University of Delaware

Online MPA Infosession

Video Transcript

JON HYMES: We're going to get started this evening with the Virtual Open House for the Master's of Public Administration from the University of Delaware.

Before we get started, you can see our chat feature. Many of you have used this already for our sound test. During tonight's presentation, you will have an opportunity to ask questions using this chat feature. To start things off, please go ahead, type in your location, enter your state or state abbreviation. We can get an idea of the locations and the diversity that we have tonight.

Good, I see several in Delaware, our home state. Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Florida. [INAUDIBLE] Ohio, Maryland. Very good. Thanks everybody for sharing. I see quite a few others, so good. Some on the west coast, I see California.

This will also be how you can ask questions. You can do it anytime during the presentation. However, we will be getting to them at the end. We may address several of them throughout the presentation. Feel free to chat those questions in. We will address them specifically at the end. If not, I will be able to address some personal afterwards if we're not able to get everything tonight. We are going to try to keep this at about an hour's time for everybody.

On to our agenda for tonight my name is Jon Hymes. I'll be hosting tonight, along with one of our best faculty members and professors, Dr. John McNutt. We'll discuss history and facts from the University, hear from Professor McNutt, program objectives, courses and outcomes, as well as give you the opportunity to ask us questions.

Again, my name's Jon. I work exclusively with our MPA students throughout the entire application and registration process here at University of Delaware. I have both a bachelor's and a master's degree. I completed much of my MA degree as well, while online, while I worked full-time at the school and raised my kids.

History of the University of Delaware. One of the most historic and well-known institutions, the University of Delaware is over 270 years old. With top rankings amongst the nation and a focus on practical experiential for learning, UD graduates, or Blue Hens, are better prepared for the challenges expected of leaders in today's global economy. The university is nationally ranked and recently accredited, with just about 20,000 total students in enrollment.

Let's discuss the public administration program. The online MPA program contributes directly to solutions that the public faces in our times through research and public service projects that will involve students in experiential learning. The 12 class, 36 credit hour, curriculum covers both ideas and concepts related to many fields of public administration-- human resources management, public financial management, management decision-making, quantitative analysis, information technology for public managers, organizational leadership, employment law, public economics-- just to name a few.

The capstone course provides MPA graduates with an opportunity to apply their knowledge to actual practice by working together with not-for-profit or government organizations. As a graduate, students will be primed to manage an organization, motivate employees, and make a positive impact on their careers and communities.

To introduce our faculty member this evening, I also have Dr. John McNutt with us. Before coming to the university where he teaches numerous topics from technology to not-for-profit management, Dr. McNutt held a career in public service prior to joining higher academia. Like our entire faculty, Professor McNutt is able to use real world experience based on previous positions in education, down to current research in relevant areas. John, thank you for joining us tonight.

DR. JOHN MCNUTT: Thank you for having me. It's good to be here, and welcome to our online MPA program. I'm having some problem moving the screen. Thanks. I'm sorry about that. I'm new to this particular software.

US News and World Report ranks the [INAUDIBLE] MPA program at 37th in the nation. We're ranked 12th in city management and urban policy. We're ranked 25th in nonprofit management. We're ranked 26th in public management administration. That's out of approximately 250 other programs.

JON HYMES: Very good, very well-known program.

DR. JOHN MCNUTT: We do. Could you move the slide? OK, what our program basically is about is-- we're a very good, general program that based on the idea that having experience count and then practice is important. What makes our program unique is our commitment to practice. Almost all of my colleagues have worked in the public sector, in the nonprofit sector, in elected government positions.

We have a commitment to, not only practice in the past, but ongoing. Most of us continue to work with communities, continue to work with organizations, continue to work with citizen groups. We're involved in our communities. We're involved at the national level. We're involved in international issues.

You know, what really brings the best part of our program is our unique Delaware model. We were a path-breaker in integrating research and practice years ago-- probably 30 years ago-- in developing new ways to train people to run public and nonprofit organizations.

We're NASPAA accredited. We were one of the first schools to be accredited by NASPAA. Our graduates are prepared to excel in public administration practice at the state, local, and federal levels, as well as nonprofit organizations, and they do.

