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Understanding Community Needs Through an MPA Program

Through the coursework and practicum of an online Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree, graduate students have the opportunity to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to serve their communities. Whether an MPA graduate wants to work in government or the nonprofit sector as a public administrator, he or she will have the responsibility of meeting the needs of individuals, families and communities in the areas most affecting their lives. Understanding these community needs is a driving influence behind the coursework of an MPA degree program.

Focus on Community in an MPA Program

Government agencies and nonprofit organizations that aim to serve the community need program directors and managers who can understand communities’ needs. One way agencies and organizations can ensure their directors and managers have this ability is by hiring MPA graduates or by supporting current employees who have an interest in earning an MPA degree online. Through the coursework and experience of an MPA degree, program directors and managers can learn to provide appropriate services to meet the community’s greatest needs.

The coursework of an online MPA degree program offers graduate students increased awareness and understanding of community needs. Classes such as public administration research give students a foundation in community understanding and development through data analysis, fundamentals of contemporary research and alternative research methods. Other required courses, including administrative ethics and financial management, give graduate students a deeper understanding of serving as a public administrator.

Relationship Between Public Administrators and Community

The key to better understanding community needs is developing relationships between public administrators and the community. Clear communication is vital for fostering trust between communities and government or nonprofit administrators. When administrators listen to their communities, relationships deepen.

Agencies and organizations can further develop relationships with the community by empowering citizen liaisons to participate in decision-making. Public administrators can also promote deeper interaction with the community by encouraging citizen involvement in solutions to shared problems.

Perhaps most importantly, graduate students in an online MPA degree program need a fundamental desire to understand their communities and their needs. The coursework, internships and practicum of an MPA degree program prepare graduate students with the theories, methods and practices they need to implement solutions to community problems.

Learn more about the UT Arlington online MPA program.


Sources:

http://www.naspaa.org/jpaemessenger/Article/VOL21-2/05_Hatcher.pdf

https://www.portlandoregon.gov/oni/article/152702


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