A Professional Portfolio for the MPA Student

Beginning in Spring 2009, all Master of Public Administration students at James Madison University are required to prepare a professional portfolio in order to fulfill degree requirements. The portfolio will be prepared, presented, and evaluated during the capstone course, PUAD 692, but students are encouraged to save academic and professional artifacts for the portfolio throughout their program tenure. PUAD 692 must be scheduled during the final spring semester in the program of study.

The purposes of the portfolio are:

  • To document student competencies in established academic and professional areas
  • To document student development over the course of study
  • To encourage conscious public service through reflexivity and self-assessment
  • To demonstrate knowledge, skills, and abilities to prospective employers
  • To provide students an opportunity to develop and refine personal and professional
  • development goals, and
  • To provide students and faculty an opportunity to assess the MPA program.

Portfolio Evaluation

Portfolios are evaluated on a student's demonstrated compentencies in the core areas listed below. In order to receiving a passing grade on a portfolio, the student must receive a score of 84+ in each area.

Core Content Areas: Public Management/Behavior; Public Budgeting; Human Resources Management; Legal Environment; Social, Political, Economic Processes and Institutions; Concentration Competency; Research Design; Research Implementation; Program Evaluation; Written Communication; Oral Communication; Decision-making; Utilization of Technology; Leadership; Group Participation; Cultural Competency; Ethical Action

For more information about the portfolio, please read the Portfolio Guidelines.

Helpful Hints

Developing the portfolio is a major undertaking. There are a few things to keep in mind that might make the task easier. First, keep everything that you ever do for your MPA classes and concentration classes. The academic work that you do is one of the major sources for portfolio documents. Second, identify key professional documents that you complete while you are enrolled in the program. These can come from work, internships, or volunteer activities. Third, remember that the portfolio is designed to provide you an opportunity to reflect on your professional development throughout the course of the program. Most students have indicated that they enjoyed the process of systematically documenting their growth as administrators. IN that way it really is a capstone experience. Finally, remember that the portfolio is developed primarily during PUAD 692 (MPA Capstone); so, there is time built in to the program to allow you assemble your materials, develop new projects, and to make modifications to existing documents. As well, the capstone includes peer review sessions that allow students to get constructive feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of their portfolios. By the time students submit the portfolio for review, they are usually very confident about the quality of their effort.