Valdosta State DPa program FAQ

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by truckie270, Jan 29, 2011.

  1. truckie270

    truckie270 New Member

    I can tell that it is getting close to the application deadline for the VSU DPA judging by the number of inquiries I have been receiving lately. I thought I would provide the answers to some of the more frequently asked questions. Feel free to PM me if the following does not answer your questions:

    Application Process: I was in the first group of students, so things may have changed a bit.
    • GRE is required – as far as I know, at this time they will not accept other exams in place of the GRE. I am not sure what minimum scores are being accepted now since interest in the program has increased significantly. Most in the first group were in the 1200 range with your writing score being the most important consideration.
    • Masters degree – subjects spanned the spectrum in the first group. You do not need a prior background in public administration.
    • Your personal statement and objectives for taking the program are also a strong consideration.
    • Be sure to follow up with phone calls during the process.

    Residencies: Yes, they are required. This is a requirement of SACS accreditation. People did occasionally miss residency weekends for extenuating circumstances, but it is noticed.
    • Residencies are usually the first weekend of the semester. There are two a year, one for Spring (conducted in January) and one for Fall (conducted in August).
    • Residencies start on Friday evening with a reception, dinner, and meeting. Saturday is broken down into two sessions (AM and PM), one for each of the two core classes offered each semester. You will not learn a significant amount of content from the residency sessions, but they are invaluable for keeping connected to the program and to get re-focused for the upcoming semester.

    Courseware is WebCT.

    Coursework: one of the most common questions I get is how many courses can a person take a semester. Unless you have a lot of free time, I would recommend taking only two at a time during the first year. In the summer you can take electives from any of the graduate programs to fulfill elective requirements. These are Master’s level classes in a shortened semester. Three is doable, but I would also recommend two here as well to keep some sort of balance because Doctoral courses start up again in the fall and they are exponentially harder.

    The first semester is by far the worst, and in my view is designed to weed people out who cannot commit to the rigor and pace of the program. When I took the courses, there were several large papers required. In one of the foundation courses there were at least two 4-hour timed exams (conducted on WebCT) exams. These represented a major portion of the grade and required essay and short answer responses. These were very stressful - most finished just under the time limit. The book for this course was over 1000 pages. You will also have several timed exams in the Research Methods course - these were stressful as well.

    Assignments: – these will vary by course. Typically, they involve discussion and written assignments. Discussion boards are not what you may have experienced at the graduate and undergraduate level. Each response requires you to build upon the previous posts of others using course theory and expanding upon it at the Doctoral level. Citations and references for discussion are a must.

    Papers will vary by course. Some courses require several 15-20 page papers. Some will require several shorter papers and a longer final paper.

    Reading – be prepared to read a TON. If you have no experience with public administration, you will quickly see that the works in the field are not always the most stimulating.

    Dissertation: after you complete the first two years of coursework, you will move into the Capstone courses. There is a Capstone seminar course and a Capstone Project course in the Fall of year three. The seminar course requires the completion of a portfolio where you present your academic works and professional accomplishments. The project course requires you to complete your Dis. research proposal. These two courses are linked in that a portion of the requirements in each requires work from the other. These are PASS/FAIL courses.

    In the Spring of year three you will only do the Project course and continue to work on your Dissertation. If you have not completed all of your electives at this point, you will take electives here as well.

    Timeframe: while the program could be done in three years from start to finish, I do not think that this is realistic for most. A few people in my group did this, but they all lived near Valdosta, with several of them working for the university. They had the opportunity to have more regular interaction with the faculty.

    My time frame is looking to be four years start to finish with an anticipated completion this summer. I have defended my Dis. Proposal, completed my portfolio, and have submitted two Dis. drafts. I am currently revising my third draft for a projected may submission. I could have moved faster, but things like needing a paycheck and having a family make this impractical.

    Hope this helps some of you with questions. Valdosta is a great school. The community is very supportive of VSU and it reflects in the atmosphere. As I noted above, if you have additonal questions, please PM me.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 29, 2011
  2. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    Thanks Truckie, that's great info.
  3. major56

    major56 Active Member

    A first-hand objective and concisely presented program overview … thank you Truckie!
  4. Gbssurvivor1

