Jump to content

Seeking guidance: distinguishing different types of professional preparation

Recommended Posts

Hi everyone, thanks in advance for your guidance. This isn't so much of a "help me find programs whose profile I match" question as much as "help me understand what the nuances in professional preparation exist between what seem like similar schools".

One of the challenges I have had in researching programs categorized here as government affairs is that the degree names (public policy, public affairs, public administration, etc.) seem to mean slightly different things to different institutions, and the program websites, while generally quite helpful, aren't always as helpful in answering this question: just what do these programs prepare graduates to do?

I have read the alumni/careers section, and while I can pick out some trends, it does seem like most schools are happy to advertize the full breadth of where their graduates find work right after school (which is great, but still leaves me confused regarding skills, etc.).

From what I can gather, some programs seem to prepare graduates for public management at the municipal/state level while others prepare graduates for policy analysis at state/federal agencies, think tanks or consulting firms, and others still prepare graduates for leadership roles in nonprofit organizations or social service agencies. This is clearly an imprecise dichotomy and many of these skills are transferable, but I am curious to learn from your experience: with respect to domestic policy (education, social welfare, and other broad issues), what sort of work do the programs below prepare graduates to do?

Harvard MPP (HKS)

Berkeley MPP (Goldman)

Princeton MPA (WWS)

Michigan MPP (Ford)

NYU MPA (Wagner)

Carnegie Mellon MSPPM (Heinz)

Chicago MPP (Harris)

Syracuse MPA (Maxwell)

Maryland MPP


Brandeis MPP (Heller)

Texas MPAff (LBJ)

Example: I know Chicago has a reputation as a quantitative-heavy, policy analysis school. Do graduates also go on to management work? And the reverse question for NYU, etc. Thanks for your thoughts!

If anyone has additional thoughts on these programs and/or other recommendations, I would really appreciate it. For reference (since it seems that's what people share here), I am interested in education policy, specifically at the state and district level, as well as most urban issues affecting the welfare of children, youth, and families. I have four years of experience working in education and with youth directly and managing a large college access program, with an interest in evaluation and program design. I haven't yet figured out what precisely I want to do next, but it seems like an MPP (or equivalent) might make a lot of sense at this point. Non-matriculated grad coursework in stats, labor/public economics, econometrics, etc.

Again, thanks for the thoughts (and hopefully this won't just be useful to me).

Edited by PeterQuince
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.