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

A series of three students in professional settings
Advance your career with a professional degree in arts management, public policy and administration, or sport management from the College of Liberal Arts

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.

Flags from all countries outside of the UN building in Manhattan
CSU's MPPA program offers one of the only International Policy and Management specializations in the country.

Advancing careers. Advancing the world.

“After almost 20 years in one community, I was feeling stuck and confined,” said Bonnie Carpenter, a MALCM student and arts educator for Idyllwild Arts Academy. “My previous leadership training came from on-the-job learning, and LEAP offered a legitimate, structured, and accessible way for me to grow.”

The LEAP Institute of the Arts is committed to helping students thrive in the global field of arts management and stay on the cutting edge of creative industries, cultural policy and arts advocacy.

The three degrees from Liberal Arts offer courses in management, organizational behavior and interpersonal communication. Students gain hands-on experience in the industry and network with current professionals through their courses. A broad perspective that includes cultural, social, environmental and historical context sets these programs apart from other professional degrees. Liberal Arts professional students are passionate about their fields and eager to use their strategic thinking, problem-solving and creativity to make a difference.

“Sport is a microcosm of the world; it mirrors many political issues, social landscapes and challenges of our society,” said Albert Bimper, program director for the Master of Sport Management. “It is a great opportunity to think about the world around us; we talk about the disparities and inequities that exist. It has been an avenue where we have seen much progress, integration and the advancement of access and opportunity.”

Ready to make your move?

Apply now for Fall 2020.

Apply by June 1
CSU Fort Collins campus; evening classes

Apply by July 31
Online or CSU Fort Collins campus

Apply by Aug. 1
Online; 8-week classes

Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis. As professional degrees, the GRE is not required. Applications include a statement of purpose and three references.

Man with microphone addresses crowd in arena
Master of Sport Management Program Director Dr. Albert Bimper speaks to students at Ram Welcome.

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.”

Susan Opp
MPPA Program Director and Political Science Professor Susan Opp
MALCM Program Director and Associate Professor of Music Michelle Stanley
MALCM Program Director and Associate Professor of Music Michelle Stanley

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.”

Is now the time for grad school?

Deciding if and when to enroll in graduate school is a complex decision. There are professional, financial and personal factors to consider. Fortunately, there are resources to help in the decision-making process.

“When and IF to Attend Graduate School”
College of Liberal Arts Career Education Manager Kelsey Schultz hosts an on-demand webinar for prospective graduate students with CLA Associate Dean Roze Hentschell.

“Should I Go Back to School?”
CSU Online offers an interactive guide to walk prospective students through the grad school decision.

Arena with CSU ram logo
Move industries of sport forward with a professional degree in sport management

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