Education for Public Administration: Graduate Preparation in the Social Sciences at American Universities

By George A. Graham | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 7 A LIBERAL EDUCATION

A LIBERAL EDUCATION is an essential part of university training for public administration,1 and we are accustomed to identify a liberal education with the four-year course leading to the bachelor's degree. Under these circumstances the ideal arrangement clearly is to give professional training on the postgraduate level.


POSTGRADUATE PROFESSIONAL TRAINING PREFERRED

The question of the length of time needed for postgraduate professional training cannot be answered categorically. The answer varies. At present the university man of ability who seeks a career in the public service and wants to make the most of his powers can certainly profit from a year, and probably from two full years, of postgraduate study. The professional value of the third year is less certain and depends upon such circumstances as the type of career that seems to be in prospect, the adequacy of training up to that point, the interest in and aptitude for research, and the probable effectiveness of university assistance in further study or research. The man headed for social science research is almost certain to profit from a third year of graduate study. The man doing auxiliary staff work who has a flair for investigating fundamental problems is more apt to benefit from graduate study than the auxiliary staff worker whose bent is for handling current operations. The latter is essentially managerial in function, and the manager will probably not profit greatly from further formal study unless he finds himself operating in a field for which he lacks background.

There is a great deal to be said for breaking away from the university at the end of the second year of graduate work, postponing a return until at least a foothold has been secured in the public service and until future prospects can be appraised.2 At the present stage of public service training, and with the prevailing civil service provisions for promotion and transfer, leaves of absence to junior civil servants for training pur

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1
As noted above, pp. 42-44. Chap. 4 should be read in connection with chap. 7.
2
It is not at all certain that two years of graduate work are necessary. A man who understands himself, knows what he wants to do, and plans his studies wisely may have accomplished more in four or five years than another will do in six or seven. There is frequently a good bit of lost motion and lost education in the course of obtaining a bachelor's degree. Also see above, p. 76.

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