Public Administration | Online


Degrees Offered


The Master of Public Administration (MPA) program at Clemson University is unique because it utilizes a virtual classroom allowing students to meet live and face-to-face with instructors over the Internet. Classes meet once a week from 6:30 to 9:10 PM, so that our students continue their careers while increasing their knowledge base and qualifications in public administration.

The online format has provided us with the opportunity to grow from a regional onsite presence to a national program. Most of our students are working professionals, with an average age of 33 and four to six years of experience. Because of the program’s online format, students log in from around the country and share their experiences in local government, state and federal agencies, non-profit organizations, the military, and the private sector. Networking is an integral aspect of our program, which grounds students in seminal theories regarding public administration while providing practical applications. Our faculty members bring exceptional levels of expertise and merge them with a level of academic rigor expected from a nationally ranked public university.



More information can be found in this graduate handbook.


Program of Study

Complete Program Within 3 Years

Completely Online with Adobe Connect

Classes Meet Once a Week

No Out of State Tuition

Emergency Management Specialization

The Clemson MPA program utilizes Adobe Connect technology, which makes the program’s virtual classroom very different from other programs that offer only asynchronous online courses. Students attend live lectures online where they can ask questions and participate in interactive class discussions. Students can also access every lecture from each class through the online learning system, which makes reviewing material as simple as opening up your browser. Students who need more flexibility to attend asynchronously have that option, working with the Director and instructors to balance schedules.

The Clemson MPA curriculum offers adaptive course content related to real events in the global environment as they occur and allows for a concentration focus in any of the following major public administration disciplines:

  1. Regional Sustainability
  2. Non-Profit Management
  3. Local and State Government
  4. Emergency Management
  5. Homeland Defense and Security

The Clemson MPA is currently the only graduate program in South Carolina to offer such specializations and one of the first programs in the nation to offer them in a live online format. Because of Clemson University’s academic reputation and the program’s flexibility, diversity and convenience, the Clemson MPA has grown and become very attractive to students and employers.

To learn more about this program, please visit the program website and download the Clemson MPA brochure. When applying, please know that we consider an applicant’s professional experience, statement of purpose, and all materials in determining admission.

In 1992, the Master of Public Administration (MPA) program began enrollment through Clemson University’s Graduate School. Over the years, the program and university as a whole have grown, with Clemson ranked as the 20th best national public university by U.S.News & World Report. Smart Money magazine also ranks Clemson 7th as one of the best returns for educational investment.

The Clemson MPA program moved to an interactive online format in 2009 and today calls the College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences (BSHS) its academic home. The online format has given students greater professional and personal flexibility while still allowing students to have a face-to-face learning experience and participate in group activities. The online format has provided the Clemson MPA program with the opportunity to grow from a regional onsite program, to a national program.

The majority of students in the program are working public administrators or non-profit professionals. The professional expertise of students and faculty in local government, state agencies, non-profit organizations, and non-governmental organizations is a critical component to the education experience. The program has a diverse mix of students who contribute to an engaging and collaborative learning environment.  Coupled with outstanding professional and academic experience of our faculty, the Clemson MPA program is an outstanding value. 



All of the MPA program’s classes are held online while its staff are physically located in the Strom Thurmond Institute on Clemson University’s main campus. The online environment is created using Adobe Connect interface which provides a live synchronous environment including video streaming, sound, and chat features which closely simulate a classroom experience. The benefit to the student using Adobe Connect is that the class can be attended anywhere the internet is available. Each class is recorded by one of several classroom proctors that are live and present in each class for any technical issues that may arise. The recording is a benefit to those whose travel or business arrangements may not include access to the internet. Advising is handled by our Program Director Lori Dickes and all non IT support is handled by our Admissions Coordinator Carolyn Benson. Both are available via email or by phone during normal business hours. IT support directly related to the program is handled by our Director of Technology Christopher Schuster. For hardware and non-program related IT issues our campus CCIT is always ready to assist you.


The Clemson Master of Public Administration Program encourages and supports a variety of student and faculty research opportunities. Student research occurs throughout the program and may conclude with a substantive final research project. Approximately 30-40% of our students choose the Capstone research project as their final requirement before they graduate from the program. This project is generally an applied research effort where the student works with 3 faculty committee members on an area of the student’s interest for a semester or more.

Below are examples of Capstone research projects from the past several years. 

·          City of Greer Parks and Recreation Strategic/Master Plan Evaluation

·          Marijuana Legalization: Is in our national interest?

·          Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program in Anderson County

·          Afterschool Participation and Juvenile Delinquency: Can We Make a Difference?

·          The Recession of 2007-2009 and its Effects on Animal Shelter Adoption Rates in South Carolina

·          College Retention Rates Among Student-Parents: Formula for Success 

The program also strongly encourages faculty and instructors to be active professionally in their fields. In many cases this occurs through academic and applied research efforts that can translate into interesting and informed classroom learning opportunities.