One of our graduates is Congressman John Carney who is the member of Congress from Delaware. We've had numerous students who have gone to work in state government, in local government, in local nonprofit, and also national and international organizations. One of our students is the Director of Community Outreach for the College of Health Sciences. Another one of our students was just elected to the Delaware House of Representatives. We had a student a few years ago who went to work in development for the public theater in New York. I can go on and on, but our students are well-prepared and they get jobs.

JON HYMES: Perfect, that makes sense. A lot of that is, I think, the individual courses that they take, as well, which we can move into.

DR. JOHN MCNUTT: OK, this is our curriculum. It's very much oriented toward the idea of teaching you how to become a manager. We start off with contemporary issues in public administration, which talks about what public administration is and the theories that public administrators use. Performance management looked at how to evaluate performance. Information technology, which is a course that I teach in the program, looks at managing technology.

We have a seminar in public administration which looks at different aspects of public administration practice-- quantitative analysis, economics, financial management, human resources-- all look at critical places in the management of organization. Human resources, of course, looks at things in terms of hiring and so forth. We also teach you how to lead public organizations and how to affect public policy. We have a course in ethics and then we have the capstone course which tries to pull everything together. OK, next slide.

JON HYMES: Excellent.

DR. JOHN MCNUTT: OK, our current tuition rate is $972 per credit. There are no additional program fees beyond the course materials. The total approximate investment is $35,000 for the entire program. We have federal student loans available for qualified full-time students. Many of our students finance their degree with employer-sponsored tuition reimbursement.

These are our admissions requirements. You go to the URL here, and it will run you through the application process, which includes a fee for application. Unofficial transcripts for all colleges and universities previously attended documenting all undergraduate and graduate level work completed, a current resume, the graduate record exam. If you have more than two years of experience of full-time relevant professional work experience, plus a 3.0 undergraduate GPA, we waive the GRE. We also require two letters of recommendation for this, but that's part of the process. Three letters of recommendation and a personal statement.

I'm a member of the admissions committee. We have two other faculty who are on the committee. We try to turn your application around in about 72 hours.

JON HYMES: Very good. I work with students as well to help answer questions about the process. I can help to email that link out to students as well, so they can have it directly if you're not able to copy it down off the webpage right now.

But let's move into our question and answer section. So just like in the beginning, if you can type in questions for Professor McNutt or myself, anything you could think of programmatically, about the curriculum, the online environment.

At this point, Professor McNutt, anything else that you'd like to add, maybe just for first time graduate students, any recommendation as they're making this transition?

DR. JOHN MCNUTT: I'd just like to say that we provide a really great experience. There are a lot of programs. You'll have a lot of choices, but look at what we offer, and look at what we offer that's different from what a lot of other programs have. We're committed to turning out excellent practitioners, which quite frankly, some other programs aren’t.

JON HYMES: Makes sense. We have some-- looks like a question about the capstone-- if it's thesis-like or more of a project. Can you maybe provide some examples of what that would look like for students?

DR. JOHN MCNUTT: OK. Generally, it's not thesis-like. It's more of a project that you'd conduct in the community, your community. And you'd create maybe an evaluation, maybe some kind of a manual. It depends-- it's kind of individualized, given what the kinds of things that you're interested in, the kind of work you have done.

JON HYMES: Right. So students are able to put a personalized approach to it. Usually they'll gravitate toward something they feel strongly about in the community or gear it towards. Many students making a career change, right, they're able to put together a project and walk away with something really tangible as well.

DR. JOHN MCNUTT: That's true and it's important, in getting other jobs, to be able to show that you did something. And this isn't the only course that we have projects in that you can apply the kinds of things that you're interested in, or the kinds of things that you know.

JON HYMES: That makes sense. Looks like we have some questions too about-- people curious about some more faculty members. [INAUDIBLE] there may be a couple others you could mention just to-- you teach the technology class, but maybe some other experts are in the faculty, colleagues we work with.

DR. JOHN MCNUTT: OK, can we go back to the slide that has the courses on it?

JON HYMES: Sure.

