No matter the industry, often it all depends on who you know. Understand this, the 12 months Hybrid Executive Master of Public Administration harnesses the power of the more than 270,000 FIU alumni around the world, as well as the university’s vast influence and close ties in local, state and federal governments for the benefit of learners.
The program’s blended curriculum combines online courses with three immersive in-person residences in Washington, DC, Tallahassee and Miami to provide learners with unprecedented access to veteran public service leaders.
“We want to help students talk about politics and learn what is really going on with the people who currently hold these positions,” says Susannah Bruns Ali, associate professor for the Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs.
Online convenience, same program
Ali is preparing for the launch in the summer of 2022 of the Hybrid Executive Master of Public Administration, which she says offers the most flexibility to working professionals. All classroom work is modeled on the EMPA face-to-face program with the same teachers and courses, but is completed online. Like the EMPA in-person program, the three EMPA Hybrid residences are face-to-face and take place over a two- to four-day weekend.
Adapted to applicability
The residencies of the Executive Master of Public Administration are unique each year, whether face-to-face or hybrid, because they are tailor-made according to current events; the wishes of students who vote on what they would like to learn; and the availability of the FIU’s extensive network of public service connections. A recent cohort has focused on municipal policies for COVID-19, for example, allowing students to graduate with immediately applicable skills.
“One year the focus was on housing, so we took students to Washington, DC, to meet with officials from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development,” Ali offers and explains that the events provide an in-depth understanding the relevance of the program as well as the camaraderie among the students.
Ali notes that it’s about making connections to help students synthesize the information they are learning.
“We are facing different questions now. Our hybrid EMPA addresses a need for active professionals with an online format, and our residences provide invaluable experiential learning, using the far-reaching influence of the FIU to make an impact, ”she said.
Students have the opportunity to make tremendous progress with the agencies featured, taking advantage of the large number of government, non-profit offices and offices. Immersive residences are like quick passages to an “insider’s view” of public administration as it operates in the real world, Ali adds.
A valuable exhibition
“Everything I learned, I did. I was living it, doing it, and reconstructing a data structure, ”says Jason Ochoa ’20, a police major with the North Miami Beach Police Department, who completed EMPA and Residences in person.
Classmate and alumnus Lauren Linville ’20 agrees with Ochoa and notes that in her EMPA cohort, the CRF’s diversity among students added to class conversations and residences as they provided context and new perspectives.
“The diversity added a level of value that you don’t really get – it allowed us to have an open dialogue with experienced professionals,” says Linville, president and co-founder of Optimum Consulting.
Networking and fellowship
Because those pursuing EMPA are managers with considerable experience, conversations in online courses offer perspectives of students currently in managerial positions – the EMPA hybrid degree is specially designed for executives who have five to 10 years of experience and hold management positions.
“Our students will have the benefit of learning from their classmates in the Lockstep cohort and the three residences in person,” says Ali. Most students become permanent contacts with their classmates, expanding their networking circles in the public service sphere, she adds. The residences, where they work on group projects, help to make the connection.
In that sense, former student Tamecka McKay ’18, ’20 says she has made friendships in her face-to-face EMPA cohort that “will last a lifetime.”
“I talk to them daily,” says McKay, who is the director of infrastructure and operations (division manager) for the city of Fort Lauderdale.