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  • Spring Student Survey Results

    The Clemson University MPA program undertakes regular internal and external assessments of all program features. A spring 2020 student survey was conducted using the online survey platform, Survey Monkey.  This survey evaluated student perceptions of strengths and weaknesses in four primary areas:

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


    Overall Program Perceptions

    Overall Program Perceptions

    Eighty nine percent of students indicated that the MPA program was important for their career success. This response has been consistently high over the last six years (Figure 1).  The 2020 results related to overall program perceptions remain consistently high. Almost 88% of respondents would recommend the Clemson MPA program to their friends and colleagues. These results are consistent with the last six years, with over 85% of students consistently noting the positive value of the program.

    When asked about core course work, the survey asked students to rank courses using a range from (1) most important to seven (7) being the least important. Results are displayed in Figures 2 and 3. Administrative Leadership ranks highly (52%) followed by Perspectives on Public Administration (27%). In the case of the least important course(s), the students identified Research Methods for Public Administration (31%), followed by Public Data Analysis (23%) as the least important (31%).


    Existing Specializations


    Survey results indicate that existing MPA specializations attracted nearly two-thirds (60%) of the current student body.  However, there are also a significant number of students indicating that specializations were not a factor for choosing the Clemson MPA program (40%). A strength of the program lies in the diversity of professional and academic interests across the student body. Figure 4 illustrates this, as these results reveal a broad interest in different specializations, with nearly one quarter (24%) of our students indicating an interest in a hybrid mix of elective courses.

    Local government and emergency management are the most preferred sets of topical courses among the student body (21% and 23% respectively). An important contribution of the program is the ability to attract students with a broad interest in Public Administration, allowing students to focus on key specialization areas but to also gain a breadth of public administration knowledge that all leaders need.

    Value of a Clemson MPA

    Figure 5From the students who responded to the survey, 87.5% would recommend the MPA program to their friends or colleagues. Fifty-three percent of respondents strongly agreed that they are satisfied with the value of education received in Clemson’s MPA, 37% of respondents agreed with this statement (Figure 5). Less than 10% of respondents were neutral or disagreed with this statement. The reasons provided by students vary, but there is, overall, contentment with the professors and staff and the uniqueness of Clemson’s live online education. Examples of comments include:

    • “...the program has opened my mind to many areas as well as access to students who are working currently in the public sector. The instructors relate their experiences to the class so that I can incorporate some of their experiences with mine.”
    • I feel like I've learned a lot about the core concepts of public administration which has really come in handy in program management in the economic development sector.
    • I have enjoyed all of the classes that I took. I feel like there is a vast array of courses and students can choose their own path through the program.”


    Advising Needs

    figure 7

    A clear majority of respondents (92%) believed their advising needs and questions have been met in a timely and effective manner. This metric has shown some improvement over last year’s survey (86%).  However, there is some room for improvement in this area. Some students’ suggestions were:

    • Having program level options to encourage entire program collaboration rather than class level collaboration. Zoom groups based on specialized areas such as EM regardless of class being taken that semester. Expert discussion drop-in sessions.”
    • Each student should have several required virtual advising sessions at established points throughout their time in the program.


    Concluding Thoughts

    Overall, student feedback was very positive about the majority of program elements. Students did share ideas for improvement that the program will consider seriously over the next academic year.  Students suggested revising several core courses and having a clearer course progression with core courses. Specifically, reviewing the Personnel, Public Finance, Research Methods and Data Analysis courses were all suggestions. Ensuring students feel that all courses add value to their program of study is critical for the MPA team to evaluate. Other suggestions related to more opportunities to engage online in professional development settings and identify practical topics that the program could offer in shorter course segments. Respondents also had suggestions for additional courses around economic development, diversity and inclusion, internationally focused courses, planning, public safety, procurement and contracting, healthcare administration, public affairs, city and county management course, and others. These ideas are very helpful, and the program will evaluate adding courses based on this feedback.

    MPA students at Clemson are seeking to increase their management and leadership skills, promotion within their organization, to change employment/industry sectors or are seeking a new job within the same sector at a different agency/organization. The majority of students strongly agree that the program has improved their team development skills and has allowed them interaction with both students and instructors. While there is always room for quality improvements, almost 90% of the respondents agree that the MPA degree has been important for their professional success. The program will continue to build on these strengths to ensure the highest quality program possible for students.

  • In The News

    Lori DickesDepartment of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management appoints first associate chair

    Clemson’s parks, recreation and tourism management department has appointed Lori Dickes as its associate chair. Dickes, who has served as assistant professor in the department and program director of Clemson’s master of public administration program, will work to further establish the growing department’s strategic direction and aid it in achieving its research ambitions. Read the appointment announcement.


    Clemson's MPA Program Ranked 8th in U.S. 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 Our own Clemson MPA program is now ranked 8th in the U.S.


    Preparing New Public Servants for a Multi-Sectored Career

    How can the MPA curriculum help better prepare students for a changing public sector? » Read the story.


    The Power of Your MPA

    Here are four ways to highlight the value of your degree. » Find out how.


    Congrats Graduate! Now What?

    Life after MPA grad school. » Read about it.


    Local Governments and the Annual Budget Process

    The best way to understand a local government's annual budget process is by using the systems approach to management. » Find out why.


    MPA Programs Must Be Innovative & Responsive

    Tamara Schaps, director of career services at UW's Evans School of Public Policy and Governance, discusses how MPA programs need to be ahead of the curve to remain relevant. » Get her advice.


    The Future of the MPA

    Dr. Hatcher of the MPA program at Georgia Regents University gives his take on the future of MPA programs. » See what he has to say.


    MPA Director Lori Dickes Researches Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

    Clemson MPA Program's own Dr. Lori Dickes is doing some great research on gentler treatment for addicted infants. » Read all about it.


    Cuomo Administration Blocks Transparency

    More transparency problems.  Don’t let this be your administrative team! » Explore the issue.

  • Events

    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