OHIO’s MPA: A Student’s Perspective

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Take some time to hear more about the Master of Public Administration at Ohio University through the words of students and recent graduates. In this 40-minute presentation you will gain insightful expectations as prospective and incoming students of the program.


hello everyone welcome to Ohio University’s online master of Public Administration webinar we are going to be doing students perspectives today with a little bit of information to get us started on the actual MPA we are going to give everyone just about another 30 seconds to get logged on and situated and we will get started

all right everyone thank you all so much for joining us today taking the time to learn a little bit more about Ohio’s MPA as well as our three student panelists thank you all for your time today we will quickly get moving forward first I want to point out a couple of things on your screen in front of you you will see an area for QA which we will have a little bit later feel free to get started in putting questions that you might have and you would like us to address and then you will also see an area there where social media is available to share the presentation with your friends and colleagues so let’s go ahead and touch on the agenda will have a quick a quick excuse me MPA program overview we will speak to our three students who have taken a time to share their experience with you Ashley Hut is here with us we have Curtis Brown with us as well as Larry Lester who is a written MPA graduate we will also then have a quick Q&A session so that they or myself can answer any questions that you have and I will share some information with you about how to apply so let’s quickly touch on a couple of these points with the MPA program overview as some of you already know it’s going to help you build the skill set our students are certainly going to expound on that here today that you need to address any type of position responsibility and public sector or nonprofit as you can see those are our two concentrations there is no campus residency requirement no capstone or experiential learning and it is taught by field experienced faculty from the campus you’re going to find that it’s a really terrific experience as they will no doubt share with you a few of the courses here twelve classes total nine of which are in what we call the core courses as you’ll see here and then three classes a true specialization the in each of the specializations public leadership and management concentration for a total of nine credits and then the non management concentration as well for a total of nine credits 36 total credit hours for the program 12 classes total as you can see here are some information on MPA career outcomes MPA related job titles things like chief administrative officer city managers directors and public policy executive directors for nonprofits things of that nature as well as some information on what those potential annual salaries can look like from payscale.com and then as well private sector roles that surprised many people when they think about an MPA that private sector roles might be open to different positions for business development directors corporate communications directors management consultants things of that nature where an MPA can set you apart from many other applicants in those arenas so don’t discount it if you’re in private sector there are some roles out there where the MPA can be just as valuable for you so let’s jump into the real reason you are all here to have an opportunity to hear from about the MPA from a student’s perspective so we will start with Ashley here’s a little bit of background Ashley thank you so much for joining us thank you for having me hi everyone as she mentioned my name is Ashley HUDs I am a recent 2017 graduate from Youngstown State University with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a minor and certificate and nonprofit leadership when I was an undergrad I was in a student nonprofit leadership organization and at the end of the year they had all the seniors go around and talk about what their plans for next year were and someone had mentioned get obtaining their master’s in public administration I thought that sounded super interesting so I started researching schools and led me to Ohio University I’ve had a very positive experience during my year in the online masters of Public Administration program at Ohio University I’ve been able to maximize my potential by planning out my week deciding what needs to get accomplished by Wynne and where I can fit in time to relax and still do things that I enjoy this process has yet to fail me balancing my work schedules cooking family time time for friends and time to myself um this is advice that I would offer to any student to plan ahead and be sure to allow yourself enough time to complete assignments while also allowing yourself to do things that you enjoy so you don’t get burnt out my second piece of advice would also entail your amount of effort you get out of this program what you put into it. If you do not reach out to your professor and other students you’re only putting yourself at a disadvantage. Using those resources not only reduces your stress related to your work coursework, but also allows for long-term connections. The professors are aware of the difficulty is online and distant learning concise, so they do a really great job of finding ways that they can incorporate learning in this left untraditional environment. They host online sessions so you can meet face-to-face in order to solve any problems you have with your class. And they truly do put in an effort above and beyond to ensure that you succeed. I also especially enjoyed with courses are set up because you only focus on one class at a time, instead of trying to juggle multiple classes. The seven-week courses present the information at an accelerated rate, but the way the professor structure of the class you don’t miss out on any of the information.

