This feature highlights graduate programs focusing on public administration or public policy. Our first two features were Kansas University and Willamette University. Today we feature the Northern Illinois University MPA program. ELGL became impressed with the quality of NIU MPA graduates through ELGL member Ben McCready, current Rock Island Assistant to the City Manager.
Northern Illinois University is located in DeKalb, Illinois which is 65 miles west of downtown Chicago. MPA classes are offered in DeKalb and three outreach campuses which are located by major highways and are convenient to travel.
Our internships are located throughout the Chicagoland area. Students commute between their internship site and the various class locations.
The program courses incorporate theory and practice. Core courses promote applied problem solving and ethical administrative practices. The curriculum appeals to both pre-career students for entry level management positions and mid-career executives for intellectual growth and career enhancement.
Three facts we need to know about the program:
- Our program focuses on local government management and nonprofit management.
- We focus on the practical administration of public service organizations.
- We offer a two year paid internship.
Examples of alumni working in local government (name and position).
- Benjamin Marchant, City Manager, City of Coquille, OR
- Richard Mays, City Manager, City of Cannon Beach, OR
- Julianna Maller, Village Manager, Village of Hanover Park, IL
- Kathleen Rush, Village Administrator, Village of Woodridge, IL
- Kelly Amidei, Assistant Administrator, Village of Libertyville, IL
- Anne Marie Gaura, Acting Deputy Manager, Village of Buffalo Grove, IL
- Liangfu Wu, Director of Information Services, Village of Downers Grove, IL
- Kevin Wachtel, Finace Director, Village of Riverside, IL
Biggest challenge for those entering the program.
Being prepared for the level of difficulty of the course work and putting the time in to read and prepare for classes and assignments.
Give our readers three tips on finding the right graduate school.
Students need to determine what they are looking to do in their career and find the program that best matches their career goals.
- Students should also look at a program that will give them experience they can transfer to their first professional position.
Students should look for a program that is nationally ranked and offers a strong and varied curriculum.
What would alumni describe as the most difficult part of the program?
Managing time between working part time (20 to 24 hours per week) in an internship, going full time to classes and commuting between the two.
Do you recommend prospective students gain a couple of years of work experience before going to graduate school?
No, our students will gain experience through our program. We offer a two year paid internship.
ELGL hosts monthly forums, previous speakers include Gov. Gregoire, Oregon Treasure Ted Wheeler, and Bob Moore, and Bob’s Red Mill. Provide us a few recommendations, regardless of location, on who we should invite to speak at future forums.
Our students would be interested in dealing with ethics in government, hearing from current city managers regarding current trends and issues and also job prospects for new graduates.
In your opinion, what level of government is the most difficult to find employment in?
Because we focus on local government, our students are not having issues finding employment. Those who are interested in looking to the state or federal government service are having a difficult time.
Name two skills that entering students are most often lacking.
- Concise and clear writing skills
- Oral presentation skills
Was hoping NIU would win….They played well.
- Full-time or part-time program: We offer a full and a part time program.
- Number of students enrolled each year: approximately 90
- In state vs. out-of-state: Approximately 10% out of state students
- Online classes offered: No
- Contact person for prospective students: Denise Burchard, Assistant to the Chair, [email protected]
Other Notable NIU Alumni
- Jimmy Chamberlin, Musician, drummer of The Smashing Pumpkins
- Wood Harris, Actor, Remember the Titans and The Wire
- Dennis Hastert, Republican U.S. Congressman 1987–2008; Longest-serving Republican Speaker of the House. M.S., Education, 1967
- Markos Moulitsas, founder of the Daily Kos weblog, B.A., Journalism, Political Science, B.A. Philosophy 1996