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Complete Guide to Program Processes
This guide will lay out the steps and procedures that you, as a student in the MPA Program at UND, will encounter. The guide provides the tasks that should be completed in each semester which you can check off as you complete them. Each task or step is also linked to a detailed description of how to complete that step and any forms or links that are needed or could be helpful when completing that step.
Just download this pdf file to get started: Complete Guide to Program Processes
These are the important forms that are used in the program. All of these forms can be accessed through the links provided in the Complete Guide to Program Processes or can be downloaded individually by clicking on their titles below:
Program of Study Process
- A Faculty Advisory Committee (thesis and dissertation) or Advisor (independent study) must be appointed by the Graduate Dean before you file your program of study in the Graduate Office. Complete the form “Request for New Advisor or Committee Appointment”. Have your advisor and committee sign this form and also the Graduate Director of your department and submit it to the School of Graduate Studies.
- The student is advised to submit a program of study in their second semester they are in the program or as soon as they know the courses they will take. Review the Graduate Catalog for requirements regarding your degree and your major. Then meet with your Advisor to develop the proposed program.
- Keep the following points in mind when formulating your program:
- Only those UND courses listed in the Graduate Catalog are eligible for use.
- The School of Graduate Studies will make an evaluation of transfer credits when your program of study is submitted. Please check with your Advisor for eligibility of these courses to be applied to your degree. Transfer courses must be listed on your program exactly as they appear on your transcript with the exception that quarter credits be converted into semester credits. If you have not yet completed the transfer credits on your program, list next to the course which institution they will be taken from.
- Do not list more than the maximum number of acceptable transfer credits on your program. Up to eight credits of eligible transfer work is acceptable with a grade of B or better. (See: “Transfer of Graduate Credits” in the Graduate Catalog.)
- No more than nine non-degree credits may be applied to your degree.
- Graduate courses more than seven years old are considered obsolete and may not be used on a program of study. However, UND courses may be revalidated by submitting a plan of study for approval by the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies. If you plan to revalidate any UND courses, please contact the School of Graduate Studies so we can send you the form for the Revalidation Plan. This revalidation plan must be submitted and approved before the revalidation process is undertaken.
- If you plan to conduct research on human subjects, you must first receive approval from the Institutional Review Board. You are not allowed to conduct research until you receive this approval. Forms and information are available at the Research and Program Development office (Twamley Hall, Room 101; 777.4278). Keep in mind that you must complete the appropriate training to do human subjects research. Training is available through the IRB’s webpage. Research involving animals, recombinant DNA, radiation, and bio-hazardous agents also require special approval. Please consult with your advisor regarding approval of such research. Your topic proposal of your research (independent study, thesis, etc.) will not be approved without the appropriate committee’s approval.
- Type your program on the appropriate form and use the following organization:
- Supply a title for each group of courses. Group courses into the appropriate major, minor, cognate, foundations, etc. in accord with the degree requirements stated in the Graduate Catalog. Leave some space between these areas to allow for any future minor revisions.
- Be sure you have included at least the minimum number of required credits in the total program, the major, the minor, the cognate, and the foundations areas.
- Please list the credit amounts in the appropriate column for each course listed.
- Sign the program and then secure the necessary signatures, Advisor and Graduate Director (non-thesis), and Advisory Committee (thesis and dissertation). Submit your program to the School of Graduate Studies for the Dean’s approval. A copy will be sent to the advisor and student when approved by the School of Graduate Studies.
- For changes to an approved program of study, a separate form must be submitted.
MPA Comprehensive Exam Info
Comprehensive Exams for Spring and Summer 2017
Monday, April 10, 2017 (Noon-4:00 pm Central)
Monday, July 10, 2017 (Noon-4:00 pm Central)
Questions will be organized into four areas. Although a question may draw more heavily from information taught in a particular MPA course, please draw on your overall knowledge of public administration as you find appropriate when constructing your answer. By taking one or more courses in any area and thinking about their general relevance, students should not have problems with the material. Students who successfully complete the core courses and their track electives should be well prepared in every area.
Examination Schedule: 12:00-4:00 Central Time (4 hours)
A. Scope of Public Administration.
Questions in this area are designed to ascertain the students’ knowledge of the development of the field of public administration, its major figures, issues, and trends. All students will have the same choice of questions in this area.
