • Letters of recommendation (3)
  • Statement of purpose explaining why they have chosen to pursue graduate education through the online distance learning EMPA program

Generally, students will be fully admitted to the Executive Master of Public Administration program if they have a strong undergraduate record; meet the minimum expectations for professional experience; demonstrate strong communication skills and a good match of their academic and professional goals with the mission of the program; receive favorable recommendations; and meet all other minimal conditions for acceptance into the Graduate School. 

Students who do not meet all of the qualifications for full admission may, in some circumstances, be granted provisional admission to the EMPA program.  These students may be admitted with specific provisions outlined for them to meet in order to be granted full admission. 

In order to be considered for admission, applicants must submit the following:

  • Completed Graduate Application Form
  • $35 Application Fee
  • 500-word statement of purpose
  • Resume
  • Three (3) letters of recommendation
  • Official transcripts from all institutions of higher learning attended
Other EMPA Program Resources:

Program at a Glance

EMPA Faculty

EMPA Course Descriptions

Program Website


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