I chose Ohio’s MPA programs because of the prestige of the program and the flexibility to complete the program without me having to move down to Athens. I personally have been able to commute an hour one direction to my 40 hours a week full-time job, volunteer once a week for a 4-h summer camp, purchase a home and still accomplish all of my assignments while learning many ideas that I actually want to implement at my job. Other reasons I chose the program are because of the staff who welcomed me to the program. The enrollment advisor called me to make sure I was on track, but not didn’t call me so much that I was annoyed. She also was able to answer any questions I had about the program and help me the frozen crop pros and cons of the various program options. I have most importantly even though it’s probably her job to quote unquote be excited for the prospective student, I felt like she was genuinely excited for me to join the program, which made me more excited for the program and comfortable that I was making the correct decision. I can honestly say I’ve learned a lot more in my in one year in this program than I have did in one year as an undergrad.

The subject material is relevant to my current career and my current career goals. I plan on using my MPA program to expand my impact on the nonprofit world. Currently I’m the controller at a non-profit, so I’m the head of the accounting department. I would love to continue to move up become a chief executive officer, whether it’s where I currently am or another nonprofit that I can positive to positively impact the client the business hosting. I want to implement topics I’ve learned in this program especially the performance management and measurement processes. I’m learning in my current class on outcomes because I know that it will take any nonprofit to the next level of service providing.

That’s really great Ashley, thank you so much for sharing that with our attendees. I think it’s really important to point out and thank you for addressing that that coursework is relatively easy the mechanics of what you’re doing the time that you’re spending each week is fairly easy to fit it in into your days and weeks to come have you found that being organized you would mention that has really helped with that and then having the flexibility to bob and weave as it were when necessary if you didn’t feel like doing it one day you still had time in the week leftover do you feel like that flexibility also helps you.

Yes I do because even my birthday was back in February and I had class during that week, but I just made sure that I reached out to my professor and made sure that I got done what I needed to and I was still able to accomplish my everything I needed to before I left and I was able to still go to Vegas and do things while I was also still in class excellent great to hear and I tell that to students to prospective students all the time so this is going to be really valuable straight from someone who is experiencing that themselves you have that ability to turn things in early and be able to then carve out some additional time for yourself moving forward and so that’s something I’m really glad to hear you say actually thank you so much so we will have I can already see people with questions we will have some questions coming up no doubt for you so thank you so much. Let’s jump over to Curtis. Curtis if you don’t mind give a little bit of your background and then of course speak to your experience with us here at Ohio University’s MPA sure well thank you so much for having me today and hello to everyone watching a little bit of background about me I used to be a classroom educator. I was a music educator started out in in West Virginia and the Kentucky high school system and I actually ended up moving to Columbus to teach here in the Columbus City school system and I always wanted to to go back to obtain my master’s degree and I came across the MPA program at Ohio University and I still wanted to still wanted to work while obtaining my master’s degree and that was really one of the big parts that a lot that drew me to the MPA program at Ohio University along with learning about the prestige of the program and learning about the professors and other curriculum and just other things that that come along with the program so I was really excited to to be able to be a part of it some of my experiences with the program were openness from the professor’s whenever I had any kind of questions or if I ever had any issues with assignments or anything that would come up all I had to do is email or call my professors and they always right there ready to to help me solve this the issue and remember even having a point at one time when I had a question about something and one of the professors offered to do a video conference with me just to make sure that I was understanding everything that I was supposed to understand is that I really appreciate it because at that point I was working my full-time job and I was working a part-time job and I had the classes so it was really really helpful that they wanted to take the time to sit down and really make sure that I understood everything and that was something that I really really appreciate it as far as balancing you know work and life and everything of course I had a lot of stuff going on in addition to the jobs in class I also do volunteer work and all those things that none of that stuff’s ever had to stop because I was always on top of my classwork which you have to be on top of it is actually said earlier, whatever you put into the program, is what you get out of it. So you have to make sure that you plan you have to make sure that you stay on top of the assignment