US News Reports on Value of Master of Professional Studies degrees for International Students

Zhexing Li, SUP graduate
Zhexing Li, 2015 graduate of the Master of Professional Studies degree in sustainable urban planning.
June 26, 2017

Zhexing Li, a 2015 graduate of the Master of Professional Studies degree in sustainable urban planning, offered by GW’s College of Professional Studies, has successfully launched his real estate development career in his native China.

While Li pursued his Master of Professional Studies degree, known as an MPS, many prospective international students may be unaware of them as these degrees are usually offered in the U.S. and Canada. 

US News & World Report’s May 23, 2017 article discusses the value of MPS degrees for international students. The article explains an MPS is different from more traditional Master of Science (MS) or Master of Art (MA) degrees. The MPS is uniquely geared towards students who want a more specific skillset to directly apply to their careers. Traditional master’s degrees tend to focus more on theory and research.

The article referenced three main facts prospective international students should keep in mind about these degrees:

  1. MPS degrees can take less time and money: They are a minimum of one year long and can prove to be cost-effective depending on the program and university.
  2. Students learn from industry professionals: The article emphasizes the opportunities for international students to gain work experience, network and explore job opportunities through their MPS instructors.

    GW’s Adele Ashkar, associate dean for academic excellence in the College of Professional Studies, says the school's programs "give students the chance to engage with instructors that are active practitioners and who are often at the top of their profession."
  3. Many programs require an internship or work-study program: MPS students benefit from internship or work-study programs by getting hands-on experience to apply back in their home countries.

Li, one of the many international students drawn to GW’s Sustainable Urban Planning program, had an internship with World Resources Institute on a road safety program, as well as a fellowship with Smart Growth America on walkable city studies.

Li, whose undergrad degree is in urban planning, says his MPS program showed him the field's relationship with sustainability and gave him a stronger career direction. He's now working in Beijing for the China Fortune Land Development Company, a real estate development firm, but has plans to transition into a nonprofit organization, nongovernmental organization or consulting firm.