On-Campus & Online Programs
The Truman School offers a Master of Public Affairs, PhD in Public Affairs, and Graduate Certificate programs on campus.
The Master of Public Affairs and some of our Graduate Certificates are also offered fully online.
For more information about all of our offerings, click on "Degrees and Program Descriptions" below.
For quick facts about our Master of Public Affairs and BA in Public Administration & Policy, see the flyer posted under PDF documents.
For more information and student testimonials about our online MPA program, you can also watch the following video.
- Mid-Career Student Profile - Joshua Kerlin
- Mid-Career Student Profile - Sophia Piral
- Alumna Profile - Melinda Oakes
- Mid-Career Student Profile - Rebekah Starkey-Keasling
- Alumna Profile - Savanah Bray
- Alumnus Profile - Joshua Twitty
Joshua Kerlin builds on public service experience with an MPA
by Kathryn Holt
Mid-career MPA student Josh Kerlin knew he wanted to work in public safety his whole life. His grandfather was a fire chief and Josh followed in his footsteps when he became a firefighter paramedic in 2013. Coming from a public safety background, with a Bachelor of Science in Fire and Emergency Services Administration from Fayetteville State and an Associate in Applied Science in Fire Protection Technology from Fayetteville Tech Community College, Josh came to the Truman School to expand and refine his existing knowledge with a Master of Public Affairs degree. In June 2021, Josh took a position as an Emergency Management Specialist with the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Philadelphia. Just prior to this new position, Josh was the Director of Emergency Services Training for first responders at Brunswick Community College in North Carolina.
With extensive experience working in the public sector, Josh was looking to gain more academic knowledge about public management and to round out his existing knowledge with academic sources. Josh was also interested in learning more about the economics side of public management. What drew Josh to the Truman School, though, was the affordable, accredited, and 100% online program, common themes among our mid-career students we have highlighted so far. The rhythm of 8-week courses is familiar to Josh and he was happy to see he could continue learning in the same 8-week format as his prior educational experiences. For Josh, pursuing his MPA at the Truman School was the best 'next step' in his career.
Josh says learning from the professors and how they deliver courses has been insightful, as he also works in education. He says this has made him a more polished professional adding, “The professors were consistently exceptional. I grew significantly both academically and professionally using the knowledge obtained from TSPA.” One class that Josh really enjoyed was research methods, “My favorite was Research Methods because I was able to statistically analyze real data.” Utilizing and analyzing a lot of data was helpful in Josh’s eyes, especially learning to use a data analytic software program.
Josh was also one of two TSPA students to compete and place in the NASPAA Batten Simulation earlier this year. This competition involved students split up in teams, working on a real-time simulated pandemic response. An extension of a similar competition from 2018, this provided students with similar experiences to what decisions world leaders and local leaders alike have had to make since the coronavirus outbreak in early 2020. Josh was on one of four first place teams at the regional competition and went on to compete at the NASPAA Global Batten Simulation in April, placing third.
The Truman School proves to be a good match for Fulbright Scholar Sophia Piral
by Kathryn Holt
Fulbright Scholar, entrepreneur, and mom, Sophia Piral, is about to add a few more things to her already lengthy list of impressive accomplishments: a Master of Public Affairs and a certificate of Nonprofit Management from the Truman School of Government & Public Affairs. Completing her bachelor’s degree in communications and graphic design and a post grad degree in project management, both from Universidad Galileo in Guatemala, Sophia found Mizzou and TSGPA when looking for a graduate program that focused on public policy and nonprofit management. Sophia said she was excited when she found Mizzou offered a degree focusing on both [public policy and nonprofit management] because other schools she looked at offered one or the other and she strongly believes both are important to study together.
Also influencing Sophia’s decision was the large international cohort at Mizzou. With the largest international student population in the state, seeing Mizzou open to educating international students made Sophia feel welcomed. She continued to feel the warmth from the faculty once beginning her studies at TSGPA saying, “They care about me not just as a student, but as a person, knowing about my family and asking about my family.”
Her interest in public service was sparked when learning about irregular migration and how it affects people in her home country of Guatemala. Sophia spoke on how there is immense risk involved with irregular migration and even with such risk people pursue it because it is their only option. With a passion for supporting people through local and small businesses, Sophia believes supporting grassroots organizations can have the greatest impact. “You are not making a decision when you only have one alternative, one option. That is why I believe in local development through small business, grassroots organizations, local policies, and local government.”
