Master of Public Administration (MPA)

NASPAA Logo - School of Public Affairs

The master’s degree program in Public Administration (MPA) at the University of New Mexico was established in 1969 and is accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA). The program is proud to serve a highly diverse student body. The School of Public Administration has the highest percentage of minority students of any graduate degree program at the University of New Mexico.  

Mission Statement

The MPA program prepares students to enter leadership and management positions and advance their positions in federal, state, local, tribal, nonprofit, and international agencies. Students acquire critical knowledge and skills to help them address ethical, equity, and managerial challenges in a complex and diverse world.

Course Formats 

The MPA program is offered in both traditional and synchronous-online formats. To accommodate mid-career professionals, all of our classes are offered in the evening and on Saturdays.  

Program Characteristics (Fall 2019)


The UNM MPA program is more selective in its admissions than the average of NASPAA accredited programs that reported data for the 2017-2018 academic year (which includes the education performance of 219 accredited programs and ten programs seeking accreditation) and more successful in attracting admitted applicants to enroll in our program:


Admission & Enrollment 

As a result of efforts to increase graduation of students over the past three years, the MPA program achieved record enrollment and produced a record number of graduates:

Chart 1

We enroll a highly diverse student body. Data shown in the charts below are typical for the student body as a whole. Female students make up two-thirds to three-quarters of our enrollment. The age range is broad, but the average age has been decreasing in recent years as more students enter the program directly after completing a bachelor’s degree.

Chart 2Time to Degree

Students taking on an average of 12 to 15 credit hours per year will finish the program in three to three-and-a-half years. An examination of student records reveals this pattern to be true for those who successfully complete the program in that period. Students will take 12 to 15 credit hours per year, often in three semesters.

Those who do not finish within the three- to four-year period, typically consist of students whose work/family life require them to proceed at a slower pace at 9 to 12 credit hours per year. Most of these students finish within a four to five-year period.


Our faculty size is typical of NASPAA-accredited programs:

Faculty Presence

Learning Outcome Assessment

Each Spring, we measure students’ achievement of specific learning outcomes in our core courses, to see how effective we are in achieving the competencies expected for program graduates.  This assessment information is evaluated by the faculty and used to improve the design and delivery of the curriculum. These are the results of the learning outcome assessments conducted in Spring, 2017:


Student Satisfaction

Every graduate is asked to rate their satisfaction with the program at the time of their graduation. The information is used by the faculty to identify areas of both excellence and concern, and inform curricular improvements.  These are results from the past three years:

Student Satisfaction

Student Employment

Most graduates worked full time while they studied:



Employment commitments for UNM MPA students may contribute to the relatively slower rate of progress for students compared to the national average:

Graduation Rate


The School is encouraging faster degree completion by offering more assistance and options for completing the capstone requirements, and by ensuring that the courses needed for degree completion are available at optimal times and locations for working adults.

UNM MPA graduates continued their employment, or found new employment at the time of graduation, in the following fields:

Job Placement

Learning Assurance Plan


UNM SPA Mission

The mission of the School of Public Administration is to advance knowledge in support of professional education for public service, through the integration of interdisciplinary research, teaching, and service, in order to address the management challenges of an increasingly complex and diverse global environment. In pursuit of its mission, the School strives to:

  • Create a challenging learning environment marked by academic distinction where students can develop both the knowledge and skills needed to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing, complex, diverse global environment, as defined by the expectations of public and nonprofit agency leadership.
  • Enhance the knowledge and competencies of pre- and in-service students who seek professional development for effective service and leadership in all government and public sector agencies as well as with non-profit sector organizations.
  • Provide students with a firm grounding in the responsibilities, values, and ethical concerns of public service in order to better meet public and non-profit sector needs and challenges.

