College of Liberal Arts professional degrees develop leaders in sports, arts and public service

As the pandemic puts a pause on life as usual, many people are thinking about their futures and wondering what their next step should be. At times of economic uncertainty, many professionals look for a new direction or a way to distinguish themselves in the job market. For those looking to advance as leaders in arts management, sport management or public service, the College of Liberal Arts now offers three unique pathways.

CLA’s professional master’s degrees pair industry-specific leadership skills with the universal lens of the liberal arts. The Master of Arts Leadership and Cultural Management (MALCM) is an established degree program at CSU offered online or on campus. Graduates are prepared to provide vision and advocacy for arts organizations, communities and municipalities.

Two new programs – the Master of Public Policy and Administration (MPPA) and Master of Sport Management (MSM) – will host their first classes this fall. The MPPA prepares students for public service leadership in government agencies, nonprofits and international organizations. Classes are offered weekday evenings to accommodate working professionals. MSM students will gain the leadership skills needed for successful careers in recreational, intercollegiate or professional sport. This program is offered online with flexible eight-week classes.

Expert faculty. Respected university.

“Over the past several years I’ve considered various graduate programs in the region, but nothing seemed to be the right fit,” said Morgan Smith, a CSU alum (’15, political science) enrolling in the MPPA this fall. “When I saw the announcement of the new MPPA program at CSU, I immediately reached out to the program director, Dr. Susan Opp, to learn more. As an undergraduate student I had the opportunity to take several classes from Dr. Opp and knew her passion for public service and ability to bring real-world experience into the classroom would be a great fit for me.”

Faculty in all three master’s programs are experts in their field, pairing real-world experience with academic research and creative artistry. Bimper competed as a Division I collegiate student-athlete and professional football player before becoming a professor of ethnic studies and university athletics administrator. Opp has worked with numerous public sector partners, including the City of Fort Collins, Larimer County, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Health and Human Services. Michelle Stanley is a flutist and international performer who has released several albums of chamber and contemporary music. All three degree programs embody Colorado State University’s values of access, excellence and collaboration.

“I had no desire to leave CSU, as I already developed professional relationships and connections among the faculty and fellow classmates,” said recent CSU graduate Dakota West de Irueste (’19, political science) who will be joining the MPPA cohort this fall. “I believe that getting a master’s degree in public policy and administration will help me attain a secure career and allow me to have a notable impact on my community.”

Leadership. Innovation. Liberal arts.

Beyond industry best practices, the interdisciplinary liberal arts curriculum at the core of each degree offers students the opportunity to learn historical and modern perspectives, social responsibility, civic engagement and cultural understanding.

“A degree in liberal arts provides you with practical experience and the flexibility needed to navigate the fluid state of the world,” said Megan Lusk (’16, political science and international studies), a future MPPA student who works in the Fort Collins city manager’s office. “It continuously teaches you how to think outside the box and be creative when addressing various problems. It instills the necessary tools to view things from multiple perspectives.”

According to a 2018 study conducted by the American Association of Colleges & Universities, employers overwhelmingly endorse broad learning and cross-cutting skills as the best preparation for long-term career success.

“Now more than ever, adaptiveness is a key trait in the workplace,” Carpenter said. “Having solid skill sets coupled with a wide knowledge base is crucial in most current organizations. Creative problem solving with authentic, truthful reasoning skills are key to creating nimble and adaptive team members.”

Apply today. Lead tomorrow.

All three professional master’s programs in the College of Liberal arts are accepting applications for the fall semester, making them an appealing option for anyone interested in starting an advanced degree program in 2020.

“This program was the ‘power surge’ I needed in the middle of my career to make me think in new and creative directions,” Carpenter said. “I would never dismiss the importance of my previous on-the-job training, but the LEAP program fortified every aspect of my learning, teaching and leadership skills. I am going into this next phase of my career with greater inspiration, energy and ideas.”

Learn more about College of Liberal Arts professional master’s degrees at