Any MPA Grads or Students? Advice.

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kjvmartin
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Joined: Wed Jan 21, 2015 8:57 am

Any MPA Grads or Students? Advice.

Post by kjvmartin » Mon Apr 17, 2017 9:31 am

I'm in my early 30s and I just reached 9 years at my public service job (salaried law enforcement). It's a 4 year degree job earning about $65k/year. No pension. This is something I kind of enjoy, but lately it's getting a little stale. Until about last year, I had no desire to promote or change gears, but I've been displeased with the direction the agency is heading & how it effects my day-to-day life. I do good work and receive excellent reviews and some commendations. There are some management openings where I would reach a 16% increase over my current salary, and there's a fair chance of obtaining one of those slots without any additional education. Our upper management is mostly 4 year degree people and they don't take advanced degrees into consideration for promotions (more "who you know" than "what you know").

I'm thinking about an MPA to change careers.

An old college acquaintance completed an MPA public policy program after undergrad. She just received a mid level promotion with the federal government starting at $155,000/year. I could become the state level director of my agency (lol) and not come close to that income. Also, having kids mades me less keen on the whole risking life/limb aspect of my current job.

I don't have a lot of specific questions, but I'd be interested in hearing from current or former MPA students about career ideas, prospects, job outlook, specializations. One of my biggest concerns (which actually stopped my degree application process) is the recent hiring freeze on federal government employees (yikes). There is a health care management specialization, but I have no background there and health care seems a bit of a mess, overall?
Last edited by kjvmartin on Mon Apr 17, 2017 9:44 am, edited 1 time in total.

Wellfleet
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Re: Any MPA Grads or Students? Advice.

Post by Wellfleet » Mon Apr 17, 2017 9:41 am

Beyond what an old friend is up to, think about jobs you would like to have at some point and determine what the qualification are to get that position. Are there certifications that you can get that serve the same purpose, etc? Try looking on indeed.com and insert the qual you have to see how many opening there are around the country with the new degree.

kjvmartin
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Re: Any MPA Grads or Students? Advice.

Post by kjvmartin » Mon Apr 17, 2017 10:00 am

Wellfleet wrote:Beyond what an old friend is up to, think about jobs you would like to have at some point and determine what the qualification are to get that position. Are there certifications that you can get that serve the same purpose, etc? Try looking on indeed.com and insert the qual you have to see how many opening there are around the country with the new degree.
It has been a consideration for a while - there are various federal openings where an MPA is suitable. My current LE line of work also has a federal branch, but it's nigh impossible to get in. I'm trying to break into more of an "analyst" type position. I may be required to start at the state level with no increase in salary, but my goal would be to move into federal service as soon as possible. Indeed does not seem to have government posts, but USA Jobs is the general place to go for those openings.

kjvm

Yankuba
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Re: Any MPA Grads or Students? Advice.

Post by Yankuba » Mon Apr 17, 2017 11:16 am

I'm 37 and work for the federal government. I completed ~16 years of federal service and hope to retire early with the pension @ 25 years of service.

My plan after I retire at 47 is to transition into the non-profit sector. So a few years ago I decided to get my MPA - part time (I also have kids) - at a local commuter school in NYC. It costs about $1500 a class and there are 14 required classes. Plus about $1200 per year in fees.

The MPA has some interesting courses (economics, statistics, finance and accounting) but there was a ton of overlap with my undergraduate degree (economics, statistics, management, finance/accounting, civics), so I can't give the degree my full recommendation. In a perfect world I would have been able to place out of the subjects I already took. We also don't spend a lot of time on current issues - we've spent 30 minutes on income inequality, zero minutes on the ACA and zero minutes on the election. I also have no idea if the degree will help me transition into an entry level non-profit job when I retire. Most of my classmates are in their 20s and are getting the degree in order to receive a bump in pay from their current employer or because it's a recommended degree for those in non-profits and government. We also have a lot of nurses and teachers who are getting the degree in order to move into managerial roles in those fields. Some folks hope to use the degree to transition into government or non-profit work, but these people are the minority.

kjvmartin
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Re: Any MPA Grads or Students? Advice.

Post by kjvmartin » Mon Apr 17, 2017 12:40 pm

Yankuba wrote:I'm 37 and work for the federal government. I completed ~16 years of federal service and hope to retire early with the pension @ 25 years of service.

My plan after I retire at 47 is to transition into the non-profit sector. So a few years ago I decided to get my MPA - part time (I also have kids) - at a local commuter school in NYC. It costs about $1500 a class and there are 14 required classes. Plus about $1200 per year in fees.
How's the work/life/school balance part time? Would full time be impossible? Are you finding it difficult to get back into the swing of things so far off from your 4 year degree? My 4 year degree was in social work, so all of those courses you described will be newish.

kjvm

Yankuba
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Re: Any MPA Grads or Students? Advice.

Post by Yankuba » Mon Apr 17, 2017 1:11 pm

kjvmartin wrote:
Yankuba wrote:I'm 37 and work for the federal government. I completed ~16 years of federal service and hope to retire early with the pension @ 25 years of service.

My plan after I retire at 47 is to transition into the non-profit sector. So a few years ago I decided to get my MPA - part time (I also have kids) - at a local commuter school in NYC. It costs about $1500 a class and there are 14 required classes. Plus about $1200 per year in fees.
How's the work/life/school balance part time? Would full time be impossible? Are you finding it difficult to get back into the swing of things so far off from your 4 year degree? My 4 year degree was in social work, so all of those courses you described will be newish.

kjvm
Funny that you did social work. I wanted to get a MSW, but none of the local programs were part time and they all required two internships with full time hours. So I decided on the MPA. Boston University offers an online MSW but it was an absurd amount of money. $70k or more I believe.

I'm only taking one class per semester - one evening a week from 6PM to 9PM. The teachers assign a lot of reading but I've noticed that there is little correlation between the readings and the assessments so you don't actually have to do most of the readings. Most of the assessments are essays and there have been very few in classroom exams. If you look at RateMyProfessor.com and speak to your classmates you can avoid the teachers that give the most work. I definitely worked harder in college and high school - my MPA program is not rigorous at all.

It has been difficult taking some of the assignments seriously due to my age and due to the fact that nobody is ever going to look at a MPA transcript.

Full time would definitely be a challenge. If you took the courses at night you wouldn't get to see your family and you would have a ton of reading and homework. Most students in my program work full time but don't have families. They take two classes a semester and two during the summer and finish in two to three years. I'm taking one class a semester and stopped summer classes so it will take me 6 years. But there's no rush because I wouldn't try to use the degree until 2026 or so.

JimSmiley1850
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Re: Any MPA Grads or Students? Advice.

Post by JimSmiley1850 » Mon Apr 17, 2017 7:31 pm

One alternative thought -- have you considered getting an MBA. It is a very flexible degree and I've found MBAs in govt and the non-profit sector. Much of non-profit leadership is enterprenerial, marketing and requires a solid basis in cost controls. I have the impression there are many good MBA part time programs in the NYC area. An MPA is perceived to have little value in the business world while an MBA in my experience is valued just as much as an MPA in the non-profit world. (Full disclosure I have an MBA and worked in govt. consulting and then moved to pure private sector consulting). Good luck

kjvmartin
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Re: Any MPA Grads or Students? Advice.

Post by kjvmartin » Mon Apr 17, 2017 7:44 pm

JimSmiley1850 wrote:One alternative thought -- have you considered getting an MBA. It is a very flexible degree and I've found MBAs in govt and the non-profit sector. Much of non-profit leadership is enterprenerial, marketing and requires a solid basis in cost controls. I have the impression there are many good MBA part time programs in the NYC area. An MPA is perceived to have little value in the business world while an MBA in my experience is valued just as much as an MPA in the non-profit world. (Full disclosure I have an MBA and worked in govt. consulting and then moved to pure private sector consulting). Good luck
I had not considered it, but I will certainly look into the idea.

flyingbison
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Re: Any MPA Grads or Students? Advice.

Post by flyingbison » Mon Apr 17, 2017 7:48 pm

Yankuba wrote: The teachers assign a lot of reading but I've noticed that there is little correlation between the readings and the assessments so you don't actually have to do most of the readings. Most of the assessments are essays and there have been very few in classroom exams. If you look at RateMyProfessor.com and speak to your classmates you can avoid the teachers that give the most work. I definitely worked harder in college and high school - my MPA program is not rigorous at all.
Sounds like a waste of time and money.

kjvmartin
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Re: Any MPA Grads or Students? Advice.

Post by kjvmartin » Mon Apr 17, 2017 7:51 pm

flyingbison wrote:
Yankuba wrote: The teachers assign a lot of reading but I've noticed that there is little correlation between the readings and the assessments so you don't actually have to do most of the readings. Most of the assessments are essays and there have been very few in classroom exams. If you look at RateMyProfessor.com and speak to your classmates you can avoid the teachers that give the most work. I definitely worked harder in college and high school - my MPA program is not rigorous at all.
Sounds like a waste of time and money.
There does seem to be a wide range of MPA programs. For example, just looking at random schools that have online programs without a statistics requirement or the Michigan school of public policy which asks you to take calculus. They also require the GRE. Many schools do not. The person I know doing very well with her MPA went to a commuter college for an in person degree.

kjvmartin
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Re: Any MPA Grads or Students? Advice.

Post by kjvmartin » Wed Apr 26, 2017 6:50 pm

flyingbison wrote:
Yankuba wrote: The teachers assign a lot of reading but I've noticed that there is little correlation between the readings and the assessments so you don't actually have to do most of the readings. Most of the assessments are essays and there have been very few in classroom exams. If you look at RateMyProfessor.com and speak to your classmates you can avoid the teachers that give the most work. I definitely worked harder in college and high school - my MPA program is not rigorous at all.
Sounds like a waste of time and money.
Does a program need to be rigorous to be worth the money? If he can use this degree to increase his earnings, or start a 2nd career, it wouldn't be a waste, would it?

I'm bumping this thread also to see if anyone else has feedback on the MPA. Seems to be a little known or discussed degree on BH.

kjvm

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