Academic Office Building (ACAD)
Phone: (719) 255-4993
Fax: (719) 255-4183
The School of Public Affairs (SPA) provides undergraduate and graduate professional education to current and aspiring leaders in public administration and public service, public finance, public and nonprofit management, social and public policy, criminology and criminal justice, homeland security, and social work. The School’s unique combination of rigorous academics, relevant research, practical application, and partnership networks empowers students with the tools needed to create significant impacts for a resilient community and world.
The mission of the UCCS School of Public Affairs is to improve the quality of life for people and their communities, here and abroad, through collaborative governance, public service innovation, community engagement, and research.
To accomplish this mission, we strive to:
- Improve the quality of public, nonprofit, criminal justice, and national security systems.
- Educate leaders to meet societal challenges with compassion, vision, analytic rigor, and practicality.
- Foster critical thinking and decision-making, effective and confident communication, creative problem-solving, knowledge management, and global citizenship.
- Create, build, and maintain connections with current, past and future students and all the communities we serve.
- Ground our decisions and actions in integrity, diversity, collaboration, and excellence.
- Support and model civil public discourse, citizenship, responsibility, and respect.
Every community is governed, secured, and maintained to maximize quality of life.
The Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree is accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration’s (NASPAA) Commission on Peer Review and Accreditation.
For the most current social work accreditation information, please refer to the Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) and Master of Social Work (MSW) webpages.
Please see the SPA Faculty & Staff web page for faculty biographies and contact information.
Accelerated Masters Program (AMP)
General Academic Policies
The Academic Catalog that governs a student’s graduation requirements is the one in effect at the time of the student’s most recent admission into the school/college of her/his degree program.
The School of Public Affairs subscribes in full to the university’s expectations for student conduct and academic integrity, as described in the Student Rights and Responsibilities section of this Catalog.
Student Grievances and Appeals
Student appeals are challenges to academic actions or decisions, including but not limited to actions such as an academic grade or evaluation of a student’s work in a course, seminar, or other academic forum; a decision with respect to a student’s academic standing in a program or at the School; unjust treatment by a faculty member in a class; or actions related to thesis or capstone procedures. Student grievance and appeal processes are documented in the academic program student handbooks.
A grade of Incomplete (“I”) may be granted when a student has successfully completed a substantial portion of the course (75% or more), but is prevented from completing the course by circumstances beyond his/her control. The student must request an Incomplete, and it is at the instructor’s discretion to approve or deny this request. If the instructor agrees to grant an Incomplete, the student will make arrangements to complete the remaining coursework with the original instructor within one year, although the instructor may impose a shorter completion deadline at his/her discretion. Once the coursework is completed, the instructor will change the “I” to the earned letter grade. If the coursework is not completed within one year, the Incomplete will automatically be recorded as an “F” on the student record. Students should consult the SPA webpage for their specific program of study for any required paperwork for an Incomplete request.
Candidates for regular admission to SPA undergraduate degree programs are expected to meet the general requirements for undergraduate admission to the University, as described in the Admissions section of this Catalog. Current UCCS students wanting to change their program of study to a SPA undergraduate major must have a minimum cumulative University of Colorado (CU) grade point average of 2.4.
Undergraduate Academic Requirements
General Education Requirements
The School of Public Affairs requires all students to complete an English writing requirement, a reasoning proficiency requirement, area requirements, and cultural diversity, oral communication, and global awareness requirements. Assuming that a student does not test out of the writing and reasoning requirements, the total number of credit hours needed to complete the college general education requirements is 45.
The School of Public Affairs will accept transfer courses from a community college “general education core” and substitute these credits for credits required within the 120 hours needed for a SPA undergraduate degree on a case-by-case basis with approval from the appropriate program director. The School will also accept non-core academic courses in transfer (i.e., courses that are not considered to be vocational or technical in nature). Students should be prepared to provide previous course materials for review of transfer requests (i.e., transcripts, course syllabi, and course descriptions) to the appropriate program director.
NOTE TO ALL STUDENTS: The requirements for English Composition and Writing Competency, Quantitative and Qualitative Reasoning Proficiency, and the Area Requirements in Humanities, Social Sciences, and Natural Sciences match those listed on your degree progress report and are based on your catalog year. Please contact an academic advisor in the Academic Advising Office for detailed information on general education requirements.
Undergraduate Policies and Procedures
Students are expected to assume responsibility for planning their academic programs in accordance with School rules, policies, and major requirements. Academic Advising can answer questions about School policies and graduation requirements and will assist students in course selection and degree planning. All SPA majors should plan to meet with an academic advisor at least once a year. Although each student is assigned to a specific academic advisor, students should also work with faculty in their major for questions involving major requirements, and career or graduate school questions. It is the student’s responsibility to arrange academic advising meetings and faculty consultation. Students should schedule appointments to discuss their questions well in advance of registration.
