Classes in local government were first offered at the University of Kansas in the late 1940s, when city management was becoming professionalized in reaction to corruption, says Marilu Goodyear, chairwoman of its department of public administration. Students today — including civil engineers, firefighters and police officers seeking to advance to leadership positions — are often interested in careers in city management or finance. Internships are part of most M.P.A. programs. Kansas’ are distinctive: students intern full time in city government their second year. With campuses near Fort Leavenworth, the university also attracts military personnel involved in nation building and reconciliation in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Maj. Robin W. Montgomery, aide to Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, graduated last summer.)
Kansas tops the U.S. News & World Report rankings for city management and urban policy.
My friend and classmate Rob (Robin) got a huge mention! Way to go, Rob!
Public administration is an incredible field, but it often gets confused. You tell someone you work in government, and they assume you are a politician. Public administration is typically about the professional government worker (nonpartisan during working hours and unbiased) implementing policies handed down from politicians.
I would recommend an MPA for anyone looking to start, or further, a career in professional government. If you are starting out, I would recommend attending a program that has very good connections to internships. Or, find a job in a government and later go back and get an MPA. Either way, the important part of the degree is the application of real-life experience to MPA classes.
And with all this talk of MPA degrees, I have to brag about the one I just received!: