To: Students interested in graduate study
From: Prof. Dean Hammer
About: University of Pennsylvania (Fels Center of Government )
The following is information about the Fels Center of Government at the University of Pennsylvania. Much of it is based on a conversation with John Mulhern, Director of the program.
The Program: The Masters program is a 3 semester program that focuses on financial management. The program is designed to prepare students for "line management" positions in public service in both the private and public sector.
The program provides its graduates with a set of skills (such as budgeting skills). But what is distinctive about the program is that it also has an organizational and political component that is designed to teach its graduates how to do things and get things done.
Graduates have gone on as legislative assistants, deputy mayors, township managers, deputy secretaries in state government, and as public sector consultants as some of the top firms.
Preparation in any particular discipline is not critical. Students may also enter the program either directly from college or from a job. The program is looking for 4 characteristics in students it admits:
1) A good liberal arts preparation. You might want to mention courses you have had in political theory. Prof. Mulhern has indicated that one of the greatest problems that entering students have is dealing with conceptual material. Having been a political theorist, Professor Mulhern has suggested the importance of political theory in developing these analytic skills.
2) A demonstrated commitment to public service. This would include everything from working on political campaigns to working in public/ community agencies.
3) Competitiveness. They are looking for students who have demonstrated leadership, who know something about working on a team, who have discipline and perseverance, and who have learned how to lose and to win. Activities in sports, as well as other leadership work, are emphasized here.
4) Brightness. They do not weigh GRE and GPA scores heavily. Rather, they are looking for a pattern. For example, are grades going up over the four years?
1) GRE scores should be around 1700 for the 3 components. The TOEFL score should be around 580.
2) GPA should be at least 3.00 (though there is some flexibility here).
3) The program admits about 35 new students each year.
Writing a Statement of Purpose:
This program, like all programs, will ask students to write a statement of purpose. What follows are some tips:
1) The statement should be authentic. Focus on giving them a sense of what is distinctive about you.
2) Focus on the mission of the program, which is a commitment to public service. They are interested in ways in which you have demonstrated a commitment to public service.
3) Talk about any experiences that might have shaped you, including sporting activities or others activities that show evidence of resilience, leadership, or management in difficult times.
4) You should show focus in your goals and objectives. This is the importance of working for a while.
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.