For the fall and spring semesters, the minimum full-time course load is 12 credit hours and the maximum course load is 18 credit hours. Permission to take more than 18 credit hours must be obtained using the Overload Approval Form available in the Academic Advising Office. Requests to take 19-21 credit hours require approval by an academic advisor assigned to the student’s major. Requests to take 22 or more credit hours require approval by the appropriate program director.
For the summer semester, permission to take more than 12 credit hours must be obtained using the Overload Approval Form. Requests to take 13-14 credit hours require approval by an academic advisor assigned to the student’s major. Requests to take 15 or more credit hours require approval by the appropriate program director.
Credit hour totals include all courses taken for credit at any University of Colorado campus but do not include correspondence courses, noncredit courses, or courses taken at other institutions.
Guidelines for Employed Students
Students who hold or expect to hold full- or part-time employment while enrolled in the School must register for course loads they can expect to successfully complete. Recommended course loads are provided below, but students must weigh their own abilities and assess the demands of each course in determining an appropriate schedule.
Employed Enrolled Credit Hours
40 hours per week 6-9
30 hours per week 8-11
20 hours per week 10-13
To receive credit, students must be officially registered for each course.
Standards of Performance
A bachelor’s degree in the School of Public Affairs requires completion of a minimum of 120 credit hours with a cumulative CU grade point average of 2.0. For the Criminal Justice major, all core courses must have a grade of C or better and elective courses must have a C- or better. For the Social Work major, all major courses must have a grade of C or better. Courses applied toward a SPA undergraduate certificate must have a C or better.
Students who have attempted at least 12 credit hours at the University of Colorado with a cumulative grade point average below 2.0 will be placed on academic probation. While on probation, students will be required to achieve a minimum acceptable grade point average of 2.25 each term or be subject to academic suspension. Students placed on probation will be informed in writing concerning their academic status and the conditions of continued attendance. Students who are in doubt about their standing with regard to scholastic deficiency and the process for academic probation are strongly urged to consult with their academic advisor.
Students who fail to meet standards of academic probation will be suspended from the School of Public Affairs (SPA). The suspension period for SPA students is one academic year, excluding the summer semester. Suspended students will be reinstated after the normal suspension period, upon reapplying for admission the University, at the discretion of the SPA Dean with consultation with the appropriate program director. Students also have the option to change colleges (most commonly to the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences). Suspended SPA students who are interested in changing colleges should contact Academic Advising at (719) 255-3260 for possible readmission.
Students suspended for the first time may be reinstated before the end of the normal suspension period by the following measures:
- Achieving a 2.5 grade point average on all summer coursework attempted at the University of Colorado since suspension. Six credit hours minimum must be completed.
- Raising the cumulative University of Colorado grade point average to at least 2.0 by completing summer coursework at the University of Colorado.
- Achieving a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.0 by attending another institution. The cumulative grade point average in this instance is the grade point average at the University of Colorado combined with coursework taken at all other institutions.
- Successfully appealing the suspension in writing to the appropriate program director. An abeyance may only be granted under extenuating circumstances. For more information, contact an academic advisor assigned to your major in the Academic Advising Office.
- Being recommended for reinstatement by the coordinator of academic probation and suspension for the School of Public Affairs in the Academic Advising Office.
- Students eligible for reinstatement before serving the normal suspension period must notify the Academic Advising Office. Reinstated students absent for either fall or spring semesters or who complete 12 or more credit hours at another institution must reapply for admission to the university.
- Students suspended for the first time will be reinstated on probation and will be informed in writing of their academic status and the conditions of continued attendance. Students not meeting conditions of continued attendance will again be subject to academic suspension. Reinstatement after a second suspension requires approval of the dean of the School of Public Affairs.
Requests for reinstatement must be made in writing. Students who are in doubt about their standing with regard to scholastic deficiency and the process for reinstatement are strongly urged to consult with their academic advisor.
When a student takes a credit course more than once, all grades are used in determining the grade point average. However, if a student has passed the same course more than one time, the School of Public Affairs will count that course only once when calculating the student’s credit hours earned toward graduation. The only exceptions to this rule are courses designated as “may be repeated for credit” in this Catalog.
Students in the School of Public Affairs may not use the pass/fail option for courses taken to fulfill the area requirements, the composition requirement, the quantitative and qualitative reasoning skills requirement, or the major requirements.
