Department of Public Policy
Ph.D.: Florida Atlantic University
Office Location: UConn Hartford campus
What interests students in studying public policy?
Public service careers are very exciting for people who want to make a difference in their communities. Public policy making is about solving problems facing our communities, and public policy analysis is about ensuring that implemented policies are effective and are meeting community needs. Public administration is the implementation arm of government that delivers public goods and services and that implements public policy. Public administration and public policy affect every aspect of our lives. If a student is interested in an exciting and rewarding career that rests on helping others, they should consider a public service career.
What would you say are the Department of Public Policy’s areas of strength in your field?
The Department of Public Policy graduate public affairs offerings are consistently nationally ranked among the top schools, and its survey research program is one of few that offer graduate education in this field. The Department’s public finance specialization is also ranked in the top ten in the United States. The Department offers professional graduate degrees in the areas of public administration, public policy, and survey research. It also offers graduate certificates in public financial management, survey research, nonprofit management, and leadership and public management. The Department has an excellent graduate placement record and its graduates are thriving in their careers.
UConn Undergraduate students may apply to one of our graduate programs directly, or they may join through the fast-track. Fast-track students could complete up to half of the credits required to earn an MPA or an MPP while in their undergraduate program.
What types of jobs do students pursue after attaining a public policy degree?
Our survey research graduates pursue careers in market research, polling, and other analysis related fields in the public, private and non-profit sectors. Our Master of Public Administration students pursue careers in public and non-profit organizations, particularly positions dealing with money and people. Moreover, our graduates are city managers, budget directors, executive directors, and leaders of non-profit and public agencies. Our Master of Public Policy students pursue careers in policy departments in public organizations as well careers as policy analysts in all sectors. Incoming are offered the opportunity to complete a two-semester funded internship placement. This year alone, nearly 35 graduate students will take advantage of this program.
Have there been recent changes in the Department of Public Policy that have strengthened the department?
Last year, the Department of Public Policy launched the Master of Public Policy, and our incoming class this fall is the first MPP class that we recruited. The Department offers the only NASPAA-accredited Master of Public Administration program in this region. In recent years, the Department faculty added expertise in the area of education policy and social policy in addition to its historic and nationally recognized strength in the area of public budgeting and finance.
What do you see as upcoming opportunities for your program?
Our Department is now part of the new UConn Hartford campus. This brings us closer to the communities that our programs serve. We see this as an opportunity to continue to play the important role we play in preparing competent current and future public employees. The main challenge that we have is our visibility to UConn students on the Storrs Campus. We try to overcome that through offering some undergraduate and graduate courses on the Storrs campus and by visiting some classrooms to talk about our offerings.
Are there any common misconceptions about the field of public policy? If so, what are they, and how do you try to combat them?
There are certainly many misconceptions about public service and public servants. For decades, public service and public servants have been under attack by politicians and political interest groups. Without public servants, we would not have safe drinking water, safe streets, well-planned communities, and many other everyday needs. The negative images advanced by some politicians and other groups are very unfair to hardworking competent public servants. We try to combat these misconceptions by continuing to prepare the competent and ethical managers of the future. We also want our students and graduates to realize the intrinsic rewards of public service – our graduates are not only well equipped to make a good living, but they are ready to make a difference.
Where do you see your field going in the next 10 years?
The employment world for survey research graduates is very promising for the next few decades. Employers and industries are increasingly realizing the importance of these skills for their current and future employees. I believe that the employment terrain for public policy, public administration, and non-profit management is at least as promising. The public service workforce is also aging and expects many retirements over the next 10 years – perhaps as many as 30% of the workforce. Our graduates in survey research, public administration, public policy, and non-profit management will be ready and will be equipped with cutting edge skills and abilities to impress the employers of the future. The jobs will always be there, and my faculty colleagues and I will always ensure that our students will be ready for the challenges of the future.