Master of Arts in Public Administration

Frequently Asked Questions


1. What do I gain from earning the MPA?

The MPA at CSUF allows you to bring your public/nonprofit sector experience to the classroom to expand your knowledge and understanding of the field. Our program's longevity means that we have hundreds and hundreds of alumni across Southern California; they, along with your student colleagues, will provide an amazing array of networking opportunities. Finally, an MPA from CSUF tells your employer (or future employers) that you are a dedicated professional, committed to the values of public service.

2. Is this a good MPA program?

Yes! It is nationally accredited by NASPAA, it is more rigorous than other comparable programs, and over 70% of our alumni recently reported that their MPA was "very" or "extremely" important to them in their careers. It is especially valuable to those working in Orange County, as it was the only program in Orange County PA for over 30 years. Many of our alumni can be found in management across the county, cities and other public and nonprofit entities in our region.

3. I have an undergraduate degree in an unrelated field.

While a Bachelor's in public administration or business will benefit you, neither is a requirement for admission. Our students come from every academic background-- from engineering to communications to sociology to public health. We look for intelligent people with an interest in better management of the public sector. However, we do have required prerequisites in American Government, Statistics and Economics. See course catalog for more details.

4. Is this program designed for working professionals like me?

Yes! Most of our classes are once a week from 7:00-9:45pm, and others are offered in the late afternoon. We appreciate the rich conversations facilitated by students who discuss their career experiences in class; it is part of the learning environment that makes CSUF's MPA program so special.

5. How much does it cost per year?

Here's a detailed breakdown of the annual costs:

Cost of Degree

Tuition Cost

Tuition Fees for Academic Year 2022-2023:

Type Cost
Part Time (0-6 units per semester) $2,716/semester
Full Time (7 or more units per semester) $4,222/semester
Non-Resident Tuition Fee $396.00 / Semester Unit

If you are not a resident of California, you must add $396.00 to your registration and tuition fees for each unit of credit you take.

Financial Aid Availability

Comprehensive information on financial aid availability can be found at the Office of Financial Aid:

From time to time, the Division of Politics, Administration & Justice offers assistantships for graduate students. For more information about this, contact the MPA Coordinator.

6. I have not been in school for a long time. Can I do this?

We regard real world experience as a plus. Most of our students are working and/or have been out of school for some time.

7. What are the other students like?

The average student works full-time in the public sector or in a non-profit organization and is looking to further his/her career, gain new academic experience or become an expert in the field. You can find out more about recent graduates of the program on our Students & Alumni page.

8. How long will it take to complete my MPA?

The MPA is a 39 unit degree (13 classes). Since most students are enrolled part-time, it takes an average of 3 years to complete.

9. Does the MPA require a thesis?

Nearly all of our students finish their MPA with a set of comprehensive exams, administered each January. A thesis option offered in extremely rare circumstances.

10. Where can I get general advice on careers?

The CSUF Career Center is located in Langsdorf Hall 208 and is open to all students. They provide assessment tests, career counseling services and research material to all students. You may call 657 278-3121 for more information. You will also find a list of jobs on the Public Administration board in the hallway.

11. How do I find out about jobs in the public sector?

Most local governments now post job openings on their websites. A list of these websites can be found on the resources page on this site.

12. ADMISSIONS: What semesters are students admitted to the program?

Students are normally admitted in the Spring and the Fall. Admissions for Spring typically open on August 1st and for Fall on October 1st. 

13. How do I apply to the MPA program?

Please visit our Admission's page.

14. Can I apply before I finish my BA?

Yes, but the BA must be completed by the time you start the graduate program.

15. Are there any prerequisite courses?

There are three prerequisites: American Government or US History; Economics; Research Methods or Statistics. American Government or US History must be completed before taking any MPA course. The other prerequisites may be taken during the first two semesters in the program. In order to count, courses must be taken at an accredited college, university, or community college and students must earn a “C” or better.

16. What are the entry requirements?

Our minimum requirement for GPA is a 2.75. The average GPA of our accepted students is 3.3. For all students, we look at your grades in the last 60 units, how well you performed in your major, any experience in the public sector, your GRE scores (if supplied), and the quality of your written statement of purpose. The higher your grades, the less we will need to weigh your supporting documents. Given the nature of our program, priority is given to those with experience in the public/nonprofit sector.

17. Can I transfer from another master program?

Yes, students may transfer up to 18 units of coursework from another graduate degree program, however, you must be admitted to the program first before any courses transfer, and the courses must comparable to the coursework here.

18. When are the closing dates for applying to the program?

Admissions for the fall semester start October 1st and typically end in mid-April. We also admit for the spring term beginning August 1st, ending October 1st. In both spring and fall, the closing date may be flexible. The best advice is to apply early and check CSU Mentor for more details.

19. When are the closing dates for applying to the program?

If you are an international student, you must have a score of 570 (paper) or 230 (computer based) on the TOEFL exam, in addition to the other requirements. The TOEFL code for CSUF is 4589. Students who feel their English is not yet up to this level often do a semester in our English as a Foreign Language Program before commencing graduate classes. More information for international students can be found at: