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Competencies

Under the NASPAA accreditation standards adopted in October 2009, students from all accredited MPA programs are expected to possess five universal competencies upon their graduation as well as any program specific competencies which the program chooses to adopt. These competencies reflect the behavioral and skill expectations we believe the faculty and students should possess and seek to develop throughout their careers. They are the means by which the values described above are realized.

These universal competencies are to:
lead and manage in public governance;
participate in and contribute to the public policy process;
analyze, synthesize, think critically, solve problems and make decisions;
articulate and apply a public service perspective; and
communicate and interact productively with a diverse and changing workforce and citizenry.

Each program is expected to define or interpret what these competencies mean in terms of its mission, values, and service area. It is also expected to detail how the program seeks to instill these competencies in its students through its various instructional and extra-curricular activities. Moreover, each program must document these efforts and assess effectiveness in accomplishing this task.

Therefore, ECU's MPA interprets these competencies as described below. Each competency is then linked to a set of core courses. While the instructional content and assignments of these courses will evolve over time, they are the primary means by which our program seeks to instill these competencies in our pre-service students and enhance those of our in-service students.

Integrating all of our interpretations of these competencies and their related skills, regardless of the skill level and experiences with which the student enters, is our belief in the value of public service and professionalism to our society. Moreover, every core course and elective course is designed to contribute to the student's development of these competencies. The courses identified here are those courses required of each graduate.

Lead and manage in public governance

Our interpretation of this competency: Developing the ability of our students to manage and lead in the broad range of public governance roles, whether in the public or non-profit sectors, is a primary responsibility of this program. To us, managing and leading requires an acute understanding of one's organization and its relationships with the other entities with which it must interact to achieve its mission as well as of one's own personal abilities. It also requires a professional commitment to excellence and ethical behavior. Managing effectively requires budgetary, personnel, time management, and process skills that can be directed at the implementation of one's assigned responsibilities.

Leading, on the other hand, requires one to be able to conceive of issues in a strategic, forward thinking manner and to accept the responsibility for achieving outcomes. It thus requires a higher order of planning and integrative capabilities beyond what are required at the managerial level. It also requires one to be able to facilitate the development of managerial and leadership skill on the part of others as well as knowing when to follow the lead of others. Effective managers can work alone or in smaller groups, but leaders can never work alone and have influence beyond their own work group.

Managing and leading are skills that must be developed personally and over time through interactive experiences. The MPA Program therefore seeks to foster a deep appreciation of the critical nature of these skills to effective public governance, a personal commitment to their continuing development, and the acquisition of a basic set of working managerial and leadership skills by our graduates through the content of the following courses.

Upon completion of the MPA degree we expect our students to be able to:
work in an organization at the entry level
demonstrate knowledge of how different organizational cultures and settings influence how one manages and leads
manage the basic financial and human resources needed to accomplish assignments
interact effectively as a member of a team
facilitate the development of a group's accomplishment of its task
articulate the purposes and mission of an organization
accomplish their responsibilities in a timely manner

Course connections
PADM 6100 Politics and Management in Public Agencies
PADM 6110 Human Resource Management in Public Agencies
PADM 6120 Public Budgeting and Finance
PADM 6220 Leadership and Ethics in the Public Sector
PADM 6900 MPA Professional Paper

Participate in and contribute to the public policy process:

Our interpretation of this competency: As employees and citizens it is critical that MPA graduates be able to participate and contribute effectively to their respective public policy processes. Their involvement must occur as public and non-profit sector employees and advisers as well as private citizens. As such, students are expected to be able to distinguish public from non-public issues, comprehend the various dimensions of public policy problems, define public policy problems succinctly, identify key stakeholders and their relationships to the issues at hand, construct policy evaluation criteria, appraise a set of reasonable alternatives to address those issues, analyze the effectiveness of the alternatives at addressing the issues and articulate the results to their administrative or political superiors and to the public as a whole.