    Gbssurvivor1 Member

    I found the posting!!! Woo Hoo!!! I would like to offer my thanks as well Truckie. I wonder what the student application to acceptance rate is these days? I did read that they accept a max of 25 new students each fall. I must admit that 2 things concern me. First, I do not have long to prepare for and take the GRE. It sounds as though the GRE scores may be quite competitive... Second, the Research Methods courses sound a bit concerning. I do have an MBA that I obtained traditionally and I finished with a 3.5 but I did have the chance to get some face time dueling Econ, Finance and Accounting courses...
  5. truckie270

    truckie270 New Member

    I won't lie - Research Methods sucked, but it was not insurmountable.
  6. agschmidt

    agschmidt New Member

    This is awesome - thanks for putting all of that information together. I'm currently applying for admission - only waiting on one more recommendation letter to come in. I have two questions, and I hope this is the correct place to ask them.
    1. Does anyone know the acceptance rate? I know the website mentions that about 25 students will be accepted for each year, but does anyone know how many actually apply?
    2. In the application process, does the admissions committee accept students on a rolling basis? Or should I not expect to hear anything until after the application deadline of April 15? I'm hoping that once my application is complete the committee will begin to review and I might hear sooner rather than later.

    Thanks for any info you can provide!

  7. truckie270

    truckie270 New Member

    I do not think admission is rolling. Everyone I talked to in my group found out about their acceptance a few weeks after applications closed.

    I have no idea what the current acceptance rate is - when I applied there were 40-50 applicants, but that has been going up significantly as word about the program is getting out there.
  8. agschmidt

    agschmidt New Member

    Ah - two months of not knowing is probably going to kill me :) Thanks for the quick reply!
  9. agschmidt

    agschmidt New Member

    Hey Truckie, one more quick question: Could you give us an idea of what kind of concentrations people are choosing? For instance, I'd like to concentrate in Nonprofit Management since that is my field. It seems like there are some good choices of courses for that kind of concentration, but I'd love to hear what other people are doing if you know any of them.

  10. truckie270

    truckie270 New Member

    Applications - The faculty are meeting during the week of 4/11 - 4/15 to go over program applications and make admissions decisions. I know this because I have been trying to schedule my dissertation defense and was told that week was not available for that reason.

    Many in the program take the online MPA courses for electives leading to a City Management concentration. Most in my program who were not local to the Valdosta area took the MPA coursework because there are a variety of offerings to fit most interests. There is coursework in non-profit management, but I am not sure about enough to complete the entire elective requirement.

    They were also developing a public policy concentration, but I am not sure of where they are with that. I was done with my specialization coursework when that information came out or I would have gone in that direction.

    Several people in my group were local to the Valdosta area or vicinity and took specialization coursework from other graduate programs at VSU - social work, education, criminal justice being the ones I am aware of. There are opportunities to take a large portion of those types of courses online as well.

    They will also let you take graduate courses at other schools towards your specialization and transfer them in towards the DPA as long as you are not transferring in any other coursework since the limit is six credits of transfer total.

    I was going to design a concentration in emergency management through directed study, internships, and transfer courses from other schools but that was an intensive process to get that approved so it was just easier to take what was offered and focus my research on my interests. I also had great relationships with my classmates, so it was good to just keep taking classes with them.

    Look on the online course catalog and see what types of graduate programs are offered online to get an idea of what you can do. You are only limited by availability, but you can design a great specialization if you were inclined - however, there will not be a specialization designation on your diploma or transcript.

    Hope that helps.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 4, 2011
  11. agschmidt

    agschmidt New Member

    Thanks! This is great news. I am in Atlanta, so I wouldn't be taking any on-campus courses; guess I'll figure out a concentration from what's available online since I'm hoping I can transfer some other grad courses. I'm glad they are convening to review applications in April. My application is complete and I hope I hear before I finish my MBA at the end of April.
    Thanks again, and congratulations on being so close to finishing!
  12. Rocky Hill

    Rocky Hill member

    I alwasy say go where your major in strong and not the postmark of where you're degree will come from. But that doesn't seem like the issue. Here's a website (with specific link to the schools) in which students write who have actually attended.
  13. agschmidt

    agschmidt New Member

    The application deadline was last Friday. Anyone else on here apply? Now I'll just be checking the application status webpage until they make their decisions.
  14. jayncali73

    jayncali73 New Member

    I did....I await my decision too....
  15. Tararist

    Tararist New Member

    I applied as well. Trying to wait patiently...
  16. Tararist

    Tararist New Member

    Has anyone heard anything yet?
  17. agschmidt

    agschmidt New Member

    Nothing yet. The online application status check still says "Complete ready for review"
  18. mep

    mep New Member

    No, I've not heard anything either. My status said that the application was being sent for review on 4/15. When I called a few weeks ago they told me that all of the applications would be sent over on 4/15 and that it could take up to a month after that to hear something.
  19. truckie270

    truckie270 New Member

    It will take you a month or longer to hear from them.
  20. agschmidt

    agschmidt New Member

    It's going to be super embarrassing if they can see how many times I've checked the online application status! I'll give it a rest until mid-May. Good luck to everyone who has applied!

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