Cleveland State University’s (CSU) master of public administration program (MPA) aims to develop leaders in the search for solutions to urban problems. GPN reached out to the director of the program, Professor Nicholas Zingale to learn more. The MPA offering is part of CSU’s Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs.

The program is fully accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA). The program’s curriculum is designed to accommodate part-time, mid-career students, as well as full-time students. Courses are offered primarily during the evenings and a few on weekends. It is a multidisciplinary program. CSU’s Levin College, the Ahuja College of Business and the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law offer courses accepted in the MPA program. Below are Professor Zingale’s views.

GPN: Given the number of university public policy programs in the U.S., what makes the CSU MPA special?

Nicholas Zingale: The hallmark of the CSU MPA is engaged learning, which provides numerous opportunities for students to gain professional experience and make a difference while still in school. This unique academic model creates future leaders who are committed to leading and serving in diverse and dynamic communities.

GPN: What are some of the unique facets of the Levin College and the MPA program?

NZ: Located in the heart of downtown Cleveland and nestled next to one of the leading theater districts in the U.S., the College of Urban Affairs immerses students in the community and affords a unique opportunity for experiencing urban issues firsthand. This is accomplished through project-based coursework, multiple internship opportunities with local governments and community institutions, and real-world research focused on community needs. In just the last year students in the program have served on various community boards, collaborated with city officials on economic development and policy projects and participated in funded and published research. Students have had their work published in leading academic journals, and lobbied city councils to change local rules and regulations.

GPN: What does engaged learning mean in practice?

NZ: Our students aren’t waiting to have an impact until after they receive a degree. They are doing it while getting their degree as a part of the learning experience. Our courses are designed to immerse students in community challenges and draw them into the complexities associated with understanding and working to improve communities. For example, through a course taught by Urban Studies Professor Joe Meade, a team of students worked with the city of Euclid, Ohio, to reform a city ordinance that reduce the possibility of eviction for domestic violence victims.

GPN: What are some of the outcomes for students and graduates?

NZ: We have an outstanding placement rate with graduates working across multiple sectors, including: federal, state, county and local governments; regional authorities and special districts; nonprofit and volunteer organizations; economic and community development agencies; health and human service organizations; and various areas of public safety and criminal justice. Notable alums include Cassandra McConnell-Tatum, deputy assistant director of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; Stephanie Morales, human resources business partner with Amazon; Michael Cosgrove, director of community development with the city of Cleveland; and Stephen Love, program officer with the Cleveland Foundation and recently named by Crain’s Cleveland to their “20 in Their 20s” list.

GPN: Who would be a good potential student for the program?

NZ: Whether you’ve recently graduated from college and are looking to take classes full time, or you’re a seasoned professional hoping to balance a part-time class schedule with your full-time career, the CSU MPA can provide what students need to reach their academic and professional goals.

GPN: Where can people go to get more information?

NZ: Visit the college’s website, like the program on Facebook, or follow the program on Twitter.


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