Students may take up to 15 hours of elective credit on a pass/fail basis. Transfer students may take one hour of pass/fail credit for every 8 hours of credit attempted at the University of Colorado.
For full-time students, maximum pass/fail hours per semester are as follows:
- Fall and Spring - 6 credit hours
- Summer - 3 credit hours
For part-time students, no more than 50 percent of total credit hours may be taken pass/fail in a given semester. If only one course is taken in a semester, it may be taken pass/fail.
The P grade is not included in the student’s grade point average; the F grade is included. A pass/fail designation may not be reversed. For further information concerning the pass/fail option, see the Academic Policies, Course Registration, and Student Records section of this Catalog.
Independent studies are designed for students to work closely with a faculty member on a specific area of interest (i.e., an in-depth examination of a specific topic or collaboration with a faculty member on a research project). Students with junior standing may request to complete an independent study with a faculty member. If the faculty member agrees, a Petition for Independent Study Form (available on the SPA website) outlining the coursework, assessments, grading policy, and timeline is completed by the student and faculty member, then submitted to the appropriate program director for final approval. The amount of credit to be given for an independent study shall be arranged with the faculty member. A permission number to register for Independent Study will only be issued when the petition has received all necessary approvals.
No more than 8 credit hours of independent study may be applied toward the major, and no more than 16 credit hours toward the bachelor’s degree. No student may register for more than 8 credit hours of independent study in any one term (summer, fall, or spring).
In order to graduate with Latin honors, a student must complete a minimum of 45 credit hours at a University of Colorado campus and achieve a cumulative grade point average of 3.5-3.699 for cum laude, 3.7-3.899 for magna cum laude, and 3.9+ for summa cum laude. Only coursework completed at UCCS is included in the cumulative grade point average calculation for determining Latin honors.
President’s and Dean’s List Criteria
- President’s list: 4.0 grade point average.
- Dean’s list: 3.75 - 3.99 grade point average.
- Students must be enrolled in a minimum of 12 graded credit hours during a regular semester (fall or spring).
The dean notifies awarded students by letter.
Prior to their last semester, seniors are required to schedule a senior audit appointment and apply for graduation with their assigned academic advisor in the Academic Advising Office. This gives notice of intention to complete graduation requirements. The online application and all required paperwork are completed during the senior audit appointment. Failure to apply for graduation in time may delay a student’s graduation. To make an appointment, call (719) 255-3260. Student appointments should be scheduled one week in advance.
A candidate for a degree from the School of Public Affairs must earn the last 30 credit hours in residence in the School. During these 30 credit hours, the student must be registered in the School of Public Affairs. All 30 credit hours must be taken at UCCS. Students wishing to attend another university or college simultaneously with UCCS during the last 30 credit hours must have prior approval of the appropriate program director in order to count these transfer hours as part of the last 30 credit hours.
MPA and MCJ Admission
- A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, with grades sufficiently high to indicate ability to pursue graduate work.
- Master of Public Administration applicants should have a cumulative undergraduate grade point average of 3.0 or better.
- Master of Criminal Justice applicants should have a cumulative undergraduate grade point average of 2.75 or better.
- MPA applicants may have majored in any field for the undergraduate degree. MCJ applicants should have an undergraduate degree in criminal justice or a closely-related discipline.
- Online Graduate School Application, which includes a written statement indicating educational and career goals (one page minimum).
- $60 non-refundable application fee.
- Official transcripts from all higher education institutions attended.
- Three recommendations by qualified references that establish the applicant’s personal qualifications for graduate work. Recommendations may be from professors, employers, and/or others who are acquainted with the prospective student’s professional and/or academic work.
- Current resume.
- Some applicants, including International and ESL (English as a Second Language) students, may have additional requirements. Please contact the School of Public Affairs for more information.
The application deadlines for the MPA and MCJ programs are based on a rolling admissions policy: applications are accepted up to the week prior to the start of each semester. Reviews of applications are also conducted on a continuing basis. Students planning to apply for financial aid should contact the Office of Financial Aid as soon as possible as March 1 is the FAFSA priority filing date and UCCS scholarship deadline for the next academic year.
Prospective MPA and MCJ students who have missed the application deadline for the upcoming semester may submit an unclassified student application to take courses prior to degree program admission. Please see the Transfer Credit section below for information on applying credits earned as an unclassified student toward a degree program.
Prerequisites for Full Time and Extended Study Applicants
- A four-year undergraduate degree from an institution accredited by a recognized regional accrediting association (or the equivalent thereof as determined by the UCCS International Admissions if degree was earned outside of the U.S.).
