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MPA Specializations, Area of Emphasis, and Certificates

The MPA can be tailored to meet student’s professional interests through specializations, area of emphasis, and graduate certificate options in:

Healthcare Administration Program

The Department of Public Administration offers a healthcare administration specialization for students interested in a career in a variety of healthcare settings, including hospitals, health departments, long-term care facilities, mental health services, home health services, nonprofit voluntary agencies, health research foundations, public and private insurers, and a variety of governmental agencies.

The health program is designed to produce an administrative generalist with a broad perspective of the healthcare system, to provide leadership and management skills for healthcare professionals who wish to advance in their careers, and for college graduates who wish to enter the healthcare fields. The program consists of fifteen credit hours: nine in required courses, three in electives, and a three credit capstone experience.

Options for Obtaining the Specialization

1. Master of Public Administration—The student may pursue this specialty as part of the MPA degree. The student would be admitted to the MPA graduate program and would take the 12-hour elective component in healthcare. The coursework within the MPA curriculum allows the student to integrate their specialty knowledge with the broad knowledge provided in the foundation courses. Students are encouraged to focus study and projects in the healthcare area. Internships may be pursued in a variety of healthcare settings and from a variety of roles in healthcare.

2. Dual Degree Program with Public Administration and a variety of health related schools, such as Social Work, Nursing, Law, Dental Hygiene—The student may pursue a Dual Degree Program. The student is admitted to both the MPA program and to the professional graduate school within their career field. The program is designed between the representative of the two programs and the student to meet the needs of the University and the learning needs of the student. Foundation courses and electives to be counted in both courses of study are determined when the program is designed.

3. Concentrations within other degree programs—Students may decide to take a concentration in healthcare administration without taking a full joint degree. These arrangements have been made for both Master’s degree and Doctoral degree students. Arrangements are made within the curriculum structure of the plan of study. If a full fifteen hours is completed in healthcare administration, a certificate of advanced study is issued. Arrangements already exist within the School of Pharmacy for degrees offered there, and the Community Medicine program for both the Public Health degree and the Community Health Education degree. Individual arrangements with other degree programs can be arranged at the graduate student’s request.

4. Certificate program—The student not desiring a degree may take the fifteen-hour specialization and be awarded a certificate upon successful completion. Students may be in another graduate program or may be non-degree students. The student is admitted to the certificate study program. The credits completed may be counted toward degree completion, within the guidelines of the University, if the student decides to pursue a graduate degree at a later date.

Course Information

Field experiences and experiential learning sessions add to the student’s opportunity to explore this career field. Students with extensive background in any one of these course content areas may have the course waived by the program director so that they may pursue areas in which they are not experienced. Courses are designed to cover general healthcare systems, policy, financing, reimbursing, budgeting, and operations content. A variety of one credit courses are designed to provide in-depth content in specific areas.

  • Click here to view Healthcare Administration course descriptions.

Course Sequencing

Healthcare Administration courses are offered sequentially. The purpose of offering courses in a particular order is to ensure that all students have the same knowledge base in order to promote class interaction.

PUBA 670: Health Systems is the prerequisite for all other healthcare courses. Only in instances where a student has considerable experience in the course subject will the course requirement be waived. These decisions will be made on an individual basis by the program director.

PUBA 670: Health Systems may be taken concurrently with one of the other requirements as long as Health Systems is in the first academic term. Exceptions may be approved by the program director. In this case, a student must take all remaining hours from Public Administration.

Traditionally, PUBA 670: Health Systems and PUBA 672: Healthcare Finance are offered in the Fall semester. PUBA 671: Healthcare Organization & Operations is offered in the Spring semester. One-credit electives are offered at various times during the Fall, Spring, and sometimes Summer terms. You may contact the Department of Public Administration to find out what courses will be offered during a certain semester.

PUBA 780: Healthcare Administration Practicum is taken after the other twelve hours are taken and provides the capstone experience.

Registration Process

Certificate students registering for Healthcare Administration courses must see their advisor. Students may register via the STAR system unless a permit is required.

MPA students seeking the Healthcare Administration specialization should see their advisor for details on registration.

Contacting the Program

Dr. Nancy Adams is the Director of the Healthcare Administration program. She may be contacted by telephone at (304) 293-7949 or by email at Please contact Dr. Adams or the Department of Public Administration for more information about the Healthcare Administration program.

Local Governance and Community Development Area of Emphasis

Counties and municipalities are the levels of government most directly involved in community and economic development. Localities are where we live, learn, work, and recreate. These and other local governments, like school districts and public utilities, comprise the largest sector of public employment in the United States. In fact, employment in local government has even been growing while it declines at other levels of government. Adding to this sub-sector the many nonprofit organizations that engage in community and economic development, the opportunities for employment in this field of public service abound.

PA 650 Local Governance
Introduction to the institutions and processes of local governance, considering the contextual political economy. Institutions include: government structures (county, municipal, special districts), volunteer boards and commissions, and various types of community-based organizations.

PA 655 Public Engagement (or alternative approved elective)
Explores theories of community and causes of community conflict, and develops skills in techniques for engaging citizens, nonprofit, and government actors in collaborative local governance and community building.

PA 750 Public Planning
Introduction to the substantive range of public planning. Principles and practices of program, project, and physical planning with consideration of the local political and economic context.


PA 645 Public Administration and Policy Development
Policy development examined in terms of values, process, specific policy cases, alternative “futures” analyses and policy science.

PA 755 Sustainable Community & Economic Development
Explores the theory, principles, and ethics of economic, environmental, and social sustainability as applied to community and economic development activities, with a focus on project and program implementation.

Contacting the Program

Dr. Margaret Stout is the Coordinator of the Local Governance and Community Development program. She may be contacted by telephone at (304) 293-7978 or by email at Please contact Dr. Stout or the Department of Public Administration for more information.

Cultural Resource Management Certificate

The Department of History offers a 15 credit hour graduate certificate in Cultural Resource Management. Students pursuing an MPA can complete the Cultural Resource Management certificate.

What is Cultural Resource Management?
Cultural Resource Management (CRM) is an interdisciplinary field that focuses on the study of preserving and administering those items, places, and ideas that make up the cultural assets of a population, such as historically significant buildings, sites and documents, religious sites, and Native American artifacts.

MPA and CRM Career Opportunities
Individuals graduating with a MPA and CRM Certificate have an opportunity to work in the following agencies:

  • Federal agencies, such as the National Park Service, Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management.
  • State historical and cultural agencies
  • Non-Profit historical and cultural organizations, such as the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Preservation Alliance of West Virginia, and many museum/historical societies.
  • City and county management positions, such as community development and housing, redevelopment, and related fields.

For more information about the CRM Certificate please contact Jenny Boulware in the Department of History.

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