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  • Spring Student Survey Results

    The Clemson University MPA program undertakes regular internal and external assessments of all program features. The spring 2019 student survey was conducted using the online survey platform, Survey Monkey. We received 97 student responses, or approximately 80% of our student body. This is the strongest response rate we have received to since we began surveying our students. 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

    Ninety-two percent of students indicated that the MPA program was important for their career success. This response has shown steady growth over the last six years (Figure 1). The 2019 results related to overall program perceptions remain consistently high. Also, a key positive fact emerges from our students: 95% would recommend the Clemson MPA program to others/their friends/colleagues. These results are consistent with the last six years, with results of over 85% continuously.

    When inquiring about core coursework, the survey asked participants to rank all core courses from one (1) being most important to seven (7) being the least important. Using this ranking system, Administrative Leadership was the highest ranked class with 63% of students identifying it as most important, followed by Perspectives of Public Administration (23%). Results are displayed in Figures 2 and 3. Respondents ranked Research Methods for Public Administration as the least important (31%) followed by Public Data Analysis (16%).



    Existing Specializations


    Survey results indicate that existing MPA specializations attracted more than two thirds (65%) of the current student body.  However, a significant number of students also indicate that specializations were not a factor in choosing the Clemson MPA program (35%). 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, including non-profit management, emergency management and many students indicating an interest in a hybrid mix of elective courses, a preference revealed by 18% of respondents.

    While non-profit and emergency management are popular specialization areas among the student body (24 and 20% respectively), there is not one area that encompasses the majority of the student body. Further, the MPA program represents students with a broad interest in Public Administration, and that interest is not concentrated in one or even a few areas.


    Value of a Clemson MPA

    Figure 5From the students who responded to the survey, 95% of them would recommend the MPA program to their friends or colleagues. The percentage of respondents who agreed they are satisfied with the education received in Clemson’s MPA program was 26% agreed and 64%  strongly agreed (Figure 5). Only 5% were neutral and 4 % disagreed. The reasons provided by students vary, but there is, overall, contentment with the professors and staff and the uniqueness of Clemson’s live online program. The disagreement and neutral responses indicate there are areas of improvement needed in the program and we will review and consider options for ongoing quality improvement. Examples of student comments include:

    • “Based on my own past experience and conversations I've had with other colleagues who have taken online coursework (synchronous and asynchronous) at other institutions, this program does a superb job at helping students feel connected, not only with one another, but with the rigorous academic environment that Clemson has become known for. An MPA obtained via online instruction from another institution may not carry with it the same sense of value and recognition as the Clemson MPA, simply due to the higher standards that Clemson sets for its programs. You really can get every bit as much out of this program as you are willing to put in.”
    • “The professors have been extremely knowledgeable and have been able to challenge me to think analytically.
    • “To date, I have enjoyed every course. Additionally, I have acquired a lot of knowledge.”


    Advising Needs

    A clear majority of respondents (86%) believed their advising needs and questions have been answered in a timely and effective manner. This metric is similar to last year’s survey response (87%).  However, there is some room for improvement in this area. Some students’ suggestions were:

    • “Regular (Quarterly, semi-annually, every third semester) personal one-on-one advising sessions.”
    • “Virtual advising hours. I would like the chance to “meet” with my advisor.
    • “I would imagine the advising needs are fairly minimal. The course requirements are laid out on the website and Carolyn communicates early and often. In the rare occasion I have needed a question answered a simple phone call or email sufficed. Offering virtual advising could be beneficial for some, but I don't think it would be absolutely necessary.”


    Technology Needs and Requirements

    According to student responses, technology is one of the most central components of the program. Eighty-five percent of respondents were attracted to the MPA program because of the synchronous online platform; this metric is similar to the previous year’s response, where 90% respondents mentioned the synchronous platform as an attraction. Most students (79%) agreed that the MPA IT staff and proctors are a critical resource for the MPA program.

    Figure 6Regarding Zoom, the synchronous online learning platform implemented in 2018, the overall opinion was very favorable. Student responses indicated that almost all (99%) agreed or strongly agreed that it is an effective and user-friendly way of communication. This metric increased slightly from the previous year, where 98% of students answered similarly. Also, a high percentage of the student body number (93%) agreed or strongly agreed with the idea that Zoom enhances the overall learning environment of MPA courses (Figure 6). 

    Regarding students’ thoughts on zoom, most of the students are very comfortable using it:

    • “I like the concept of breakout groups!"
    • To my knowledge, most classes use it to the full potential.”

    There were also some suggestions for additional ways of using Zoom:

    • “Possibility for access to previous lectures taken.
    • Small group breakouts are awesome! More professors should utilize them.
    There is a generally positive perception of MPA professors’ use of Canvas. While most of the students’ responses (80%) agreed with the statement that professors effectively use this tool, 12% of students disagree. Room for improvement exists with regards to faculty use of Canvas.  Students made the following suggestions to improve technology use:
    • “It would be extremely helpful to have previous classes stay in the canvas platform in order to refer back to power points and other materials.”
    • “It would be nice to see grades updated more frequently, but I understand the administrative burden that comes along with doing so.”



    • There were 97 students who completed this survey with an approximate response rate of 80%, which is a very high response rate.
    • Most of the students perceived the Clemson University MPA Program very positively and they indicated that it was important for their career success. This response has shown steady growth over the last six years; it started at 59% in 2013 and now has reached 92%.
    • Regarding the value of a Clemson MPA Program, 65% of respondents strongly agreed that they are satisfied with the education received in this program. Overall, students are content with the professors, staff and the uniqueness of Clemson’s live online education.
    • A clear majority of respondents (86%) believed their advising needs and questions have been met in a timely and effective manner.
    • Technology is one of the most central components of the program; and according to 85% of respondents they are attracted to the MPA Program because of its synchronous online platform.


    Concluding Thoughts

    As with all programs, there is room for improvement. Over the next year, the MPA program staff will continue to refine advising procedures, best practices in technology and Canvas use and continue to consider innovative programs. One area of focus over the next year will be centered around core and elective coursework; revising the core curriculum, developing new and relevant elective coursework, and ensuring that all regularly offered courses have permanent course numbers.

    We appreciate the important feedback this survey provides our team. The MPA staff works diligently to provide the best online Public Administration Master’s degree program in the country. Our goal is to be a high-value Master’s degree program that is attentive to student needs, communicates often and effectively, and ensures an academically rigorous, high quality educational program.

  • In The News

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    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.


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  • 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