Government Employer Assessment Of the SWT MPA
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Universities today have more reason than ever before to document the results of their efforts. Accreditation bodies require evidence of assessment. Some state legislatures require outcomes assessment of public universities. The general business environment has organizations reaching out to customers to learn about themselves and how they can improve. For all these reasons, universities and their academic programs are attempting to learn about themselves from various stakeholders, including employers. The Master of Public Administration (MPA) program at Southwest Texas State University (SWT) shares in the need for assessment. This program confers about twenty MPA degrees each year. This study reports the results of a series of interviews with government executives to explore the program's outcomes in the eyes of government employers. The interviews explored awareness of the MPA degree, the value of the SWT program curriculum, including the core curriculum as specified by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration, the SWT MPA program mission statement, and other areas of skill and knowledge identified in a review of related academic literature. Further, the research explored how well the graduates measure up to the ideals of these government employers. Finally, the interviews sought suggestions from the government executives on how to improve the program. The interviews showed that government executives value most of the curriculum of the SWT MPA program highly and believe that its graduates represent a high quality degree program. The research also uncovered several interesting and useful suggestions for improving the program.