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MPA for career change for current Fed employee?


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Hi all,

 

I'm a new poster on this site, but have been reading comments regarding graduate school advice here for about a year. I've seen a lot of pre-career prospective MPA students asking about the degree's job prospects and value versus an MPP and a JD, but I wanted to ask the same question from a different angle.

 

I'm a current federal government employee who has been working in the national security field in the DC area for three years. I have decided that I would like to re-orient my career to have a more domestic focus on government administration (hoping to one day work at the GAO, Congressional Research Service, or as a program analyst at agencies like FEMA, DoT, or the DOE), as my current job does not provide me with much of an exposure to the way agencies with a domestic focus work. So, I decided about two years ago to pursue an MPA as a way of switching career tracks; I would be looking at entering school in the Fall of 2014.

 

I am looking at a wide variety of schools, but the most promising ones on my list are American, George Mason, and Virginia Tech (the final two because of their low tuition for Virginia residents) -- I've taken two MPA/MPP classes at George Mason and have connections at AU, so I've heard and seen good things at two of the three schools. While I have considered an MPP, quantitative skills are not my strong suit (640 verbal/510 quant on the GRE), so I'm focusing more on the MPA for now.

 

My question is this: For a semi-established professional (I am currently a GS-11 in a fairly technical area), will an MPA allow me to re-orient the direction of my career right off the bat with my work experience, perhaps by seeking a Presidential Management Fellowship, or will I have to start looking for internships? Any thoughts from current feds thinking about applying to or who are enrolled in an MPA program would be appreciated; it seems that for jobs above a GS-9, a Ph.D is needed for program analysis and higher-level administrative positions).

 

Thanks!

 

-John

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  • 4 years later...

Hi John.  Like you, I am a federal employee looking to do similar things with my career.  I've recently enrolled in the MPA program at George Mason after a couple of years worth of researching career options and graduate degrees best suited for federal employees.  It seems that the MPA is considered the MBA for federal executives.  If you plan to stay in the public sector, or even work for a non-profit, you can't go wrong with an MPA.  The only PhD level feds that I know are GS14 and higher.  I personally believe that you will only need the MPA to achieve your goals.  I also have noted that Mason offers PhDs in Policy or Political Science for reduced credits depending on what courses you take for your Masters degree.  So that's an option.  I did not apply to AU for a number of reasons, but the main one is that I believe they don't offer the MPA on a part time basis.  I applied, and was accepted to, George Washington U, but I don't believe it's much better than GMU for double the price.  Also, the PhD in Policy & Admin at GWU would be an additional 20 credits to the PhD options at Mason following an MPA (if accepted).  Never considered Tech.  I'm assuming they have an online program.  I work in Arlington and support a family of 3 so GMU is the perfect solution for me (and it's 2 miles from my office).  Good luck!

Charlie

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