Degree Requirements and Curriculum

Two courses per semester is recommended, but you may take more with permission from the faculty director. Summer courses are offered, too. Students in our program are able to juggle their careers, family obligations, and coursework — find the right balance for you.  

Receive credit for your professional experience

You may be eligible to receive credit for the experiential component—typically three to six hours—for prior professional and military experience (PPE) or volunteer service in Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, or Teach for America. 

Learn more about PPE

Course, elective, and experiential component details

The O’Neill Online MPA curriculum begins with 10 required core courses (24 credits)—your foundation to move up in the public affairs field:

  • Managing and Leading Public Affairs (3 credits)
  • Social Equity and Justice (1.5 credits)
  • Designing and Managing Complex Projects (1.5 credits)
  • Statistical Analysis for Effective Decision Making (3 credits)
  • Evidence-Based Decision Making (1.5 credits)
  • Public Management Economics (3 credits)
  • Rights and Responsibilities: How Law Shapes Public Affairs (1.5 credits)
  • Public Policy Process (3 credits)*
  • Comparative and International Policy Process (3 credits)*
  • Public Finance and Budgeting (3 credits)
  • Capstone (3 credits)

*Students can choose to take Public Policy Process or Comparative and International Policy Process

With the help of the faculty director, you will design an advanced curriculum of at least five electives that is suitable for your professional goals. You may need to take more than five, depending on the number of credits you receive from your experiential component, to meet the 48 credits required for the degree.

One of your electives can be the optional, weeklong residential program held at our Bloomington, Indiana, campus in early August.

Electives include: 

  • F526 Financial Management for Nonprofit Orgs
  • F542 Governmental Financial Accounting and Reporting
  • F609 Seminar in Revenue Theory and Administration
  • F610 Government Budgeting and Program Analysis
  • F667 Seminar in Public Capital and Debt Theory
  • H549 Health Policy
  • I516 Public Management Information Systems
  • I519 Database Management Systems (tentatively first offered spring 2023)
  • L563 Community Development
  • L564 Local Government Management
  • M561 Public Human Resource Management
  • M575 Comparative Public Management
  • M602 Strategic Management of Public and Nonprofit Orgs
  • M654 Public Program Management and Contracting
  • N521 Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector
  • N522 Human Resource Management in Nonprofit Orgs
  • N525 Management in the Nonprofit Sector
  • N557 Proposal Development and Grant Administration
  • N558 Fund Development for Nonprofits
  • P507 Data Analysis and Modeling for Public Affairs
  • P541 Benefit Cost Analysis
  • P562 Public Program Evaluation
  • V550 Communications for Public and Nonprofit Affairs
  • V550 Designing Studies to Address Public Problems
  • V550 Environmental Policy
  • V550 Global Governance in the 21st Century
  • V550 Global Security in the 21st Century
  • V550 Marketing Management for Public and Nonprofit Orgs
  • V550 Program Planning, Design, and Implementation (Hybrid)
  • V550 Risk, Trust, Credibility, and Public Participation
  • V550 US Foreign Policy and African Development
  • V551 O’Neill Online Week - one week, in-person course

Relevant experience is key to professional growth. That’s why, as an O’Neill Online student, you must do ONE of the following:

  • Complete an approved internship
  • Receive credit for prior professional experience or volunteer service
  • Complete an independent or group research project (V590 or V601)

The amount of experiential credit students receive varies. Some choose to do an internship for three to six credits, while others join the program with significant prior experience and receive the maximum nine credits. The fewer experiential credits, the more advanced electives you must take to meet the degree requirements. 

If you’re interested in an internship, you must seek approval from the faculty director. The decision to seek credit for the internship is up to you. 

You can receive credit for the experiential component—typically three to six hours—for prior professional and military experience (PPE) or volunteer service in Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, or Teach for America. To receive PPE credit, the experience must have been:

  • Above entry level and require a college degree
  • Full time, either paid or unpaid
  • Within the last five years
  • With a single organization for at least two years
  • Explicitly related to an MPA career path

If you think you might qualify for PPE or service credit, please forward a copy of your resume for an official estimate.

Forward your resume to

Description of the video:

I am a single mother. I have three children. We spend a lot of time going multiple directions of activities and programming and school. So when I am not living the dream every day through my career, I have a lot of other things going on. O'Neill's Online MPA allows me the flexibility to navigate the program. Having the opportunity to take an in-person class or to do online is really one of the critical components of why I chose O'Neill. I always choose an in-person option if I have the ability to do so. What I realized though, was between my family and my home life and my work life and all of the expectations, I needed a flexibility that having a set class time wouldn't necessarily allow. I have been able to tailor my coursework, which has been very good given that it's been many years since I had been in undergrad. Having the opportunity to choose which classes I thought were going to be the best fit for me at that time and topics of which I already have a strong interest in made this transition back into the learning mode much easier. The instructors I've had have always been wonderful about engaging with me, whether that was through written communication, if that was through a phone call, or the online office hour option. I'm a first-gen college student and the importance of this education to me is just as important as seeing my kids education grow. It's important for them to understand that continuing their education no matter where or what age they are in life is going to continue to add value to who they are and what they bring to their communities and then their careers. This is about knowing and recognizing that we are more than ourselves as individuals and that the work that we do and the impact we have on our communities is actually what is going to change the world.