Students who elect to pursue a Graduate Certificate in Business and Government Leadership, Disaster and Emergency Management, or Nonprofit Leadership may apply many of the hours toward their MPA degree.
Each concentration is led by a faculty member who serves as area coordinator, providing necessary academic direction to the concentration and its students. In keeping with the values of community engagement and civic responsibility, each area of concentration has a civic leader who reflects these values and is tasked with assisting students in the area. Students are encouraged to take advantage of experiential learning opportunities as they arise, such as special projects for government agencies and nonprofit organizations. These experiences can be taken as PA 504 (Independent Study) under the guidance of a faculty member. PA 504 may replace a concentration elective. In addition, when offered, PA 506 (International Service-Learning Experience) provides an important learning experience abroad related to the student’s area.
Just as the cornerstone of the curriculum assumes the unity of the public affairs area, so does its capstone course, PA 602 (Seminar in Public Affairs). This writing-intensive and highly interactive seminar is required of all students, regardless of program area. Assigned readings and presentations reinforce the guiding theme of the unity of public affairs, using the framework of the founding documents of the U.S. It is recommended that students take the capstone in their final term in the program, as preparation for the oral and written comprehensive examinations.
The comprehensive examinations, written and oral, are also an integral part of the program. The examinations check the student’s professional preparation, as well as understanding of the field of public affairs.
Pre-service students admitted to the Master of Public Affairs program are required to complete a three-credit hour internship course (PA504). A pre-service student is considered a student who has less than two years' professional experience (non-clerical work requiring a bachelor's degree) in their area of study.
The internship course (PA504) provides pre-service graduate students an opportunity to apply academic learning to direct service within their field. It also offers students firsthand observation of practitioners and provides practitioners an opportunity to interact with students pursuing a degree in public affairs. While PA504 is intended for pre-service students, in-service students (students who have two or more years' professional experience in their area of study) may enroll in PA504 with approval of their concentration's civic leader.
Students designated as pre-service on admission, who are subsequently employed by an organization in their area of concentration for two years, may petition the civic leader in their concentration for an internship waiver. For more information, please go to page 102 of the 2014-2015 Graduate Catalog at www.park.edu/catalogs.