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Clemson University Master of Public Administration Student Survey Highlights Spring Semester 2015

The Clemson University MPA program strives to undertake regular internal and external assessments of all program elements. During the 2015 spring semester, a student survey was conducted using the online survey platform, Survey Monkey. This survey evaluated students perceptions of strengths and weaknesses in five primary areas:

  • Overall program perceptions
  • Existing specializations
  • Advising needs
  • Social Events
  • Technology needs and requirements

Overall program perceptions

100% of the students surveyed would recommend the Clemson MPA program, which is the highest survey response ever. 65% of students surveyed thought the MPA program was important for their career success, which is up slightly over last year's survey. 35% were neutral on whether or not the MPA program has been important for their career success, which is down from last year. The 2015 results related to overall program perceptions are the highest they have been since the annual survey was implemented.

Several comments highlight the value of the Clemson MPA program:

"This is the best decision I could have ever made."

"I have recommended (the MPA program) to numerous friends because I enjoy the virtual class environment and find the courses helpful."

"Looking to the future I feel this program and curriculum will be beneficial to me."

"I really like this program and am excited for next semester's classes."

"I have learned a great deal that has made me an asset to my agency. I continue to be able to pull work examples into class and class examples/solutions into work."

Existing Specializations

Survey results indicate that existing MPA specializations attract about one-fifth of the current MPA program student body.

The Clemson MPA program's most popular specialization is the Local Government specialization with 65% of respondents identifying local government as their specialization of choice. The other specializations were also represented with Non-Profit Management, Regional Sustainable Development, Homeland Defense and Security, and Emergency Management each earning several votes.

Suggestions from current students about additional courses include: Federal Government courses for those who are aiming for Federal Sector careers, additional Non-Profit and Fundraising choices, Land Use/Planning for Administrators, Health Care Policy, the frequency of courses offered on Local Government Administration, offering the core courses every semester, and preparing grant applications. Generally there were less identified missing course responses than in past years. The MPA program will continue to work to develop courses that serve student needs but these results reveal that current programming has been answering the call for additional courses from previous surveys.

Advising Needs

The vast majority of respondents (89%) believe their advising needs and questions have been met in a timely and effective manner, which is a slight improvement over last year when 85% responded the same way. However, another 11% marked neutral that advising needs have been met in a timely and effective manner. We recognize that each student is different and has unique circumstances and needs. However, our goal is to strive to satisfy all student needs. While this is not always possible, we will continue to explore why eleven percent of respondents are neutral about having their advising needs met.

It appears a great deal of progress has been made toward improving advising for students and ensuring student's needs are met. Program staff will continue to work towards improvement in all areas of advising and student engagement.

Social Events

This year the MPA program, following numerous requests from last year's survey, hosted its first on-campus experience for students and faculty. In March of 2015 the MPA program hosted the MPA Spring Fling which brought students from all over the state to campus for an in-class teaching experience with Professor Mellott and Professor Bundrick. After a few hours in class, the students and faculty engaged in team building activities at the Clemson Outdoor Lab High Ropes Course. The event was concluded with a Low Country Boil buffet dinner on Lake Hartwell at the Outdoor Lab. The event was a huge success, but moving forward more networking and social events were identified in this year's survey as being desired by the MPA students. Networking Events dominated the survey with 75% of those who took the survey identifying networking events as an increasingly desired program outcome. Social events and a Clemson tailgate were also highly desired for the next academic year and the program intends on hosting a Clemson football tailgate next football season. Students also would like the MPA program to host events in other parts of the state including Greenville, Charleston, and Columbia.

Technology Needs and Requirements

According to student responses, technology is one of the strongest components of the program. 100% of students surveyed were attracted to the MPA program because of the synchronous online platform. This is the highest rating ever.

The majority of students (80%) agreed that the MPA IT staff and proctors are a critical resource for the MPA program. This is up from 74% in last year's survey. 100% of students surveyed indicated that the Adobe Connect platform is effective and user friendly which is the highest rating ever. Whether Adobe Connect enhances the overall learning environment also scored a very high 89% with those who agreed or strongly agreed with that statement. One comment highlights the overall sentiments:

"I think the (synchronous online format) is the most interactive way to complete an online program. It's very responsive to needs."

What's New?

A new set of questions in last year's spring survey focused on organizing a non-mandatory MPA program on-campus experience. Almost 85% of students responded that they would be interested in an on-campus program experience. The MPA program responded to this identified need from the 2014 student survey with a well-planned and highly attended on-campus experience.

Moving forward to the next academic year, the program will focus more on networking and social events in the Clemson area and in alternate identified areas for Clemson MPA students to participate. One tailgate for the football season is currently being planned along with a networking event in Columbia. Stay tuned to the next academic year's e-mail blasts regarding future Clemson MPA events.

New to this year's survey is whether students would be interested in a 7-10 day study abroad program in Local government. Almost 60% of those surveyed would be interested in a study abroad course. The Clemson MPA team is developing a study abroad course with a week-long+ international local government experience. Be on the lookout for this course which should be available summer 2016.

In conclusion, survey results reveal that the MPA program is doing many things well and improving in identified areas from last year's survey with most areas reaching all-time high scores. MPA program staff has been and will continue to dedicate themselves to responsiveness in advising and questions during the school year. Noticeable improvement areas from last year are in advising and timely responses to answering program questions and IT staff and proctors as a critical resources for the MPA program. Ongoing assessment of the program will ensure that the Clemson MPA program continues to grow and deliver quality academic programming to students along the way.

Clemson's MPA Program Ranked 8th in U.S.

Graduateprograms.com has announced its Fall 2015 Online Public Admin Grad Rankings according to grad students. The rankings are based solely on ratings and reviews from current or recent graduate students posted on graduateprograms.com. Our own Clemson MPA program is now ranked 8th in the U.S.

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Friends at MPA Spring FlingThe MPA Spring Fling has become an annual tradition for the Clemson MPA program. Spring 2016 brought in warmer weather and the opportunity for Clemson MPA students to get together with classmates, staff and faculty. This year’s events included the following fun activities:

This was truly a wonderful day full of learning, networking, and coming together as a Tiger family to celebrate our thriving program. There is no doubt this annual tradition will continue to be a can’t-miss event year after year. 

Be sure to check back for more information on the 2017 MPA Spring Fling. 

MPA Spring Fling Funny Hats   MPA Spring Fling Funny Hats    MPA Spring Fling