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Public Administration

There's no substitute for the leadership savvy, decision-making and strategic skills that an advanced degree provides. As one of the top 25 ranked master's programs in the nation, USD's Master in Public Administration can take you anywhere. 

Why Study Public Administration?

Whether you are just starting out or have years of experience, USD offers several program options that are flexible, affordable and even part-time to advance your career.

Graduates of the USD public administration program serve local, state and regional government and nonprofit organizations. This program offers you flexibility and the skills to become a strong leader. The program combines in-depth study of core administration subject matter with elective coursework in several areas so you are able to effect change for your organization and your cause.

The on-campus MPA program prepares you with a strong theoretical background, as well as an experiential component to provide a practical experience. Lead and manage organizations; participate in the 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. The MPA is fully accredited by NASPAA since 1983.

USD also has an Executive Master of Public Administration that is delivered 100% online. For more information visit usd.edu/onlineempa.


Degrees & Offerings

Public Administration (MPA)

  Vermillion Main Campus

This 39-credit hour program offers you flexibility, and the skills to become a strong leader. The program combines the in-depth study of core administration subject matter with elective coursework in several areas so you can effect change for your organization and your cause.

View Admissions Requirements

Accelerated Public Administration (MPA)

  Vermillion Main Campus

If you are a current USD undergraduate student who would like to begin a master's degree while completing your bachelor's degree, you may apply and begin the program after the completion of 90 undergraduate credit hours.  This program leads to both a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree in as few as five years.

View Admissions Requirements

Program Details





Graduate Admissions

Known for Excellence

With qualities like small class sizes, specialized programs and incredible student opportunities, USD is not your typical university. What makes us unique is what makes your education exceptional.


As a student at USD, the opportunities available to you extend beyond the classroom. Explore your interests, find your community and experience your education to the fullest extent through the following opportunities.

An Affordable Education

Gain valuable real-world, professional experience while enjoying paid employment and discounted tuition rates as a graduate student at USD. The affordability you gain through graduate assistantships and fellowships will equip you with valuable, professional-level skills that will set you apart after graduation. 

Teaching and research assistantships are awarded by individual departments. If you do not receive an assistantship within your department, you are eligible for an assistantship outside of your academic program or within support offices (non-academic units) at USD. Further inquiries should be directed to the graduate director of the department.

Learn More

A group of students posing in front of the Washington Monument.

Your Adventure Awaits

Do you have your sights set on Washington, D.C.? Italy? Turkey? New Zealand? Russia? The USD Department of Political Science can help you get there. Our students have participated in conferences and faculty-led courses around the world, and our Farber Fund helps make those experiences affordable.


Washington, D.C.

Politics & Policy Study Program
Learn how politics, policy and policy research interact through conversations with Hill staff and policymakers working off of the Hill in this faculty-led course. Many of these conversations will feature USD alumni now working in the city. The trip will also tour the D.C. monuments and experience “high” culture at the Kennedy Center and “low” culture with Nationals baseball. Regular spring semester meetings will prepare students to interact with D.C. policymakers and learn “the inside scoop” of the city, like how the Tortilla Coast led to a government shutdown.



Radicalism and Revolution - Irish Political History and the IRA
This faculty-led course combines an historical perspective with contemporary analysis of the political history of Ireland with a particular focus on the Irish War of Independence in the early 20th century, the “Troubles” of Northern Ireland in the 1970’s and 80’s, and the current iterations of the IRA and Real IRA.



Politics and Culture
You have the opportunity to travel to Moscow and Saint Petersburg, Russia, for 10 days in a study program led by Tim Schorn, Ph.D. and Ilmira Dulyanova. You will study the politics, history and culture of Russia while visiting the Kremlin, Red Square, Gorky Park and more in Moscow, as well as the Hermitage, Peterhof and additional sights in Saint Petersburg. Our Farber Fund assists political science, criminal justice and international studies majors in making this faculty-led program even more affordable.



Travel through Northwestern and Central Turkey in cities including Instanbul, Gallipoli, Troy, Pergamon, Ephesus, Cappadocia and Ankara in the faculty-led course. Study Turkish politics and culture. Undergraduates and graduates come from several different majors, including English, criminal justice, political science and international studies.

USD is home to more than 170 student organizations, including several that are housed in the Department of Political Science. You may be interested in joining College Democrats, College Republicans or Students of Public Administration (SOPA) to make friends, develop new skills and explore your interests.

Explore Student Organizations

Graduate & Professional Student Association (GPSA)

Join your fellow graduate and professional students at USD. We aim to build a sense of community between graduate and professional students. Build your resume, network with others and gain experience and the unique opportunity to represent the interests of graduate students to the greater campus and community.

