Advising in the MPA Program at the University of North Florida includes at least five elements.
Immediately after your acceptance in the MPA program, it is important that you do at least three things:
Within the structure provided by the curriculum and scheduling, students make their own decisions regarding what to take when. The program curriculum (with checklist) is available online. This should facilitate student planning. myWings also makes it easy for students to check their academic progress (though the 'audit' function isn't always accurate!), as well as to enroll for classes. So it is the student's responsibility to know the curriculum, and to know which classes they have completed.
Core courses. Core courses are offered annually, except for PAD 6060 (the introductory course in the program), which is offered both Fall and Spring semester (enrollments permitting).
The current rotation for core courses is as follows:
Fall -- PAD 6060, PAD 5700, PAD 6106, PAD 6436
Spring -- PAD 6060, PAD 6227, PAD 6417, PAD 6066
Summer -- PUP 6006
Other core course tips:
PAD 6060 is the introductory, gateway course to the program, and should be taken very early, preferably in the first semester of study.
PAD 5700 is a pre-requisite for some other classes, and so taking it early is also a good idea to avoid bottlenecks later.
PAD 6066 (Capstone) should be taken in the last Spring semester you expect to be in the program. So if you expect to finish your required credits in the Fall, take Capstone in the preceding Spring.
Nonprofit certificate and concentration. Nonprofit certificate students want to finish this program in a year, and there is high demand for these classes. As a result, all required Nonprofit Concentration and Certificate classes are offered annually as well. The current rotation is as follows:
Fall -- PAD 6142 Nonprofit Management
Spring -- PAD 6208 Nonprofit Financial Management
Summer -- PAD 6164 Nonprofit Stakeholder Relations
Note that in Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 the scheduled classes will be offered at the Jesse Ball duPont Center, a new nonprofit hub for Jacksonville. In 2016/17 the classes will return to UNF. If the 2015/16 downtown experiment is successful, classes will alternate each year between the two sites.
Health administration concentration. Classes for the Health Administration concentration are offered by the Masters in Public Administration program through the Brooks College of Health. As a result, these courses are also offered annually. The current rotation for required courses is as follows:
Fall -- HSA 6435 Health Economics, and HSA 6114 Health Organization and Delivery
Spring -- no required courses, but electives are available
Summer -- HSA 6905 Health Policy
Local government. The Local Government concentration can be completed within two years, rather than one. As a result, students in this concentration should prioritize these classes (even over core courses) when they are offered.
Public policy. Like Local Government, this concentration will also be scheduled to be completed in two years, rather than one. Again, it will therefore be imperative to take these classes when they are offered.
National security. Concentration courses are taken through the Naval War College's Fleet Seminar program, available only to serving Navy officers, officers from other uniformed services, and some senior federal personnel. Admission to the Fleet Seminar program must be applied for through the Naval War College.
Graduation! You must formally apply to graduate. For MPA students, do this online, through Mywings. For Nonprofit Certificate students, simply send the MPA Director an email, midway through your last semester, asking her/him to verify that you have completed the requirements. This serves to notify the university that you are almost done, and sets in motion reviews of your progress to facilitate timely receipt of your degree or certificate. UNF is in the process of getting Nonprofit Certificate students incorporated in to the online application process.
The third element of UNF-MPA advising involves the MPA Director, who is the formally assigned adviser to all UNF-MPA students. The MPA Director should be consulted whenever self-advising fails, or when there are any questions that the above steps cannot answer. These questions might include program admission, waitlist approvals, registration level restriction over-rides, transfer credits from other institutions, verification of substituted classes, beating my head against the wall to bend a pesky UNF rule, etc. Keep records (copies of emails) of all important communications with the MPA program regarding class substitutions. I do this, but do so yourself as a backup.
As indicated, this element of UNF-MPA advising involves the MPA Director. While maintaining the intellectual integrity of the MPA program is our first priority, we do practice what we preach and remember that the program exists to serve students, not the other way around.
The fourth, and most important part of UNF-MPA advising, involves career planning. You should aim to learn as much as possible from the MPA experience, as well as to take courses that will position you as strongly as possible for the career direction you are aiming for. Also develop your professional skills: work on your resume, develop interviewing skills, learn professional culture, attend public talks, council meetings, keep up with the news, etc.
This element of UNF-MPA advising involves the MPA Director, the entire Department faculty, fellow students, community stakeholders, and other contacts. Individuals who share your interests will be best able to advise you within specialized areas.
Please keep in touch. Especially for those of you looking for work, upon graduation you'll fall off of the MPA mailing lists. Join our Facebook page, as we forward job leads there, among other things. For those of you who have found the career that you entered the MPA program for, please become part of the community described in the fourth step, and help us mentor and facilitate the professional careers of current students.
Please contact us if you have any questions.
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