Ohio U. MPA offering enables grads to address difficult social problems (with related video)
As part of its series on Master of Public Administration (MPA) programs that can help government officials in their careers, GPN reached out to Jason Jolley, assistant professor and MPA director at Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs.
The Ohio University MPA offering is an interdisciplinary two-year degree. It is available on campus in a traditional format or as an off-campus Executive MPA degree. The MPA offering is designed to be responsive to students at all levels (from novice to career-service professionals). The program equips graduates with the knowledge and skills needed to address difficult social problems, meet complex challenges and enhance public value. Below are Jason Jolley’s views.
GPN: Can your school’s MPA program offer new opportunities to our readers?
Jason Jolley: Earning an MPA offers a wonderful opportunity to obtain graduate level training in public administration, while providing a deeper understanding of trends in public policy and broader issues of governance. Our program not only offers the basic degree outcomes, but also helps to raise awareness about the challenges that we face in public administration and society as a whole.
Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs is a catalyst for organizations within the community, state and nation to readily access experts in entrepreneurial, environmental and social innovation. The school’s blend of real-world problem solving and key government, nonprofit and industry partnerships with student education provides unique learning opportunities.
GPN: Is 2015-2016 a great time for government administrators to earn an MPA?
JJ: 2015-2016 is a great time to earn an MPA for a variety of reasons. First, we must continually look beyond solely governmental intervention to solve complex societal challenges that we face, such as poverty, creating economic opportunity, climate change or addressing health disparities. Earning an MPA equips individuals who want to work in the government sector to be able to reach across to the nonprofit sector and the private sector in order to address those problems.
Additionally, a person will have multiple jobs throughout his or her life. Getting an MPA provides individuals working in government greater flexibility and more opportunity to be able to move to the nonprofit sector, the private sector or a different level of government while still being positioned to work for the greater good.
GPN: Do you have any advice for GPN’s audience on choosing an MPA program?
JJ: Prospective students who are considering an MPA program should look for one that is flexible, particularly if you want to continue to work while pursuing a degree in a part-time capacity. Another important aspect to consider is the quality of the faculty members and other individuals who are affiliated with the program, such as working professionals and adjunct professors. They should have experience and good reputations in your focus area.
You also want to look for a degree that has relevant coursework related to your career goal. MPA programs have a broad base and pull from many subject areas. Therefore, most have specializations and strengths in specific subjects areas, which can differ from program to program. These may include local, state and federal government; nonprofit management and environmental policy.
When considering an MPA program, you should consider your interests, current position and aspirational career trajectory. This will help you find a program to best fit your needs. Ask faculty and current students at the prospective school about experiential opportunities such as internship placements or service learning where you can apply your classroom knowledge in a practical setting. The MPA is a “hands on” degree, so experience outside of the classroom is invaluable.
Finally, your classmates today will be your professional network for tomorrow. Our alumni are employed throughout the United States, in state, local and national government; agencies; nonprofit organizations and position of influence worldwide. Be sure to choose an MPA program that can provide you with the opportunity to not only further your career today, but also your goals for tomorrow.
GPN: What sets the Voinovich School’s program apart from other MPA programs?
JJ: Any university can offer an education in public affairs. What makes the Voinovich School MPA program distinct is the multidisciplinary nature of the education. We are the only public affairs school in the country to lead a Small Business Development Center, Center for Entrepreneurship and a regional technology commercialization accelerator. We not only offer conventional MPA coursework, but we also provide students experience in working in the public or nonprofit sector in an entrepreneurial setting. As a result of embedding entrepreneurship in our public sector work, the Voinovich School was named one of the 2015 50 Most Innovative Public Service Schools in the U.S.
Because of our unique nature, public administration students are provided an opportunity to consider how they might use social innovation, social entrepreneurship and social ventures to address public problems. We have seen many students consider launching a new venture, participate in pitch competitions, and implement entrepreneurial strategies from our classrooms into their existing organizations.
At the Voinovich School, students engage in a combination of hands-on opportunities and networking to bring their ideas to life. In addition to 12 faculty members, the Voinovich School employs 60 professionals who work on a myriad of projects. Our graduate assistants work on projects with a faculty member and a set of professionals in a team environment. These projects are focused on topics such as economic and community development, entrepreneurship, environmental policy, health policy or education. Faculty, staff and students work as a team on a variety of projects such as economic development, entrepreneurship, education, and health policy. MPA students with an interest in environmental issues often work with faculty and staff in our M.S. in environmental studies program on water quality, energy and climate change.
For individuals who wish to continue to work while attending school on a part-time basis, we offer an executive master of public administration program at our Dublin, Ohio, campus, which is taught in a weekend-hybrid format. Students engaged in that program benefit from experienced faculty, many who are working professionals in their field. Routinely, our executive MPA students advance their careers after completing the program.
GPN Thank you, Jason Jolley, for your views.
In the video, Thomas Raabe, an MPA student at Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, tells how his coursework took him out of his comfort zone.