Combined BA or BS and MPA Pathway

Admission to a combined pathways program at Florida State University and/or in the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy allows students to share, or double-count, up to 12 graduate credit hours between a bachelor’s and master’s degree, both earned at FSU. Students who choose to pursue a degree at another institution are not guaranteed the ability to transfer graduate coursework earned as part of a combined pathways program at FSU to count in that other institution’s program(s).

For specific information on the requirements for the MPA degree, and for its several specializations, see the MPA Handbook, available here.

What is the combined BS or BS and MPA Pathway Program?

Qualified students in any undergraduate major who are accepted into the combined pathway program may take up to 12 hours of graduate courses in public administration that will count for completion of both their bachelor’s degree and the professional MPA degree. Completion of any combination of 12 hours in public administration, taken at either the undergraduate or graduate level, will count toward an undergraduate minor. The Askew School does not offer an undergraduate major, but students in majors such as Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Political Science, or International Affairs who can apply undergraduate courses in public administration toward their majors may take corresponding graduate level courses that will count toward both their major and the MPA degree requirements.

For inexperienced students, completing the MPA degree normally requires completion of 42 credit hours of graduate study, following receipt of the bachelor’s degree. Students who complete 12 hours of graduate credits in public administration while still undergraduates and who take can complete the MPA degree by taking 30 graduate credit hours following the receipt of their bachelor’s degree.

Future Demand for MPA Graduates

About 27% of persons in the U.S. workforce work for either governments or not-for-profit organizations. The Master of Public Administration degree prepares graduates to become managers or analysts at all levels of government – local, state, federal, and international – and in domestic nonprofit organizations or international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). In governments, MPA graduates work as managers and analysts in executive agencies, as staff members for legislatures, and as court administrators. Many of our graduates also become managers in for-profit businesses, especially those that deal closely with governments.

Future demand for managers and analysts in government and related organizations is expected to be strong. In the federal government, especially, large portions of the “baby boom” workforce are expected to retire in the near future. Fields like procurement will be especially hard hit by the exodus of experienced professionals who will need to be replaced by newly graduated professionals. Jobs in local governments tend to increase in line with local population growth, so opportunities at the local level have historically been strong in Florida. The nonprofit sector has been one of the strongest sectors of our economy in recent decades in creation of new jobs. The nonprofit sector is especially well suited to students with an entrepreneurial spirit. Whether they plan to work in nonprofits, in governments, or elsewhere, MPA students tend to be people who want to do something meaningful in their lives and to make a difference.

What is the reputation of FSU’s MPA Program?

FSU’s MPA program was established in 1946. It was one of the first in the nation to become accredited. Most of its faculty members are former practitioners. Published studies, starting in the 1980s and into the present decade, have revealed that the faculty of the Askew School has ranked consistently in the top ten nationally (of more than two hundred programs) in number of refereed publications.

How does obtaining an MPA Degree make sense for someone in my major?

Since its inception, FSU’s MPA degree program has served students with undergraduate degrees from across the campus. Here are some ways in which undergraduate studies in various majors relate to graduate studies in public administration.

Liberal Arts/Social Sciences Majors:
A majority of our students come from liberal arts and social sciences majors. Those majors typically prepare students to think critically and to write well, but do not provide students with specific knowledge about managing people, money, and information or about actually doing analysis to inform top decision makers. Our students from liberal arts and social sciences undergraduate programs typically take advantage of one of the MPA program’s specializations to develop specific “craft” knowledge and skills in subject areas like the management of not-for-profit organizations, local government management, budgeting and financial management, procurement, emergency management, health policy, policy analysis, and human resource management.

International Affairs Majors:
Most jobs in international settings require managerial and analytical skills and knowledge in addition to knowledge of local history, language, and culture. For example, a person who works for a nongovernmental organization in developing countries is likely to need to know how to design projects, develop budgets, manage contracts, and supervise people. Those skills are taught in our MPA degree program. Internationally oriented students in the MPA program sometimes do additional graduate studies in international affairs as a part of their MPA degree program of studies.

Science and Engineering Majors:
Most recipients of degrees in science and engineering start their careers doing work, in the field or in laboratories, that is closely related to their undergraduate field of study. As they progress in their careers, they typically find that they become supervisors and higher-level executives who also need to know how to manage complex organizations. Many come back to MPA degree programs in mid-career. For undergraduates in science or engineering, the combined pathway program is a way to prepare for long-term success in the higher ranks of their future organizations.

Fine Arts Majors:
Many arts-related organizations such as museums are nonprofit organizations. They often work closely with federal and state cultural affairs organizations. The combined pathway program enables students who major in the arts and humanities to learn how to manage these kinds of organizations.

Other Majors:
Graduates from other majors often find that the MPA degree fits their needs well. Persons with undergraduate degrees in business and accounting, for example, find that studying public administration helps them to better understand how to apply their knowledge as managers and analysts in government and nonprofit organizations. Our purpose is to prepare graduates to eventually assume positions of high responsibility. Because we emphasize the development of both management and policy analysis skills, the Florida State MPA degree is a graduate professional degree that can be put to good use in a wide variety of settings.

How does someone apply to enroll in the Combined Pathway Program?

Acceptance to this pre-graduate program is competitive. To enroll in the Askew School’s entry-level graduate classes, accepted students must have senior status or be honors students with junior status. Applications will only be considered from undergraduates who have a cumulative undergraduate grade point average of at least 3.2 in all prior studies at FSU. Application forms, which may be obtained from the Askew School, are to be submitted to the School’s Academic Support Specialist. Accepted students will receive a letter of acceptance from the Askew School and will then have to obtain a form from the Registrar’s Office. They will not be able to register for graduate credits without obtaining proper signatures on that form. Accepted undergraduates may then enroll for up to 12 hours in courses that are either core or elective courses in the MPA program. Advice in selecting core and elective courses may be sought from the Academic Support Specialist, school director or any other faculty member.

Does acceptance into the Combined Pathway Program assure admission to the Graduate MPA Degree Program?

Acceptance of undergraduate students into the undergraduate stage of the combined pathway program does not assure admission to the graduate school or to the MPA degree program. Students accepted to the pre-graduate program should subsequently make formal applications for admission to the graduate school and the MPA degree program during their senior year. The performance of accepted undergraduate students in the graduate-level courses they take will be an important factor in deciding admission to the MPA degree program. Grades below B- are not allowed to count for the combined pathway program, although they can be counted towards the student’s BA or BS degree.

Can a student in the Combined Pathways Program participate in any of the Joint Graduate Pathways of the school?

Students in the Combined Pathways Program are not allowed to participate in the Joint Graduate Pathways programs. Once students have graduated from the Combined Pathways Program, they should apply to the standalone MPA program.

Which Graduate-Level courses are open to undergraduate students who are accepted into the Combined Pathway Program?

Undergraduate students who are accepted for the combined pathway program may enroll in any graduate level (e.g. 5xxx or 6xxx level) course taught by the School that does not have a graduate course prerequisite. Students must be fully admitted to the graduate school and the MPA degree program before they will be allowed to enroll for any 5xxx or 6xxx level courses with prerequisites. Students should seek advice prior to enrolling in an elective course to assure that the course makes sense in light of their own career aspirations.