The 'new normal': A look at 3 learning outcomes of the USF online MPA

As government continues to evolve to address the changing environment of federal, state, and local service challenges, acquiring a Master of Public Administration presents more opportunities to meet these challenges than before. Public management professionals and graduate students are adapting to democratic reform initiatives, economic pressures, regulatory change, expressions of public opinion, policies that address current problems, and more throughout their university tenure and in their careers.

To better understand this  environment, the University of San Francisco’s Online Master of Public Administration program is preparing for this “new normal” by focusing on three learning outcomes for graduates: to serve, advocate, and lead, three outcomes that closely feed into NASPAA universal competencies.

Understanding the new normal

Providing better service to the public means departing from former routine and traditional practices in civil society, a switch to a better understanding of the interconnectivity between the people and the places that are engaged in governance. Strategies that were considered sufficient and successful in different times are simply less than adequate today. Meeting the challenges that come with 21st century economic conditions, diversity in our population and extremes in public opinion, demands for policy reform, all require addressing new demands related to public trends and adapting to a new normal. It calls for public administrators to make much better use of constrained resources to develop critical strategies that can solve problems and respond to emerging issues.

To ensure this happens, the University of San Francisco’s Online Master of Public Administration program regularly revisits and revises  its curriculum to prepare graduates so they may better serve, advocate, and lead as professionals working for the public interest, whether they hold positions in business, in government or in the nonprofit sector.. It is designed to help students articulate this new normal in working with others, with an altered focus through this different scope of public administration fuelled with current theory of governance and practiced with hands-on learning relevant to their current positions and career aspirations..

Let’s take a closer look at these three learning outcomes:

1. Serve, through effective practice and human policies that achieve the aspirations of the community.
An ability to better serve their community drives many to pursue a career in public administration, and an education that enhances their capabilities. Whether working for a nonprofit organization, in a government agency, for a healthcare provider, or in community service, public leaders create opportunity to serve the public interest through initiating social reform and advocating for the community. Affirming public service values (integrity, accountability, and excellence among other) reminds public administration professionals of the importance in their work addressing the changing civic landscape.

The University of San Francisco’s Online Master of Public Administration program teaches students about strategic planning, resource management, budget analysis, decision-making, ethics, and leadership. It assists students by design, in defining their roles as leaders in the public sector, teaching them to hold foremost  the value of service as a way to support their communities and those who are most vulnerable among us. One core value at USF is a commitment to changing and shaping our governance to promote dignity and respect of every person. Faculty members use the curriculum and each’s unique teaching style to educate students in class and online, to affirm their service orientation and public service skills so they may work for transformation in the community far into the future.

2. Advocate to provide ethical and workable solutions to societal needs.
Serving the community is one important factos of public administration. Advocacy is another critical component of serving the needs of all, especially those most vulnerable among us. Beyond exerting passion and drive for making positive changes, public service professionals must determine better ways to gain support from their community, allocate and manage sometimes scarce resources, and act in ways that demonstrate they know how systems work, and how to get them to work in the public interest. The right mindset and demeanor can take students far, but the skills earned and tools used in the Online Master of Public Administration program prepare professionals to engage in more strategic planning and implementation, aware of public sector budgeting, working on public policy analysis, all improved whether early in your career or well on your way.

Students learn to successfully advocate for their communities by interacting with peers in the program and working through case studies and other real-life based scenarios in the curriculum. These activities strengthen one’s capability to advocate for individuals who may find it difficult to speak for themselves. The program also teaches students strong research skills so they can produce efficient work products and effective agendas to address public concerns in times of need.

3. Lead, compassionately and effectively.
Serving the public directly  and advocating for the public interest are initial stepping stones into the world of public administration. Taking leadership roles when requested and whenever opportunities arise are the typical path forward in public administration. Those who step up for leadership positions during emerging changes must have specific qualities and skills to successfully face unfamiliar issues and produce equitable solutions as the public’s expectations continue to shift. The curriculum of the Online Master of Public Administration program enhances students’ abilities and confidence to meet the current challenges of public leadership through rigorous training and education.

The program begins by preparing students to seek out and use important theory and relevant current research in public administration, using readings, media, public documents and case studies among other educational material to lay the foundation for their education in support of their career path. The program dives deeper than using books and traditional resources to prepare students for the industry. The online program also prepares students to recognize and use an abundance of experiential learning opportunities, getting students to recognize how their participation in the real world provides opportunities to participate in learning through doing. Students gain a better grasp of their normal day’s professional public service, reviewing it through their ever-increasing educated eye. Real-world scenarios–their own and those of their classmates–help students develop skills and practice in strategic planning, critical thinking, resource management, budget analysis, and decision-making; skills that are necessary for addressing some of the public’s more complex issues that may take decades to resolve. This interdisciplinary and life-practice approach, combining foundational study, research and real-world experience, allows students to develop a broad set of skills usable in a variety of settings, better equipping them for the modern operating environment of the public sector.

Let the University of San Francisco prepare you for coping with the new normal.

The Online Master of Public Administration from the University of San Francisco can help you acquire the tools to meet the challenges that come with the new normal in governance. The program prepare you to respond to an environment of rapid change that requires innovative strategies to meet the public service needs of your city and state. Graduates demonstrate daily skills and confidence required to actively participate in the community and address complex civil issues in the changing landscape of public sector service expectations.

For more information on the new normal and the online courses taught by our knowledgeable faculty, contact Karen Charlot, the University of San Francisco’s Online Master of Public Administration enrollment advisor, at 866-665-4178.

Recommended Readings:

Strategies for Social Justice Activism

5 Key Differences Between Organizations in the Public and Private Sectors


The New Normal by the University of San Francisco

The Value of Service by the University of San Francisco

The Power of Advocacy by the University of San Francisco

Leadership in a Changing World by the University of San Francisco


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