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Wired for success: MPA program goes online

(May 15, 2017)

The University of North Georgia’s (UNG) Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree is designed to serve students who are currently employed in a public-service organization or are contemplating a new career in public and human services. Effective fall 2017, the program will be fully online to accommodate the growing number of working professionals seeking to advance their careers.

Graduates with an MPA work in a variety of professional fields, including public policy, public affairs, public health administration, or criminal justice administration.

"I was honored to be the second graduate to complete the MPA program in 1996, and it prepared me for the monumental task of running Lumpkin County as the sole county commissioner for four years," state Sen. Steve Gooch said. "The academic benefits of the MPA program at UNG better prepared me for the difficult task that was required to be a public official through courses such as public budgeting, organizational behavior and ethics in public service. It provided the academic foundation to further my career in public service in my leadership role in the state senate. The MPA program will benefit all levels of government by developing a stronger, more qualified work force."

Since its inception in 1995, the MPA program has prepared students for administration in public and private partnership work, such as between state governments and non-profits. With the switch to an online format, the program will be able to support a greater number of students as well as students who work full-time and cannot attend traditional classes on campus. Also, the virtual classrooms provide a means for students across the nation and globe to participate, lending a more diverse perspective to class discussions and projects.

"We are very excited about the opportunity to reach so many more students in this new format," said Dr. Dlynn Williams, head of UNG's Department of Political Science & International Affairs. "This will greatly increase the number of graduates we can produce; we've already seen proof of online success with our Master of Arts in International Affairs program. We really want to reach throughout the north Georgia region and into north metro Atlanta and create a cohort that can answer public administration demands in these areas."

Heather Bryan, who earned a bachelor's degree in sociology from UNG in 2013, is currently in the MPA program while working as a teaching assistant, and anticipates graduating in spring 2018. Though she has enjoyed the face-to-face format thus far, she is looking forward to the transition to online.

"Going online will open the program up to a much larger demographic, and I expect this will offer a greater potential for horizon-broadening student interactions," Bryan said. "Working with people from different walks of life is critical to public administration, and I think this aspect of the program will grow by leaps and bounds. This will only be helped by student collaboration, which tends to be more common in online formats."

UNG now offers 15 fully online programs: one doctorate - pending approval by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on College, four master's degrees, one bachelor's degree, three associate programs, three teaching certificate endorsements, and three certificate programs.

Among the fully online programs is the newly approved Doctor of Education degree with a major in higher education leadership and practice, the second doctoral program available at the university.

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