• We're a fun, friendly, and diverse group of planners, placemakers, students, and other folks who found their people here. Create your FREE Cyburbia ID, and join us today! Use your email address, or register through your Reddit, Facebook, Google, Twitter, or Microsoft account.

Reputation of a school for advanced degree

gtpeach

Cyburbian
Messages
1,972
Points
15
So I'm considering whether I not I want to apply for/enroll in an online Doctor of Public Administration program with Liberty University. The things that appeal to me about it are that it is 100% online, it's local, and I have several friends that are professors there. While LU is never going to be known for it's academic rigor, there aren't a lot of DPA programs in the first place, let alone options to do it online. I know enough teaching faculty there to not question the merits of the education itself, but my concern is with whether the reputation of Liberty would generally be more of a liability than the merits of having an DPA would offset.

My B.S. and M.S. are both from Georgia Tech, which is a well-credentialed school. My M.S. is in public policy. I would be pursuing the DPA more to open up public sector career options down the road, as well as for personal interest. If I don't pursue the DPA, I would likely look into getting a second M.S. in Conflict Analysis & Resolution from George Mason University, which is more interesting to me personally, but I don't think would provide the same ROI.

Thoughts?
 

DVD

Cyburbian
Messages
13,548
Points
36
I'm not expert, but I'm happy to give you my advice. In other words ignore me.

I take PHDs as I want to be a professor in which case the school you get it from may mean everything. At least according to what schools hire you. PHDs seem worthless to me in the public/private sector actual job market other than they look impressive. If you're staying in the actual job field and not going to the ivory tower I would recommend getting a 2nd masters instead.

But like I said, ignore me I'm wrong half the time anyway.
 

gtpeach

Cyburbian
Messages
1,972
Points
15
I'm not expert, but I'm happy to give you my advice. In other words ignore me.

I take PHDs as I want to be a professor in which case the school you get it from may mean everything. At least according to what schools hire you. PHDs seem worthless to me in the public/private sector actual job market other than they look impressive. If you're staying in the actual job field and not going to the ivory tower I would recommend getting a 2nd masters instead.

But like I said, ignore me I'm wrong half the time anyway.
I'd like to have the option to teach, but I'd only want to work for a state school (i.e., not giving up my pension), which makes me question whether the program would be worth anything. The Doctor of Public Administration is a more practical PhD than a lot of them, and I have some ideas for research I'd like to see done on leadership in local government, which is what sparked the conversation with a professor friend of mine. But I don't have a clear career path set out for what I would like to accomplish upon finishing it.

The primary purpose for any of these options is my own pursuit of self-actualization - I would just like it to be marketable in some fashion if I go through the work to do it.
 

Suburb Repairman

moderator in moderation
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
7,326
Points
30
I've heard from professors at various universities that Liberty's reputation does precede it, rightly or wrongly. I can tell you personally that I view that institution with deep skepticism and as a diploma mill (had some bad experiences with alumni). Specific to the Liberty DPA, it is known for being 100% online and thus may hamper you as doctoral level online degrees are not viewed as having sufficient rigor even when tied to a brick/mortar institution. I think a collegiate setting is essential to a terminal degree like that--that online programs are unable to replicate teaching experience and collaborative research environments found on campus. I would note that this is from people outside of the immediate Virginia market--your mileage may vary locally.

There may be more benefit to an online MPA rather than a terminal degree, given your described goals. MPAs are more marketable than a DPA. For that, there are many excellent online programs tied to brick/mortar institutions. A doctoral degree could even hamper you as you might be viewed, rightly or wrongly, as an egghead case of "those that can't do, teach" by regular workplace employers. A masters degree is typically sufficient to teach as adjunct at a state school. I would recommend that to see if you even like it. If you want to crossover to research and full-time professor, universities often offer deeply discounted tuition for adjuncts to elevate to doctoral level along with other assistance.
 

gtpeach

Cyburbian
Messages
1,972
Points
15
That's the advantage of the online Master's in Conflict Analysis and Resolution. Really the DPA would be because I see a gap in the research that I would personally be interested in being filled. But the online MSCAR is with a well-established, well-respected brick and mortar school, and does include some on-site work. This has been a program I've been looking into for over a decade, so from a personal interest perspective, I think I would enjoy it more.

I have an MS in Public Policy. While not public administration, I feel like it's closely enough aligned that an MPA isn't going to do me a lot of good professionally. I don't know that an MSCAR would lead to any direct career advancement opportunities, but I think it would be a huge professional asset to have that expertise.
 

Dinky

Member
Messages
4
Points
0
Have you looked at ODU? They are a public Virginia school with a completely online PhD program in Public Administration & Policy.

I have considered this myself as the online format would not tie me down to location (my family may relocate in a few years to an area where the local PhD options might not work for me) and would allow a schedule compatible with being primarily a stay-at-home parent. I don't know how much it would be respected, but at least it is a public institution and the online offering is supposed to be identical curriculum to their in-person offering.

I am from Virginia, live in the Northeast, and have an extremely negative view of Liberty University. I will admit it is a bias and not based on any recent facts, but surely some others will feel the same.
 

gtpeach

Cyburbian
Messages
1,972
Points
15
Have you looked at ODU? They are a public Virginia school with a completely online PhD program in Public Administration & Policy.

I have considered this myself as the online format would not tie me down to location (my family may relocate in a few years to an area where the local PhD options might not work for me) and would allow a schedule compatible with being primarily a stay-at-home parent. I don't know how much it would be respected, but at least it is a public institution and the online offering is supposed to be identical curriculum to their in-person offering.

I am from Virginia, live in the Northeast, and have an extremely negative view of Liberty University. I will admit it is a bias and not based on any recent facts, but surely some others will feel the same.
I started looking into DPA's specifically because they tend to be a little more oriented towards practice versus academics. But there also aren't a lot of them, period. Depending on the classes, the ODU program might be an option. I tend to kind of disregard the legitimacy of online PhD programs generally, but times are changing...

I previously worked just outside of Lynchburg and am from that area initially, so I'm pretty familiar with Liberty. It's hard for me to gauge how much of a reputation they have outside of the local area. I'm definitely completely familiar with all their shenanigans, but I also know that the problems don't really go as deeply once you get to the actual teaching faculty. There's definitely a conservative bend, of course, but most of them are really committed to providing a high-quality education to the students they instruct, and the teaching faculty, as a general rule, aren't promoting the same propaganda that is coming from the top officials at the university in their classrooms. Some of them are even helping their students process through some of the things that get said by Jerry Jr. in order to help combat those beliefs potentially risking their jobs. But it's still a reality that you have to consider what others will think when they see that on your resume, and in a field where politics matter, it's not something to gloss over.

I don't know if any of this will ever materialize. We have to get CCG through school first before I can consider going back. But the deeper into my career I get, the more problems I see that I'd like to understand better and work to resolve. Maybe I don't need a shiny new degree to do that, but that tends to be my option of choose to understand things better.
 

Bubba

Cyburbian
Messages
4,777
Points
28
I previously worked just outside of Lynchburg and am from that area initially, so I'm pretty familiar with Liberty. It's hard for me to gauge how much of a reputation they have outside of the local area.
Let me put it this way - all things being equal, I'd interview a Liberty U grad before a University of Phoenix (or its ilk) grad. "Shenagians" or political/religious bent aside, Liberty still seems to provide a decent education.
 
Top Bottom