Frequently Asked Questions

General Public Policy and Administrative Questions


Broadly speaking we study public administration to prepare for professional and administrative careers in the public or nonprofit sectors.

The Graduate Center for Public Policy and Administration at California State University, Long Beach offers a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree.

The MPA is considered a gateway degree for a career in public service.

The MPA is specifically designed to prepare people for professional and administrative careers in the public or nonprofit sectors while the MBA is more appropriate for those who are seeking careers in the private sector.

We are a fully accredited program by the Network of Schools of Public Policy Affairs and Administration (NASPAA).  All of our full-time faculty have the highest degrees in their fields from highly regarded Universities and have extensive experience in teaching, and research. Our part-time faculty members are highly respected practitioners in the region.  For over 25 years many of our graduates have attained senior managerial and leadership positions in the public and nonprofit sectors.  We have a flexible program that will permit you to design a program of study that will help you achieve your particular career goals.

Yes, most of our students work full-time. We hold classes late afternoons, early evenings, and on the weekends.

It is graduate school, can be very demanding of your time, and it may take time for you to get use to being back in school. But, if you're willing to work hard and manage your time effectively, you should be fine.  After all, we have hundreds of graduates who were in the same situation as you and they were successful.

Generally, for each hour of class time, you can expect two hours of study time per week.

Questions About Requirements

Our program requires completion of 39 units of coursework with a minimum grade point average of 3.0 and completion of a Student Learning Portfolio.  Each course is 3 units so there are 13 courses you must take.  In the case of students with no professional experience a 3 unit internship is required in addition to the 39 units.

Yes, there are six required lecture courses and two directed research, independent study courses.

No, we have no thesis requirement or comprehensive exams but we do require an applied research course that is the second course of a two-course sequence on research methodology and analysis. Also, instead of formal comprehensive exams, we have a comprehensive Student Learning Portfolio requirement.

The Application Process

There is a two-part process. First, you must apply to the University and second you must apply to the MPA program.

All graduate and post-baccalaureate applicants must file a complete graduate application as described in the graduate and post-baccalaureate admission materials at Cal State Apply.

Complete and submit the Department application (PDF), a statement of career objectives, and two letters of recommendation.

It can be a current or former professor and/or a current or former supervisor.

Fall deadline is June 1st.

Spring deadline is November 1st.

You need to apply to the following semester.

The process is the same for the Department but not for the University. First, you will need to contact the University's International Admissions Specialist in the Center for International Education. 

Admission Requirements

You will need a 3.0 in your undergraduate coursework from an accredited institution.

If you have at least a 2.5 GPA in the last 60 units of undergraduate coursework, you may be admitted by the University but not the Department.

We look at a number of factors such as where you got your undergraduate degree, the type of course you took, letters of recommendation, your statement of career objectives, and your work history.

It is very important. Prospective students who have clearly demonstrated substantial professional progress may be given extra consideration in the admission decision.

You have essentially two choices if you want to continue to try to be admitted.  First, you may continue to work on your professional progress and reapply in a year or two.  Second, you can take additional courses to increase your GPA.

They have to be upper level undergraduate or graduate courses from an accredited institution. Further, you should take courses that are related to the study of public administration such as social science courses.

No, but you may wish to take the quantitative, verbal, and analytical sections and submit the scores to the Department if you do not meet the GPA requirement.

If you have a graduate degree from an accredited graduate school, you automatically meet our GPA requirement but you must still complete the other University and Department requirements.


Planning and Managing Your MPA Education


As noted above, the program requires 39-42 units so it depends how many courses you take each term and how many terms you take course each year.  Full-time students going year round, including summer, can complete the program in a year and a half.  Part-time students usually take about three years to finish.

The University requires that students complete graduate programs in seven years.

Yes, unless you take an Educational or Medical Leave.  Students who are not enrolled for one or more semesters without an Educational or Medical Leave must reapply to the University.

If you have completed your coursework but have to finish the Student Learning Portfolio you must enroll in GS-700 to maintain your enrollment up until and including the semester you wish to graduate.

Contact Kathy Allan in the PPA Department for more information.

It depends on how fast you want to complete the program.  If you are a full-time student, you should take four courses per term.  If you are a part-time student, you should take two courses per term.

As stated above, you must take eight required courses and five electives.

Two classes have prerequisites-PPA 555 and PPA 696. Contact the Department for more information.

No, but you must take all core course prior to taking PPA 697 (Directed Research) so we recommend that you take the core courses as early as possible.

You need to get a faculty advisor and discuss with them your career goals and then develop a program of study.

Any full-time faculty member can serve as a faculty advisor. You should consult with the Graduate Advisor to help you decide on whom to ask.

Yes, you can take any electives in any other departments at the University as long as they are 500 or above level courses, relate to public policy and administration and approved by your faculty advisor.

No, there is no difference in our program between a 500 and 600 level course although in some other departments there may be.


Graduation Requirements and Procedures


First, you must make sure that you have satisfied all the program requirements as stated above for the MPA and University (see the University Catalog for details). Master’s students must have an approved advancement to candidacy on file. Second, at the same time that you submit your Advancement to Candidacy form, you should Apply to Graduate with Enrollment Services.

Please refer to the Advancement to Candidacy form found on the Student Handbooks & Forms page. It is your MPA program plan.

You can get the form on the Student Handbooks & Forms page.

You should meet with your faculty advisor and discuss your proposed program plan. Once you both have agreed on a program plan, complete the form and return it to your faculty advisor.

You can file for advancement to candidacy after you have completed six units of coursework with at least a 3.0 GPA . In fact, it is highly recommended that you start the process as soon as you have satisfied the requirements for advancement to candidacy.

The Department and University websites contain all the information you will need.