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ASU SPA anyone?

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While I don't know anything about ASU's SPA, I do know that mention of it hasn't shown up on this forum -- at least not in a long time. U.S. News gives the program a decent nod in its rankings, but the rankings have been widely branded as relatively useless because of the lack of criteria on which the ranks are dependent. Personally, I'd be cautious of ASU. The institution as a whole is not perceived well and is generally seen as a party school -- though in fairness that stereotype is probably a result of the undergrads. In terms of public affairs, if you're looking to live on the west coast, it might be an ok choice. However, if you wish to land a job on the east coast afterward, take a look at the east coast public affairs programs, which seem to be more highly regarded. Of course, there are exceptions: GSPP, UCLA, UW, etc. I obviously don't know your resume, but if you're committed to working in public service and can convey that passion to an ad com, you should be able to get in to a solid program.

I just know some ASU alum is going to crucify me for saying all this :lol:

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I have a best friend who received both an MPA and an MPP from ASU's program. He worked full-time while studying and still managed to graduate as the program's outstanding student. Most of his classmates were mid-career types pursuing their degrees in their free time for career advancement within their current organizations. Overall, he was happy with the experience and the degree has contributed to a pretty solid career. He's currently making more than 80k/year working in local governance on the west coast.

Also, I would caution against painting any large state university with a broad brush stroke. ASU is home to some outstanding departments and is consistently one of the top 5 schools in the nation in terms of national merit scholars, fulbright scholars, USA Today academic first-teamers, etc. Yes, the school is largely a sea of mediocrity, but within that sea exist islands of excellence.

Edit: I don't believe admissions are difficult. My friend applied real late in the game after deciding his political science degree wasn't going to get him anywhere. Within a week or two he decided to apply, took the GRE without preparation, and sent in his application. He's a smart guy, but I don't imagine he put together a fantastic application on such short notice.

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  • 1 month later...

hi agh423, i'm going to be applying to ASU SPA as well. I wish there was more discussion on these forums about large state schools like ASU because despite what some think they are highly ranked.....I attended ASU for two years as an undergrad so my experience would not be much help in regards to the graduate programs. I can tell you that the "party school" reputation is only true for a certain segment of the UNDERGRAD community. Many of the professors at the school are some of the best in their fields (i.e. Lawrence Krauss) and ASU wouldn't attract them if it didn't offer programs with good foundations.

Tempe and Phoenix are growing cities that are becoming more dynamic and offer many opportunities for public service internships. Again, I am as new to researching ASU SPA as you are, but if grad schools admissions are anywhere near what undergrad admissions was like then it will not be that tough to get accepted (at least i'm hoping).

What is your background? Why are you interested in ASU? What other schools are you thinking about applying to?

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  • 6 months later...

I am an ASU alum, and though I'm not going to slaughter one of the previous posters, I will say that a lot of what was said is incorrect. Arizona State is a major metropolitan university that has transformed into a different kind of institution under the direction of Michael Crow. While he has his fair share of enemies and naysayers, it would be completely unfair to say that he hasn't done much for the university...it fact, he's done a tremendous amount. Is it a party school? Perhaps, but so are Wisconsin, Michigan, and North Carolina, all of which also happen to be stellar public universities. ASU MPAs have found plenty of jobs east of the Mississippi and in D.C. Though rankings may not matter to all, they matter to some, and ASU is one of the few programs in the Western U.S. to be ranked in the top 25.

On the School of Public Affairs, I'll be candid. It's a place where you can get as much or as little as you want out of it (which is really true of any program). I got a lot out of it during my MPA program, and I'm currently finishing my Ph.D. in Public Affairs at a top 5 ranked school in the field. The admissions are not particularly hard, but I wouldn't be lax in applying. Always do your best to make the strongest application. The school has recently transitioned from the Tempe campus to the Downtown Phoenix Campus, and as such, has a large focus on urban issues and local government. If you're interested in either of those, then it would be a good place. If you interested in working in any government capacity in Arizona, it's a great place, as alumni are relatively well networked and maintain close enough ties to the school. Though the school for sometime lacked some identity, it is increasing in quality and is continually attracting major resources. You will have some fine–not to mention very dedicated–instructors there. People there are also very collegial. They'll find time to meet with you and help when needed. This is a sometimes rare quality at some other "top" programs I'm familiar with.

I know this is very late in terms of the OP's original inquiry, but I thought I'd add my two cents. Good luck.

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  • 9 months later...


Im an engineering graduate from India and i wish to make a switch to social sciences with an MPA degree .My overall gpa is around 4 and i do have 1.5 years of volunteer work experience during college.have been working for almost 2 years in a consulting firm in India.

can someone let me know if admission for me in asu wud be tough and whether asu would be a good choice .

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  • 2 years later...

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