Kent State University: Distance Learning Programs In-Depth

views updated

Kent State University

Department of Political Science

Master of Public Administration Program

Kent, Ohio


The M.P.A. program provides an advanced online degree for students pursuing management careers in the public or nonprofit sectors. Current students include individuals already working in the field who are seeking professional advancement, and those who wish to establish themselves in such a career. The Web-based program follows the same requirements as the traditional degree program but is designed to be more convenient and accessible for students who are balancing multiple responsibilities or are beyond commuting distance from the campus. Kent State also welcomes individuals with physical disabilities, and has expertise in the use of a variety of adaptive technologies for making Web courses accessible. The small size of the program (about 50 students) permits personal attention in terms of advising and student-instructor interaction. The program is housed in the Department of Political Science, which also has an M.A./Ph.D. program in public policy.


The Kent M.P.A. online degree program incorporates the latest state-of the-art methods of delivery. In addition to the asynchronous methods used in most online programs (such as lectures posted on the Web site), the Kent M.P.A. program has synchronous features that allow students to participate in live sessions from their homes, with real-time audio-conferencing, an electronic blackboard, document sharing, and a Web browser that students and instructor can use and view simultaneously. Streaming video is also available, and live sessions are recorded for later use.

The Kent M.P.A. online degree program is distinctive because it is specifically designed to comply with federal ADA/Section 508 requirements to accommodate persons with various physical disabilities. Assistive technology is available throughout the program for students with disabilities who live in northeast Ohio. Prospective students should contact the M.P.A. coordinator for further information.


All core courses for the M.P.A. program are available online and a number of electives are also available on the Web. The required 45 credit hours for the degree consist of ten core courses (30 hours), three electives (9 hours), and an internship or final project (6 hours). For those who choose electives not available online, some or all of the electives may be transferred from other accredited institutions, subject to approval by the department and the University.

Core courses include administrative theory and leadership, budgeting, critical issues, management information systems, methods, program evaluation, public finance, public management concepts, public personnel management, and strategic planning.

Elective courses may be individually chosen with the approval of an adviser, or may be taken from designated courses in one of five areas of concentration: budgeting and finance, municipal management, non-profit management, nursing management, and public safety. Students can also customize their electives by selecting courses across or outside these areas of concentration.

The internship or final project requires students to use the skills they have learned in course work. Students who are already working in the field develop a project and write a final paper in consultation with an adviser and their present employer. Those who are currently not working in a public or nonprofit sector job are placed in an internship and required to write a related paper, unless alternative arrangements are made for completion of the final project.


The Kent M.P.A. program is a contractor with the state of Ohio Department of Human Services (ODHS). Current ODHS employees are eligible for tuition reimbursement through the TOPS program.

Kent State University is Ohio's second-largest university, with more than 34,000 students located on eight campuses. The University is one of ninety colleges and universities in the country to earn the Carnegie Foundation's designation of Doctoral/Research University–Extensive. Kent State is also a national leader in the use of educational technology, ranking among Yahoo's Most Wired Colleges five years in a row (thirty-first in 2001). The University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association. The Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.) degree is fully accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration, and is one of only a handful of programs with such accreditation to offer an online degree.

A joint Master of Science of Nursing/Master of Public Administration is also available online, and more information about this program is available from the M.P.A. coordinator.


A University help desk is available to provide technical assistance via telephone and the Internet.

Course materials are available online through the library's electronic reserves system.

All students have library privileges for Kent's eight campuses and Ohiolink, a statewide consortium of university libraries. Kentlink and Ohiolink feature a number of research databases and electronic journals. For more information on the library and Ohiolink, students may visit the Web at Reference librarians are available online and via telephone seven days a week and during extended hours.

Web for Students provides real-time access to admission, financial aid, and tuition-payment transactions.

Academic advising and career placement are available to all students, although job placement information and internships are most plentiful for northeast Ohio.


Students may transfer up to 12 graduate credit hours from other accredited institutions, upon approval from the department and the University. Credits must be no more than six years old at the time the M.P.A. degree is conferred, and a grade of B or better is required.

Nondegree options are available for students who wish to take a few graduate courses. If nondegree students decide to enter the M.P.A. program later, they may request that up to 12 hours of credit be applied toward the degree.


Five full-time and 4 part-time faculty members teach courses in the online M.P.A. program. Five of the online instructors have doctorates, 1 is a Juris Doctor, and the remaining 3 have other graduate degrees. Both full-time and part-time faculty members have experience working in public and nonprofit sector agencies.


Kent's M.P.A. program requires a minimum GPA of 2.75 and scores of 450 or better on all sections of the GRE. Conditional admission is considered under some circumstances. The admission decision is based on an over-all view of the applicant's experience, goals, motivation, skills, academic record, and test scores. For students from non-English speaking countries, a TOEFL score of at least 525 on the paper-based exam is required (197 on the computer-based exam).


Current tuition is $334 per graduate credit hour for Ohio residents, and $627 per graduate credit hour for nonresidents. Because tuition is subject to change, applicants should consult the University's Web site at for the latest information.


A limited number of graduate assistantships are available in the M.P.A. program, and are awarded competitively. Distance learning students are eligible if they can attend as full-time students and work 20 hours a week on campus. Students may be eligible for other financial aid, including grants and loans. For more information, applicants should consult the University's financial aid Web site at Installment payment plans are also available through the bursar's office.


Applicants are required to submit an application (available online at the Web site listed in the Contact section; click on the Application and Admission selection) along with a $30 fee. Admission decisions are based on the applicant's transcripts, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, writing sample, and letter of intent (including the student's goals and background). Information about admission for international students can be found on the Web at The University requires that applications be submitted at least six weeks prior to the beginning of the semester, but students are strongly encouraged to submit applications earlier.

At the beginning of each semester, the department provides an on-campus orientation for new M.P.A. students, so that they become familiar with available services and expectations for graduate study. The orientation includes an introduction to the technology and Web site used in the online program. Alternative arrangements can be made for those who are unable to make it to the orientation, although students are strongly urged to attend.


Karen Mossberger, Ph.D.
M.P.A. Coordinator
Department of Political Science
302 Bowman Hall
Kent State University
Kent, Ohio 44242
Telephone: 330-672-8942 or 2060
Fax: 330-672-3362
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site:

Students who would like more information about whether online courses are appropriate for them can consult the questionnaire on the Web at For further information on admissions, curriculum, and other topics, prospective students should contact the M.P.A. coordinator or visit the M.P.A. program home page at the Web site listed below.

About this article

Kent State University: Distance Learning Programs In-Depth

Updated About content Print Article


Kent State University: Distance Learning Programs In-Depth