MPA Program Secures Highest, International Accreditation

Published: July 18, 2014 | Read Time: 2 minutes


Southern Utah University now joins an elite group of institutions of higher learning to be granted accreditation from NASPAA — Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration — founded in 1970 and is the recognized global accreditor of master’s degrees in public administration, affairs and policy.

“By pursuing and achieving accreditation through a rigorous peer review, your program has demonstrated a substantial commitment to quality public service education,” said RaJade M. Berry-James, chair of the Commission on Peer Review and Accreditation (COPRA) of SUU’s Master of Public Administration program. “You are part of global community of over 180 accredited graduate programs in public service.”

Professor and program director, Patricia Keehley happily instructed, “This approval by NASPAA suggests we are on the same playing field as some of the nation’s elite public service programs. Public administrators in Utah can now guarantee the competencies they develop are nationally recognized and will help them advance their careers well into the 21st century.

SUU joins the ranks of NASPAA-accredited institutions of public administration such as Auburn University, Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley, John Hopkins University, Duke University and University Edinburgh, just to name a few.

Launching the MPA program in fall 2007, administrators waited five years to begin the accreditation process. A rigorous two-year self-study began, requiring campus visits by COPRA, analyzing courses and program outcomes, and surveying alumni as a continuous improvement and accreditation efforts.

The alumni alone speak to the program’s academic excellence.

Across the state of Utah, SUU MPA degree holding professional have entered the public sector and have proven victorious. Whether its Melissa Johnson, former West Jordan mayor or Van Mangus, Erin Kimball Foundation executive director, alumni are proud of how far they’ve come with their MPA degree.

“I wasn’t initially seeking an MPA degree,” said Johnson. “I just wanted to take a few courses to help me be better at my job but, class after class, the information was so useful that I determined to complete the program.”

With an effort to help working professionals obtain their degrees, without having to relocate or switch jobs; SUU has created its program to function both online and on campus, depending upon the needs of students, like Johnson, who have unpredictable schedules.

Other alumni have gone on to be geographic information specialists, like Izabella Miller who is now employed with Salt Lake County Public Works, or managers and or senior leaders such as Michelle Schmid and Roger Carter.

Keehley explained that the MPA program will continue to focus on assessing course competencies and surveying alumni and employers to ensure necessary skills are being developed. She also stated that new courses will be created, especially electives, to establish skills in the specific areas of public service. 

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