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
*C. Hung, PhD—nonprofit finance
*J. Kagan, PhD—public affairs
*D. Nixon, PhD—political science
*H. Yu, PhD—public administration and public policy

Cooperating Graduate Faculty

A. Singh, PhD—civil and environmental engineering
M. Coffman, PhD—greenhouse gas reduction strategies, renewable energy planning and policy, low-carbon transportation
A. Das, PhD—community participation and empowerment, slum upgrading, decentralization and local governance, role of civil society in development
C. Moore, PhD—public policy, American politics, politics of bureaucracy, institutional change

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 full time, part-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 program welcomes a diversity of professional and educational backgrounds and sees these as a benefit to the learning environment. The MPA degree has two tracks: one for pre-service students and one for in-service students. Pre-service students are those who come into the program with little to no public or nonprofit sector experience. In-service students are those who come into the program with significant public and/or nonprofit experience.

Classes are taught in the evenings to accommodate the schedules of students working full-time.

Admissions are in the fall only.

Program Learning Outcomes

In order to become effective public and nonprofit leaders, students must develop a solid foundation in the theories and skills applicable to the public and nonprofit sectors. To this end, the PUBA Program uses a competency-based curriculum which establishes specific skills and abilities students will acquire as they complete the MPA degree requirements.

Upon completion of the MPA degree, students should be able to:

  1.  Manage human resources and organizational processes effectively by applying policies, concepts, and skills of human resource management (HRM) and understand the contemporary issues facing public/nonprofit personnel management;
  2. Communicate and interact productively with a diverse and changing workforce and citizenry;
  3.  Appraise the organizational environment, both internal and external, as well as culture, politics, and institutional settings;
  4. Prepare and analyze budgets in a public context in order to evaluate organizational effectiveness and assist in decision making;
  5. Lead effectively and ethically by recognizing and assessing a variety of leadership techniques and styles and valuing different perspectives on leadership;
  6. Develop an understanding of policy making processes, including strategies for implementation and evaluation, and apply critical thinking and analytic skills to public issues to decide what, if any, action to take;
  7. Value the responsibilities of public service by demonstrating responsiveness to their publics, and recognizing the legal and ethical responsibilities for engaging in professional behavior.;
  8. Frame research questions, identify and gather appropriate information, and recognize applicable research methods for systematically analyzing evidence, in order to answer the research questions.

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 public ethics and leadership; budgeting; policy processes, analysis and implementation; organizational change, public personnel management, research design and methods; program evaluation, and public service values.

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 MPA degree is a professional program that requires a minimum of 36 credit hours. The master’s degree consists of 8 required courses (24 credits hours); 3 electives (9 credits), and a capstone. Pre-service students must take an additional 3 credits to complete the practicum requirement (PUBA 690), which must be completed before the final capstone seminar. The capstone must be taken as the final requirement in the program and serves as the culminating experience of the Masters degree. To meet the Capstone requirement, students complete a semester long group project that analyzes a public issue of importance in Hawai‘i, the continental U.S., or the Asia-Pacific region.

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

Students must complete, with a grade of B or better, PUBA 602, 603, and 604 in order to enroll in the Practicum. To graduate the student must earn at least a B in 602, 603, 604, the practicum (if applicable), and 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. Email 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 certificate tracks into the MPA must apply for and be formally accepted into the master’s program.

The Public Service Leadership Track

The track in public service leadership consists of three 3- credit required courses (PUBA 602 Introduction to Public Administration, PUBA 603 Organizations, and PUBA 604 Leadership and Ethics) and two 3-credit elective courses selected from any course taught in PUBA. A final paper in PUBA 604 serves as the culminating experience.

The student in consultation with their advisor selects elective courses.

The Nonprofit Management Track

The track in nonprofit management is made up of three 3-credit required courses (PUBA 604 Leadership and Ethics, PUBA 630 Nonprofit Management, and PUBA 631 Nonprofit Practices and Tools) that provide an overview of issues in the field; one 3-credit elective; and a 3-credit practicum. Students take a 3-credit elective selected from any course taught in PUBA; an outside course requires advisor approval. Students completing this track may be eligible for the professional Certified Nonprofit Management credential.