OHIO Master of Public Administration students after a successful day with a client

Applying Classroom Knowledge to Real World Experiences:

A Closer Look at the MPA Practicum Experience

Caitlyn Zachry
March 3, 2011

For students in Ohio University’s Master of Public Administration program, homework could include a range of assignments, from planning a kick-off event for a nearby greenhouse to drafting an operational plan for a local animal rescue foundation.

The program, which is a partnership between the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs and the political science department, incorporates an interdisciplinary curriculum that is intended to prepare graduates for careers in government or nonprofit administration. In addition, the program includes a one-year applied learning practicum that links classroom learning with practical experience in nonprofit, government and other organizations. This year’s students worked with organizations such as Athens County Habitat for Humanity, Passion Works Studio and the Twin City Opera House.

Although other MPA programs achieve practical experience through internship components, Practicum Director Anita Frederick said that such experiences are not usually tied to curricula or faculty within the universities. “We directly and explicitly link theory to practice,” she said. “The practicum is an aspect of the MPA that really speaks to the uniqueness of our program. For our students, these hands-on opportunities are truly embedded in the education experience as a whole.”