To: Students interested in graduate school
From: Dean Hammer
About: University of North Carolina (Institute of Government)
The following is information about the Institute of Government (University of North Carolina). Much of it is based on a visit to the program and a conversation with Stephen Allred, Director of the MPA program. I will be placing this information and supporting information in an advising file.
The Program: The Institute of Government programs is a very good regional program that offers a Masters of Public Administration (MPA). The MPA is a two-year program. The focus of the program is on management (i.e., how to run an organization).
Core courses in the first year consist of Organizational Theory, Introduction to Methods, Communication, a course on Bureaucratic Organization, Management and Leadership, Program Evaluation, Personnel, Budging, and Accounting. Second year courses consist of Policy Analysis, Public Policy Management, Ethics, and 5 electives.
Students take a core of courses in their first year that train them in methodologies in policy analysis. In the first semester, students take Microeconomics for Policy, Politics of the Policy Process, Statistics and Data Analysis, Ethics and Policymaking, and a Policy Analysis workshop that integrates course material. In the second semester, students take a second course in Microeconomics for Policy, Quantitative Evaluation Methods, a second Policy Analysis workshop that is a consulting project, and an Elective.
There is a summer internship requirement. For the final project, students prepare and present a paper at a conference run by the Institute.
The program is a small program, with an entering class of 21-22 students. There is an emphasis on cooperation (thus, the courses are not grades) and on group projects.
Strengths of the program include North Carolina urban policy and city management. There is an increasing emphasis on training in Non-profit Organizations. One can also pursue a certificate in Public Policy Analysis through the MPA program. The MPA program is particularly appropriate for students who are interested in working in the North Carolina area.
1) Quantitative skills. A student should be advised to take at least 1 course in Microeconomics;
2) Social Science course. At least 1 American Government course. Preference is for a number of social science courses.
3) Public Service. The Program is looking for indices of commitment to public service and leadership. Involvement in community service, volunteer work, or student government is useful.
4) Internships/Employment. A majority of entering students had either some work experience our had an internship in college.
1) The program is a small program, with about 21-22 in each class;
2) The GRE average of accepted students was 1200 (verbal and quantitative).
3) Average GPA was 3.4
4) The average age of students was 26. Average work experience was 4 years.
5) One-fourth of the students were admitted directly out of college.
Writing a Statement of Purpose:
This program, like all programs, will ask students to write a statement of purpose. This program also requires an interview for admission. What follows are some tips:
1) The program is looking for a public service commitment, an understanding of one’s career goals, and a sense of how an MPA can help them achieve those goals.
2) Students should also show some coherence to their undergraduate and work record (i.e., are there a set of skills you have developed; does your coursework and work record show some progression in your own thinking and interests, etc).
Types of Jobs:
Graduates have entered a range of jobs, including as city managers, working on staff (such as a budget analyst) in large cities, non-profit organizations, legislative staffs, consulting firms (DeLoitte and Touche most recently), and Price Waterhouse. The MPA is seen as providing a knowledge of the public sector that one does not get with an MBA.
Letters of Recommendation:
It is important that you do not use outdated letters for references, particularly since you will have gained valuable work experience before applying to graduate school. It is important that you talk with faculty members who may be writing reference letters. Give them a sense of what you have been doing, what experiences you have had, and what sort of goals and objectives you have. This will be important so that the faculty member can emphasize personal aspects in the recommendation.