Contact Admissions

In-Residence Degree Programs

Master of Public Service and Administration
Master of International Affairs

Bush School Admissions Office

(979) 862-3476
bushschooladmissions@tamu.edu

Contact Extended Education

Online & In-Residence Certificates

Advanced International Affairs
Homeland Security
Nonprofit Management

1-866-988-BUSH (2874)
bushschoolonline@tamu.edu


Contact Admissions

In-Residence Degree Programs

Master of Public Service and Administration
Master of International Affairs

Bush School Admissions Office

(979) 862-3476
bushschooladmissions@tamu.edu

Contact Extended Education

Online & In-Residence Certificates

Advanced International Affairs
Homeland Security
Nonprofit Management

1-866-988-BUSH (2874)
bushschoolonline@tamu.edu

Five steps in researching MPA and MIA graduate programs

November 21, 2014

What do you want to do for the rest of your life? Got that figured out? Maybe? It’s a heady decision, but not one you have to have all the answers to right now, as you will change jobs and possibly careers a number of times before retirement. Right now you should be taking inventory of your interests, skills, opportunities, and options. Consider what career field might interest and challenge you. Is it related to your major, your outside hobbies, a recent internship, a field you have read or always wondered about? Ultimately, you need to do some soul searching and narrow the scope by researching online and by speaking with advisors and professionals in the field.

If you have decided that Public Service/Administration or International Affairs are of interest to you, and you believe now is the right time to start your graduate education, then take note of five steps in researching MPA and MIA graduate programs.

  1. Start by asking those you trust for their advice on schools you should consider in that field.This would include academic advisors, professors, intern supervisors, colleagues, and/or professionals in that field. Most will have some names in mind based on their own experiences or in working with relevant schools or alumni. These schools can act as a starting point from which to grow the list on your own.

  2. Look to relevant professional organization websites who might act as a clearinghouse for top schools. For instance, NASPAA.org is a great location to research MPA/MPP/MPSA programs while APSIA.org highlights top MIA programs. Both organizations are member groups that charge dues, but in turn review our programs for quality standards and help us promote our degrees to a broader audience. You can review some of the top public and private schools in the nation, or the world, on websites like this. Furthermore, both of these have school search engines where you can search by state, degrees, or emphasis areas.

  3. Conduct Google keyword searches for emphasis areas or degrees to see what comes up, as you may run across schools you never would have considered otherwise. The results may largely be online for-profit colleges that spend big money to increase their rankings, but the options will be diverse and some should be researched further. List the most promising, research and follow-up, and eliminate the fall-outs.

  4. Visit the websites of the top considerations and gather comparable data. Perhaps start an Excel that lists degree options, tracks, emphasis areas, thesis/capstone options, length of program, costs by semester, aid opportunities, admissions requirements, career outcomes, etc. This document can help you see what appeals to you most and what does not, and you can record your observations methodically. Most applicants will apply to only 3-6 schools, as domestic application fees typically run between $50-$100 per.

  5. Interact with your top schools along the way, but definitely before enrollment. Some students will visit or make calls during the application phase, while others will wait until they are admitted. Either way, at some point you want to assess how attuned schools are to your needs and goals and in working with their students along the way. Some larger, more well-known schools may not have the time or inclination to work with individuals the way that smaller schools will. You will only know what you want and expect to get by interacting with them. Do not go in blind or thinking it would work out differently only because you did not take some time sizing up the customer service and expectations early in the process.

Tags: Academic / Admissions Advice / Recruitment /

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Kathryn Meyer, Director of Recruitment and Admissions