Fall colors glow on the Colorado State University campus
Fall colors glow on the Colorado State University campus

This fall the College of Liberal Arts welcomed the first cohorts in two new professionally focused master’s programs. In a year filled with great uncertainty, demand is growing for leaders who can think critically, solve problems creatively, and work collaboratively. The new Master of Public Policy & Administration (MPPA) and Master of Sport Management (MSM) are preparing the next generation of community and industry leaders with these skills.

A remarkably successful start

While graduate enrollment was down nationwide, both the MPPA and MSM exceeded their enrollment targets, welcoming diverse and talented cohorts.

“Our inaugural Fall 2020 cohort represents a truly special class of students,” said Dr. Albert Bimper, Jr., Program Director for Sport Management. “If I only had one word to describe them, it would be diverse. They represent a diversity of experiences, past and present, which fuels rich discussion and thought-provoking learning in the program.”

Cultivating a cohort with a variety of backgrounds and viewpoints is key for developing critical thinking, practicing professional collaboration, and challenging new and established ideas.

“We have students coming straight from their undergraduate degrees and students who are returning to the classroom after decades,” said Dr. Susan Opp, Program Director for Public Policy & Administration. “We have current public servants, honorably discharged veterans, and students active in nonprofits in the region. Our students add depth to our classroom with their ability to contribute their own experiences while appreciating and understanding the perspectives of others.”

This fall also marked record enrollment for the Master of Arts Leadership and Cultural Management. This 10-year-old professional master’s program enrolled 71 students in its online and residential programs, an enrollment high.

“Arts Management has enjoyed a flood of new graduate students in 2020,” said Dr. Michelle Stanley, Program Director for Arts Management. “Faced with a challenging and devastating blow to arts organizations across the globe due to the pandemic, arts leaders are looking for ways to be involved in the recovery of our industry in a creative and thoughtful way. Going back to school is one response for these leaders.”

Fall colors glow on the Colorado State University campus
Public policy and administration experts can provide evidence-based paths for solving issues like the COVID-19 pandemic and global climate.

A need for community leadership

The need for knowledgeable leaders in our current climate is clear. Students are seeking an education that will prepare them for the challenges of moving communities and industries forward.

“Many of the most challenging issues we are currently dealing with as a society are examples of where good public policy and administration could make a real difference,” said Opp. “Issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic and global climate change are ones that require highly trained public policy and administration experts to chart an evidence-based path forward to an improved outcome.  The MPPA provides students with the necessary coursework, applied experience, and engagement with the public sector to enable students to become important parts of the solution to these challenges.”

The sport industry is also facing an uncharted course in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our field has long been filled with rich opportunities emerging from challenging times and conditions for which sport plays a critical role in being a driver and leader in community building,” said Bimper. “If there is one thing that the present times continue to teach us, it is that we need to prepare strong leaders across the industry of sport.”

In times where there is no road map, leaders need to be able to think creatively and move with agility.

“These leaders must be prepared to manage the operations and revenue streams for sport organizations, yet must also be prepared to think critically about social, cultural, economic and political issues that serve as a backdrop to the complexity of issues and opportunities across industries of sport,” said Bimper. “If there was ever a time to purse an advanced degree in Sport Management, it is absolutely NOW.”

CSU Rams soccer team at practice
2020 has been an unprecedented year for the sports industry, including professional, collegiate, and recreational sports.

Planning for the future

Just weeks into their inaugural semester, both programs are already working to build for the future.

“We are currently in the middle of the approval process for a new certificate program in policy analysis to allow students to learn additional analytical skills,” said Opp. “We also recently developed a partnership with the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) to be an approved partner in the Best and Brightest Management Fellowship program, developed a sequential degree program with International Studies, and have expanded our partnerships to include public servants in the public safety and immigrant advocacy realms to complement our existing partnerships.”

The Master of Sport Management has added a concentration in Sport Marketing for Fall 2021. The program continues to expand offerings and access to students through online courses, many of which take just eight weeks to complete.

“We look to attract students that aspire to engage complex issues facing the field of sport management with a desire to compete against themselves to make us all better,” said Bimper. “I personally hope that our program will be one that is both committed to finding solutions to questions of our present and brave enough to ask the questions of our future.”

Apply Today.
Lead Tomorrow.

Apply now for Spring 2021.

Priority Deadline: Oct. 15
Final Deadline: Dec. 1
CSU Fort Collins campus; evening classes

Apply by Dec. 15
Online; 8-week classes

Apply by Dec. 31
Online or CSU Fort Collins campus

Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis. After priority deadlines, students are admitted as space is available.