- Grades sufficiently high to indicate the ability to pursue graduate work (typically a cumulative undergraduate grade point average of 3.0 or better).
- MSW applicants may have majored in any field for the undergraduate degree. However, sufficient undergraduate preparation and training for graduate study in social welfare is required. This preparation is operationalized as at least 18 social science credit hours in anthropology, economics, ethnic studies, geography, history, linguistics, political science, psychology, sociology, etc., or any combination.
- Online Graduate School Application.
- $60 non-refundable application fee.
- Official transcripts from all institutions of higher education attended.
- Professional statements for 3 writing prompts (500 to 1,000 words for each question).
- Current resume.
- Contact information for 2 professional references. It is recommended that applicants select a cross-section of references, including employers, faculty or other individuals who have evaluated the applicant’s work and can speak to the applicant’s academic abilities and/or related paid work or volunteer experience.
- Applicants for the advanced standing MSW program must submit a copy of a field placement evaluation(s). If the applicant has not completed a placement but is currently enrolled in field practice, an evaluation from the field instructor or liaison must be included with the application.
- Some applicants, including International and ESL (English as a Second Language) students, may have additional requirements. Please contact the School of Public Affairs for more information.
The application deadlines for the MSW program are as follows: December 1 for early applications, February 1 for priority scholarship consideration, and April 1 for priority deadline.
Admission to the MSW program is competitive. Demand for the UCCS MSW program often exceeds capacity. MSW Admissions Committee decisions are final.
Applicants who are denied admission may not apply again during the same admission cycle, but are welcome to apply in subsequent admission cycles.
Graduate Certificate Admission
Graduate certificates may be earned independent of or concurrent with a degree program. All graduate certificates offered by the School of Public Affairs meet Department of Education regulations for gainful employment programs; students are eligible to apply for financial aid.
Prospective students who are applying to a certificate program only (i.e., are not currently in a graduate degree program) should have earned a bachelor’s degree in any field from an accredited institution with a cumulative GPA of 2.75 or better and follow these steps:
- Complete online Graduate School Application.
- Submit the required $60 application fee.
- Submit official transcript showing an undergraduate degree was conferred to UCCS Admissions, 1420 Austin Bluffs Pkwy, Colorado Springs, CO 80918, or electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Current degree-seeking students who intend to concurrently earn a graduate certificate should complete the Certificate Declaration and submit it to email@example.com.
Graduate Credit Earned Prior to Admission to the School of Public Affairs
Transfer Credit Applied toward the MPA
Up to 9 graduate-level credit hours of relevant coursework completed at another accredited institution or at a UCCS unit other than the School of Public Affairs may be applied toward the MPA degree. To be eligible for transfer, courses must have been taken within 5 years of the request for transfer credit, have a minimum grade of B or above, and have not been applied toward another degree. Should a transferred course become 6 or more years old before the student finishes the degree requirements, it will no longer count toward the degree unless re-validation criteria apply. All transfer work must be approved in writing by the program director. Students should request transfer of credits immediately after admission.
Up to 12 SPA graduate-level credit hours completed with a B or better taken prior to enrollment in the MPA program may be applied toward the degree. Courses must have been taken within 5 years of the request for application of credit. Should a course become 6 or more years old before the student finishes the degree requirements, it will no longer count toward the degree unless re-validation criteria apply.
Transfer Credit Applied toward the MCJ
Up to 9 graduate-level credit hours of relevant coursework completed at another accredited institution or at UCCS in a unit other than the School of Public Affairs may be applied toward the MCJ degree. To be eligible for transfer, courses must have been taken within 5 years of the request for transfer credit, have a minimum grade of B or above, and have not been applied toward another degree. Should a transferred course become 6 or more years old before the student finishes the degree requirements, it will no longer count toward the degree unless re-validation criteria apply. All transfer work must be approved in writing by the program director. Students should request transfer of credits immediately after admission.
Up to 12 SPA graduate-level credit hours completed with a B or better taken prior to enrollment in the MCJ program may be applied toward the degree. MCJ Program Director approval is required to count more than 9 credit hours from another SPA discipline (i.e., courses with a prefix other than CJ) toward the degree. Courses must have been taken within 5 years of the request for application of credit. Should a course become 6 or more years old before the student finishes the degree requirements, it will no longer count toward the degree unless re-validation criteria apply.
Transfer Credit Applied toward the MSW
Students who transfer credits from another program within UCCS or from another institution may transfer up to 12 credit hours of master-level work (e.g., 20% of the total MSW credits) into the full time and extended study MSW program, with prior approval from the MSW Program Director. Students with an earned doctorate seeking to earn the MSW may transfer up to 18 credit hours of master or doctoral level work (e.g., 30% of the total MSW credits). Transfer credits are not permissible for students enrolled in the advanced standing program.
