Reflecting a significant reversal from recent trends, new figures indicate that more than eight in 10 public policy students who graduated this spring from the Kennedy School of Government are heeding the call for public service. That is more than a 35 percent increase from one year ago and the highest percentage in more than 20 years.
Approximately 83 percent of the Kennedy School’s Master in Public Policy (M.P.P.) graduates in 2002 have accepted positions in public service (either in government or with nongovernmental organizations). That compares with just 61 percent of the M.P.P. graduates in 2001 and only 58 percent of the M.P.P. graduates in 2000.
“Over the last two decades, we have witnessed a general decline in the number of young American students entering public service,” said Joseph S. Nye Jr., dean of the Kennedy School. “Since our mission is to train public leaders, I am pleased by the recent change.”
John Noble, director of career services at the Kennedy School, said the increase can be attributed in part to last year’s terrorist attacks. “There’s a sense that the tragic occurrences of 9/11 may have rekindled a sense of purpose and passion in public sector work,” he said. The slowing of the economy has also contributed to the trend, he added.
A breakdown of the numbers indicates that of 76 M.P.P. graduates in the Class of 2002, 63 percent (48) accepted positions in the public sector, 20 percent (15) accepted positions with non-governmental organizations, and 17 percent (13) accepted positions in the private sector.
Numbers for the entire Kennedy School graduating Class of 2002 are almost equally as impressive, with almost 59 percent (153) opting for government positions, 20 percent (53) opting for jobs with nongovernmental organizations, and 21 percent (56) opting for positions in the private sector. Those figures include graduates who earned masters degrees in public administration, public administration/midcareer, and public administration/international development.