Most relevant course:
- POLS 531 - Seminar: Public Administration
B. Application of Quantitative and Qualitative Techniques of Analysis.
Questions in this area focus on policy and program formulation, implementation, and evaluation, as well as decision-making and problem solving. Also included in this area is research design and statistical applications. All students will have the same choice of questions in this area.
Most relevant courses:
- POLS 500 - Research Methods
- POLS 501 - Political and Policy Analysis
C. Public Policy
Questions in this area focus on theories of public policy process, policy analysis and program evaluation. All students will have the same choice of questions in this area.
Most relevant courses:
- POLS 532 - Public Policy Processes
II. ADMINISTRATION OF THE EXAM
A. A committee of three chaired by the MPA director will be responsible for assembling and grading the exam. The other two members will be comprised of core MPA faculty members.
B. All instructors in the program will submit questions pertinent to their area. The committee will aggregate these into general questions within the areas noted in Section I.
C. Exams will be administered in one four-hour session, on a date stipulated to meet School of Graduate Studies deadlines.
D. Students will respond to one of two possible questions across three sections (Parts A, B, and C).
A. The committee of three will mark each question independently.
B. An average score of 80% (B-) shall be required to successfully pass that portion of the exam.
C. An average score below 80% (B-) on any section will result in an unsatisfactory grade in that section. The University of North Dakota Academic Catalog states that: “Comprehensive examinations which are failed may be repeated only with the approval of the advisor, program director, and the dean but in no event earlier than at the next regularly scheduled offering.”
It is our expectation that under most circumstances students would be given the opportunity to remove the deficiency by repeating the examination in deficient sections. Only one retake is permitted.
Students will not sit for the comprehensive exams until they are at the end of their programs. If students have passed all their courses and have reviewed any areas of weaknesses they are expected to pass the comprehensive exams. Evaluators will be looking for the following:
A. Demonstration of knowledge of the subject matter
B. Integration of material, i.e., you are not expected to “parrot” back materials discussed in a class but are expected to link together related points raised in many classes
C. Incorporation of the contributions of key theorists and the relationship to practice
D. Demonstration of a working knowledge of key journals that relate to the subject matter, i.e., be able to raise related issues raised in current journals.
V. PREPARING FOR THE COMPREHENSIVE EXAMS
A. Remember that the exam covers the entire program, which might be taken over several years. This requires you to go back, review, and tie materials together on subjects that may have come up in several courses. You are not expected to spit out special lectures. The purpose of the exam is to insure you have incorporated basic information covered across the curriculum.
B. Students who perform marginally in class, i.e., B- work, should try to improve their skills prior to taking the comprehensive exams. Faculty will be happy to recommend additional readings and answer questions.
C. Everyone learns and studies differently, but recent students have provided tips that made them successful in passing the exams:
- The sample questions should provide a starting point to get an idea of the type of questions to expect. You should prepare to answer this type of general question by bringing to bear information accumulated during the program. You might want to develop some hypothetical questions on your own and try to answer them.
- Establish study groups at the beginning of the semester to meet one night a week for two or three hours to discuss material. During the week individuals could prepare in different areas which would be discussed at the weekly sessions.
- The key to success on the comprehensive exam is to budget enough time because synthesizing such a large amount of material takes weeks or months. One student said that he/she spent about 150 hours reviewing materials prior to taking the exams, and this seems reasonable to the faculty given the scope of the exams. This is an average of about 12 hours a week for three months.
VI. SAMPLE QUESTIONS
A. Scope of Public Administration
- Various issues have emerged in the development of public administration, which remain unresolved to the day. Discuss the following issues (and any others you believe are significant), taking care to develop your discussion with the use of relevant authors and examples.
a) political/administrative dichotomy
b) efficiency vs. accountability
c) centralized control of administration vs. decentralized control
d) following orders vs. individual morality
B. Application of Quantitative and Qualitative Techniques of Analysis
- In order to properly interpret statistical information it is necessary to understand:
a) tests of significance
b) measures of association
c) inferential and descriptive statistics
d) levels of measurement
Discuss each of these concepts and explain their importance in quantitative analysis.
- When faced with the complexity posed by having a large number of potential dependent or independent variables, researchers are often tempted to simplify this complexity by combining multiple variables into a single index. However, while at times an appropriate strategy, index creation is not without it own potential difficulties.
First, with respect to the variables involved, under what circumstances might one consider creation of an index? What assumptions are involved in the creation of an index in general (your response should include reference to the issue of construct validity)?
Second, what additional assumptions are involved in the creation of an additive index? In the creation of a weighted index? As a researcher, how might you address or test these assumptions to make sure your index creation approach is appropriate?
Finally, what alternatives to index creation might be appropriate when considering multiple dependent variable measuring similar concepts? When considering multiple independent variables? What are the strengths and weaknesses of these approaches?
C. Public Policy
- Please explain how the public policy process works. Beginning with the Stages model, please identify each stage, what happens at that stage, and the events or actions that cause the issue to arrive at a stage or push it on to the next. Next, please assess the Stages model. What are its strengths? Its weaknesses? Finally, please discuss the most 3 prominent contemporary theories [multiple streams, punctuated equilibrium, and the Advocacy Coalition Framework (ACF)] and how they have improved our understanding of the process.
MPA Admissions Policy
Applying for Admission to the MPA Program
Those who wish to be considered for the MPA program are required to submit an application and supporting materials to the Graduate School. The Graduate School serves as the clearinghouse for applications. The program does not see or have access to files until the Graduate School certifies them as complete.
All applicants are required to submit the following materials:
- Application form. Applicants are required to use the online application, which is available at: http://graduateschool.und.edu.
- Application fee; required for each application submitted. The application fee is waived for McNair Scholars.
- Three letters of recommendation. The MPA program prefers that at least one recommendation be from a college instructor.
- One official copy of all academic transcripts.
How transcripts are used:
Applicants must have a four-year bachelor’s degree from a recognized college or university to be considered for the MPA program.
To be considered, applicants must have a cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) of at least 2.75 for all undergraduate work or a GPA of at least 3.0 for the junior and senior years of undergraduate work (based on A=4.00). Notes on GPA :
Students not meeting the minimum GPA requirement are not considered further, unless meeting one of the below exceptions*. If a student not meeting the cutoff is ultimately admitted, it will only be under Provisional Status.
- Statement of Goals and Objectives. Applicants should explain their background and career objectives and how the MPA would help them succeed. Also, they should highlight experiences that are relevant, or that will help us become more familiar with them. Applicants also have the ability to upload a resume into the application system.
- Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General test or, the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or the Law School Admission Test (LSAT).
Notes on standardized tests :
*The program does not waive the standardized test requirement.
*The LSAT will be accepted only for students applying to the joint JD/MPA program.
*Graduate School policy is that GRE and GMAT scores must not be older than 5 years, because the testing service will not send them to the graduate school.
*The Graduate School must receive an official copy from the testing service.
How the program uses standardized tests:
*For any category, we set a minimum GRE score (verbal + quantitative) of 960, which is equivalent to a 480 on the GMAT. Students not meeting the minimum GRE or GMAT are not considered further, unless meeting one of the below exceptions*.
*For applicants meeting the minimum GRE and GPA requirements, we use the following formula, which factors in both undergraduate GPA and GRE (verbal and quantitative) or GMAT score. A relatively lower GPA could be compensated for by a high GRE score and vice versa
((Verbal GRE + Quant. GRE)/2) + (200 * UGGPA)
We look for a MINIMUM formula score of 1100 to be considered for Approved or Qualified admission. Formula scores greater than 950, but less than 1100, are considered for Provisional admission.
- A minimum TOEFL Score of 550 on the paper-based test or 213 on the computer-based test, or for the Internet-based TOEFL, a composite score of 79, with minimum scores of 21/30 (Speaking*); 19/30 (Listening); 19/30 (Reading); and 17/30 (Writing) for applicants whose native language is not English. Applicants may also meet language requirements by presenting IETLS scores of 6.5.
Notes on the TOEFL :
*Applicants being considered for Graduate Teaching Assistantships must achieve these minimum TOEFL scores, and have a minimum score of 26/30 on the Speaking subtest.
*Students who have received a bachelor’s degree or higher from the United States or English-speaking Canada are not required to submit the TOEFL.
- Minimum competence in public administration, administrative sciences, and methodology. This competence is normally demonstrated by at least one course in each of five fields (Political Science, Accounting, Economics, Management, and Statistics), by special exams in the fields, or by practical experience.
Note on competency courses :
The program has 5 competency areas that need to be met by taking at least one undergraduate course: statistics, political science, economics, accounting, and management. Any course from these areas will suffice. If students apply and we note that one or more has not been taken, they can still be accepted into the program and would be given a period of time after starting the program to complete the missing requirement(s) (usually before earning 18 credits in the program). UND offers all of these, some possibly online, but they can be taken anywhere. The credits do not count toward the credits needed for the MPA degree. If the courses are not taken from UND all transcripts need to be forwarded to the Graduate School. Another option is to take a challenge exam in the subject area. In this case, students generally study independently and take a multiple-choice exam, on which they must score at least 70%.
- Twenty hours in the social sciences, business administration, and related fields.
MPA Admissions Process
When reviewing applications, the program considers all application materials closely, including letters of recommendation, professional experience, accomplishments, statement of goals and objectives, undergraduate institution and major, JR/SR GPA, and any special circumstances. If the student is above the minimum formula score of 1100 (see above) and all other factors are acceptable, he or she is admitted as follows:
- Approved: The student has taken at least one course from each of the five competency areas.
From the Graduate catalog:
Students who have met the minimum admission requirements stipulated by the Graduate School and have met all departmental requirements for admission are granted admission to Approved Status.
- Qualified: The student is missing at least one of the competency courses but not more than two.
From the Graduate catalog:
Admission to Qualified Status may be granted to applicants who have met all requirements except for prerequisite coursework, which must be completed prior to advancement to candidacy . Students will not be admitted to Qualified Status with more than six (6) credits of outstanding prerequisites. Upon completion of the conditions of acceptance, and provided the student has earned a GPA of at least 3.00 for all work attempted, he/she is eligible to advance to Approved Status. Students in Qualified Status may be dismissed if they fail to meet the conditions of their acceptance.
- Provisional: The student is missing more than two (six credits) competency courses.
From the Graduate catalog:
Admission to Provisional Status may be granted to applicants who have shortcomings related to one or more of the general Graduate School or program level admission requirements (e.g., low GPA, low GRE/GMAT test scores). The first obligation of students admitted to Provisional Status will be to meet all of the conditions specified at the time of admission. Students in Provisional Status may be dismissed after one registration if their GPA is below 3.00, or if they have failed to meet other specified conditions. Students in Provisional Status are not eligible for graduate teaching, research, or service assistantships.
Note on “Deferred” Status :
The MPA program does NOT use the deferred admission option of the Graduate School.
- Approved: The student has taken at least one course from each of the five competency areas.
- Qualified and Provisional admission offers include a stipulation that the student completes the competency courses within a specified period of time after matriculating.
The following process is used for Provisional admission consideration if a student has a formula score greater than 950, but less than 1100:
- Once per semester, toward the end of each semester, the core MPA faculty will consider applicants for potential Provisional admission. Each faculty member reviews the entire application file and votes whether to admit the student provisionally and what the stipulations will be. A student must receive positive votes from a majority of the faculty reviewing the file in order to be admitted. If admitted, stipulations likely would include a requirement to get at least a B in each of the first four courses (12 credits) in the program, which is a more stringent requirement than the Graduate School’s minimum 3.0 GPA standard for all graduate students. Programmatic considerations are also made, such as current enrollment and whether faculty members think there is adequate space for additional students.
*Exceptions to the above GPA, GRE, or formula minimums:
- If a student does not meet the minimum threshold for qualified or approved status but indicates on the application that he/she is a member of a group that the MPA program has identified as a recruiting priority, the file will be automatically circulated to the core MPA faculty to vote on possible Provisional admission. Recruiting priorities are as follows:
- Native American and other minority students from North Dakota;
- Minority students from outside North Dakota;
- First generation college students and other socially or economically disadvantaged students.
Additional Information for applicants:
- The Graduate School inactivates files in instances when the application was denied. Individuals wishing to reapply must submit a new application including all transcripts and letters of recommendations. Test scores will be retained for a period of one year, but must be current at the time of reapplication.
- The program does not distinguish between pre-service or in-service applicants, or part-time and full-time applicants in its admission process.
- The program uses the same admissions process for online and on-campus students.
Request For New Advisor Or Committee Appointment
Form: Advisor Appointment
Readmission or Leave of Absence
Graduate Readmission Or Leave of Absence Request