due dates on top of you know the things that come along with the program and it really really helps you to to be able to balance everything that comes along with it as far as advice to give incoming students is is that one make sure that you stay on top of things make sure that you’re organized and plan ahead that’s the biggest thing is to plan ahead of course with the with the residences or if it’s being on online or or whatnot just make sure that you know exactly what’s going on for the semester so that you can plan ahead make sure that you again make sure that you put in what you want to get out of it just make sure that you are doing everything to the fullest of your efforts and I think that’s that’s really really important what I also think about the old the MPA program is I was really excited to learn that the professor’s had real-life experiences I remember in one of my particular classes we did an assignment that it was it was a it was a pretty hefty assignment but I learned so much from it because the professor did these were things that the professor had done for years so we learned so much about it and that was one of the one of the biggest things that that I was really excited about was the professors have real life experiences and they have connections if you ever have any further questions about something that comes up they can put you in contact with someone to where you can learn even more about the subjects that are being taught and also the MPA program I have learned things going you know starting a job in the nonprofit sector I have learned so many things that I have brought back to my job while I’m still in the program and I can say that it’s made my boss pretty happy and so I’ve you know learn things that I am able to instantly instantly take to my job and and be able to kind of change some of the things that you know maybe have in the past have been done the same way and that was one thing that I was also really excited about and just learning about just like you said earlier not only the nonprofit sector but also the the public sector and the private sector I think that that is a huge benefit of this program upon graduating I finished this summer and I plan on exploring some public sector type things and also some nonprofit things as I do work for a non-profit now but I just look to explore so many things I feel like this program really gives you the tools to not not only focus on one area you get tools to where you can be you know you can dabble in so many things and it really really helps you to become really just a person that that you can learn about anything and just like you were saying earlier about even if you are in the private sector this this program will still benefit you on your job and that’s really a great thing that I really enjoyed this program as well and um if you have any reservations about joining or about signing up or about starting if you have any questions anyone at oh you will be happy to to address them and to help them and I would really really suggest you just ask questions and and don’t be afraid to just jump in and and become a part of the program because I highly highly recommended it recommend it that’s excellent thank you so much Curtis um it’s interesting that you mentioned referring back to the information I was talking about potential for private sector positions as well because as I mentioned people sometimes forget that the MPA can have really valuable impact in even a private sector position so you had taken no doubt along with the other students the leadership courses in our curriculum do you feel like they enhance the type of leader you want it to be do you feel like you on really learn something new you had mentioned that you were bringing things to the to your work week in and week out which was really making your employer happy do you feel like those leadership courses really helped with that as well yes I definitely feel that way and I have to say to be absolutely honest because I have being a teacher have a lot of there are a lot of leadership workshops and leadership seminars and things like that but I really really leadership courses from the MPA program it really helped me a lot bring things back to my job in one specific area that I can think of off the top of my head is my organization probably about two to three months ago just finished the process of doing a strategic plan and that was one thing that I was not very familiar with but of course learning from my for my co-workers and and also with a combination of learning things from the MPA program from those leadership courses I was able to bring back things um that helped to build our strategic plan that we we have planned for the next three years and as I said earlier my boss was extremely happy as she has been in the nonprofit sector for for a great deal of time and even some of the things that I brought back from the MPA program she was very impressed with it she would say well I’ve never thought about it like that so those were things that I was able to bring back that was very very helpful very good glad to hear that it’s important I think to point out to prospective students and so this testimonial from you it is speaks to that right the work that you’re doing the things that you are learning are new and of the moment things that you can put into play right away as you all hear from Curtis saying his employer was really very happy with so please you know don’t be afraid jump in there give me a call that’s why you have me as the enrollment advisor on your side to help you answer some of these questions and help you make a really well and good and informed decision, so thank you so much for that Curtis. You’re welcome.

