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MPP and MPA Programs

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, School of Government

Program Comparison Highlights

Institutional Structure: The UNC School of Government, is one of 14 schools at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Established in 1931 as the Institute of Government, and reconstituted as the School of Government in 2001, it is "the largest university-based local government training, advisory, and research organization in the United States [offering] up to 200 courses, workshops, webinars, and specialized conferences for more than 12,000 public officials each year. In addition, faculty members annually publish approximately 50 books, manuals, reports, articles, bulletins, and other print and online content related to state and local government" (at, accessed 21 February 2015).

Curriculum Design: The Carolina MPA curriculum reflects the School of Government's strong focus on local government administration, with about one third of its elective courses in that subject. The Carolina MPA is a 15-course degree and our PEACO calculations below suggest that typical students take about 73% of their course work in subjects that we classify as being in the Tools and Skills and Management Functions, and 9% their study is in economic or quantitative courses. This places the Carolina MPA in the "medium course requirement, less quantitative, tools/management leaning" curriculum type, along with such programs as the Oregon MPA and the Oxford MPP. Almost unique among the MPP/MPA programs reviewed to date, successful graduates must have passed the MPA Oral Exam (see that demonstrate understanding of eight competencies: lead, manage, and engage others in public service; articulate and apply public service values; understand the social, economic, and political context; communicate effectively; analyze information for decision making; understand law and the legal process; manage financial resources; and manage human capital.  

Professional Program Features: The program includes a Professional Work Experience (see and an MPA Portfolio (see to demonstrate and further develop their public service leadership potential through a collection of academic and professional products.     website xxx, accessed 14 February 2015).  

Program Summary


University: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Degree: The MPA (Master of Public Administration), branded as the Carolina MPA, is delivered both on-campus or on-line.

The on-line program, under the banner MPA@UNC, is described as follows: "MPA@UNC’s rigorous curriculum is delivered in a web-based format, which enables students to earn their MPA degree without relocating or disrupting current professional and personal commitments. Through state-of-the-art education technology, students will: Participate in live, online classes using real-time video conferencing; Access coursework 24/7 on their own schedules; and Interact with fellow students through personal online sessions and collaborative social forums. While MPA@UNC delivers the same MPA education available to on-campus students and holds applicants to the same high standards, the online program is designed to allow students from anywhere in the world to fit earning a top-ranked degree into their busy schedules."  (At, accessed 21 February 2015.)

Marketing Approach: "The Carolina MPA program helps students reach their potential for leadership through rigorous academic study and practical experience. Carolina MPA graduates attain leadership positions in every level of government and in organizations that support the public interest." (At, accessed 21 February 2015.)

Degrees Awarded per Year: Up to 60 for the on-campus MPA (see

Academic Unit within University: The UNC School of Government, is one of 14 schools at the University of North Carolina.

Related Academic Units and Degrees: The MPA is the only graduate degree offered by the School of Government.

Posted Tuition: Tuition and Fees for 2014-15 = $5,721 per semester ($11,442 per year) for North Carolina residents and $14,327 per semester ($28,652 per year) for non-residents (at, accessed 21 February 2015). Tuition for the MPA@UNC is charged at a per credit rate of $1,200 per credit (= $54,000 for the 45-credit degree), at accessed 21 February 2015.

Concentration/Curriculum Overview

MPA Degree Requirements

Summary: The curriculum, designed to be completed in two years of full-time study for residential students and five semesters for MPA@UNC students, combines three essential components of professional development:

  1. A minimum of 45 semester hours of credit, consisting of rigorous core classes on the theory and practice of public management and elective courses from selected fields of interest. View a typical residential MPA course schedule and typical MPA@UNC course schedule.
  2. Students will complete a Professional Work Experience (PWE). The PWE provides students an opportunity to further develop their competencies in public service work environment and to gain actual work experience for career advancement.
  3. Completion of a portfolio during the final semester of study, including a comprehensive oral exam.

Duration: 2 years (5 semesters for on-line MPA)

Academic Prerequisite: Because of the large number of applicants each year and the MPA program's small size, admission is selective. The requirements for admission are as follows: Bachelor's degree: At least a B average in the undergraduate major and a generally strong academic record; Minimum of three semester hours credit in American government and politics (Note: this is not a requirement to apply for admission, but would need to be completed prior to the first day of fall classes if offered admission. An online course at an accredited university would fulfill the requirement); Excellent verbal and quantitative scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE should be taken by October to ensure that your scores will be available); Successful interview with an admissions committee composed of faculty, student, and alumni representatives. (At, accessed 21 February 2015.)

Number of One-Semester-Equivalent Courses Required for Completion: 15 (45 credits)

Number of Required Courses: 11 (including Professional Work Experience and MPA Portfolio)

Number of Electives Typically Taken (difference between above two entries): 4

Number of Electives Offered within Program: 26

Comprehensive Examination: Yes, the MPA Oral Exam (see 

Thesis Required: No

Internship Required: Yes (summer Professional Work Experience)

International Study Required: No

Co-curricular Activities Supportive to Degree

Professional Development and Career Support: Not described on program website.

Student-run Journal: There is an MPA Student Blogs site at

Applied Projects: Yes

Pro Bono Consulting: Not mentioned on website.

Courses Offered: The full list of courses is found at, accessed 21 February 2015.

Course Material Online: One-paragraph course descriptions at course site but no syllabi available on public website. 

Instructional Distribution (PEACO Profile): The table below indicates the distribution of instruction offered, based on the course assignments to subjects in the Course Map below, weighted by estimated enrolment determined by the PEACO Algorithm.   



