For its series on master of public administration (MPA) programs that can help government officials in their careers, GPN reached out to Linda Kiltz, program director for the MPA/MPP/MS in Nonprofit Management and Leadership programs at Minneapolis-based Walden University. Kiltz is affiliated with the college’s School of Public Policy and Administration. Below are Kiltz’s views.

GPN: Can your school’s MPA program offer new opportunities to our readers? Is 2015-2016 a great time for government administrators (our audience) to earn an MPA?

Linda Kiltz: An MPA degree is the most versatile professional graduate credential for those working at any level or position within government. Now is a great time to pursue the degree due to extensive opportunities in the public sector job market.

With 21 million people currently at work at the local, state, and national levels, and about 500,000 expected to retire in the coming years, the public services industry is one of the largest and most stable employment sectors in the United States.

Walden University’s online Master of Public Administration (MPA) program offers new opportunities to students by providing them with the knowledge and skills needed to be effective leaders in government organizations, both domestically and internationally. Students gain a comprehensive set of management and leadership skills that they may not necessarily receive through their job training or experience, including data analysis and evaluation, policy analysis and implementation, advanced writing, research and critical thinking. The curriculum enhances students’ problem-solving skills and cultural competence and encourages them to participate in a collaborative network of faculty and professionals active in the government or nonprofit sectors.

Walden’s MPA program teaches students to unite government, nonprofit, and private organizations as they become empowered to make a positive difference in the communities they serve. Students are exposed to the bigger picture of public administration theory, practice, and principles.

For example, through the use of an interactive virtual city, students learn to analyze public policies by examining the positions of various stakeholders in a community. They learn to identify the political, social, economic, administrative and technical barriers to each possible policy.

This type of online learning experience gives students a broader vision of the field, as well as an understanding of the connections and interdependencies of our systems of governance.

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

LK: The MPA program should be offered by a college or university that is regionally or nationally accredited. The curriculum should have high-quality courses, whether delivered online or in person, that adequately prepare people for the profession. Through research and/or talking with current and past MPA students, you can determine if the program’s faculty have a passion for public administration as both scholars and practitioners, as well as a love of teaching.

Students in an MPA program are often intrinsically motivated to serve the public good and their communities. They often pursue opportunities to become leaders who make decisions based on the best interests of the majority, rather than the narrower interest of an individual or small, self-serving group. When looking at MPA programs, be sure that both the student body and faculty embody this public service ethos, as demonstrated through their teaching, service, and scholarship.

GPN: What sets Walden’s program apart from other MPA programs?

LK: All of the courses in Walden’s MPA program are taught by scholar-practitioners in the field of public administration, which allows the faculty to bring their real-life experiences into the classroom. Courses in Walden’s MPA program were developed by leaders in the government and nonprofit sectors, and are taught asynchronously using the best practices in distance education. The university uses online technology to effectively engage its students.

Walden’s MPA program offers a 46-quarter-credit General Program that is shorter than most MPA programs in the nation.

GPN: Thank you, Linda Kiltz, for your views.

The video shows how students can customize their MPA degree.

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