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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 offers an MPA specialization in Executive Public Administration that is delivered 100% online.


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

Public Administration: Executive Public Administration (MPA)


Advance your career in public service with the online MPA in Executive Public Administration. This specialization equips you with the knowledge and skills to excel in leadership and management roles within public and non-profit organizations.

View Admissions Requirements

Program Details





Graduate Admissions

We Are Proud of Our Students

Success story Malachi Peterson smiling.
Thanks to the skills I learned in the program I was able to easily transition from working for a nonprofit to working in the public sector. Whether it's leading a meeting on public art or presenting a zoning application to the City Commission, I'm confident I have the tools, resources, and knowledge to complete the project.

Malachi Petersen

MPA Public Administration '18
B.A. Journalism and Political Science '17
City Planner, City of West Fargo
Lawton, IA

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.

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, Political Science/Director of the Farber Center/Professor


International Political Economy
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Ed Gerrish

Coordinator-MPA, Associate Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Ilmira Dulyanova

Ilmira Dulyanova

Director of Online Graduate Programs & Coordination
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Alexander Roberts

Assistant Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Shane Nordyke

Shane Nordyke

Coordinator, Chieseman Center/Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Jenna Borseth

Jenna Borseth

Assistant Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Michael Card

Michael Card

Associate Professor
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April Carrillo

Assistant 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

Coord-Criminal Justice
Bio Image for Faculty Member Thomas Mrozla

Thomas Mrozla

Assistant Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Timothy Schorn

Timothy Schorn

Coordinator-International Studies, Associate Professor


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

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

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.
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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.

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Government Research Bureau

The Government Research Bureau, established in 1939, has a distinguished history of conducting applied research on public policy and administrative issues affecting the State of South Dakota, local governments and American Indian Reservations and nonprofits. Technical expertise and modern and innovative analysis tools are used to assist state and local government officials in the areas of economic development and policy formation.

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Chiesman Center for Democracy

The Chiesman Center for Democracy promotes and supports democratic principles and active civic engagement.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here you will find answers to commonly asked questions.

Alumni Spotlight

Hear from USD alum and EMPA graduate, Joshua Gaines, as he shares his experience pursuing a master's degree while working full-time.

Watch Joshua's Story

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. 

Graduate Tuition & Costs

Learn more about tuition and fees for undergraduate students and see how your out-of-pocket costs at USD compare to those at other colleges and universities. Visit the Graduate Tuition & Costs Detailed page for program specific costs and fees.

Financial Aid

Navigating options for how to pay for college can be challenging, but you are not alone. The Office of Financial Aid will work with you and your family to explore how you can make your college education even more affordable.

Graduate Assistantships

USD offers opportunities for grad students to earn a reduced tuition rate in exchange for their teaching, research and service efforts to the university.


Take the Next Step