Chicago Masters in Public Administration and Policy Hybrid Programs

Hybrid Masters in Public Administration and Policy programs could ready students to analyze problems, and find solutions to, critical issues in the public sector. Pursue the path of management through a Masters in Public Administration (MPA) degree. Or, study to build skills in data science, and use careful research to craft strategies through a Masters in Public Policy (MPP) degree program.

Hybrid Masters in Public Administration and Policy Programs: Blended Format

Sometimes called ‘blended’, Hybrid Masters in Public Administration and Policy programs target busy individuals who want to interact on campus but need to study online for convenience. Today’s public service leaders may need a masters degree to jumpstart their career trajectory, and the hybrid format may encourage in-service professionals to take that next academic step.i

The Online + On Campus Experience

This unique way of learning could provide plenty of opportunity to network and brainstorm alongside classmates while also, allowing students to meet the schedule demands they may face as a professional.

One might spend the first week of the quarter in the classroom to take part in seminars and lectures as well as get to know peers and faculty. Then, the program might alternate one week online and one week on campus.

Or, classes may meet weekends and evenings for a period of time, then convert to web-based courses. The exact format does vary but retains the element of flexibility for those who want to go ‘back to school’ and need it to be on their own terms.

Apart from format, students may take the same classes as traditional programs though it is prudent to review course lists in advance.

MPA vs MPP: Choose the Perfect Option for You

Wonder which Hybrid Masters in Public Administration and Policy program to choose? Frequently, the differences between degree programs shows up in course lists, so these are important to review. You might also ask yourself a few questions to flesh out your primary intentions.

  • Do I want to pursue analytical roles in fields such as health policy, advocacy, environmental policy, government, nonprofits, and consulting?
  • Am I interested in seeking a leadership role in the public or nonprofit sectors?
  • Would I like to develop skills in project and program management, policy implementation, public financial management, and human resources?
  • Is my goal to continue my education at the doctoral level or to use my degree as a platform to another degree such as a JD?

About the Hybrid MPA

An MPA, or Master of Public Administration is a practice-oriented management degree for those whose aim is leadership within the public sector and its many branches. Akin to the MBA with its focus on managerial skills, business decision-making and operations, MPA programs cover many similar topics but are examined through the lens of public services.

Students enrolled in hybrid MPA programs might take between 36 and 48 credits of core courses, concentration courses, research/internship and capstone. The capstone usually asks students to bridge theory with practice. Full-time students might complete their program in as few as 18 months in some universities, though the average time frame is two years.

Hybrid MPA Curriculum

A hybrid MPA curriculum is typically planned-out to with a range of disciplines in mind to provide both broad and deep information for those whose aim is to pursue a career in public administration.

Participants might study the structure of political, social, and legal/institutional systems in addition to topics like data analysis, budgeting, ethics and accountability, fundraising, HR and volunteer management and leadership. All within the context of helping public and nonprofit organizations to maximize their impact and achieve their operational goals.

Also, students often tackle critical social issues that may affect people around the world as well as those close to home. Through their analysis of public policy, learners might have a firmer grasp on ways to unite diverse groups as they work to find solutions to different challenges.

Six Topics One Might Study in a Hybrid MPA Degree Program

  1. Legal and Institutional Foundations of Public Administration
  2. Organizational Dynamics
  3. Data Management and Analysis
  4. Public Policy and Program Evaluation
  5. Public Budgeting & Finance
  6. Public Personnel Management

Pair Your MPA With Professional Interests

Build expertise in an area that lines up with professional goals through an MPA concentration. Because these vary between MPA schools, review several programs and compare them with your interests. Some schools may also offer a self-designed option where students select their own electives.

MPA in Public Management: Coursework could discuss intergovernmental relations and public law. Students might become familiar with computer applications used in their field as well as how to write grants, assess public programs and more.

MPA in Healthcare Administration: One might study the policy and politics that underscore healthcare as well as the economics of health and medical care. Other topics might help students understand health care informatics and specific managerial functions.

