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Political Science Public Administration

Service and Integrity

Build the skills to provide leadership, communication, innovation and change.

Learn to become a strong leader within public and nonprofit organizations and affect change for your organization and your cause.


We offer several paths to earn your credential in public administration. Each program prepares students to be leaders in public service. The Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.) program is for students who currently hold an undergraduate degree while the Fast Track program are for USD Political Science students who would like to complete both degrees in five years. The Executive Master of Public administration Program is for mid-career professionals.

Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.)

Public Administration is a professional program that prepares students to be leaders who serve the public interest. The program combines both the theoretical foundations to of leadership and management with hands-on skills necessary to thrive in a dynamic environment. The program focuses on student success in five areas: 1) to prepare individuals with the skills, knowledge, and abilities for an administrative career in public service in a public or nonprofit organization; 2) to familiarize students with the social, economic, and political factors that influence administration; 3) to put theory into practice; 4) to provide a flexible and multidisciplinary degree that will broadening students’ perspectives; and 5) to encourage students to seek responsibility for their professional development, assisted by mentorship by program faculty.

The 39-credit hour program has a strong core curriculum which includes a 3-credit internship experience but sufficient electives for students to focus their program as they see fit. With high placement rates in the careers students want, contact graduate admissions for more information. Come learn from our faculty who have active research agendas and national or international recognition for their research. 

MPA Accreditation: See where our students have started their careers in the last five years!

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M.P.A. Fast Track

During the second semester of the junior year in their undergraduate studies, high achieving political science students interested in public service careers may be invited to participate in the fast track M.P.A. option.

The M.P.A. fast track option is a program of study leading to both a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.) degree in as few as five years. The programs of study for the B.A./B.S. in degrees offered by the Department of Political Science need no changes except to allow three elective courses to be taken at the graduate level. These courses would count towards the departmental undergraduate degrees and the graduate degree Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.). Students would seek admission into the M.P.A. fast track program starting at the first semester of their junior status (undergraduates must have 90 credit hours completed before taking any graduate course).

Students would complete all current Political Science undergraduate requirements, including nine credits of graduate courses before taking the M.P.A. internship requirement (usually in the summer term). The remaining graduate credits would be taken in the following two semesters. Upon completion of the 120 hours and upon meeting all requirements for the baccalaureate degree, the student receives the undergraduate degree and then continues to pursue coursework to complete the M.P.A. degree. Students must complete the M.P.A. with at least 50% of graduate-only coursework (courses numbered 700 and above).

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Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA)

The online EMPA is designed for seasoned public service professionals who seek to advance their understanding of administration in public and nonprofit organizations. This 100% online degree program can expand your professional qualifications and provide and avenue toward a more rewarding career with options to boost your earning potential.

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Admission Requirements

For more detailed admission requirements, please refer to Political Science in the current graduate catalog. To learn more about graduate tuition and fees, visit the Business OfficeAdditional requirements exist for international applicants.  For more information, visit International Admission Requirements. For additional details about the graduate public administration programs, contact Graduate Admissions at 605-658-6200 or email

The Classroom & Beyond

  • Travel

    Faculty led study trips to Italy and Ireland are now available. Political science, criminal justice and international studies majors are eligible to receive Farber Funding.

  • University Seal

    U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of South Dakota as the top 130th school among 272 listed, placing its Master of Public Administration program in the top 47 percent.

  • Internships

    A wide variety of internship experiences are available to students, who are especially encouraged to intern with the U.S. Congress and the SD State Legislature.