So let’s speak with Larry. Larry thank you so much for joining us. Tell us a little bit about your background and how your experience with Ohio University’s MPA has gone. You’re welcome. Thanks for having me. Hello everyone I want to begin by discussing my background me fully I began my career in local government in 1993 and I also want to note that I have earned all three of my degrees as an adult learner I have never been through a traditional program I worked for approximately ten years before finally completing my associates degree in civil engineering and thought that I wanted to be an engineer but decided otherwise the next step for me was was a business undergrad and I went through that program as an adult graduating just before age 40 and didn’t at that time think about grad school but the wheels began to turn I talk to folks internally within our organization here at the city and our HR director took me under his wing. He was a great mentor for me and one comment that he made that stuck with me is, “Larry if you want to do this, you have to do it now, do not let the grass grow under your feet.” And that stuck with me for months and I finally started to look at programs I considered an MBA versus an MPA and what might work. Talk to many people practitioners within my area of local government and they all steered me toward an MPA. So I made the decision to go that direction and looked at different schools in Ohio University stuck out to me for various reasons which I’ll get into later but I I did my undergrad at a private college and I wanted to this time around go through a state school, that had both name recognition and a good regional and national reputation. And Ohio University met those requirements program cost and flexibility were also important factors that I considered and then my main reason on a personal note for completing my degree was to show my daughters the importance of dedication hard work higher education and lifelong learning and they have been instrumental in seeing me through this program I am a recent graduate of the program I completed the program three months before my 45th birthday the last two years have been super busy with life but also very rewarding. And I can honestly say that this program has provided me with the unique opportunity to earn an MPA while juggling my busy life. The program truly is built for the working professional my experience with the program born of your school and the college has been very positive the program has far exceeded my expectations and Curtis mentioned about the faculty earlier in his presentation but but I would add that the Voinovich school faculty their facilitators of learning I view them more as mentors rather than your normal college professor they’re top notch and their area of expertise their practitioners more importantly they’re supportive and they have a strong desire to help the students succeed I found the staff at the point of your school to be very accommodating professional I can call an any individual at the college at any time and get the support that I need. I’ve had conversations with professors and the Dean after graduating and everyone has been very supportive. The curriculum is challenging, practical and relevant. I’ve been able to use the processes that I’ve learned through the program to help my current organization my studies in the program were largely focused around local government since completing the program I’ve been able to do performance measures within my organization I’ve also been able to help the city right-size its fleet by retiring vehicles that are no longer in use and since graduating I have missed my cohort greatly I’ve met a great number of people in the program I enjoy the time that I spent with those folks the program has offered me the opportunity to build my network and I’ve made many lifelong friends through this program. I’m grateful for the time that the faculty and staff and my cohorts have invested in me. And they as a group have collectively made me a better public servant how did I balance this program with working life the key for me with flexibility time management and I and I use mobile technology. I’ve read case studies in the middle of the mall. I’ve also written papers on my iPhone sitting in a car. I love the Kindle app and the ability to highlight text. This program has has made me a speed reader and I process information more quickly I’ve worked on assignments in the morning late at night during lunch hour at work my my recommendation to you would be to seek a mentor and rely on others to help you on the way I had two people that proof read every assignment that critique my work through the entire two years of the program and I leaned on them heavily you simply find ways to get things done there also has to be a balance I myself personally am a workaholic I have to keep that in check so you have to take regular breaks and step away from your studies and assignments coffee also works well you can act you can absolutely complete this program I am I’ll be 45 in August. I am married. I have two daughters, Findo and Brielle. They are ten and seven, so our house is out of control. We run every night there’s something going on at our house and through this process you know I I’ve coached softball I’ve gone to after-school activities I’ve attended 4h meetings I’ve taken our oldest daughter to piano lessons I’ve gone to recitals I play drums in a band and we’re just involved in so many things and this program fits within the things that you have going outside of work in your career our youngest daughter Kendall she is 7 and my wife and both my daughters have been really my greatest supporters through the program I remember every Sunday night before bed she would ask me if I logged into blackboard and submitted my assignment on time and she gave me that reminder and she would ask at the end of each semester to see