At USC Price, we understand that being able to build hands-on skills and cultivate real-world connections is just as important as being able to attend courses online. To that end, our curriculum includes a capstone project at the end of the program and two residencies throughout.
The capstone is the culmination of the online Master of Public Administration program. In teams of three to four students, you will connect with senior decision-makers from local and state government, nonprofit organizations, and key public sector service providers to develop strategic solutions to real issues.
At the end of the program, you and your team will produce a project report and communications briefing for your client. You will meet with the client to present your findings, answer questions and suggest next steps.
The best project among all USC Price MPA student teams will receive a Haynes Award for academic honor (and a cash prize) at our annual Price School Awards Ceremony.
How Can the Capstone Help Me?
Your capstone is more than just a course — it’s an opportunity. During this portion of the program, you will:
Network with senior public policy and government leaders
Build tangible, hands-on skills
Examine how you can help communities create real-world solutions
It’s designed to help you move beyond theory and into application while allowing you to demonstrate a high level of competence in public administration.
Explore a Sample Project
For 2016 graduate Wai Shong Chan, translating theory into capstone-guided practice meant working with a private sector client ready to pursue opportunities in augmented reality.
Chan and her classmates were tasked with expanding augmented reality technology within a government agency. Through practical application and innovation, her team created a business plan for the emergency management sector to help responders prepare and train for any emergency situation.
Today, Wai Shong works as a public policy research analyst with the University of Alaska Anchorage.
If you’re ready to take the next step in driving positive change in your community, reach out to USC Price today.
Our program includes two in-person residencies — one at the beginning of the program and one at the end — to allow you to build hands-on skills and network with your peers in person.
The residencies take place on USC’s campus in Los Angeles and include intensive class sessions during which you will participate with faculty, peers and alumni.
This residency includes a brief orientation to our online MPA program and services available to you throughout. It also includes educational seminars focused on digital literacy, communications and writing techniques, research, quantitative methods, and more.
These seminars are delivered by the faculty who teach our courses. Beyond meeting local alumni, all your key faculty (including the dean) and your individual coach, you can use this opportunity to tour the USC campus and stop by the bookstore for Trojan gear.
This residency takes place the week before graduation and includes a capstone event where you will prepare various presentations and studios and share your best work with your peers and expert judges. Highly competitive analysis and presentation skills are rewarded with medals to be worn with graduation robes.
The experience is a final opportunity to develop andsolidify relationships with fellow students and alumni, reinforcing the USC Price professional network that you can leverage long after graduation.