As part of GPN's series on Master's of Public Administration (MPA) programs and their importance to government administrators, we got the views of John Kirlin. He is the distinguished professor of public policy at the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law. Kirlin directs the school’s MPA and Master in Public Policy (MPP) programs. Go here for the University of the Pacific’s home page.

The University of the Pacific is California’s oldest institution of higher education; it was chartered in 1851. It has 6,000 students on campuses in Sacramento, San Francisco and Stockton.

According to the university, the school’s MPA program is the only one in the nation that is offered by an accredited law school. The McGeorge School of Law MPA program prepares professionals for careers in management and leadership positions. The MPA offering trains and enables graduates to be advocates for change in making and implementing public policies.

Graduates will be ready to advance their career in a range of public service organizations, including government agencies, non-profit and other nongovernmental organizations, private sector firms, and advocacy groups.

The school’s MPA program offers several high-impact areas of concentration. Students can choose a concentration in areas such as health, water and natural resources, judicial administration, state or local government and public finance. Students can also create a customized specialization suited to their needs and interests. Professor Kirlin offers his views below.

GPN: What sets your program apart from other MPA offerings?

John Kirlin: The MPA offered by McGeorge School of Law at the University of the Pacific joins knowledge of the law, competencies in analyses, and skills in action. While all work of public professionals must be based on law, this is the first offering of this degree by a law school. It affords students a deep understanding of statutes and regulations critical to modern governance.

Particular focus in the program is given to analysis and action in the contexts of high complexity, conflict and uncertainty. The MPA program is conveniently located close to California’s State Capitol in Sacramento; this setting near the legislature’s and governor’s offices provides an exceptional resource. Both MPA and MPP degrees are offered here.

GPN: Can your school's MPA degree offer new opportunities to our audience of government administrators?

JK: A strong foundation in the law and the experiences available in California’s State Capitol offer unparalleled opportunities for students to confront the most pressing public issues. Graduates will understand and develop the skills to master various aspects of governance, including the use of formal authority and competencies of governments, roles of non-profits and businesses, and citizen engagement. Through the MPA program, graduates will learn to acknowledge the demographic, economic and cultural factors that shape possible actions. Our faculty have both real-world experience and deep academic knowledge.

GPN: Is 2016 a great time to earn an MPA for our GPN audience of government administrators?

JK: Now is always a great time to invest in yourself! Those pursuing the MPA are motivated by a desire to make a difference in society, to advance their careers, to join a community and to stretch their minds. We live in an increasingly complex world, with deep conflicts and large uncertainties. Moreover, as more baby boomers retire, this creates needs and openings for MPA graduates to move into new or enhanced careers.

GPN: Do you have any advice for our readers on choosing an MPA program?

JK: Pick a program that fits your needs and is also challenging. An MPA degree should substantially change your understanding of our society and increase your competencies to make a meaningful difference.

In the video, view highlights from the 2016 commencement exercise at the University of the Pacific.

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