Online MPAP Graduates Join Prestigious PMF Program

American University – National Leader in Producing Public Administration and Policy Leaders

Every year, approximately 6,000 public administration and policy graduate students apply for the Presidential Management Fellowship (PMF) program in hopes of joining its prestigious ranks.

Only about 8 percent of PMF applicants become finalists, and even fewer—about half of the finalists—will be selected for a fellowship. With alumni including senators, diplomats, and federal program directors, becoming a PMF finalist can jump-start a civil servant's career. Actually landing a fellowship means a paid, two-year appointment working for the federal government.

For most, the PMF experience ends with the application process. The extensive testing, resume evaluation, and written essay submission are intense, but with support from peers and faculty, American University grads outnumber finalists from any other university in the nation.

Joining an Elite Class of Public Servants

This year, online Master of Public Administration and Policy (MPAP) student Sarah Schroeder joined those finalists in the fall of 2018, and says the experience of applying for and becoming a PMF finalist grew naturally from her experience with American University.

"The experiences I had through my education with American University, and my relationships with my professors—that was the real preparation," she says. "I was one of the students who would call my professors weekly. And all of the online courses were set up to emphasize real, tangible skills on top of the theoretical knowledge."

Katie Eagan Schenck, who graduated from the MPAP program in spring 2018 and is a current Presidential Management Fellow, agrees. Schenck officially joined the PMF program in June of 2018 after attaining her MPAP degree. And she hasn't looked back.

"I really feel like I'm part of something that's bigger than me. And there's this sense of prestige just being a PMF, because it's so well-known and hard to get into," she says. "I think American University has done a really excellent job of preparing its students for working in government."

Beyond Prestige: The American University Advantage

For both graduates, the appeal of American University's reputation as a leader in creating PMF finalists goes beyond prestige and into tangible results in their careers.

"Within a week of starting to apply for jobs, I had five interviews. Within three weeks of finding out I was a PMF finalist, I had more than one job offer," says Schroeder.

Eagan Schenck's experience was similar, which she attributes to the online MPAP offering a diverse set of skills that are truly in demand.

"I really like how versatile the MPAP program can be. During your two years at American University, you learn skills that could take you into almost any area of government," she says. "I was offered three different positions before I accepted a final offer."

A Legacy of Greatness, More Relevant than Ever

The PMF program, established by executive order in 1977, was designed to provide a pipeline of qualified professionals who could bring their skills and expertise to the federal government. In this tradition, American University's reputation for producing PMF finalists has grown from more than simply its close proximity to Washington, DC.

Built to address the real-world needs of policy professionals and public administrators, the online MPAP program offers experiences that truly prepare graduates to make a difference. With many opportunities to collaborate, network, and take on realistic challenges, the program produces outstanding graduates.

"They're constantly improving the program," says Eagan Schenck, who credits her success to group collaboration, statistical analysis, and leadership experiences in her time at American University. "I feel like I have a leg up because I've already gone over all these competencies from American University."

Schroeder, too, credits the practical information, but highlights the faculty's ability to facilitate high-quality online learning.

"Everyone who works for American University understands the challenges of being an online student and maximizes your time," she says. "Everything you do in class will be immediately useful in your daily work."

Interested in joining grads like Sarah Schroeder and Katie Eagan Schenck in serving the public good? Learn more about American University's Master of Public Administration and Policy program. Learn more about the Presidential Management Fellowship and how American University produces more PMF finalists than any other university in the country.