All transfer work must be at the B grade level or above from a regionally accredited college or university and taken within 6 years of the student’s date of graduation. Credits applied to another master’s degree may not be considered for transfer. Credits taken as an undergraduate student may not be considered for transfer, regardless of the level the course was taken.
Credits transferred into social work practice courses at the generalist or specialized practice level must be from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and taught by an MSW trained instructor with at least 2 years of practice experience. Field Practice courses are not are not transferrable.
Transfer Credit Applied toward a Graduate Certificate
Up to 3 graduate-level credit hours of relevant coursework completed at another accredited institution or at a UCCS unit other than the School of Public Affairs may be applied toward a SPA graduate certificate. To be eligible for transfer, the courses must have been taken within 5 years of the request for transfer credit and have a grade of B or above. Should a transferred course become 6 or more years old before the student finishes the certificate requirements, it will no longer count toward the certificate unless re-validation criteria apply. All transfer work must be approved in writing by the program director. Students should request transfer of credits immediately after admission.
Graduate Policies and Procedures
Each student is assigned a faculty advisor. Newly admitted students should meet initially with the appropriate Graduate Student Services Specialist to discuss registration, program requirements, and preliminary degree planning.
MPA and MCJ
A full-time course load is 5 or more credit hours taken during fall or spring semesters.
Students pursuing the full-time MSW course sequence enroll in 15 credit hours (5 courses) each fall and spring semester. Students pursuing the extended MSW course sequence enroll in 6 credit hours (2 courses) to 9 credit hours (3 courses) each fall, spring and summer semester. Students pursuing the Advanced Standing MSW course sequence enroll in 6 credit hours (2 courses) in the first summer of the program, then enroll in between 6 credit hours (2 courses) and 15 credit hours (5 courses) during each subsequent semester.
Standards of Performance
In order to be in good standing, students must have an overall GPA of 3.0 or better in all coursework. A grade of B- or better is required in each course counting toward the MPA, MCJ, Dual MPA/MCJ, MSW, and graduate certificates.
Probation and Suspension
Graduate Degree Programs
The academic performance of each student will be reviewed at the end of each semester. A student who has a grade point average less than 3.0 will be placed on probation for a period of one year; additionally, any student receiving a grade of F in any course is automatically placed on probation. After being placed on probation, a student has a maximum of two semesters, or one calendar year, to raise the GPA to 3.0. Failure to raise the cumulative GPA to 3.0 in the time period outlined will result in suspension from the program.
Graduate Certificate Programs
Certificate students must maintain a 3.0 GPA once admitted to the certificate program. Students falling below a 3.0 GPA will be placed on probation.
A student who receives a grade below B in a course may repeat the course once, with the approval of the program director, provided the course has not been previously applied toward a degree. The grade received in a repeated course may substitute for the original grade and only the latter grade will be used in calculating the graduate program grade point average required for graduation; however, all grades received during the student graduate school experience will appear on the student’s transcript and will be used in calculating the student’s University grade point average.
SPA graduate courses, with the exception of PAD 6910 Internship which is offered on a pass/fail basis only, are graded on an A to F scale and must not be taken as pass/fail.
Master’s degree and graduate certificate students must complete their program no later than 6 years after the starting date of their first course, even when that course is taken as an unclassified student. Exceptions must be approved in writing by the Dean of the School of Public Affairs and the Dean of the Graduate School.
Students who are interested in pursuing a specific line of study or inquiry not covered through the regular course offerings may elect to take an independent study course (CJ, PAD or SWRK 9500) with a member of the faculty. Students will identify the area of study they would like to pursue, discuss the topic with a willing faculty member who has expertise in the area, and submit the Petition for Independent Study form (available on the SPA website) for instructor and program director approval. No more than 6 credit hours of independent study credit may count towards the MPA or MCJ, no more than 9 credit hours of independent study may count towards the Dual MPA/MCJ, and no more than 12 credit hours of independent study may count toward the MSW.
All students graduating from a master’s program must notify the appropriate Graduate Student Services Specialist prior to the semester in which they intend to graduate. Graduating students must also apply for graduation by completing the steps outlined on the Graduate School website.
Bachelor of Arts
Bachelor of Science/Master of Sciences or Bachelor of Arts/Master of Sciences
Bachelor of Social Work
Master of Criminal Justice
Master of Public Administration
Master of Public Administration/Master of Criminal Justice
Master of Social Work