As part of the GPN series on graduate degree programs and their value to government administrators, here is a brief profile of the Master of Public Administration (MPA) program at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR). The MPA offering is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration.

The MPA program is part of the Institute of Government at UALR. The institute assists governments and nonprofits through applied and survey research, instruction, training and community civics. Besides the MPA program, the institute offers graduate and management certificate programs in nonprofit and government management and conflict mediation.

The MPA program at UALR seeks to provide a knowledge base to students in:
•    public organizations
•    nonprofits
•    political processes
•    policy issues
•    public service values
•    professional ethics

Here are the views of Hunter Bacot, who is director of the Institute of Government at UALR and interim coordinator of the university’s MPA Program.

GPN: Can you tell us about your school’s MPA program?
Hunter Bacot: The MPA program at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock emphasizes professional management and public policy analysis and evaluation using the latest quantitative tools to make evidence-based decisions. Our focus is on preparing pre-career and in-service students for employment or advancement in state and local nonprofit and government agencies.

GPN: What are some of the characteristics of the marketplace for MPA degree holders in 2014? Does the UALR MPA prepare graduates for the future?

HB: As government employment opportunities are limited at this time, agencies are valuing those graduates with analytical and evaluation skills and who are versed in the latest quantitative methodologies; this is how we prepare our students at UALR for success. Our graduates are capable of "walking out our doors and into yours." They are prepared to engage in performance- and output-based analysis and program evaluations in both the nonprofit and government sectors.

GPN: Do you have any advice for prospective students on selecting the right MPA program?

HB: Current and potential students should choose a program that aligns with their interests, but also will prepare them to compete for positions with governments across the country. With the MPA program at UALR being located in the capital city, there are a host of public administration and nonprofit management opportunities in the area. Also, students must enjoy where they live and the city of Little Rock provides many amenities for students — from the Clinton Library, the downtown Rivermarket nightlife, and outdoor adventures — to enjoy when they are not busy studying. We offer a great program located in a city that is a wonderful and affordable place to live.

GPN: Thank you, Hunter Bacot, for your views.

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