Graduate Programs Stand Out In U.S. News & World Report Rankings

UNC Charlotte’s Gerald G. Fox Master of Public Administration program and Clinical Health Psychology doctoral program in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences have earned high marks in the U.S. News & World Report’s 2021 rankings.

The MPA program, which is housed in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration, was ranked third among North Carolina’s public universities with included programs and in the top 21% of the 275 public affairs programs nationwide that were included in the Best Graduate Schools rankings.

The Clinical Health Psychology program, housed in the Health Psychology Ph.D. program, was ranked second among North Carolina’s public universities with included programs and in the top 38 percent of the 231 clinical psychology programs considered in the Best Health Schools rankings.

“These national rankings reflect the value that these two graduate programs offer our students and the community. These programs focus on engaging talented students, faculty and staff, and on collaborating with community partners and practitioners to provide excellent education and innovative community-centered research. These rankings are a reflection of the impact of this collective work.”

Dean Nancy A. Gutierrez

The results are based solely on peer assessment survey results.

Master of Public Administration Program

The MPA program, which is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration, offers a strong education in core management and leadership competencies. It also features concentrated areas of study in urban management and policy, nonprofit management, emergency management, public finance, and arts administration.

“In addition to the research and instruction provided by nationally recognized faculty, we continue to broaden our students’ access to settings that include internships, fellowships, and professional networking opportunities that are critical to their careers within the field of public administration,” said MPA Director Thomas Barth. “We find that our students are able to pursue, or expand, their careers in diverse settings where they can make a difference in people’s lives.”

In other news, the MPA program is waiving for Summer 2020 and Fall 2020 applicants the requirement of an appropriate score on the Verbal, Quantitative, and Analytical sections of the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). 

“As a result of COVID-19, people will be pursuing new career opportunities, as they lose their jobs or change their focus,” Barth said. “Our MPA program offers options for building careers with non-profit, government, arts and similar organizations. To help people deal with significant life changes they may face, we are temporarily waiving the GRE requirement, particularly since taking the GRE with social distancing in place could be difficult and is a potential cost burden at this time for some.”

Application deadlines are April 15 for the Summer 2020 sessions and August 15 for the Fall 2020 semester. Learn more on the program website.

The MPA program emphasizes the analysis of the political and administrative environments as well as the administrative decision-making approaches of public administration. The curriculum also includes application of techniques and administrative skills to the management of nonprofit organizations.

Students may enroll in the MPA program on either a full-time or part-time basis. Certificates are available to students wanting specialized training within non-profit management, urban management and policy, emergency management, and public budgeting and finance. Additionally, the MPA program through UNC Charlotte Extended Academic Programs offers the MPA Public Management Academy. This professional development program is intended for supervisors and high-potential staff working in the government and nonprofit sectors. The focus is on key skills needed for management success in the unique environment of government and nonprofits.

Clinical Health Psychology Program

Students in the Clinical Health Psychology doctoral program receive training in both foundational clinical psychology skills, as well as clinical health psychology-specific skills. The program has been extremely successful at placing students at APA accredited pre-doctoral clinical internships and graduates have secured positions at academic institutions, medical centers, and applied settings. The Clinical Health Psychology program is an APA-accredited Clinical Psychology program.

“Because we are a scientist-practitioner program, our students aspire to be excellent researchers as well as excellent practitioners,” said Virginia Gil-Rivas, director of the Health Psychology Ph.D. Program. “We also focus on empirically-grounded, innovative ways to understand risk, mental and physical disease and illness, and health promotion.”

Students are actively involved in research, beginning in their first semester on campus. They are paired with one or more mentors whose research is aligned with their interests, focused on topics such as socioeconomic and racial or ethnic disparities in health and healthcare; domestic violence and sexual assault; the role of racism and racial identity in cardiovascular health; positive body image and weight-related stigma; HIV prevention in at-risk minority communities; and community-level interventions to enhance academic achievement and health for children and adolescents.

Clinical students complete at least two practica, and most students complete three or four. All students complete at least one practicum focused on health psychology, working within interdisciplinary teams to treat people with physical health conditions and enhance wellness. Many students complete a one-year fellowship, funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration, emphasizing training in integrated primary care, substance use disorder, and telehealth.

The clinical program requires that students complete a year-long pre-doctoral internship, after completion of their coursework and practica and after they have successfully proposed their dissertation. Potential applicants can learn more on the Health Psychology Ph.D. program website.