Join Now

Totaling approximately $4.5 million, the Farber Funds provide more than $170,000 each year for political science, criminal justice, public administration and international studies. The funding takes students throughout the nation and across the globe to attend conferences, participate in study tours, complete internships, study abroad and conduct research. To our knowledge, no other university in the nation has this amount of money available for students in a single department.

The Farber Funds honor William O. (Doc) Farber, Ph.D., who contributed 40 years of service to USD. For 38 of those years, he was chairman of the Department of Government (later Political Science) and is credited with the department’s growth in staff, enrollment and academic opportunities. Doc Farber retired in 1976, but both his legacy and impact on students continue today through this fund.

In addition to these specific scholarships and awards, the Farber Fund makes almost $100,000 available annually for political science/criminal justice majors to attend conferences, participate in study tours and departmental trips, complete internships, travel abroad and carry out research projects.

At USD, our graduate students are actively pursuing unique research and presenting at local and national conferences exploring innovative areas of interest to them. Additional research and grant opportunities include:

Research and Creative Scholarship Opportunities

Each semester students may apply for grants through the USD Graduate School, faculty and students pursue research in virtually all academic departments on campus, and in many cases, it is a required portion of a graduate degree program.

Learn More


IdeaFest is an annual event celebrating student research, creative scholarship and academic engagement. Undergraduate and graduate students in all disciplines present their work in oral and poster presentations, live performances, readings, exhibits and displays.

Learn More

Departments & Facilities

Explore the departments, facilities and centers that contribute to your education in political science.
Tom Brokaw Robert Legvold Aalfs Auditorium speaking event

Political Science

Whether you are interested in a career in government and politics, law, the criminal justice system, international relations or a related field, the real-world experiences and connections you find in the Department of Political Science will help you get there.

Faculty & Staff

Get to know faculty and staff in the Department of Political Science. Our faculty are experts in their fields, contributing research and scholarship in American government, criminology, victimology, international human rights, gender politics, race/ethnicity in politics, comparative political economy, international law and more. They bring practical experience in government, law and the private sector to the classroom.
Bio Image for Faculty Member David Earnest

David Earnest

Chair, Pol Sci/Dir, Farber Center/Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Jenna Borseth

Jenna Borseth

Assistant Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member April Carrillo

April Carrillo

Assistant Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Ilmira Dulyanova

Ilmira Dulyanova

Dir. Online Grad Prog & Coord.
Bio Image for Faculty Member Matthew Fairholm

Matthew Fairholm

Coordinator, Graduate Programs/Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Jacqueline Faulhaber

Jacqueline Faulhaber

Senior Lecturer/Advisor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Ed Gerrish

Ed Gerrish

Coordinator, MPA/Associate Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Julia Hellwege

Julia Hellwege

Associate Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Joshua Houy

Joshua Houy

Senior Lecturer
Bio Image for Faculty Member Eric Jepsen

Eric Jepsen

Coordinator, Undergraduate Studies/Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Sandy McKeown

Sandy McKeown

Coordinator, Criminal Justice/Associate Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Thomas Mrozla

Thomas Mrozla

Assistant Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Shane Nordyke

Shane Nordyke

Coordinator, Chieseman Ctr/Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Timothy Schorn

Timothy Schorn

Coordinator, International Studies/Associate Professor
Students gather on the steps of the Capitol Building in Washington D.C.

Gain Real-World Experience

Each year, the Department of Political Science puts more than $175,000 of funding toward student internships, study abroad experiences, research and conference participation, and student organizations.
A student posing with a statue.

Chase Your Dream Career

Whether you want to hit the campaign trail, apply for law school, work for state or local government, or pursue another career path. A master's degree in public administration from USD will set you up for success. 

The accomplishments of our students and alumni speak for themselves; our students are leaders on campus and at conferences, and our graduates have transitioned straight into jobs in their chosen field around the state, region and country.

Surprisingly Affordable

Whether you’ve recently completed your undergraduate degree, or you want to kick your career up a notch, graduate school is the next logical step. The good news is there is funding for both online and on-campus students to get you through your program. 
GA (Resident*)
Tuition (1 cr.)
GAF Fee (1 cr.)

More About Tuition & Fees

Tuition rates are subject to change and may vary depending on the program or department. Visit the Graduate Tuition & Costs page for more information.

* Graduate Assistant (GA) rates are available for resident, non-resident and online students.

We Are Proud of Our Students

Success story Taige Tople smiling.
I learned about budgeting, nonprofit management, conflict resolution, statistical analysis, and how certain case law impacted the public sector. Throughout the program, I felt that my professors were attentive to my learning style and academic goals, while also helping me plan for my career. My job working with the Department of Labor and Regulation as a Labor Program Specialist came specifically because of an internship course I needed complete my MPA degree. 

Taige Tople

MPA Public Administration
Saint Paul Public Schools
Minneapolis, MN

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