Upon completion of the MPA degree we expect our students to be able to:
recognize the responsibilities of their role as policy analysts and advisers
distinguish public from non-public issues
comprehend the various dimensions of public policy problems
define public policy problems succinctly
identify key stakeholders and their relationships to the issues at hand
construct policy evaluation criteria
appraise a set of reasonable alternatives to address those issues
analyze the effectiveness of the alternatives at addressing the issues
articulate the results

Course connections
PADM 6101 Analysis for the Public Sector
PADM 6160 Public Policy Formulation and Implementation
PADM 6161 Applied Policy Analysis
PADM 6900 MPA Professional Paper

Analyze, synthesize, think critically, solve problems and make decisions:

Our interpretation of this competency: MPA graduates are expected to think critically about their organizations, communities, the issues facing these entities, and their own capabilities. They should apply their critical thinking skills to the analysis of public issues, synthesizing clearly the dimensions of those issues, constructing appropriate alternatives for addressing them, and employing relevant processes for reaching decisions on them.

Upon completion of the MPA degree we expect our students to be able to:
explain the causes, effects, impact, and scope of problems
assess the problems or obstacles to addressing the problems
differentiate the multiple components of problems and their relationships
construct criteria for optimal solutions
prioritize evaluated steps for resolving the problems
recommend alternative solutions
articulate the basis of their recommendations

Course connections
PADM 6100 Politics and Management in Public Agencies
PADM 6101 Analysis for the Public Sector
PADM 6102 Quantitative Methods for Public Administration (formerly 6230) (P: 6101)
PADM 6120 Public Budgeting and Finance
PADM 6161 Applied Policy Analysis and Program Evaluation (P: 6101 & 6102)
PADM 6900 MPA Professional Paper

Articulate and apply a public service perspective:

Our interpretation of this competency: A vital capability of MPA graduates must be the ability to articulate and apply a public service perspective concerning the issues facing their communities and organizations. As professionals, whether as employees of public entities or of non-profits, our graduates have a responsibility to speak for the public interest through the quality of their work products and through their communications. In doing so, they must also comprehend the complexity of their communities as well as the perspectives presented by different stakeholders. This also means appreciating the values and interest behind these perspectives. At the same time graduates must be capable of synthesizing these differing points of view while they act on the basis of a broader public perspective.

Upon completion of the MPA degree we expect our students to be able to:
delineate the basis of their own public service values and perspective
distinguish between the differing perspectives and values behind them of various public stakeholders
synthesize the differing perspectives on public issues
articulate a public perspective in written and oral communication

Course connections
PADM 6100 Politics and Management in Public Agencies
PADM 6101 Analysis for the Public Sector
PADM 6161 Applied Policy Analysis and Program Evaluation (P: 6101 & 6102)
PADM 6220 Leadership and Ethics in the Public Sector
PADM 6900 MPA Professional Paper

Communicate and interact productively with a diverse and changing workforce and citizenry:

Our interpretation of this competency: In any employment setting, graduates from our program must understand the diversity of the communities within which they live and work well as the changing demographics of the workforce. Graduates must thus also understand how to communicate with this diverse and changing workforce and citizenry.

This means being able to employ appropriate means of communication to receive and seek public input as well as to disseminate information. It also means that graduates should be capable of making clear, concise public presentations and of expressing themselves effectively in writing.

Upon completion of the MPA degree we expect our students to be able to:
assess the nature of diversity of the communities within which they live and work
articulate how the changing demographics of the workforce may affects the motivation of public employees and the delivery of public services
function effectively within the diverse communities in which they live and work
demonstrate how to communicate with a diverse, changing workforce and citizenry
employ all appropriate means of communication for receiving and seeking public input as well as to disseminate information
apply contemporary forms of electronic communication and data storage
make clear, concise public presentations
express themselves effectively in writing.

Course connections
PADM 6100 Politics and Management in Public Agencies
PADM 6101 Analysis for the Public Sector
PADM 6110 Human Resource Management in Public Agencies
PADM 6220 Leadership and Ethics in the Public Sector
PADM 6260 Management of Public Information Technology

Dept. of Political Science, Brewster A-124, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC 27858-4353
Phone (252) 328-6189
Fax (252) 328-4134