Learning outcomes

The Master of Public Affairs Program at Washington State University Vancouver is closing and will not be accepting any new students.

Upon completion of the Public Affairs degree program, students will be able:

To lead and manage in public governance

Our program embraces a broad definition of public leadership rooted in the models of shared, democratic governance and servant-leadership. As articulated in our mission statement, "our goal is to foster evidence-based reasoning and practice on the part of those working for the public good, including students, community members, legislators, practitioners, scholars and issue stakeholders." We hope that most of our graduates' life's work will be in leading or managing public sector organizations. We expect that all of our graduates will be civically engaged members of their communities and societies. For our program leading and managing in public governance is operationally defined as taking an active, informed interest in public affairs which, along with the professional training provided in our program and beyond, serves as a foundation for reasoned, thoughtful and responsible performance of professional and civic duties.

To participate in and contribute to the public policy process

Our program operationally defines participating and contributing to the policy process as becoming professionally qualified to engage the policy process at whatever traditionally defined stage of the public policy process our graduates choose. The first sentence of our mission reads "The Washington State University Vancouver Program in Public Affairs brings theory and engaged scholarship to help those serving the public interest." To that end, the theory core of our program includes one course in public policy, one course in public administration and one course in normative, democratic theory. This training, in combination with the area expertise gain through the elective courses and thesis equips our students to become informed actors in the policy process.

To analyze, synthesize, think critically, solve problems, and make decisions

The Washington State University Program in Public Affairs embraces this competency as a foundational element of our program. The School of Politics, Philosophy and Public Affairs, the unit in which the program is housed, has a long term commitment to problem driven research. One of Washington State University's core learning goals is "reason critically and creatively." Our program primarily operationally defines this competency as the ability to complete, present and defend a Master's Thesis of potentially publishable quality. In addition, engaging public challenges and learning to make responsible, reasoned decisions is a focal point of all course work. As we state in our mission, "the program offers an intersection between rigorous academic research and practical application." This means, to us, that graduates of our program are well equipped to practice and promote the exercise of this universal competency.

To articulate and apply a public service perspective

Articulating and applying a public service perspective is a competency students in Washington State University's Program in Public Affairs are expected to nurture in themselves (at least) from the moment they apply to our program. Applicants to our program write a letter of intent in which they are specifically asked how they hope to engage in public service. The slogan used most often on our recruitment posters is "Learn to Serve." Even so, faculty and staff in the Program in Public Affairs are enthusiastic about both living and teaching this universal competency. Our operational definition of this universal competency draws heavily from the servant-leadership tradition. We expect those who have been part of our program to have sustained issues in developing society and helping others. We discuss the responsibility of stewardship of democracy and society frequently with our students and amongst ourselves. As our mission statement explains our core constituency is those "serving the public interest."

To communicate and interact productively with a diverse and changing workforce and citizenry

Our campus community is deeply committed to diversity. One of the primary goals in Washington State University Vancouver's strategic plan is to "Advance Diversity." Given this, and the individual commitment of all our faculty and staff to the principle of diversity, when we state in our mission statement that we "seek to transform students into ethical, engaged and competent professionals" we mean developing an ever-improving ability to "communicate and interact productively with a diverse and changing workforce and citizenry." The operational definition of this universal competency that our program employs is rooted an understanding of the inherent value of the diversity of diversities present in our modern democracy and that engaging this diversity has the general effect of strengthening individuals, communities and societies.


Curriculum map

Master of Public Affairs curriculum map (PDF)