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Beginning next year, the School of Government plans to offer its master of public administration program in a new online format designed for working professionals, among others.
The online program, known as MPA@UNC, will blend the flexibility of an online program with the rigor and quality of UNC’s on-campus program.
Officials said MPA@UNC students will meet the same selective admissions criteria required by the on-campus program and will receive the same degree. It will be based on the same academically rigorous curriculum as the residential program, with courses designed and taught by UNC MPA faculty.
As with on-campus students, MPA@UNC students will be required to participate in a hands-on professional work experience, which can be fulfilled through an existing role or internship in their local community. Classes will be small, with a ratio of one faculty member to a maximum of 15 students.
“The MPA program at [UNC] attracts applicants with a desire to serve and a potential for leadership,” said William C. Rivenbark, MPA program director. “Graduates of our program attain leadership positions in every level of government and in organizations that support the public interest. We typically admit about 30 high-performing students per year into the on-campus program, but this online option will enable us to extend the reach of our program and provide many more highly qualified students with the opportunity to earn an MPA from a top-ranked university.”
“Governments and nonprofits need strategic thinkers at every level and public servants who can lead us through current and future challenges,” said Mike Smith, dean of the School of Government. “With the addition of this online MPA option, qualified students will be able to choose a program that fits their life needs and their learning preferences, and we will expand our positive impact on communities across the country.”
The school is developing MPA@UNC with 2tor Inc., which partners with higher education institutions to deliver degree programs online by providing a technology platform, instructional design, marketing and infrastructure support. Kenan-Flagler Business School also partnered with 2tor to offer an online format for its MBA program, launched in 2011. Fast Company magazine recently named 2tor, which has its headquarters in Landover, Md., among the world’s 10 most innovative companies in education.
MPA@UNC plans to admit its first cohort of students this fall and begin classes in January 2013.