Professional master’s programs empower grad students to work while they earn their degree

Graduate Programs in the Liberal Arts at CSU

Good news – you can have your cake and eat it, too – if that cake is working while furthering your professional opportunities.

The College of Liberal Arts offers three professional master’s degrees where students choose an on-campus or online experience, and where classes are held in the evenings and at times outside of traditional business hours.


Launched in Fall 2020, the Master of Public Policy and Administration is a program for people interested in public service, whether that’s in local government, in the military, internationally, or with a nonprofit.

“Many of the most challenging issues we are currently dealing with as a society are examples of where good public policy and administration could make a real difference,” says Susan Opp, professor and program director for Public Policy & Administration. “Issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change are ones that require highly trained public policy and administration experts to chart an evidence-based path forward to an improved outcome. The MPPA provides students with the necessary coursework, applied experience, and engagement with the public sector to enable students to become important parts of the solution to these challenges.”

DeAngelo Bowden, current MPPA student, is working as a graduate management assistant for the City of Fort Collins in a project coordinating role, working closely with the deputy city manager and city manager on a variety of projects, from sustainability services, utilities, or the planning department. “It is my job to make sure that resources are provided to projects that need those resources,” he says.

Bowden came to CSU from North Carolina with a bachelor’s degree in sustainable development (climate action, equity economy, and the environment). His goal is to be a city manager in North Carolina and continue his work in equity and inclusion at the local government level.

He credits the faculty in the MPPA program with helping him progress in his career with the city, both the academic faculty and the special faculty who work for the City of Fort Collins. “They bring such a unique perspective to the work that they do. And since they are no longer constrained in the academic space by city rules and policies, they’re able to have these amazing conversations around different ideas and perspectives that we could bring into local government.”

Meet other MPPA students who launched the 2020 class.

Internship Opportunities

The MPPA offers a wide variety of internship opportunities, including funding for those internships. One of those special opportunities is the Best and Brightest Fellowship which connects students to community work via local governments through two-year paid fellowships.

Read about Emily Myler’s experience in Avon, Colo.


Launched in Fall 2020, the Master of Sport Management builds on CSU’s undergraduate minor in sports management to provide a program that covers the social, cultural, marketing, and business aspects of sport.

“Sport is a microcosm of the world; it mirrors many political issues, social landscapes and challenges of our society,” says Albert Bimper, associate professor and program director for Sport Management. “We look to attract students that aspire to engage complex issues facing the field of sport management with a desire to compete against themselves to make us all better. I personally hope that our program will be one that is both committed to finding solutions to questions of our present and brave enough to ask the questions of our future.”

Olivia Knoll (B.S. ‘19, MSM ‘21) is an event operations assistant at State Farm Stadium in Arizona. She works events such as Arizona Cardinals football games, the Fiesta Bowl, Supercross, NASCAR, Coyotes hockey, and MLB spring training. “I pursued a graduate degree in Sport Management because I aspire to work as an event coordinator for a professional sports team. I also wanted to advance my knowledge of the sport industry and learn how to be a successful sport manager.”

Taking classes such as Sport Law, Sport and Communities, and Sport Facility and Event Management, Knoll was able to build on her undergraduate degree in hospitality management and minor in sports management to “dive deeper on subjects I had prior knowledge about.”

Knoll completed her internship with the CSU football team, working on recruiting and events.

Olivia Knoll
Olivia Knoll (B.S. ‘19, MSM ‘21)

And through her coursework and on-site experiences, has learned several different leadership styles. Something I want to apply from leader communication styles is the needed element to positively influence others,” she says. “There is a need to communicate pertinent information and motivate others to complete their assigned responsibilities. Being knowledgeable and skilled does not necessarily translate into being a successful leader, and I want to make sure I exhibit both in a managerial position.”

Frank Martinez
Frank Martinez (BA ‘09)

For 10 years, Frank Martinez (BA ‘09) was recreation coordinator at the Northside Atzlan Center in Fort Collins, supervising the center and organizing youth and adult sports leagues. Currently, he is a math teacher and head football and basketball coach at a local middle school.

“[The sport management master’s] is a perfect fit for my personal and professional experience,” says Martinez. “The program has been a great experience! Every one of my instructors have been incredibly knowledgeable about their content in the classes they teach. They have high expectations, and they teach great leadership skills. The instructors also understand the demands that someone working full time or competing in college athletics have while working in a master’s program.”

As someone who wants to be involved with a university athletics program, two elements of the curriculum in particular stand out for Martinez: The importance of policies and risk management in sports organizations, and the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion in the sports industry.

“It was important that nearly every class placed great value in social equity issues within sports, which is also very important to me,” Martinez says.

Martinez is doing his internship with the athletic director at his school, tapping into his current job to grow his skill set.


Since 2012, the Master of Arts Leadership and Cultural Management has provided a program for people who want to be involved in arts administration, whether visual or performing arts.

“Faced with a challenging and devastating blow to arts organizations across the globe due to the pandemic, arts leaders are looking for ways to be involved in the recovery of our industry in a creative and thoughtful way,” says Michelle Stanley, program director for Arts Management and professional flutist and professor.

Those creative and thoughtful ways include internships. For students in the residential program, they have an opportunity to engage with CSU, the city, and beyond.

Learn about Amy Barkley’s arts management internship with CSU’s Hatton Gallery

Learn about Ellie Crowley’s arts management internship with Fort Collins’ Gardens on Spring Creek