Examples of peer-reviewed research from some of our faculty and instructors include the following:

o    Dickes, L. & Robinson K. (2014). An Institutional Perspective on Rural Entrepreneurship. American Journal of Entrepreneurship. 7(2).

o    Lientz, K.M., Dickes, L.A. and D. Lamie (2014). Does Rural Matter? The Creative Class in South Carolina. American Journal of Entrepreneurship, 7(2).

o    Dickes, L. Wyman, D., & Springs, S. (2013).  The Power of Energy: Effects of a Nuclear Power Station on Land Sale Prices. The Appraisal Journal.Winter 2013,  34-44.

o    Dickes, L. & Robinson K. (2012). Community Partnerships As a Tool to Reduce Regional Labor Gaps: A South Carolina Regional Case Study.  The Journal of the Community Development Society. January 2012, 1-17.

o   Mellott, M., Thatcher J., and Roberts N., (2013).  Electronic Medical Record Compliance and Continuity in Delivery of Care: An Empirical Investigation in a Combat Environment. Journal of Health Systems, November 2013.

o   Mellott, M., Thatcher J., Roberts, N., and Carter, M., (2012). An Examination of the Role of Military Medical Chief Information Officer. Military Medicine. July 2012.

o   Mellott, M., Roberts N., and Thatcher J., (2011).  An Examination of the Deployed Inpatient Electronic Medical Record. The AAMA Executive Online. September/October 2011.

o   Mellott, M., (2008). Contemporary Issues in Ethics and Information Technology. Public Integrity, Fall 2008, Vol. 10 Issue 4, 387-389.


Our Students

The Clemson University MPA program strives to undertake regular internal and external assessments of all program elements. During the 2014 spring semester, a student survey was conducted. Some of the responses were:

  •  “I would recommend the program for someone wanting to earn a MPA while not being able to do it in person due to full-time work.”
  •  “It is a great program that meets several needs and caters to a cadre of experience levels and lifestyles and has absolutely contributed to my knowledge expertise.”
  • “I can already see how I am growing and applying the knowledge I am learning to my daily work operations.”
  • “I’m learning a great deal in a virtual learning environment and I believe that will only increase as I proceed through the program.”
  • “Great instructors, great IT assistance, occasional problems but very infrequent. Live classroom format is ideal for students that enjoy an interactive lecture/discussion.”

 MPA Program Graduate Statistics

Gender: Male 54.60% Female 46.40%

Average Age: 33

Average Time to Program Completion: 2.19 years (approximate) 

Student Demographic Entering Program: SC 90% Other 10%

Top Three Graduate Industries When Entering Program: Business (various) 27% Student 16% City Employee 8.5% 


Application Information

A complete application consists of:

An online application form at

  • Select program code 670 (Public Administration is housed in the College of Health, Education, and Human Development)
  • Unofficial transcripts of all previous academic work, both graduate and undergraduate. Official transcripts will be required once admission has been accepted.
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores (within the last five years) in the range of 140 for the verbal and quantitative portions of the exam. Information regarding the test can be obtained from Educational Testing Services (ETS) at
  • GRE waiver requests may be requested in certain circumstances. See below for more information
  • Two letters of recommendation from persons familiar with the applicant’s academic and / or job performance (when possible one of each).
  • A personal statement outlining the purpose for pursuing an MPA degree.
  • Documentation and explanation of any related professional experience.
  • Applicants for whom English is a second language must also submit acceptable TOEFL scores.

Once all materials have been received it takes an average of two weeks to fully process an application.
If you have a bachelor’s degree and would like to take a couple of courses without actually pursuing a degree, you should apply as a non-degree student. When applying as a non-degree student you apply under program code 008.


The Clemson MPA program also has a non-degree certificate program. All credits earned in this program are fully transferable to the full degree program.  If you are interested in applying for the certificate program please click here for more information.
Still have questions? Either visit our FAQs, email or call us at (864) 656-4463.

Required Documents

GRE Waiver:

As an applicant to the MPA program, you may apply for a GRE waiver if you meet one of the following requirements: 

  1. have been employed for a minimum of 5 years in a full-time, relevant professional position and have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0; (please include a letter from a superior documenting the types of projects you have worked on, your role in these, and your success in these  efforts.)
  2. have 10 or more years of senior level professional experience;
(please include a letter documenting at a  minimum your role(s) in the organization(s) you have worked for, the number of people you have supervised,  the approximate budget of the organization(s), and the types of projects you have managed.)
  3. successfully completed the Clemson MPA certificate with a 3.0 average GPA;
  4. earned a graduate degree (Master’s, PhD, MD, or JD) within the last five (5) years from an accredited university.

To submit a waiver request you must meet at least one of the above requirements. You must also submit a brief statement explaining why you are seeking the waiver and what criteria you have met to allow for the waiver.  Once we have received the appropriate documents the MPA admissions committee will evaluate the waiver request. The GRE score or the approved waiver are only one component of the MPA application and do not constitute acceptance or denial into the program.


The Clemson MPA program offers competitive tuition rates whether a student is in-state, out-of-state or international. Our tuition rates do not distinguish between S.C. residents & non-residents. An across the board rate of $638 per credit hour applies to all students.

Here are a few reminders about financing your education:

Education financing is a tax deductible expense - deduct your tuition payments, books, and other expenses on your taxes.

Remember to check with your employer for tuition reimbursement.

Contact Clemson’s Financial Aid Office and ask for help with your personal financing options.

Currently the MPA program does not offer Assistantships or Graduate Tuition Deferral opportunities. Students who live close to Clemson University may inquire about assistantship opportunities with other departments and centers on campus.

As program staff are made aware of scholarship opportunities relevant to MPA students, we will make all students aware of these via the student list-serve.

To plan your financial strategy & research other assistance opportunities you may want to visit:


Program Contact(s)

  • Carolyn Benson
  • Office: Strom Thurmond Inst., 2nd Fl
  • Phone: (864) 656-4463
  • Email:

Program Coordinator(s)

  • Lori Dickes
  • Office: Strom Thurmond Inst, 2nd Fl
  • Phone: (864) 656-7831
  • Email: