Public Administration and Policy M.P.A. Assessment Plan

Mission Statement

Since Aristotle linked traditional inquiry into the political good with empirical comparison of governance, the systematic study of politics has been an integral part of the Western intellectual tradition. The study of politics is recognized as an essential component of a liberal arts preparation for citizenship and leadership in a democratic society. Indeed, the controversies that plague our society' and the world make the study of politics more important now than ever before.

The Political Science Department recognizes and embraces its distinctive roles, as defined by not only the liberal arts tradition of the College of Arts and Science in which it is located but by the land grant origins of the University of Nevada, Reno. At the heart of the department's mission is the pursuit of excellence in teaching, research and service.

A core component of the Department's teaching mission is the education of informed, competent, and efficacious citizens. The Department fulfills this role through our Political Science major and minor programs; our three graduate programs; our participation in an interdisciplinary major in International Affairs; and through the participation of our faculty and graduate assistants in the delivery of the University's core curriculum.

The Department encourages the pursuit of excellence in teaching in a number of ways. Excellence in teaching is recognized and rewarded in the annual evaluation and merit process. New faculty are mentored by more senior faculty. All faculty are urged to attend teaching improvement programs and seminars, both on and off campus.

A core component of the Department's research mission is to conduct and disseminate research on timely, relevant and important topics across the discipline of political science.

The research component of our mission recognizes the role that active research plays in supporting the overall curricular efforts of the Department, the College, and the University. The Department fulfills this role through a faculty engaged in individual and collaborative research efforts, the results of which have been widely published by academic presses and in political science journals across the spectrum. Faculty research is recognized and rewarded in the annual evaluation and merit process. Faculty are encouraged and supported in their research projects. Faculty attendance at national and international conferences is encouraged as well.

A core component of the Department's service mission is to provide service to the community. The Department recognizes the assumption of service arising from a land grant institution like UNR. The Department fulfills its service mission in multiple ways. Our faculty sit on numerous departmental, college, university and community boards and committees. Our faculty routinely give interviews to the media on current political issues; offer seminars and public speaking events to the public; and provide advanced training for public managers through our graduate programs. Our faculty engage in applied research designed to identify and cope with various public policy problems at all levels of government. Service efforts are recognized and rewarded in the annual evaluation and merit process. Faculty are encouraged to remain engaged in service activities. Opportunities to serve in Congressional, legislative and public service internships are provided to students. Many of our courses are offered at non-traditional times (evenings, weekends), as a convenience to non-traditional and non-degree-seeking students and the community at large.

In pursuing our mission, the Department of Political Science resolves to:

  1. Offer high-quality undergraduate degree programs designed to provide students with the critical thinking and communication skills that will allow them to succeed after graduation;
  2. Offer high-quality graduate degree programs through the Ph.D. level. These programs are designed to serve the need for highly trained specialists in the general area of policy analysis in both the public and private sectors, and to prepare graduate students for careers in higher education.
  3. Conduct research that keeps faculty at the forefront of knowledge in the discipline, and contributes significantly to the needs of the state and the nation for theoretical and applied research.
  4. Provide specific training for public administrators through curricular offerings, short-courses, and the Master's of Public Administration and Ph.D. programs.
  5. Provide a curriculum that gives students at all levels and in all programs an understanding of international and cross-cultural issues, as well as the creative skills to be lifelong learners who adapt and contribute to a world of continuous change.
  6. Promote opportunities for interdisciplinary curricula and research, cooperating with University research centers, other departments, and other universities.

Program Outcomes

1. All MPA students are expected to become informed, effective and efficacious citizens.

Student Performance Indicators

  • Involvement in civic activities after graduation
  • Placement in civil service or related careers

Assessment Method

  • Recurring student surveys
  • # students in civil service or related careers (of those who seek such careers)

Student Learning Outcomes

1. Students will be able to demonstrate critical thinking, writing and communication skills that will enable them to succeed after graduation.

Student Performance Indicators
  • Job placement
  • Successful career paths as measured by Standard Occupational Industrial Code (SOIC)
  • Ph.D. Program and Professional School Admissions
Assessment Method
  • Job placement statistics
  • SOIC Data Over Time
  • Number of graduates who applied to Ph.D. or professional programs who were admitted.

2. Students will be able to demonstrate thorough understanding of public administration and public policy processes and outcomes.

Student Performance Indicators
  • Successful completion of MPA comprehensive exam
  • Successful completion and defense of MPA thesis or professional paper.
Assessment Method
  • Percentage of students who pass field exam on the first try.
  • Program of study committee evaluations of the quality of both the thesis or professional paper and its defense.