Last year the Dean, working with faculty, administrators, alumni, and students, completed an MIA and MPA curriculum update that will apply to all new students starting in the fall of 2009. The main goal was to restructure our robust curriculum to provide more flexibility, bring faculty closer together, and allow students to package themselves better for work in the policy world.
The core curriculum was refined to ensure that students have access to courses emphasizing strong economic and quantitative analysis skills along with strong management training. Some concentrations were also combined to bring faculty closer together. This will allow for even more professional development opportunities for our students.
A key characteristic of our curriculum is the way we bridge academics to practical policy application. This is accomplished through both internships and workshops. Internships are individual professional opportunities that are completed with an outside client. Workshops are group projects (typically 5-10 students per group) completed with an outside client.
Both of these opportunities provide students the opportunity to develop a professional portfolio to show potential employers. Workshops are set up by faculty members and are included in the syllabus for a course. By combining some of our concentrations faculty will now work more closely on these opportunities so that we may expand the number of options.
The curriculum review also resulted in the addition of what are now referred to as specializations. You can think of a specialization as a minor that focuses on the development of a particular skill set. The goal of a concentration (think of this as your major) is to provide in depth policy knowledge and the specialization (think of this as your minor) will provide a strong set of regional or functional skills to ensure students are able to implement effective policy solutions.
The majority of class offerings have remained the same and students will still have the opportunity to study elements that have always been a part of our programs of study. The main goal has been to restructure things in a way that is more beneficial for students to make an immediate transition into the policy world.
Rob Garris, the Senior Associate Dean of SIPA, recently sat down and gave an overview of the changes. You can view the video by clicking here (Time of Video, 8:40).