Competencies and outcomes in public affairs education

To herald JPAE’s 25th volume, it is appropriate to look back at a bit of history and look forward to future research. Just as governments have faced demands to demonstrate results, so also did graduate programs in public policy and administration begin to face pressure to pay less attention to inputs and do more to demonstrate the results those inputs were producing. Beginning in the 1990s, NASPAA revised its accreditation standards to emphasize a mission-based approach with considerable attention to the competencies students develop while pursuing their degrees. That development stimulated an outpouring of research on competency assessment, but has fostered quite limited attention to the results of that focus for our graduates and the programs they analyze, the services they deliver, or the agencies they manage. The logical next step, research into the effects on student careers and public services, could help identify what works and how well it works in public affairs education.