For graduate students looking to lead out in careers of public service, there may be no better degree to pursue than a Master’s in Public Administration. While so many business, management, and political science departments at nationally-recognized universities offer students several options in how to complete their degrees, it is worth looking at which format is best for a MPA major. With the continued advancements of technology, students continue to flock to online programs by the thousands each year. While these programs do offer flexibility and the chance for students to set their course load at an acceptable pace to their work schedules, there are some great advantages to pursuing a full-time graduate’s degree in Public Administration.
The first benefit to becoming a full-time student within a Master’s of Public Administration is the pace by which the degree progresses. As Andrew Friedenthal writes, “Most MPA programs require two years of full-time work, but there are notable exceptions, including Syracuse’s program which can be completed in one year.” The Master’s of Public Administration offered at Syracuse is a 40-credit program divided between nine core courses and seven specialized programs including “International and National Security Policy, Environmental Policy and Administration, International and Development Administration, Public and Nonprofit Management, State and Local Government Financial Analysis and Management, Social Policy, Technology and Information Management.” Another program full-time students can expect to complete in less than 24 months is the Master’s of Public Affairs at the Harry S. Truman School of Public Affairs at the University of Missouri. This MPA contains 45-credit hours of coursework and a total tuition rate of just $8,402.
Another benefit to pursuing a full-time MPA is the networking and real-world benefits these programs have to offer. Many schools offering programs in public service recognize the need for their students to gain invaluable experience by being exposed to public, political, and non-profit organizations as part of their education. Some schools, like the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas in Austin place an internship worth three hours of program credit between the first and second years of the Master’s of Public Affairs program which “provides direct contact with the operating realities of government, nonprofit and advocacy organizations.” Some programs do not count the internships as class credit but allow students to find an opportunity over the course of their degree with several stipulations. In the case of the MPA offered at the University of Georgia, “internships must be completed at a public-sector government agency or nonprofit organization that is non-partisan and non-sectarian in scope. This requirement helps to ensure that the degree candidate can perform responsibly and proficiently at a professional or managerial level.” While this internship requirement must include at least 300 hours of work, students have the choice to serve within federal, state, and local agencies. Internships and connections made within public, private, governmental, and non-profit organizations combine to create what will most likely be the MPA student’s professional network in the future. Many job offers have been a direct result of trusting a new hire by already knowing them through some sort of internship in the past.