MNA and Enlighteneering, Inc. complete an external evaluation of American University’s Key Executive Leadership Master’s Degree in Public Affairs (MPA) Program
The purpose of the evaluation study was twofold: 1) to document the degree to which the MPA Program has enhanced or influenced the leadership abilities of MPA graduates, and 2) to contribute to ongoing efforts to build a system for continuous improvement of the program. Specifically, the evaluation study addresses the following evaluation questions:
- To what extent has the Key Executive Leadership MPA Program improved or enhanced the leadership development of the program alumni related to:
- S. Office of Personnel Management Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs),
- Emotional and Social Intelligence competencies (EI competencies), and
- The core values of the Key Executive Leadership Programs?
- In what ways have alumni demonstrated changes in their thinking and actions to cope more effectively with complexity?
The team developed an online survey that was distributed to 50 participants, representing eight cohorts, who graduated from the MPA Program between 2013 and 2015. While the response rate was modest—less than 50 percent of the contacted graduates responded to the survey—those who did respond indicated that the MPA Program had made a strong impact to their life and work as public service leaders:
- Twenty-two of the 23 respondents (96%) said that the program “moderately” to an “extreme” degree contributed to positive results in their work.
- MPA survey respondents attributed extensive improvements to their ECQs to their time in the program. Specifically, the respondents affirmed that the program has contributed to their abilities to lead change (ECQ #1) in areas involving creativity and innovation (95%), and flexibility (86%), and dealing with setbacks (86%) and adversity (82%).
- The respondents credited their time in the program for extensively enhancing their abilities to lead people (ECQ #2), particularly when it came to conflict management (95%), developing others (95%) and team building (86%).
- The respondents also cited the program’s extensive contribution to their leadership abilities in driving results, namely in areas of decisiveness (95%), problem-solving (95%), and accountability (77%).
- All the respondents also reported perceived changes in their emotional and social intelligence competencies in the workplace as a result of participating in the MPA program. They reported that the program has extensively enhanced their level of self-awareness (95%), level of self-management (91%), social awareness, (91%) and relationship management (91%).
- All (100%) of 22 respondents said that they now intentionally practice behaviors covered during the program as part of their “on-the-job” integration of program content.
- The MPA Program’s contribution to their mindset and improved leadership abilities were noticed by others. Nearly 87 percent of the MPA survey respondents reported that their supervisors, managers, direct reports, peers, family members, and/or friends noticed a change in their outlook, disposition, and actions, which they attribute to the Key MPA Program.
When asked for suggestions on how the Program could be improved, respondents named several activities that could support the MPA alumni, including follow-ups with careers and career progression, social and professional networking events, faculty-alumni collaborations to better translate classroom lessons into applied practices for workplace contexts, and support for an active alumni association. Overall, the recommendations emphasized the need for greater applicability and more opportunities for practice.