Prospective MPA students

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Why the MPA degree?

The Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree is the preferred degree if you are seeking a career in public service. The MPA degree prepares students to be effective leaders, managers, and analysts in a wide range of public and nonprofit agencies and is universally recognized by prospective public and nonprofit employers.

 Nonprofit career expo

Why the UTC MPA degree?

The UTC MPA program offers several strengths:

  • Our courses focus on equipping students with the knowledge and skills that they will need in their careers.  This certainly includes learning important theories about different aspects of public administration because these theories are important tools for making sense of the complex tasks faced by public administrators.  We are mindful, though, that we are not a “pre-Ph.D.” program.  While students interested in pursuing doctorates are well prepared for that path, our primary purpose is preparing students for skillful public service.
  • All of our faculty are qualified both academically and through diverse professional experience as public administration practitioners.  None of our courses are taught by graduate students.
  • The Chattanooga region is a great classroom.  The area is known for innovations in local government management, a robust nonprofit sector, and creative collaboration among the region’s government, nonprofit, and for-profit sectors.  (And Chattanooga is a great place to live, too!)
  • Our MPA students have the opportunity to prepare and test for the Certified Municipal Finance Officer exam, which opens up many opportunities for students interested in local government management.
  • We offer a predictable schedule that meets the needs of students who work traditional 8-5 jobs and enables all of our students to chart a clear path to program completion, whether in two years for our full-time students or longer for our part-time students.  Review of completion rates for the 2012 fall semester cohort shows that 38% of students completed the program in two academic years, and 69% graduated within three academic years.
  • Our classes are quite small, generally ranging from 8 to 15 students, giving students access to their professors and cultivating a rich, interactive, supportive learning community.
  • The UTC MPA program is the only NASPAA-accredited program in east Tennessee, providing assurance that the program has met rigorous, globally recognized standards for quality.


view of UTC campus and townWhere do our graduates work?

The post-graduate experiences of our alumni demonstrate the wide applicability of the MPA degree.  Graduates of UTC’s Master of Public Administration program find careers in a variety of settings, ranging from leadership positions in nonprofit agencies, to city and county management, to health care and insurance organizations, to local and regional planning. Some serve in higher education administration while others go on to doctoral studies and careers in academia. Some have built careers serving with the federal government or in the private sector.  The table below summarizes the employment outcomes of our graduates from 2014 through 2016.

Employment sector 2014
Federal or state government 17% 18% 40% 24%
Local government 8 9 10 9
Nonprofit 33 18 40 30
For-profit 33 27 10 24
Unknown 8 27 0 12


Learn more about our graduates’ diverse public service careers in our alumni spotlights.


Cost and financial assistance

The costs of earning the MPA degree vary according to the number of hours taken per semester, course delivery mode, and residency status. In-state status is granted to residents of some northwest Georgia and northeast Alabama counties.  The UTC Bursar's Office maintains the current fee schedule.

Financial aid may be available to qualified students.  The UTC Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships provides financial aid information specifically for graduate students.

A limited number of scholarships are awarded by the graduate school.

Graduate assistantships are awarded to qualified students on a competitive basis. Graduate assistants receive a stipend and fee waiver and work 10 or 20 hours per week assisting faculty with research and other tasks. The graduate assistant application (pdf) is available from the graduate school and should be submitted directly to the MPA program coordinator at Applications may be submitted at any time, but the priority deadline is April 2 for the following academic year.

 UTC library

Admission requirements and how to apply

Applicants to the MPA program must be admitted to the UTC Graduate School and meet the following requirements:

  • Hold a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college or university.
  • Have a minimum grade point average of 2.7 (based on a 4.0 scale) on all undergraduate work taken prior to receiving the baccalaureate degree or 3.0 in the senior year or qualify for special admission by earning a B+ average in at least 9 credit hours of 3000- or 4000-level approved courses since graduation.
  • Submit GRE test scores (not over 5 years old), including a minimum 3.5 on the Analytical Writing component. The GRE requirement is waived for applicants with an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.25.

The application process is conducted online.  Two applications are required: one application to the Graduate School at and one application to the MPA program.

The application process is supported by our program’s liaison in the Graduate School, Jessica Dickerson.  Please feel free to contact Ms. Dickerson at with any questions about the admissions process.


Application review process

Applications are first reviewed by the UTC Graduate School. Once approved for admission to the Graduate School, applications are forwarded to the MPA Program Coordinator for review. Applications are reviewed based on the applicant’s statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, undergraduate GPA, GRE scores, and relevant professional experience.

Every successful applicant will have a statement of purpose that demonstrates a good fit with the UTC MPA program’s mission and curriculum and supportive letters of recommendation written by professional and academic references.

Having met these requirements, the following applicant profiles usually receive a favorable decision:

  • Undergraduate GPA > 3.25, OR
  • Undergraduate GPA > 3.0 (or > 3.33 in final 60 credits) + GRE Analytical Writing > 3.5 + GRE Verbal and Quantitative > 40th percentile, OR
  • Previous completion of another graduate program at a regionally accredited college or university

Applicants not meeting the above GPA and GRE standards may still be considered for provisional admission as space permits. Students with a provisional admission must enroll in at least 6 credits of MPA coursework during their first semester and complete all attempted courses with a grade of A or B to continue in the program. This route gives both the faculty and the student the opportunity to make sure the student is a good fit with the program. Applicants with the following profiles will be considered for provisional admission and are encouraged to apply:

  • Undergraduate GPA > 3.0 (or > 3.33 in final 60 credits) + GRE Analytical Writing > 3.5 + GRE Verbal and Quantitative > 20th percentile, OR
  • Undergraduate GPA > 2.7 + GRE Analytical Writing > 3.5 + GRE Verbal and Quantitative > 40th percentile, OR
  • Undergraduate GPA > 2.7 + GRE Analytical Writing > 3.5 + GRE Verbal and Quantitative > 20th percentile + > 2 years of public service management or analytic professional experience

Applicants who meet all admissions requirements except the minimum 3.5 on the GRE Analytical Writing exam may request an alternative writing exam from the MPA Program Coordinator by emailing   

The MPA faculty’s decision is communicated to the Graduate School, who then notifies the applicant of the final decision and provides information about advising and course registration to admitted students.

While not a condition for admission, applicants should be aware that an undergraduate statistics course is a prerequisite for a core MPA course typically taken during the first fall semester. Applicants without this prerequisite are encouraged to take an undergraduate statistics course before enrolling to ensure timely progress in the program. The UTC Department of Political Science and Public Service offers a summer online statistics course that meets this prerequisite.