The Capacity and Constraints of Small MPA Programs: A Survey of Program Directors

William Hatcher, Wesley L. Meares, Victoria Gordon
2017 Journal of Public Affairs Education  
A significant percentage of the Master of Public Administration (MPA) programs accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA) have enrollments below 100 students. In 2014, there were 118 small MPA programs, and of these 85 (72%) were accredited by NASPAA. For that year, small MPA programs comprised 44% of NASPAA member MPA programs. These small programs play an important role in public affairs by contributing to governance and life in many
more » ... in many communities. The graduates of such programs serve many rural and mediumsized communities and nonprofits in the United States. Small programs offer several advantages: the ability to provide individualized attention to students; small classes where instructors can employ interactive teaching methods; mean ABSTrAcT Small Master of Public Administration (MPA) programs are commonly defined as having enroll ments below 100 students. Given their size, these programs face unique administrative challenges, such as heavy faculty teaching loads, resource constraints, and marketing beyond their region. However, the graduates of small programs serve many of the nation's communities by building the capacity of local public administration. To explore the capacity and constraints facing small MPA programs, we administered a survey to the directors of these programs. We find that many small programs have faculty with manageable teaching loads and adequate funds for travel. However, small programs still face challenges. Directors of small MPA programs receive little formal training, work under recruitment pressures, and have difficulties maintaining active advisory boards. Directors also report needing more administrative support and budget autonomy to do their jobs effectively and maintain accreditation with the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration.
doi:10.1080/15236803.2017.12002292 fatcat:ejbfpsucbrgnzenagv53xxordq