During her time at the Truman School, Sophia has concentrated her studies on social projects and nonprofit organization development, even applying what she learns in class in volunteer opportunities around Columbia and Guatemala. Sophia also works with her husband for their organization that provides technical assistance to grassroots organizations in the way of mentoring, strategic planning, fundraising, project design and evaluation, and corporate identity.
In her final semester at the Truman School, Sophia reflects on her experience at Mizzou saying the best part of the program beyond the content of the classes was how supportive and caring the faculty are. “After almost two years at Mizzou pursuing my Master of Public Affairs degree, relating with empathic and professional faculty, feeling supported by all the incredible resources that Mizzou has for the graduate and international students, experiencing Mizzou values, and enjoying the international and local culture from Columbia, I feel highly identified and thankful for Mizzou and the TSGPA program.”
MPA Benefits Melinda Oakes in Her Transition to the Nonprofit Sector
by Kathryn Holt
When recent Truman School graduate Melinda Oakes decided to pursue her second masters degree, she found herself in a familiar position: considering attending the University of Missouri. Years before, when deciding where to pursue her bachelor degree, she initially decided on Mizzou and then made a last-minute decision to attend Kansas State, where she went on to study communications and was a member of the cheerleading team. Transitioning from a 15-year career with LEGO Company to an executive role in the nonprofit sector with Triad Foundation, Melinda wanted to increase her knowledge of the nonprofit sector with a degree in public affairs.
Melinda considered many factors when deciding on which public affairs program to attend. The highly ranked TSPA mid-career program struck Melinda’s attention for the cost, flexibility, and familiarity of the program. As a full-time working mom of two, Melinda mentioned her choice of MPA programs had to be flexible, as dropping her other responsibilities for a few years to pursue higher education was not an option. Growing up in a military family, Melinda always considered Missouri to be her home state and attending Mizzou was a full circle experience. Perhaps the greatest value Melinda saw in her experience while studying with TSPA was interacting with classmates from vastly different backgrounds. With so many places and perspectives represented, Melinda learned as much from her classmates as she did from her professors. When asked about something unexpected she learned from her time at TSPA, Melinda spoke of her experiences as a mid-career student in higher education, “Even as a student you can give back and give in a way that is meaningful and have relationships that are mutually beneficial.” She learned so much from her professors, naming Dr. Staley as one of her favorites, and approached her classes and coursework with the attitude that she could teach her professors something in return. “The TPSA professors and their support staff made me feel as if I was receiving a concierge educational experience. The value of being able to apply my real-time career challenges to meaningful course work that was peer reviewed at every turn cannot be understated. I was completely delighted by the scale and variety of input to my own development.”
With some experience working with the nonprofit sector before accepting her position at Triad Foundation, Melinda says working on her MPA made her a “more thoughtful professional.” When she entered the nonprofit sector Melinda said she saw nonprofits as organizations that primarily receive support, but through her volunteer experiences working with organizations like Habitat for Humanity and her studies at TSPA, she gained a new perspective on how much nonprofits truly give. This new understanding allows her to bring a more meaningful energy to her work at Triad Foundation.
Mid-Career Program Helps Rebekah Starkey Keasling Follow Her Dreams
by Kathryn Holt
After completing her first semester of classes at the Truman School, current mid-career student Rebekah Starkey Keasling already feels at home at the Truman School. As the Director of Public Information and Community Engagement for the City of Hutchinson, Kansas, Rebekah helps people find ways to get involved in their community. “One of my favorite things about my current role is helping people understand local government and empowering them to be more involved in their own governance. By pursuing my master’s degree from the Truman School of Public Affairs, I hope to do the same for myself.”
Also a mom of two, Rebekah was drawn to the flexibility and availability of the school's mid-career program. Rebekah noted, “It’s eight-week classes, one at a time, which allows the program to be available to working people and working parents.” She added, “I can do anything for eight weeks.” Also influencing her decision to attend the Truman School was knowing it was one of the best MPA programs in the country.
With a background in graphic design and a bachelor’s degree in music and art, Rebekah was inspired to start her career in public service by friend and former Kansas State Representative Patsy Terrel, whom was also the topic of her entry essay. Motivated by wanting to have a seat at the table and be in the room where it happens, Rebekah seeks to decrease the gender representation disparity. “The lack of gender diversity at the top of city leadership in this country is abysmal. The way the [mid-career] degree program is set up allows me to pursue my passion for civil service, even as a mom with two children under five and a demanding career.”
Though she is only in her second semester with the school, Rebekah mentioned how she is already applying what she is learning in class to her current position. For example, her first class, collaborative governance, has proved useful when partnering with other organizations to tackle big issues, like working to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 locally. One class she is excited, albeit a little nervous, is research methods: a topic totally different from her previous studies. An eight-week challenge on the road everlasting change, and one she is surely up to.