my report card and you know I had accountability at home I had account my co-workers at work were holding me accountable my cohort they were holding me accountable or the professors the people in at the Voinovich school they hold me accountable through this program and encouraged me along the way and the one thing I got out of it was a no single person can accomplish anything alone this is so true why did I choose the Voinovich school and in the MPA program what sets it apart is the reputation of the school and in the commitment to practical learning and application the school just celebrated its 10-year anniversary and it’s ranked 39th as the most innovative Public Service school in the country that’s a great accomplishment for for a school that is that is this young the faculty and staff as I mentioned before our top notch they care about your success they’re all approachable I could call any one of them today including the Dean to ask for support and help career advice whatever it may be and they’re all so the students are top-notch I had some very sharp individuals in my cohort had folks like curtis brown who challenged me to just simply get better they encouraged me to finish the race and i was in several classes with curtis I remember on one occasion I had given a presentation and I was nervous and Curtis came up to me afterwards and complimented on how great a job that I had done on this presentation and folks like him that just encourage you and carry you through the process I enjoyed the diversity in the different perspectives of our group my areas and local government I learned a great deal about social services and also nonprofits through this program that have helped me see things through different lenses so the program has improved my analytical critical critical thinking and professional writing skills. I process information much more quickly than I used to and I have the ability to organize and articulate my thoughts much better than I did before and build a more solid argument to help improve my organization I learned a great deal about public administration policy and politics and I’ve expanded my knowledge over the last two years about how local governments operate the program has helped me be a better leader and change agent agent my current organization and I’ve learned that as a leader I don’t have to know everything I don’t have to have all the answers I simply need to focus on serving others and asking the right questions to empower the people around me and the program has helped me do that through some of the courses that I took and some of the things that I’ve learned in performance measurement I’ve been able to improve the city Street maintenance program and how we look at streets and how we rehabilitate streets and drive economic development in a more holistic approach I’ve also am developing a public value scorecard for a department where we’re majoring and improving performance and we’re using data from three different systems our time management system we have a service request system and then our financial software so we’re looking at data from those three systems and bringing them together where we can measure that data to get better as an organization I am committed to you know more committed to my organization and a long-term change I see things beyond the tip of my nose and I’m looking out five and ten years on where I think the organization needs to go you know what what have I done and I’ll just kind of close here what have I done since graduation I was promoted to Deputy Director of Public Service at the beginning of my third semester in the program I have served in this position for the last year and a half and since graduating I’ve had other people alum and practitioners within government ask if I have the desire to move up to the state level since graduation and the answer right now is no I don’t feel that calling I really feel that my passion and drive is at the local level my long-term career goal is to secure a Director of Public Service assistant city manager position since graduation I’ve been relaxing I’ve been decompressing over the last month I’m continuing to coach daughter our daughters and softball we’re involved in 4h I’m currently updating my resume and LinkedIn pages and I’m looking at applying for adjunct teaching positions and I will say as an adult student my my time in higher education has been very rewarding I enjoy the the environment and the people when the conversations and the camaraderie that goes along with it and I I’m considering a doctoral degree. I don’t know if that’s in my future or not at this point but I’m certainly going to keep my options open and I will close and saying that I am grateful for the time I spent in the program I’m grateful for the individuals that I met and and built my network and more importantly I’m thankful to be a bobcat I’m available for questions on this presentation if you would like I’ll provide my direct phone number as well as my email address thank you for your time and attention that’s really wonderful to hear thank you so much Larry for participating I think one of the things that we should all take away from all three of our participants today is that I think it seems very clear that they all feel much more confident and valuable in their contributions professionally since beginning the program and in two of the cases completing the MPA so there’s a lot to be said for that motivation and that feeling of empowerment that translates into what we are willing to do and extend ourselves in our professional lives so thank you all so much all three of you stick around with me for a little bit we’ll have our quick Q&A session we have a couple of questions already in here on one of those is how many actual hours a week do you feel you spend on work on homework assignments for each course so actually let me throw that one to you since you are