I. Courses Required and Offered

Number of one-semester courses required for degree


Number of required courses


Number of elective courses taken


Number of courses offered


Enrolment weight of elective courses


II. Distribution of Courses (Enrolment-Adjusted) among Atlas

     Domains and Subjects

Tools and Skills


  - Strategy and Structure


  - Economic Analysis



  - Quantitative Methods and Management Sciences


  - Leadership, Communication, Professional Practice


Institutions and Context


  - Democratic Institutions and Policy Process


  - Ethics and Accountability


  - Socioeconomic, Political, and Global Contexts


Management Functions


  - Public Financial Management


  - Evaluation and Performance Measurement


  - Other Management Functions


Policy Sectors


  - Fiscal, Monetary and Tax Policy


  - International Development


  - Health


  - Other Policy Sectors




III. Number of Courses in "NASPAA-required Subjects" taken by

      Typical Student in NASPAA Required Competency Domains

Lead and Manage in Public Governance


Participate and Contribute to the Policy Process


Analyze, Synthesize, Solve Problems and Make Decisions


Articulate and Apply Public Service Perspectives


Communicate and Interact with Workforce and Citizenry


Total Course Equivalents taken in Required Competencies


IV. Ratio of Courses in "NASPAA-required Subjects" taken by

      Typical Student to Estimated Requirement for Competency

Lead and Manage in Public Governance


Participate and Contribute to the Policy Process


Analyze, Synthesize, Solve Problems and Make Decisions


Articulate and Apply Public Service Perspectives


Communicate and Interact with Workforce and Citizenry


Ratio of Total Instruction in Competencies to Amount Needed


V. Number of Microeconomics, Macroeconomics or Quantitative

      Methods Courses taken by Typical Student

Economic Analysis


Fiscal, Monetary and Tax Policy; Financial Sector and Pensions


Quantitative Methods




Ratio of Quantitative Courses to Total Courses Required


Sum of Tools and Skills and Management Functions


Sum of Institutions and Context and Policy Sectors


Source: At related sites (accessed 21 February 2015).

Page Created By: Ian Clark on 21 February 2015. Updating and editing may consist of substantive and/or formatting changes. Unless otherwise noted, however, information regarding a program's structure, curricular offerings and PEACO score is based on the program as it was on the date of page creation. The content presented on this page, except for the assignments of courses to Atlas subjects, the Instructional Distribution analysis, and the Commentary is drawn directly from the source(s) cited above, and consists of direct quotations or close paraphrases.

Carolina MPA Course Map
 C o u r s e s  O f f e r e d,  l i s t e d  b y  P u b l i c  P o l i c y  a n d  M a n a g e m e n t  S u b j e c t

Analysis and Skills

 Policy Management and Analysis

  PUBA 710 Organization Theory (R)
  PUBA 719 PA Analysis and Evaluation I (R)
  PUBA 725 Collaborative Governance

 Economic Analysis

  PUBA 732 Economics for Public Administrators
  PUBA 780-004 Public Finance Reform

 Quantitative Methods

  PUBA 720 PA Analysis and Evaluation II (R)

 Analytic Methods

  PUBA 740 Decision Analysis

 Leadership Skills

  PUBA 711 Public Service Leadership (R)
  PUBA 768 Mediation Skills
  PUBA 769 Facilitation Skills

 Communication Skills

  PUBA 721 Professional Communications (R)

 Professional Practice

  PUBA 745 Professional Work Experience (R)
  PUBA 746 MPA Portfolio (R)

Institutions and Context

 Democratic Institutions and Policy Process

  PUBA 709 PA Institutions and Values (R)
  PUBA 760 Law for Public Administration (R)
  PUBA 722 Politics of the Administrative Process
  PUBA 762 Administrative Law Development and Applications
  PUBA 780-006 State Government

 Ethics, Rights and Accountability

  PUBA 749-001 Ethical and Effective Public Administration: A Capstone Paper Perspective

 Social and Political Context

 Intergovernmental and Global Context

  PUBA 778 Intergovernmental Relations

Management Functions

 Public Financial Management

  PUBA 731 Public Financial Management (R)
  PUBA 730 Government and Nonprofit Accounting and Reporting
  PUBA 765 Budget Planning and Financial Management

 Evaluation and Performance Measurement

  PUBA 780-002 Grant Writing and Evaluation

 Human Resource Management

  PUBA 723 Human Resource Management (R)

 Information Management and Technology

  PUBA 733 Strategic Information Technology Management

 Program and Service Delivery

  PUBA 780-003 Managing Local Government Services

 Regulatory Policy and Management

 Nonprofit Management and Advocacy

  PUBA 756 Nonprofit Management
  PUBA 757 Financial Management of Nonprofit Organizations

Policy Sectors

 Macroeconomic Policy

 International Development

 Social Policy and Welfare



 Employment, Labour and Immigration

 Cities, Urban and Regional Development

  PUBA 751 City and County Management
  PUBA 752 Productivity Improvement in Local Government
  PUBA 758 Navigating Nonprofit-Local Government Relationships
  PUBA 761 Local Government Law
  PUBA 770 Politics of Community Economic Development
  PUBA 771 Managing Economic Development
  PUBA 780A Community Revitalization Techniques
  PUBA 780B Community Revitalization Applied

 Environment and Sustainability

 Agriculture and Resources

 Science, Technology and Innovation

 Industry, Trade and Investment

 Energy, Transport and Infrastructure

 Defence, Security and Foreign Relations

 Policing and Justice Administration

 Arts and Culture

 Financial Markets

 Other Policy Sectors

Important Notices
© University of Toronto 2008
School of Public Policy and Governance