2019-2020 Catalog 
    Feb 28, 2020  
2019-2020 Catalog

Public Administration, MPA/Sociology, MA Dual Degree

The School of Public Affairs in collaboration with the College of Letters, Arts & Sciences offers a dual graduate degree in Public Administration and Sociology.

Master of Public Administration: The Master of Public Administration (MPA) is a generalist degree designed to prepare students for a variety of positions in public and nonprofit management and policy analysis.

Master of Arts in Sociology: The Master of Arts in Sociology (MA in Sociology) provides methodological and theoretical frameworks to transcend individual experience in order to understand social life and is guided by a vision of social justice.

Dual MPA and MA in Sociology: Together, the two disciplines offer students a strong foundation to advance public service, work collaboratively to meet social challenges, and better understand key social phenomena using multiple lenses. Graduates will be equipped to hold leadership positions in public and nonprofit programs designed to ameliorate important social problems. 

Students enrolled in the dual MPA and MA in Sociology program complete both programs simultaneously in 53 credit hours, instead of the 66 credit hours required if each degree is completed separately. Students complete foundation coursework in both degrees, but have the flexibility to customize their programs by choosing elective coursework in public administration and sociology that best suits their interests and career objectives. The culminating experience (e.g., capstone or thesis) is a collaboration between the two programs. Students without significant professional experience in public service will be required to take an additional 3-credit-hour internship.

General Requirements

  • The dual degree program requires a minimum of 53 credit hours, including:
    • 15 credit hours of Public Administration (PAD) core courses
    • 4 credit hours of Sociology (SOC) core courses
    • 7-8 hours of research methods course work from SOC
    • 21-24 credit hours of PAD and SOC elective courses
  • Students enrolled in the dual MPA/MA in Sociology program must maintain academic standards for both programs:
    • A grade point average of B (3.0 on a 4-point scale) or better is required for degree candidacy
    • Grades of B- or better in all PAD courses
    • Grades of B or better in all SOC courses

Course Requirements

All courses are 3 credit hours unless otherwise noted.

Core Courses

MA in Sociology Core Courses (4 credit hours)

SOC 5050 must be taken in the student’s first fall semester.

*Incoming graduate students who have not taken an undergraduate course in Social Theory are also required to take SOC 5150 Social Theory I (1 credit hour).

**Incoming graduate students who have not taken an undergraduate course in Social Statistics are also required to take SOC 5020 Social Statistics (1 credit hour).

Research Methods (7-8 credit hours)

        And one of the following advanced methods courses:

Elective Courses

Students complete 21-24 credit hours of electives (number of hours depends on Capstone or Thesis selection). Elective courses include a mixture of specialized public administration and/or sociology courses, workshops, and other formats. Students may choose to focus these elective hours around a particular area based on their interests and career goals:

  • At least 6 elective credit hours from PAD
  • At least 6 elective credit hours from SOC
  • Additional 9-12 elective credit hours will be selected from either PAD or SOC, depending on the student’s interests as identified in their degree plan


Students are determined to be “pre-service” or “in-service” by the MPA Program Director and Sociology Graduate Program Director at the time of admission. Pre-service students lack significant experience in public service and must complete PAD 6910 Internship  for an additional 3 credit hours above the minimum 53 credit hours required for the dual degree. In-service students have significant relevant work experience and are not eligible to take PAD 6910.

To enroll in PAD 6910, pre-service students must have completed at least 9 hours of coursework. Internships are graded on a Pass/Fail basis. Internship guidelines are set forth in the MPA Handbook at http://www.uccs.edu/spa.

Culminating Experience: Capstone or Thesis

Dual MPA/MA in Sociology students are required to complete either the Capstone Seminar or Master’s Thesis as their culminating experience.

Capstone Seminar

In PAD 5361 Capstone Seminar  students work with a client in a public service/nonprofit agency to identify a problem and then, using the knowledge and skills they have gained in the program, carry out a project and write a paper to address the problem. The Capstone Seminar requires 3 hours of credit and should be taken after all MPA and Sociology core courses have been successfully completed in accordance with the respective program requirements, and preferably during the final semester in the Dual MPA/MA in Sociology program. The Capstone Seminar is offered ONLY in the fall and spring semesters.

Students should complete the following steps no later than the semester prior to enrolling in PAD 5361 Capstone Seminar:

  • Attend a Capstone Orientation hosted by the School of Public Affairs
  • Identify a partner agency for the Capstone project
  • Obtain an agreement form from a UCCS faculty member to serve as a second reader on the Capstone project
  • Work with the faculty member serving as the Capstone second reader to draft a proposal and assess the need for IRB approval
  • If IRB approval is required, work with the Capstone Seminar instructor to submit an IRB proposal for review prior to the start of the semester in which they will enroll in the Capstone Seminar

Master’s Thesis

In PAD 6950  / SOC 7000  Master’s Thesis students conduct a comprehensive review of the theoretical and research literature in the subject area of their thesis and collect original data or analyze existing data in new ways. The thesis requires 6 hours of credit that normally span two semesters. The thesis option is available to Dual MPA/MA in Sociology students who have achieved an exceptional academic record and who wish to pursue independent research in greater depth than would normally be possible in the Capstone Seminar. It is suited for students who intend to pursue a PhD degree or to enter a research or policy environment upon completion of the Dual MPA/ MA in Sociology program.

Minimum eligibility requirements for pursuing a thesis include:

  • Matriculation in the Dual MPA/ MA in Sociology program
  • Successful completion of all core courses
  • Overall GPA of 3.5 or higher
  • Demonstrated ability to pursue research work
  • Preliminary identification of a thesis topic or area of interest
  • Agreement from one a public administration faculty member and one or sociology faculty member to co-chair the thesis committee along with agreement from one additional public administration or sociology faculty member to serve as the third member of the thesis committee; Integration of faculty from both Sociology and Public Administration is required
  • Students pursuing a Master’s Thesis will take both PAD 6950 Master’s Thesis (3 credit hours) and SOC 7000 Master’s Thesis (3 credit hours), typically during the final two semesters of the program
  • Minor exceptions to the above criteria may be made in exceptional circumstances

A student wishing to undertake the thesis option applies formally through her/his faculty advisor to establish eligibility under the above criteria. After establishing eligibility, the student should recruit three faculty members to serve on the student’s thesis committee – one public administration faculty member and one sociology faculty member to co-chair the committee and one public administration or sociology faculty member to serve as the third thesis committee member – and then complete a thesis application form. Before students are allowed to enroll in PAD 6950 or SOC 7000 Master’s Thesis, they must complete the required approval processes for both the MPA and the MA in Sociology.