Online MPA Programs – Pros and Cons

Over the past decade, there has been a tremendous increase in the number of degrees offered online. You can earn your undergraduate and graduate degree without ever physically stepping foot on a college campus or meeting your professor face-to-face. There is no denying the convenience of an online degree, especially for an adult learner, but does the quality of the education suffer? Many programs easily transfer to the online arena without sacrificing the integrity of the education, but a Master’s in Public Administration may not be one of them. Let’s explore.

What is an MPA

Before comparing the pros and cons on an online MPA program, it is important to define exactly what a Master’s in Public Administration is. To put it simply, this degree is for the individuals who want to make a difference: fighting social injustice, nonprofits benefiting exceptional causes, politicians, government leaders, etc. A Master’s in Public Administration prepares students to become leaders of public service, whether through a local government, nonprofit, environmental policy group, arts organization or other channel. These students are passionate about making their community or the world a better place. Some notable MPA graduates include:

  • Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the airline pilot who heroically landed US Airways flight 1549 in the Hudson River
  • Ann Margaret Veneman, former Executive Director of UNICEF
  • David Petraeus, former Director of the CIA
  • Raymond Kelly, former Commission of New York City Police Department
  • Kevin Martin, former Chairman of the FCC
  • Ashley Judd, actress and activist

online graduate degreeOnline MPA – Pros

  1. Convenience – Without a doubt, the convenience of being able to take courses around your hectic schedule is the #1 reason to pursue and online degree. Many graduate students are working professionals trying to juggle a full time job and a family, leaving little time to devote to higher education. An online curriculum accommodates this schedule more than any other program.
  2. Variety of options – There are so many institutions offering online degrees. As a result, you benefit from this competitive space and will surely be able to find the program that fully aligns with your priorities, whether that is affordability, flexibility, specialization, etc.

Online MPA – Cons

  1. mpa collaborationSacrifice the essence of the program – At the core of the degree, a Master’s in Public Administration is about collaboration: learning how to bring people with opposing values and different perspectives together for a common purpose. By taking an online program, you are missing out on a part of the education that can only come from discussions and debates among your peers and professors.
  2. Sacrifice networking and hands-on experience –  While we can’t speak for every MPA program in the country, at the University of Charleston, South Carolina, the city of Charleston is a vital piece of the education. As a city that is continually ranked as one of the best in the United States, it is growing at an incredible rate. This rapid growth combined with the slave history creates an abundance of hands-on opportunities for MPA students. Most of our students secure local internships to help fulfill their curriculum requirements, and some of our faculty members have prominent positions in the city. By attending our MPA program on campus, you are immersed in the industry.
  3. Doesn’t prepare you for working in the industry – Bear in mind that a graduate degree should prepare you to enter the work field. Upon completion, you should have the experience and knowledge to land the job you envisioned for yourself. An online program is only going to deliver the curriculum. You will not get to see or experience in real life what someone does with the degree after graduation. At College of Charleston, not only will you be meeting these individuals daily, as they will be your professors, mentors and peers, but you work alongside them through internships or research projects, gaining hands-on experience as well a priceless networking opportunities.

Executive MPA at the College of Charleston

We know that the online program offers convenience for working professionals, and we want to make earning your MPA as easy as possible. So, we have combined the best of both worlds with our Executive MPA – a non-demanding schedule while still maintaining the essence of the program.

Interested in the MPA program at the University of Charleston, SC? Contact the MPA office directly at 843-953-6690.

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