The School is accredited and adheres to the standards of the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA) Commission on Peer Review and Accreditation (COPRA). The standards include the following goals for student learning:

NASPAA Standard 5.1 Universal Required Competencies

As the basis for its curriculum, the program will adopt a set of required competencies related to its mission and public service values.
The required competencies will include five domains: the ability...

1) to lead and manage in public governance;

2) to participate in and contribute to the policy process;

3) to analyze, synthesize, think critically, solve problems and make decisions;

4) to articulate and apply a public service perspective;

5) to communicate and interact productively with a diverse and changing workforce and citizenry.

To achieve competency in each of these five domains, the School specifies six hierarchical categories and 22 components of Student Learning Outcomes (SLO).

UNM MPA Student Learning Outcomes and Associated NASPAA Domains

1) MPA graduates will demonstrate knowledge of...

a) Organizational behavior (NASPAA 1)

b) Human resource management (NASPAA 1)

c) Public budgeting and financial management (NASPAA 1)

d) Strategic planning and strategic management (NASPAA 1)

e) Program evaluation and performance measurement (NASPAA 1 & 2)

f) Comparative and case analysis (NASPAA 3)

g) Information and network management (NASPAA 3)

2) MPA graduates will demonstrate the ability to identify...

a) Organizational challenges (NASPAA 3 & 4)

3) MPA graduates will analyze policies and programs by applying appropriate...

a) Information technology and data management tools (NASPAA 3)

b) Quantitative and/or qualitative analysis methods (NASPAA 3)

c) Ethical research standards (NASPAA 4 & 5)

4) MPA graduates will appropriately and effectively apply...

a) Management theory and organizational analysis (NASPAA 1 & 3)

5) MPA graduates will demonstrate a nuanced understanding of...

a) Public, private, and non-profit sector interactions (NASPAA 4)

b) Managing diversity in the global environment (NASPAA 5)

6) MPA graduates will demonstrate excellent...

a) Verbal communication ability (NASPAA 4 & 5)

b) Written (expository and analytical) communication ability (NASPAA 4 & 5)

Competencies are learned through face-to-face and distance delivery courses, internships, guided studies, and capstone projects or theses. Additional learning takes place through extra-curricular and supplemental activities such as lectures, clubs, Graduate Resource Center (GRC) tutoring and classes, and similar use of university and community resources.

Methods of SLO Assessment

Direct measures for each SLO component are obtained from embedded core course assessments and associated scoring conventions and from the standardized thesis or capstone project scoring matrix.
The performance target for the current three year period is for 75% of students to achieve satisfactory (basic competence) or better performance on each SLO. Student performance in each required course is sampled one time per year, in either Fall or Spring semester.

Additional Learning Assessment Methods and Measures

Indirect information regarding the achievement of the program’s learning outcomes is obtained using the following measures and methods:

1) Employment of graduates

  • At entry to program
  • At graduation
  • Three years after graduation

2) Time to degree

  • % graduating within three years of first enrollment
  • % graduating within four years % graduating within seven years

3) Perceptions/opinions of curriculum and instruction quality as effective preparation for the knowledge, skills, responsibilities, and values required for students’ employment

4) Perceptions/opinions of improvements needed


1) Enrollment data review

2) Course record review (grading patterns, enrollment, completion rates)

3) Student evaluations of courses, per university mandate

4) Annual faculty meeting devoted to learning outcomes review

5) Other faculty meeting discussions

6) Annual consultation with Advisory Board or similar community focus group

7) Tri-annual surveys of current students, alumni and employers

8) Student exit surveys each semester

9) Annual faculty performance reviews

    • Peer evaluations of teaching
    • Self-reflection on teaching
Each Fall semester, a dedicated faculty meeting is held to review assessment data collected in the previous academic year. The faculty may elect to make immediate changes if they identify opportunities for improvement that can be implemented right away or propose larger strategic initiatives that can be elaborated in subsequent semesters. In addition, the SPA Curriculum Committee uses the assessment information in its on-going review and improvement of the curriculum.


For additional information

MPA Program Coordinator