College of Social Sciences
Saunders Hall 631
2424 Maile Way
Honolulu, HI 96822
Tel: (808) 956-8260
Fax: (808) 956-9571


*Graduate Faculty

*M. Johansen, PhD (Director)—public management
*J. Ady, PhD—communication studies
*S. Chandler, PhD—social work
*C. Grandy, PhD—economics
*D. Lee, PhD—public affairs
*D. Nixon, PhD—political science
*H. Yu, PhD—public administration and public policy

Cooperating Faculty

A. Singh, PhD—civil and environmental engineering

Degree and Certificate Offered: MPA, Graduate Certificate in Public Administration

The Academic Program

The Public Administration Program (PUBA) offers students a comprehensive foundation in public administration that is designed to build leadership in public service in Hawai‘i, the continental U.S., and the Asia-Pacific region. Located in the College of Social Sciences, it offers a 39-credit master’s degree and a 15-credit certificate. The program’s format emphasizes interdisciplinary learning, collaborative teaching, and a learning community experience that is designed to help students gain the knowledge, skills, and values that are important for public service leadership. The classes create an environment in which many of the complex issues facing those with public responsibilities are addressed while also giving participants specific skills useful to their work in the public and nonprofit sectors. The program emphasizes teamwork and collaboration so students can practice effectively in a multicultural and global society. PUBA also offers a certificate in public administration with either a track in public leadership or nonprofit management. It offers a part-time program, full time, and 18-month program to suit student needs.

Financial support for the degree and the certificate is available through the Herman S. Doi Fellowship, the D. W. Wood Pacific Island Health Administrators, and the Dick Pratt Endowed Scholarship. For further information, contact the program office in Saunders Hall 631 or call (808) 956-8260. Applicants may also apply to the East-West Center.

Graduate Study

Master’s Degree

The master’s degree consists of 8 required courses (24 credits hours); two or three electives (6-9 credits), a 120 hour practicum experience, and a capstone. The capstone must be taken as the final requirement in the program and serves as the culminating experience of the Masters degree.

Admissions are in the fall only.

The required courses are interdisciplinary and integrate a series of perspectives and skills important to effective work in public service. These courses include content in effective communication in the public sector; public ethics and leadership; budgeting; policy processes, analysis and implementation; organizational change, public personnel management, research design and methods; and the role of culture in public service.

The electives allow each student to design a program of study built around a theme of their personal and professional interests. Elective courses are selected by the student in consultation with the student’s faculty advisor.

The Plan A thesis option requires the student to take at least one additional graduate level research methods or statistics course.

The practicum is designed to place individuals in a setting where they compare organizational structures and processes; study leadership styles, sources of power, and communication strategies; differentiate between types of clients and sources of funding; discuss measures of organizational success; and develop specific skills. The location of the practicum varies according to the student’s past work experience and learning goals. In some cases a practicum placement in one organization may be modified to become work on a project in another part of the organization. Students are encouraged to undertake a practicum that will stretch and extend their knowledge and skills. The practicum must be completed before or concurrently with the final capstone seminar.

All students must enroll in the 3-credit Capstone Seminar (PUBA 696) during their final semester. Students have two options for meeting the Capstone requirement. 1) Complete a yearlong group project that analyzes a public issue of importance in Hawaii, the mainland, or the Asia-Pacific region. Students choosing this option would sign up for Capstone Planning Seminar (PUBA 695) in the fall and Capstone Seminar in the spring of their final year in the Program. 2) Conduct case analyzes where students make and justify their decisions on a variety of public issues, both in groups and individually. Students selecting this option must take an additional elective.

Four required courses, Introduction to Public Administration, Effective Communication in Public Administration, Research Methods, and Organizations: Theory and Change must be taken before enrolling in Capstone Planning. Three required courses, Introduction to Public Administration, Organizations: Theory and Change, and Leadership and Ethics must be taken before enrolling in the Practicum.

The program welcomes a diversity of professional and educational backgrounds and sees these as contributing to the learning environment. Classes are taught in the evenings to accommodate the schedules of students working full-time.


MPA candidates must complete 24 credit hours of core requirements, 6 to 9 credit hours of electives, 3 credit hours of practicum, and 3-6 credit hours of capstone. The student must earn at least a grade of B in the practicum and in the capstone to graduate and must maintain a B average in all other classes.


Up to nine graduate credits may be counted toward the degree with approval. Call the PUBA program office for additional information.

The Certificate in Public Administration

The program offers two certificate tracks: (1) public service leadership, and (2) nonprofit management. Each is 15 credits.

Courses in both tracks are compatible with work schedules. The nonprofit management track may be taken in conjunction with the Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree. The classes in both of these tracks may be counted toward the MPA degree, with some restrictions. Students wishing to move from one of the certificates into the MPA must apply for and be formally accepted into the master’s program.

The Certificate in Public Administration

The track in public service leadership consists of 15 credits. Four required courses, (Introduction to Public Administration, Organizations, Effective Communication in Public Administration and Leadership and Ethics) are also required courses for the MPA. Certificate students may then choose an elective course selected from any course taught in PUBA.

The Nonprofit Management Track

The track in nonprofit management is made up of two 3-credit required courses (Nonprofit Management, Nonprofit Practices and Tools) that provide an overview of issues in the field; 6 credits of electives; and a 3-credit practicum. Students take two electives: at least one elective must be a PUBA course. The student in consultation with his or her advisor selects these courses.