MPA Portfolio Project

In a student’s final semester of the MPA program, you must complete a portfolio project, which has written and oral components. The MPA Director will directly contact graduating students at the beginning of each semester about specific due dates for the portfolio and exit interview and how to sign up.

Students are required to directly e-mail Dr. Sara Rinfret ( their portfolio by the specified due date (generally a few weeks before the end of the semester and specified by the beginning of the semester). This must be an electronic pdf file. The written portfolio is required to contain each component (listed below) and organized in the following order:

  1. A title page with a title, student’s name, and year submitted.
  2. A table of contents that identifies the materials listed in the portfolio.
  3. A 2-3 page single-spaced personal essay in which the student describes professional growth during the MPA program, including areas of strength and areas needing continued development. Your personal essay must clearly reflect how you have applied theory to practice; cultural awareness (e.g. ability to define and understand diversity); what you have learned through your own conceptualizations of the pillars of public administration.
  4. Three public administration-related research course-related papers (not outlines, case write-ups, short assignments, or more than one assignment from a particular class) that are individual (not group) projects that demonstrate the student’s ability to design, conduct, and analyze research; have been completed for the requirements of an independent study, internship (not a reflection, but project), or traditional course; and have received a grade of at least an A or higher, which grades are affixed/feedback at the end of each example. For professors that use contract grading, students must demonstrate expectations have been exceeded (preferred) or met (e.g. “met expectations”).
  5. Separate from the 3 research papers, one artifact of the student’s ability to work cooperatively in a team setting/group project, which may stem from an independent study, internship, or traditional course and have received a grade of at least an A or higher, which grades are affixed at the end of each example. In instances where a student has a course using contract grading, student samples must demonstrate an assignment has “met expectations.”

    Important Notes: The MPA portfolio/exit interview is required to graduate from the program. Students cannot submit exams or transferred credit work from a previous institution as part of their portfolio. If a student fails to keep track of their grades, they can contact the MPA Director to discuss appropriate next steps. Students cannot request for a Moodle shell to be re-opened after a semester is completed because of failure to keep track of their grades. If a student does not meet the criteria for Items 4 and 5 listed above, they will not be able to complete their portfolio in their final semester and will be dismissed from the program.
  6. Strongly suggested tips on preparing for your exit interview: Please review these concepts in preparation for your exit interview: Theme across core classes; What it means to work in a team; Examples of connecting theory to practice; Pillars of PA (what do they mean -- accountability, efficiency, effectiveness, equity, responsiveness); Is public administration distinct; Your skills and ability to work in a diverse and changing workforce. Make sure to review the rubric listed below, too.

Students will receive feedback on their written portfolio before the oral portion. The oral portion of the portfolio will occur during the final week of classes or earlier, during the semester in which students plans to graduate. Two MPA faculty members will meet with each student for 30 minute review to assess the portfolio and discuss the students experience in the program (an exit interview). At the meeting broader questions pertaining to MPA core courses will be asked. For campus students this will be a formal meeting on campus; for online students the meeting will use video conferencing programs, such as Skype, Zoom, or robots. Students will sign up with the MPA Director directly for a scheduled time slot to complete the oral portion.

A grade of high pass, pass, or fail will be used to evaluate the student’s written and oral portions of the portfolio project. A student must receive an average score of high pass or pass on the written and oral components of the project. Students who fail the portfolio project have a right to resubmit their work to the MPA Director and repeat the exit interview one time. Students that fail the portfolio project a second time can submit an appeal for further consideration to the MPA Director. The MPA Director will meet with the MPA Committee to determine the outcome.

Written Work

Oral Work

High Pass (9-10   points)

Student follows instructions, provides a clearly organized/well documented portfolio/written portfolio, clear mastery of a variety of public administration   courses, clear   and well written description of professional growth.

Student is well versed in MPA core coursework, ability to apply theory to practice, strong demonstration of professional growth and ability to explain why content was included in written portion of the portfolio.

Pass (7-8 points)

Student follows instructions, professional growth is somewhat unclear, organization could be enhance, but student demonstrates overall mastery of coursework and professional growth.

Student can make some major  connections in MPA core coursework, theory to practice connections are acceptable, and student attempts to explain why elements were included in written portfolio.

Fail (6 or below)


Unorganized,instructions are not followed, does not demonstrate professional growth, and   does   not include evidence of passing level work from course curriculum.

Student presents information in an unprofessional manner, cannot apply theory to practice, does not understand core theories in MPA core courses, professional growth is not demonstrated, and student cannot explain why elements of written portion of portfolio were included.

Passing average score (written and oral) needed = 7-10

Failing average score = if a student receives a score of 6 or lower