Interested in working in public administration? Think it might be the right career for you?
Then don’t miss this event! On July 30th, join us for a special webinar to learn more about The University of North Carolina’s Master’s in Public Administration, a program that’s available online. Since we know Brazenites love online education, admissions director Joy Jackson has generously offered to join us that evening at 7:00 p.m. EST for an inside look at the program.
What would you learn through an MPA program, and how can it help your career?
Joy, who’s also an alumnus of the in-residence MPA degree at UNC, joins us today to tell us about the degree. If this sounds interesting, join us for the free webinar!
Brazen: So Joy, first of all, what is the MPA all about?
Joy: The MPA is the perfect degree for those looking to work in public administration, whether that’s in local or federal government or for not-for-profit organizations. Both the in-residence and online MPA programs give students a professional and practically focused education in all aspects of public administration work, helping them gain the knowledge, skills and abilities they need to be an effective public service leader.
How did the online MPA program come about?
There’s a large demographic of people out there who would like to be a part of our highly acclaimed in-residence MPA program who simply can’t do it. They may be older than the average postgraduate students, they have work or family obligations and they therefore aren’t able to put everything on hold for two years while they come here to earn this wonderful degree.
The best thing about the online program is that it offers an option that’s attractive to a completely different demographic of equally passionate, equally qualified potential students. It’s also created a more dynamic discourse within the program itself because now we have students who are out working full-time in the real world and can bring back current anecdotes into the online classroom.
How has online education evolved, and how does that affect your program?
Originally, I think it was a more solo endeavor. Students may have watched a one-way lecture online, accessed a reading list and then communicated with a professor by sending emails.There was not a focus on facilitating the same quality of interaction between the students or between the students and instructor that is seen in a traditional classroom.
However, in the past 15 years, we’ve seen a change in how information is delivered online, and it’s so much more interactive now. Our online MPA students are able to interact with one another, and whoever’s teaching, through a virtual classroom. This kind of online program is creating new opportunities in terms of education strategies and teaching styles that we may not have explored 20 years ago because we just didn’t have the technology that could allow for all these different kinds of interactions.
Interestingly, some faculty members are now bringing the strategies and materials they designed for the online course back into the physical classrooms for the in-residence programs, so there’s real cross-pollination happening.
So how does the program work exactly?
Students can register for between one and three classes each term. For each course, they will be required to review approximately 90 minutes of recorded materials prior to class and then have a 90-minute live class session every week. They will also complete readings and assignments prior to their live class sessions. It’s a personal and individualized experience.
The online MPA program can be achieved in 18 months or anywhere up to five years. Typically, our students have projected that they’ll take two years to finish the program. The program is flexible; by giving students up to five years to complete the degree, we allow them the opportunity to take a break from their studies for whatever reason without losing any of their credits.
Are there any downsides to the online program?
There might be a different cohort experience. The online students bond differently; there’s less of a social aspect because they’re not studying together in the computer lab till 2:00 a.m. and so on. But I think for the people who are doing it, they’re not seeking out that kind of experience.
In spite of this, we’re proud that our online students feel just as engaged, passionate and connected with one another as the in-residence students. There are a lot of group projects involved in the MPA, and they interact in the classroom, meet for study groups on the platform on weekends…they’ve really formed a cohort culture of their own and enjoy the sense of family that UNC is famous for. We have an enormous amount of student support on offer to our online students, and we’re very excited to see what they’ll go on to do after graduation.
Don’t miss the webinar at 7:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday, July 30th! Register here for more details.
Amy Noble is a freelance writer, copy editor, proofreader and general grammar-obsessive living in London, England.