Ranking second in the Top 30 Online MPA Degree Programs for The Best Master’s Degrees, UNO’s online master’s program is recognized for its affordability and diversity.
Academic Program Coordinator of the School of Public Administration Meagan Van Gelder, said she’s honored, but not surprised. With recent recognition from major publications like U.S. News and World Report, UNO has been recognized widely for its online master’s program.
According to Craig Maher, director of the MPA program, UNO’s MPA program is “somewhat of a hidden gem in the Midwest.”
He credits the program’s success to its founders, its hard-working professors, and to Gelder, who he claims is the “heart and soul of the program.”
UNO was one of the first MPA programs to offer high quality online degrees, according to Gelder.
“Excellent education remained central to our vision,” Gelder said.
She recalls many schools around the U.S. reaching out to her when they started their own online master’s degrees.
“I provided guidance and suggestions about what worked best for our online students as well as how to maintain an excellent learning environment for our online learners,” Gelder said.
One benefit of the program is its professors. Every faculty member teaches both online and in the classroom, and works hard to maintain all of their students, according to Gelder.
“These students benefit from working with faculty who have high expectations and the thoughtfulness to connect theory to practice and strive to engage our online students the best they can,” Gelder said.
Another beneficial aspect of the program is its flexibility to accommodate diverse students in many situations.
“UNO’s online MPA gives opportunity to the student who has the goal and desire to complete their master’s degree but, for various reasons like work schedule, geography, military deployments, family responsibilities or public service, cannot attend classes on-campus,” Gelder said.
The program also allows for geographic diversity. UNO’s online master’s program has students from places like Alaska, Florida, Korea and Iraq.
This presents a unique opportunity for students to learn from each other’s experiences and local challenges.
Mary Van Winkle, a recent graduate from the MPA program, lives in western Nebraska and decided to pursue her MPA degree online.
“One of the best aspects of UNO’s program is the personal investment most instructors make in really personalizing the program to individual student’s needs or goals, and how they create an inclusive collegiate experience for students regardless of being online,” Winkle said.
From off-campus, Winkle’s professors were always available to her by phone and email, as well as willing to meet with her when she had the chance to come to Omaha.
To effectively communicate with their students, Winkle’s professors “created and encouraged group work and communicated through various online vessels such as Google Hangout, Blue Jeans sessions and Voicethread,” Winkle said.
This created a more personal learning environment in which professors and students could communicate regardless of location.
For students like Winkle, Gelder claims UNO’s MPA program is the best opportunity for those interested in public service and nonprofit organizations.
Gelder encourages students who have a passion to make a difference in their communities to pursue the program.
“UNO’s MPA Program offers a high quality education for relatively low tuition,” Gelder said.
The program’s mission is to strengthen public service by educating students to manage and lead public and nonprofit institutions, according to Maher.
“If this interests you as a student, there is no better place than UNO,” Maher said.