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Public Administration at St. Mary’s

The Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.) program at St. Mary’s University promotes professional excellence and exposes students to classical works and methodologies in public administration. The program also emphasizes Gerencia Con Corazón — management with heart — perspectives and approaches to public service and in the pursuit of the common good. 

The Master of Public Administration seeks to fill the needs of municipalities throughout Texas and the Southwest for the training of local government and nonprofit leaders. The St. Mary’s program is one of the few in Texas with a curriculum designed to serve this mission. 

Program of Study

The Urban Management specialization focuses on how local government is administered and managed. The core courses are designed to address contemporary issues confronting urban managers, such as: 

  • Management of scarce resources 
  • Ethics and leadership 
  • Effective service delivery 

Median annual earnings of Urban and Regional Planners
Median annual earnings of Budget Analysts
Expected change in employment demand for Social and Community Service Managers over the next 10 years

Earn Multiple Degrees

In addition to separate degree programs in Law and Public Administration, the School of Law and the University also offer a joint program of study leading to the degrees of Doctor of Jurisprudence (J.D.) and Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.). The joint degree program allows students to complete the requirements for both degrees in three or four years, depending upon the public administration prerequisites required. 

The J.D./M.P.A. develops lawyers with special skills in the public and non-profit sectors. Affirmative action, natural resource utilization, land use (zoning, planning, economic development), labor disputes, the administration of justice, social service litigation, and civil rights have placed increasing importance on law in the public and non-profit sectors. For those interested in a career in government or practicing law related to the public and non-profit sectors, an advanced degree in Public Administration would be a valuable asset in their career development.

For the student with the appropriate public administration background, the degrees may be earned with the completion of a total of 108 hours of law and public administration credits, 18 hours less than the normal requirement. To satisfy the 90 hours of law for the J.D. degree and the 36 hours of public administration for the M.P.A. degree, 12 hours of law courses are transferred as elective credit to the M.P.A. degree and 6 hours of graduate public administration are transferred as elective credit toward the J.D. degree. Students credited with law courses must complete a minimum of 24 hours for the M.P.A. degree at St. Mary’s University, exclusive of prerequisites.

The first year of study consists of law courses. During the second and third years, the student completes the remaining law courses and appropriate public administration courses. Admission to the joint program requires application to both schools although application to Graduate Studies need not be made until the student begins law school.

Joint J.D./M.P.A. Degree Program
  • Combined Degree Program

    Students can pursue a combined five-year program to pursue a Bachelor’s and Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.) degree. Combined degree programs allow undergraduate students to begin graduate studies in their junior year and pay the undergraduate tuition rate, a substantial savings. They also shorten the time it takes to earn two degrees.

What can I do with an M.P.A.?

Career Opportunities

Recent graduates have careers such as:

  • Budget Analyst, City of San Antonio 
  • City Manager, City of Leon Valley 
  • City Manager, City of Victoria 
  • Director of Zoning and Land Use, City of San Antonio, Council District 7 
  • Financial Portfolio Coordinator, Tarrant County 
  • Human Resources, San Antonio Water System 
  • Management Fellow, City of San Antonio 
  • Urban Planner, City of San Antonio 

Internship Opportunities

The Frank Madla Jr. and Irma Rangel Legislative Internship Program places graduate students as full-time, unpaid legislative staff for a Texas State Representative or Texas State Senator. The program was named for two St. Mary’s alumni, the Hon. Frank Madla Jr. (B.A., ’59, M.A. ’64), 1937-2006, and the Hon. Irma Rangel (J.D. ’69), 1931-2003. Together Madla and Rangel gave Texas nearly 60 years of dedicated public service and made huge impacts on San Antonio and South Texas.

Both graduates served in the Texas House of Representatives for more than 20 years, and Madla spent another 13 years in the Texas Senate. In this competitive internship, students earn academic credit while studying the Texas Constitution, the Rules of the Texas House of Representatives and Senate, researching and drafting legislation, analyzing policies and proposed bills, interacting with constituents, and following the legislative process. The internship takes place during the Spring semesters of odd-numbered years that coincide with the regular session of the Texas Legislature in Austin.

Emmanuel Sanchez stands in front of the Master of Public Administration sign.

I’m a true believer that if local government has more intention, the quality of life for everyone could really skyrocket. That’s what studying Public Administration prepares you for.”

Emmanuel Sanchez (B.A. ’22)
Master of Public Administration student


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