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The NIU Experience Writing Guidelines for the MPA Dr. Kurt Thurmaier Professor and Director Northern Illinois University Division of Public Administration. Writing in the NIU MPA Program. One of the most important value-added competencies of the MPA degree at NIU.

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The NIU Experience

Writing Guidelines for the MPA

Dr. Kurt Thurmaier

Professor and Director

Northern Illinois University

Division of Public Administration


Writing in the niu mpa program
Writing in the NIU MPA Program

  • One of the most important value-added competencies of the MPA degree at NIU.

    • Still most effective form of communications

    • Still most highly prized competency of employers


Writing in the niu mpa program1
Writing in the NIU MPA Program

  • Difficult to write for different audiences

    • Efficiency of writing top value of decisionmakers

    • Read/Write, Listen/Speak

      • Look at memos, professional articles (PM), scholarly journals

      • Mimic the styles

  • Just in time writing is often poor quality

    • Need gel time

    • Need proofing time


Niu mpa writing framework
NIU MPA Writing Framework

  • Chicago Manual of Style, 2007, for all courses. In bookstores under PSPA 699

  • Perfection is NOT a weakness!

  • Every blemish, every sloppiness, each degrades the integrity of YOUR work.


Multiple types of writing
Multiple Types of Writing

  • Short Memos

  • Case Papers

  • Term Papers

  • Capstone Paper

Follow the format guidelines in the course syllabus

Good practice for grant applications.

Different writing than other papers


Capstone project pspa 699
CAPSTONE PROJECT PSPA 699

The Capstone paper serves as the culmination of the student’s coursework.

It is the integration of learning experiences into a coherent, focused product that blends theory and practice.

MPA Orientation Fall 2012


The capstone process
The Capstone Process

Problem Identification

Literature Research

Analyzing Theory

Synthesizing with Practice

Make a Recommendation(s)

MPA Orientation Fall 2012


The beginning
The Beginning

  • Second Semester for Pre-careerAfter completion of 3 courses for Mid-career

  • Assigned to a faculty advisor

  • Choose capstone option

    • Professional experience analysis

    • Primary data collection analysis

MPA Orientation Fall 2012


Writing the paper problem id
Writing the Paper: Problem ID

  • The 699 group sessions will focus on problem identification.

  • The discussions will relate to the paper topic and the methodology chosen for the completion of the project.

  • Oral presentations to the group (faculty and students) about problem identification.

MPA Orientation Fall 2012


Writing the paper 3rd 4 th terms
Writing the Paper: 3rd-4th terms

  • Group discussions focus on problem solving and action planning.

  • Discussions link theory with practice, helping to develop the capstone papers.

  • Individual consultation with the capstone faculty member for guidance on the paper’s development.

MPA Orientation Fall 2012


Presenting the paper the defense
Presenting the Paper: The Defense

In 4th Semester for Pre-career/Final semester for Mid-career students

Students will orally defend their capstone paper with a formal presentation to a panel of practitioners selected by the director, faculty members, and students.

MPA Orientation Fall 2012


Fulfillment of the comprehensive exam
Fulfillment of the Comprehensive Exam

  • Students will be challenged in the oral defense of the paper

    • Draw upon the knowledge you have gained in coursework

    • Demonstrate your ability to analyze, think critically, solve problems and make decisions

    • Effectively participate in and contribute to the policy process by articulating and defending your recommendation(s).

MPA Orientation Fall 2012


Research option capstone
Research Option Capstone

  • Primary Data Collection

  • Human Subjects Review

  • Research Design/PSPA 604

  • Design and process must be pre-approved by 699 faculty supervisor

MPA Orientation Fall 2012


Writing resources
Writing Resources

  • The MPA Website: Current Students

  • The NIU Writing Center

  • Free NIU or online citation software (such as RefWorks) for citations/bibliographies

  • USE THEM!


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