Martin School adds accelerated MPA

Adam Pennavaria | @KyKernel

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Following the trend of respected programs around the country, UK is designing a program for the Martin School of Public Policy and Administration master’s degree.

In addition to keeping its traditional two-year program, the Martin School will be adding an accelerated one-year program to its arsenal.

“Our program is ranked second in public budgeting and finance nationally, and 16th among all 250 Master’s of Public Administration programs in the country,” said Sarah Lee, a Martin School student affairs officer.

“We designed this new program to meet the needs of recent college graduates who want to come to school full-time and get their degree quickly. It’s a considerable cost saver because instead of four semesters, it’s only two.”

An MPA is similar to an MBA in that you’re managing resources, time and people, but you’re managing more for government or the nonprofit sector, said Jamie Giles, a Martin School graduate assistant.

Essentially, the traditional program allows the student to build his or her resume while earning a degree, provides opportunities for full funding, allows the student to work full- or part-time and focuses on gaining experience through internships. The accelerated program, on the other hand, allows the student to quickly pass through the program and get a job shortly after graduation, reduces the cost of living, fosters leadership and team building skills through group projects, and focuses mainly on jump-starting the career of the student.

The traditional program operates primarily on a night class schedule, since master’s program students typically work during the day and attend night classes. This program will run intensively during the day to allow students to use their time and energy more efficiently toward their studies.

“Interest in the program looks very promising; we have the most applicants for the MPA program we’ve ever received and it’s only mid-March,” Lee said.

“We have several students who have indicated that they are excited about the one-year format, so we expect that it will be a very popular program,” Merl Hackbart, the Martin School’s interim director, said of the program. “While we expect the new version of the MPA will be attractive for students who are just completing their undergraduate degree, we also expect the one-year format will be very attractive for mid-year professionals who want to enhance their career opportunities by pursuing a professional master’s degree.”

Although federal work study is only available for undergraduates, the participants in this accelerated MPA program are given the opportunity to visit nonprofit organizations such as United Way and the Carnegie Center, go on a five-day field trip to Washington, D.C., to observe how the federal sector operates, and visit sites in Lexington and Frankfort like the Transportation Cabinet and the Revenue Cabinet, along with the full two-semester course load.

“We don’t recommend that students work outside the program because it is so intensive,” Lee said.

Instead of the individualized internship that most master’s program students undertake between their first and second years of school, this program will present students with a series of group projects that will be overseen by an advising faculty member, who will guide the students through their studies.

“The main distinction is that with the accelerated program, there will be much more of a cadre effect; you’ll start with a class and you’ll stay with the same class the whole way through and work with them on various projects as well as classes,” Lee said. “Full-time (traditional) students will finish in two years, but some of the part-time students will take up to up to six or seven years, taking one class at a time.”

The accelerated program will begin in July 2013. Visit for a full list of benefits, scholarships and advantages for both programs.