A new program is coming to the Lowcountry Graduate Center in the fall and it would be fair to say it has never been needed more. In a booming region where market forces appear to be racing ahead of the planning process and low-income communities are being gentrified farther away from the jobs, the University of Charleston, South Carolina will bring a new executive Master’s of Public Administration (MPA) degree program to the LGC.
The MPA program has been well-established at Charleston and respected nationally. The executive format will allow working professionals already in the field to expand their knowledge base by learning more about the theoretical underpinnings of their work and further developing the practical skills needed for successful public sector work.
MPA graduates work in government, regional planning agencies, non-profit organizations, policy groups, art organizations or anywhere else that provides public service. People who work in these areas are passionate about helping others and serving the greater good for their vocation.
The existing MPA program is nationally-accredited and beloved by alumni. “I would 100% recommend the MPA program at College of Charleston to anyone who’s interested in finding more creative and innovative solutions to the problems that we face as citizens,” said Kate DeWitt, a 2013 graduate who co-founded a social enterprise startup after graduating.
The new executive program will offer the same curriculum as the existing program but in a different format. Intensive seven-week courses will follow a hybrid structure with two Saturday class sessions, per seven-week term, at the Lowcountry Graduate Center and online learning the rest of the time.
Dr. Judy Millesen, the director of the MPA program, says the format was conceived after consulting with professionals interested in returning to school and considering the multiple demands placed on their time. “The program format is designed to help students complete their MPA in 18 months because we recognize the challenges facing full time professionals,” she said.
The degree requires 18 hours of core courses that provide students with a strong grounding in the foundational elements of the profession, and an additional 15 hours of electives that introduce students to specialization areas within the broader context of public administration. Electives could include classes on economic development, local government, the arts, urban planning, environmental conservation and more.
An unexpected advantage of programs aimed at professionals, Dr. Millesen says, is what they offer each other. Ensconced in the rigors of full-time work, full-time school and often full-time family life conveys pressures that only classmates can fully understand. Students also bring with them their individual professional experiences that woven together create a valuable fabric of insights and ideas.
“I love watching these students find and support each other,” Dr. Millesen said.
The application deadline for the fall semester is July 1. Find out more about the MPA program at http://puba.cofc.edu/.