CSU Expands Online Degree Options by Offering MPA

COLUMBUS, Ga. — A job promotion nearly created a dilemma for a Columbus State University student just a couple courses shy of completing his master’s degree in public administration.

Warren Stokes initially explored MPA programs at Phoenix-area schools when his employer arranged for him to take a management position with a Arizona-based parts supplier.

But in the best-case scenario for finishing his degree at another university, Stokes learned he’d be able to retain just nine of his 30 credit hours. “This would have set me back more than a year,” he said.

But Stokes soon learned the CSU program he nearly completed — the Master of Public Administration - General Government — went online this spring. Thus, he was able to advance his career while retaining his credit hours.

Stokes, who plans to pursue a doctorate in public administration, is one of 27 students this spring taking the program’s online courses and is poised to complete his CSU degree before fall without skipping a beat.

Stokes’ case illustrates another CSU degree program that can be completed from anywhere in the world.

This evolution is part of a Columbus State movement to better accommodate working professionals. Other online graduate programs include educational leadership, computer science and business administration (starting this fall).

These programs and all other graduate programs will be featured in a CSU Graduate School Open House from 10-11:30 a.m. Saturday, April 18 in the Cunningham Center. Admission is free.

In the public administration program, at least three general government-required courses are online per semester. Additionally, core courses for all three MPA options, including health services and justice administration, are online at a rate of two offerings per semester.

Many students will do it both ways — taking all their courses over the Internet or creating their own mix of on-campus and online offerings, said Bill Chappell, CSU political science professor and MPA program director.

The online option caters particularly to military families and mid-career professionals such as Stokes.

“Most MPA courses have been offered on weekday evenings or Saturdays — convenient to professionals with conventional work schedules — but military personnel, their spouses and other dependents deal with uncertain deployments,” Chappell said. “Now they can enroll, knowing that relocations won’t derail their CSU-degree track.”

Going online also is part of the CSU MPA program’s process toward accreditation by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration “for an international stamp of approval on the program,” said Chappell, whose faculty roster includes political science professor John House, who completed his doctoral studies online.

In addition to the convenience, Stokes said he has realized a deeper appreciation for program. “As an online student, I’m experiencing the same level of professional dedication from faculty and staff that I experienced on campus.”

For more information, contact Bill Chappell at 706-569-2891 or go to http://grad.colstate.edu/.