DR. JOHN MCNUTT: OK, performance management is taught by Maria Aristigueta who's the current president of the American Society for Public Administration, and is an internationally known expert in performance management. The seminar in public administration is taught by Jerome Lewis, who is the current director of the program, but he's also the director of the Institute for Public Administration at UD. Breck Robinson teaches the quantitative analysis course. Breck is a expert in finance. He does research on banking and community funding of projects in economic development.

The economics in public and nonprofit sectors is taught by Steve PEUQUET. Steve is an urban planner with many years of experience, and he's the director of the Center for Community Research and Service. Financial management is taught by Jonathan Justice, who is a nationally known expert in budget and finance. Many, many years of experience working for the city of New York. Human Resources in Public and Nonprofit Sectors and Leading Organizations and the Public and Nonprofit Sector is taught by Harvey White. Harvey is also a former president of ASPA. Has years of experience, and came to us from the University of Pittsburgh. Public Policy is taught by Andrea Sarzynski, who is an expert in energy policy. Ethics is taught by Dr. Kathy Denhardt, who is actually a nationally known figure in ethics. And right now the capstone will be taught by our newly hired program director. OK?

JON HYMES: OK, great.

DR. JOHN MCNUTT: We can talk about some of the other people in the program, if you'd like, but—

JON HYMES: Sure.

DR. JOHN MCNUTT: You know, I mean, we have a fairly large faculty. We have people who are experts in economics. We have people who do economic development, people who do community organizing. We have several people who do program evaluation. And most of our faculty, not only have done these things, but they're doing them now, which I can tell you, I've been in higher education for over 30 years, and that's getting more and more rare.

JON HYMES: Yeah, very true.

DR. JOHN MCNUTT: OK?

JON HYMES: Looks like we have some admissions requirements questions. Looks like some students already holds other graduate degrees, but had not taken the GRE. Wondering if a terminal degree or a master's degree is the same equivalent of not taking the GRE.

DR. JOHN MCNUTT: OK, we'd have to look at it that. Generally speaking, I mean it depends on what it's in and it depends on what kind of grades they got. I mean, our hard and fast rule is it's experience that gets you out of the GRE, but I think we might consider whether or not that was equivalent.

JON HYMES: OK, yeah it sounds like it might be a case by case basis that I can discuss with each student individually and we can address that way.

DR. JOHN MCNUTT: Yeah, that's right. And I mean, we basically go by how well you'd fit into the program, and whether or not you're likely to succeed. We look at many different factors. Not everybody does well on the GRE.

JON HYMES: For the online program, it's geared towards working adults. That's why it's structured for one class at a time. We have some questions about workload, time commitment, which can really fluctuate by week to week or for each student. Generally, your students are going to want, I'd say, a good 12 to 15 hours a week dedicated to school to do well.

With the online platform, there are no lecture times that you have to adhere to, there are deadlines rather. So everything will be placed online for you to review, you would just have to do the work to meet those deadlines. But generally, a good 12 to 15 hours, I think, is fair.

Professor, can you discuss with me some workload, what a typical student might expect to do in the week to week for a project or group work or anything like that?

DR. JOHN MCNUTT: I think that, to a large extent, it depends on what kinds of courses you're good at and how much work you're going to have to do. Some of the courses require more work than others, but some of the courses are more difficult for some people and less difficult for others. We've had them to breeze through statistics, but have problems with-- are a little more challenged by courses that are more discussion-oriented. It depends on who you are. But let me just say that it's not going to be as easy as undergraduate. You know, it's a challenging program. But I think that it's probably manageable for most people.

JON HYMES: Yeah, and that's why it's structured for one class at a time. You take five classes annually. We take a traditional semester, of 15 weeks, and have you do one class for seven weeks twice with a week break. You take one class over summer and then you have two classes in fall. So it's conducive to a work-life balance.

For the 12 classes, you're able to finish two years in one semester. So it's meant to be doable, but we're not taking up all your time and burning you out, but also it's not taking forever to finish. And then to get you the applicable knowledge and put it to use within your career in public or private sector.

Looks like some more questions about the Delaware model for students outside of the state, kind of how that's applicable, just in general, so to learning and the presentation at UD.

