Every year, a number of publications and companies rank college programs. Students can use these rankings to help determine which college to attend, and although they can’t cover all advantages and disadvantages of educational programs, they can give you a good start in your university research if you are looking for a Masters in Public Administration (MPA) program.
Who Publishes Rankings?
The most popular college ranking list published in the United States is done so by U.S. News and World Report. This publication not only ranks colleges in general, but also ranks specific programs, so you can search the top schools specific to the public administration field. It is much more helpful to see a list of MPA programs than it is to see a list of all colleges, many of which do not even offer an MPA degree program.
U.S. News and World Report isn’t the only option if you’re interested in college rankings. A number of other publications also rank colleges on an annual basis, and if you’re looking for a school in a specific region or state, you can contact localized organizations for information about the schools available.
Learning how a publication ranks colleges is important for your search. Every rankings list is compiled in a different way, but some of the common characteristics that are ranked include library resources, research opportunities, student graduation rate, percentage of students who find jobs within six months of graduating, financial aid availability, student GRE scores, class size, professor publications, and spending per student.
In addition, many publications use a metric known as peer evaluation or reputation. With this characteristic, professors or staff members at comparable colleges are asked to rate other colleges based on their limited knowledge of these programs. Some criticize this way of ranking schools, but it does give you an idea of what an MPA program is like overall.
Most publications only consider accredited schools – which is good thing for you, because it saves a step in your research. Accreditation ensures that a program teaches you all of the valuable skills you should be learning in an MPA program so that you’re prepared to work in a leadership position in public administration when you graduate.
Other Characteristics to Consider
While there’s a good chance that some of the MPA programs ranked highly on any list will be a good fit for your educational needs, the characteristics ranked by others don’t necessarily translate to the personal needs you have as a student. Before choosing to apply to an MPA program, sit down and list the characteristics that are most important to you. This can include things like location, the ability to take classes online, scheduling flexibility, tuition costs, and more. What’s most important to you? Every MPA student will answer that question differently – and that’s OK! The important thing is that you take the time to research the options available and find a program that fits your needs as well as possible.