USC Price campus

MPA Program Learning Objectives

To accomplish our mission of developing collaborative and innovative leaders who manage complex organizations and act in service of the public good, USC Price commits to the following learning objectives:

  • Prepare students with skills and knowledge for effectively leading and managing organizations that ultimately serve the global public good
  • Maintain an applied and professionally oriented curriculum
  • Develop advanced professional practices and analytical skills in our students through classroom instruction and experiential learning activities
  • Prepare students to work fluidly across the public, nonprofit and business sectors
  • Create new research that advances knowledge in the governance and management of public and nonprofit organizations





The MPA curriculum focuses on two areas of managerial competency: (1) institutions and organizations and (2) analytics. Within these areas, you will combine core courses with elective coursework tailored to your area of interest to develop key skills that are relevant to your career goals.

As a student, you may select electives to develop professional expertise and pursue a certificate in either Public Policy or City and County Management.

Explore the online MPA curriculum in greater depth.


Community is an essential part of public administration, so the Price School seeks to foster a learning community for online students through two separate multiday residencies on the USC University Park Campus in Los Angeles.

As a student, you will apply the skills attained in online classes during two professional application courses, or residencies, during the program.

Professionals talking in an office with glass walls.

Both residencies require coursework assignments, to be completed during the 15-week semester, in addition to time spent on campus. Weekly coursework will include readings, class discussions and faculty engagement that helps you develop new understandings of essential public administration concepts and applications.

Residencies take place over two to three days on campus. During residencies, you will strengthen your network of peers, USC Price faculty and alumni through lectures, team-building exercises and more while working on complex issues of critical importance in public administration today.

Professional Residency

The first residency is your opportunity to engage in fellowship and community-building by meeting classmates, faculty, coaches and alumni. You will be introduced to tools for success in the MPA program and practical skills relevant to online learning. Topics covered include digital literacy, working in groups, research, writing and analysis.

Capstone Residency

The second residency complements the final course, PPD 546: Capstone in Public Administration, and draws upon the various skills and experiences you will have acquired during the program. You will work with a team to address a specific “wicked” problem through research and present your findings in a competitive challenge.

Internship and Professional Development (1 unit course)

Required only for pre-service students with less than two years of relevant, full-time work experience.

If you enter the program with less than two years of full-time work experience, you must complete an internship of 300 hours in addition to your curriculum and residencies. If you work in the field of public administration at the time of your internship, your existing role can count toward internship credit. You will work with our Career Services staff to confirm the logistics.