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How meaningful are MPP concentrations?


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I'm researching a wide range of MPP programs and see that some schools really highlight the range of 'concentrations' that they offer, while others don't emphasis this feature all that much. A friend of mine earned her MPP at USC Price and mentioned that the required curriculum really doesn't leave much flexibility for concentrations to have a significant impact on your overall field of study. 


Can anybody speak to how much their MPP concentration influenced their overall studies or technical skills gained? 


I ask because I'm looking for concentrations related to Community Economic Development, however might be ignorantly discounting programs that don't specifically list this (or a related field) on their website.


More than anything, people seem to compare quantitative v. qualitative programs, which is helpful and obviously relevant. Maybe this distinction should really be my primary consideration at this point?

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The quantitative/qualitative distinction is hugely more important than what concentrations your school offers. 


You can often "create" a concentration via electives, creating a reading course or choosing a thesis topic. 


That  being said, most MPP programs don't give you a lot of electives. 

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I'm three years out of my MPA, and I don't think concentrations are very meaningful.  Concentrations demonstrate an interest in an area, and that can help you distinguish yourself from other candidates, but you can do the same by highlighting relevant classes in your resume and/or extracurricular activities, even if a formal concentration isn't available.  At the end of the day, employers are going to care the most about your work and internship experience.

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Hi Uribee,


I'm an HKS alum and I'm with Poliphilo and MaxwellAlum, so no need to repeat what they've said.


In addition, you should look at the actual course offerings related to community and economic development at each of your schools. Understand that not all courses are offered each semester, but it will at least give you a good idea of what might be offered while you're there. Also - you should do a quick LinkedIn search using "MPP," "community" and "economic development" and reach out to MPP alums at various schools who are in your field. Talk to them about their experiences. That information is gold.


Best of luck!

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