MPA in Nonprofit Management: Study to understand the finer points of fundraising and social entrepreneurship. One might also explore targeted financial management practices for nonprofits.

MPA in Emergency Management: Discover the leadership tactics used to prevent and mitigate disasters. Key topics could include disaster response operations and recovery and risk assessment.

MPA in Public Policy: Courses might meld the analytic methods needed to research issues and devise policies with the leadership and tactical understanding that leaders need to implement programs.

Potential MPA Degree Outcomes

Masters in Public Administration graduates may take away several key competencies.

  • An ability to manage in public organizations
  • Be able to take part in and contribute to the policy process
  • The skills to analyze, synthesize, think critically, problem solve and make decisions
  • Effectively communicate and interact with diverse groups and in varied settings

Applying to Hybrid MPA Programs

Each university with an MPA program sets its own criteria for admissions. Common to most schools is the need to complete a form, send a fee and specific documentation. While the minimum GPA requirements range, applicants need a completed bachelor degree from an accredited institution. Other requisites could include a professional resume, letters of reference and personal essay.

DID YOU KNOW?

Most, but not all, policy analysts have a graduate degree, such as a law (J.D.), doctorate (Ph.D.), or masters degree. ii

About the Hybrid MPP

An MPP, which stands for Master of Public Policy is an academic graduate degree aimed at students who want to analyze, evaluate and solve, policy-related issues. It may help students build the skills needed to read, research, and communicate effectively – or – learn to pitch their ideas and negotiate outcomes.

In terms of required credits and length, there are of course, variables. Hybrid MPP students might want to study part-time. A fulltime student might complete their degree in about two years.

In some cases, MPP students may need to complete 48 to 60 credits. This may be divided into core (compulsory) course work and elective credits. As part of the elective selections, students may need to choose a series of courses that count toward an approved concentration. Usually this is in a substantive policy area. The remainder of courses may be purely elective credits.

Hybrid MPP Curriculum

At the heart of a hybrid MPP program, students may find courses that focus on concepts from data management, statistical analysis, policy analysis and formation as well as financial modeling.

These core subjects are usually intended to ready students to utilize diverse skills throughout the policymaking process, from policy research to budget analysis to implementation.

Six Topics One Might Study in a Hybrid MPP Degree Program

  1. Public Policy Formation
  2. Economic Policy
  3. Quantitative Methods
  4. Management and Organizational Behavior
  5. Finance and Budgeting
  6. Research Design

Enhance Policy Expertise

Essentially, apart from the core courses, students choose the direction they want to take for their analytical projects via a concentration. Students usually select courses from a wide array of disciplines throughout their university to develop a specific area of policy expertise. In some cases, students might select from a full menu of disciplines. Agriculture, education, health, business, environment, and government process are just a few examples.

Potential MPP Degree Outcomes

A professionally-oriented program, students might gain a variety of skill sets as they work towards their degree. Below are some potential learning outcomes.

  • An ability to think critically and creatively about public policy theory, analysis and application
  • Technical skills in quantitative and qualitative analysis
  • A firm grasp of how to conduct research in the field of public policy
  • A deeper sense of diversity, diverse points of view and the tradeoffs they entail in policy formation
  • Leadership capacity that might include an ability to work independently and in groups

Finally, for those who want to pursue further graduate work - law school for example, an MPP degree may be a suitable place to get started and may also provide content-based knowledge to inform one’s law practice.

For students who are interested in a PhD in social sciences, an MPP may provide valuable research skills and content areas in courses that may be transferable into a doctorate. For students interested in law school, the MPP degree provides content-based knowledge to inform your practice.

Applying to an MPP School

Applicants to a university with a hybrid MPP program have commonly earned a bachelors degree from an accredited college or university with a minimum (school-set) GPA and may have related work experience.

Apply to Hybrid Masters in Public Administration and Policy Programs

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[i] bls.gov/ooh/management/social-and-community-service-managers.htm#tab-4 | [ii] bls.gov/careeroutlook/2007/spring/art03.pdf

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