DR. JOHN MCNUTT: OK, well to a large extent, the way that the Delaware model works for us-- for traditional students is that we have a system set up where you would work with us on different projects. Where it would work for more nontraditional students, for older students, for part-time students-- is that you still get the opportunity to work on real world project. It wouldn't be at the same level of intensity, but on the other hand, if you have experience, you already know a lot of this. And we will try to build on your experience.

JON HYMES: Absolutely, makes sense.

DR. JOHN MCNUTT: Let me say this, traditionally, we've had a very small part-time program. We've worked very hard for traditional age student, and, I guess, one of our shortcomings as a school is that we were never able to make this work for nontraditional-- you know, for other part-time students in the past. And this new program actually gives us the opportunity to reach out to people who would like our approach and help meet their needs for additional education.

JON HYMES: Absolutely, yeah.

DR. JOHN MCNUTT: I mean, this is an outstanding program for a traditional graduate student. And we want to bring that same kind of quality to you. We want you to be able to improve your practice skills. We want to make sure that you are able to meet the challenges that are going to go into your career.

JON HYMES: And that's it, it's the same faculty, these are the same curriculum and courses that are taught on campus. We're just using technology in a web-based platform called Canvas. It's an entirely a login-based platform, where you're able to see your syllabus, your instructor contact information.

It's where your discussion forum will be located, where you're able to see your reading assignments and communicate with faculty and classmates and submit papers. You'll find it that way. And that gives you the flexibility and freedom to be able to log in and do your work whenever and wherever, but the actual content-- the work, the faculty, the experiential learning-- is very similar to what you would get on campus, it's just done in a different environment.

DR. JOHN MCNUTT: And we've been talking about this for years. This isn't something we took lightly, because our reputation for the Delaware model is pretty much international. And it's something that other schools at this point really can't do. This is the place.

JON HYMES: Makes sense, absolutely. So spring courses begin in February, on the 8th. Applications are being accepted now. Students are expected to have them in ideally by the end of December. I would recommend, with holidays coming up, I'd recommend starting sooner rather than later.

But like Professor McNutt said, the turnaround is about 72 hours. So with the online application, you're able to apply with unofficial transcripts. Well, we let you know where you stand, as opposed to waiting for your initial copies of transcripts to be mailed, you can know where you stand rather quickly without having to wait for a deadline.

You can see our application link up top. Also jot down our phone number. If I'm not able to get to any questions or we weren't able tonight, or maybe students have more personal questions, I'd like to address those directly over the phone and can follow up with students directly.

It looks like we still have some more questions coming in.

DR. JOHN MCNUTT: OK.

JON HYMES: Looks like some students are curious how exams work-- if there's a comprehensive exam. It's course by course. Each course has its own [INAUDIBLE].

DR. JOHN MCNUTT: OK, we don't have a comprehensive exam. There are schools that do, but we're not one of them. That was the question, right?

JON HYMES: Correct, yep. Looks like some-- have you maybe you have like an average student profile, or kind of where students typically are in their career trajectory when they do an MPA at the University Delaware on average.

DR. JOHN MCNUTT: We're looking for somebody who wants to be great and is willing to work to make that happen.

JON HYMES: Absolutely. That's about it. I don't see too many more questions coming in. Is there anything else that you'd like to add, Professor?

DR. JOHN MCNUTT: This is a fantastic opportunity. We've wanted to do this for years and years. This really was never available online before. This is such a good chance to become part of a first rate effort.

JON HYMES: Makes sense, absolutely. Yeah, very relevant knowledge. Well, with questions winding down, we're going to conclude the virtual open house this evening for our Master's of Public Administration program. If you do have any further questions, or we weren't able to get to them, our phone number is listed above. Please, again, give us a call to get started with the application. That's your first step. Please open a profile on the application site via the URL listed above.

Thank you again, everybody. Thank you, Professor McNutt. Always appreciate the time.

DR. JOHN MCNUTT: Thank you.

JON HYMES: We look forward to seeing students apply.

DR. JOHN MCNUTT: OK. Thank you.

JON HYMES: Thank you so much. Have a good night everybody.

DR. JOHN MCNUTT: Are we done?