currently in the program how many hours a week do you find yourself actually spending on each course um I’d say it kind of depends on the course on the towards the beginning you take like a stats class success was something that came very easy to me so I probably spent less time studying and preparing for my assignments but in the class I’m in right now it’s a lot of reading and reading is not one of my strong points so it takes me a little bit longer to either reread or to get through the entire section that I need to read um so I would say between around ten hours a week too and it just depends on the structure of the class and if there’s a lot of reading it makes me a little bit longer but that’s just one of my personal goals that I am getting better at through the programs because I have a lot of assignments that are a lot of reading very good and it’s it’s nice of you to point out that depending on what type of student you are is what your time commitment might end up being right and the advantage of having the classes the way they’ve been set up is that you have that luxury of some additional time should you need to spend it on any particular course yes yes very good thank you so much Kurtis I’m going to throw this one to you wondering if you feel much more valuable now to potential employers and your current employer today as opposed to when you first started your MPA that’s a really that’s a really interesting question Kurtis go ahead that is a very interesting question um I would say from the standpoint of being a better leader being a better critical thinker and being able to bring more ideas to the table to benefit the organization and not own the organization as a whole but also on a personal level to you know my staff members I would say absolutely yes I do feel more valuable and I feel more valuable just because I have more I have more tools in my tool belt that I can use when it comes to you know the data even the day-to-day activities that happen in the office and also the long-term things that happen often in my office and this is kind of I’m ready – no but what Larry was talking about which I neglected to mention is the cohort the cohort that you’re in is extremely important and I absolutely agree with Larry when he said that you become friends and family members with the people that are in your cohort we have celebrated birthdays we have um you know done things after done things outside of of class and it’s it’s really really been helpful the people that that have been in our cohort and I would also also say that that is a very big benefit of the program very good thank you so much and that touches on one of the other questions here and Larry I’m going to throw that to you because you actually mentioned this a little bit when you were speaking you were talking about having people in your corner and feeling supported and having the opportunity to really network with your fellow classmates do and your professors do you feel like that collaborative sort of setting increase your ability to sort of retain the subject matter yes I do and going back to the support it really starts at home and my family was must have been very supportive my wife and daughters from day one and they saw me all the way through an undergrad and a graduate program also in your workplace you have to have support from your employer and your co-workers and I’ve had that my current employer has been outstanding I’ve been able to use projects that I’m working on at work and tie that in to assignments and basically get a two-for-one deal and it’s and it it helps you on both sides and when you bring that together it really has a powerful impact that’s really excellent to hear thank you so much we have lots of really terrific questions today if we can’t get to them all don’t worry I’ll be sure that we get to them let’s quickly touch on so that you can get a little bit of time back in your lunch hour what the admissions requirements are you’ll see them here most importantly there is no GRE or GMAT required certainly you’ll need to do transcripts and a letter of intent or an essay your resume of course and three letters of recommendation and you’ll be able to get all of this information from me as well if you want to reach out individually on a case-by-case basis and then the early decision deadline is coming up here July 1st I actually have a little bit of an extension to that coming up and then the final fall deadline will be at the end of July because of course traditionally speaking fall is the kind of semester start timeframe that we all have kind of ingrained in us over the years so many people start applying for fall semester and then it can take a little bit longer to get an answer because there are more applicants so if you want to get an early decision apply sooner rather than later is my best advice to you as an enrollment advisor I’ve been doing this quite a long time and I’m able to help you all through that process here’s my contact information so please do feel free to reach out to me I am happy to help and before you know it you’ll be the leader that you can see clearly from our three presenters today they have become because of this MPA program that they are going through and have gone through so thank you everyone for Ashley Curtis and Larry stick around for a few minutes after our session but I want to thank you for your time and your participation and sharing your experience with our prospective students I can tell you that hearing it from the students perspective can change someone’s mind and help them get moving forward as well and I’m sure you all will feel very happy to hear that thank you thank you thank you thank you. All right everyone so that’s it for today. Thank you so much. If you registered you will receive a copy of this recording. Feel free to share it with anyone, as well as my contact information. Enjoy the rest of your day.