Flying High: Savanah Bray Builds on Air Force Experience with an MPA
By Kathryn Holt
Recent 2020 TSPA Mid-career graduate Savanah Bray knew she wanted to be an officer in the United States Air Force from an early age. Savanah began her career in the Air Force in 2017 after graduating from the University of Kentucky where she studied Integrated Strategic Communication. As a Public Affairs Officer, Savanah advises commanders on strategic communication efforts that include internal communications, community relations, and media relations. Savanah has lived in the world of public affairs for quite some time, which led her to explore what public affairs looks like outside the military. That is what led her to Mizzou and the Truman School of Public Affairs.
When deciding on a program for her master’s degree, Savanah thoroughly research all her options. Comparing public policy to public administration programs, she discovered she wanted a little bit of both tracks, narrowing her search to a few schools across the country. Also important to Savanah was attending a school that had a brick-and-mortar location, with a reputable online program. Working in the military means frequent moves and Savanah needed a program that could move with her. What ultimately drew her to TSPA though, was the high-quality, affordable education offered at Mizzou, “As a military public affairs officer, I applied to the TSPA Mid-career MPA program after looking all over for a reputable and affordable online program connected to a brick and mortar school, but I left with so much more than just a degree. The TSPA helped me understand how the skills I've gained from my military service translate to the civilian world, and the program challenged me both personally, professionally and academically.”
During her time at the Truman School, Savanah gained valuable skills she is excited to use in her next career as she transfers from Active Duty to the Air Force Reserves in the coming months. When asked about something unexpected she learned from TSPA, Savanah recalled her methods classes, among others, that re-sparked her interest in learning more about prison reform and the prison industrial complex. Savanah said her classes allowed her to explore interest areas outside of her regular job duties, which gave her space to learn more about the complexities of these areas. Most notably, Savanah says she gained many skills relating to management structures outside of the military. Savanah is looking forward to using the transferable skills she learned at TSPA, as well as being more civic-engaged and serving her community outside of the military. Savanah added, “For anyone looking for a combined public policy/public administration program, I cannot recommend the Truman School of Public Affairs enough!”
Savanah recently secured a position as an adjunct faculty member at Purdue University Global teaching in the school of professional studies. She will begin instruction in January.
*This was shared based on personal experience. The appearance of any information or photos does not imply, constitute or represent an endorsement from the DoD or US Air Force.*
MPA Mid-career alumnus Joshua Twitty finds new role in advocacy
By Kathryn Holt
Graduating in tumultuous times, Josh Twitty, a 2020 TSPA mid-career graduate, began a new job as an Advocacy and External Engagement Strategist with the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). In this new role, Josh researches legislation affecting the organization; meets with board members in the affected states to formulate a plan to amend the legislation and raise awareness about current or proposed legislation; and, helps guide internal and external communication efforts to educate the public about licensure.
Josh found his passion for legislation and policy midway through his career in the US Air Force while taking classes in legal studies. He discovered that legislation is a part of everything, and every organization has a stake in it. After graduating with a degree in Criminology from the University of Arkansas Little Rock, Josh gained experience working for state government and then in fiscal legislation. Looking to learn more about policy and research and to improve upon his skills, Josh pursued his Master of Public Affairs through Mizzou’s Truman School of Public Affairs mid-career program.
When looking at potential degree programs, Josh was drawn to TSPA by the emphasis on research methods and policy and strategy classes. He said looking at course descriptions and reading about the courses he would take influenced his decision to attend the Truman School. TSPA’s mid-career degree option allowed Josh to keep learning and advance his career. Josh is able to directly apply what he learned through TSPA in his new job, even referencing materials he used in his classes. Learning about lobbying and policy strategies, he now asks the “why” when approaching a new piece of legislation, and works with stakeholders to gain a better understanding of legislation.
When asked about something he unexpected he learned from TSPA, Josh recalled the leap of faith he took when he signed up to take economic analysis and economic development, “I had a vague understanding of economics, but the courses greatly improved my understanding," said Twitty. "The final projects were really helpful, and you learn as you go.” Josh said that he approaches new topics differently now, asking what he can learn from this and how can he benefit from this new knowledge. In summarizing his time with TSPA, “The Truman School of Public Affairs is a great program that has provided me with not only the opportunity to learn public affairs from experienced and knowledgeable faculty, but also the opportunity to grow academically and professionally.”