Advocacy and Political Leadership MAPL

About this program

The Masters in Advocacy and Political Leadership program (MAPL) is a cohort program which accepts new member cohorts in fall and spring semesters. MAPL courses are designed to help students learn how to ethically bring about social change and influence public policy. Courses offer a combination of theory and practice to help students learn the skills to accomplish the changes they want to bring about in the world as well as to understand the larger context in which they can bring about these changes.

MAPL classes are almost universally face-to-face. Four core courses, offered in sequence to MAPL cohort members, are held Friday evenings.  There are eleven class meetings each semester. Classes for degree-designated concentrations are offered on Saturday mornings and afternoons.

Three concentrations are available:

  • Advocacy in the Nonprofit Sector,
  • Advocacy in the Public Sector and
  • Labor Organizing and Leadership.

Students can also opt for a general MAPL degree without a concentration.

Rich discussions in the classroom among a very diverse group of students are a hallmark of the MAPL program. All of the faculty members offer students a combination of teaching and real world knowledge, skills and connections from their professional lives. Many are leaders in their fields of advocacy and leadership, and draw from these life experiences as they teach. Faculty also welcome the knowledge and insights from their students as part of the learning experience for everyone in the classroom.

The MAPL degree was offered at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) from 2002-2015 when it relocated to Metropolitan State. MAPL has over 200 alumni, approximately four fifths of whom are working in the advocacy field. Of our alums, approximately two thirds work in Minnesota. MAPL not only offers students a unique educational opportunity, but also a community long after the degree is completed, MAPL alumni continue to support each other, as well as the program as a whole.

If you would like additional information about the program, please contact Matt Musel, Director of Advocacy and Public Leadership, who is responsible for program recruitment and external relations (Matt.Musel@metrostate.edu, 612-735-1890 cell) or Adrienne Falcón, Associate Professor in the Department of Public and Non-Profit Leadership who is the Academic Director of the MAPL program (Adrienne.Falcon@metrostate.edu)

Student outcomes

Upon completion of the MAPL degree, students will be able to:

  • Policy - Evaluate the roles in policy change at the local, state, and federal levels and have the skills to participate in policy initiatives in their development, implementation, and evaluation. Specifically, students will be able to :
    • identify those who are the political levers and actions that can be taken at the different levels in government;
    • create policy proposals
    • develop and commit to policy with an intersectional lens.
  • Social Change- Situate policy and social change efforts and campaigns within a historical and critical lens so as to be able to effectively engage in the present. Specifically, students will be able to :
    • identify different forms of civic engagement, such as social movements or protest politics, electoral politics, community organizing or community service, and policy advocacy;
    • analyze the success of different models of engagement over time;
    • understand the diverse forces that have shaped civic life in the United States.” (Civic Learning Rubric); and d. Recognize the historical evolution and current opportunities and constraints for political effectiveness.
  • Leadership - Understand different leadership types and style as well as demonstrate personal leadership self-awareness. Specifically, students will be able to :
    • analyze skills of effective leaders within a wide array of leadership styles
    • evaluate student’s own leadership style and how to most effective use one’s strengths to move advocacy projects forward.
  • Communications - Effectively advocate and communicate in different social change endeavors and forms. Specifically, students will be able to :
    • write media plans which include press conferences, social media campaigns, and other tools relevant for bringing about action on one’s interests
    • create effective public presentations
  • Ethics and Values - Develop personal and institutional values that recognize students’ own and larger social values that uphold the following civic values: open-mindedness, civic negotiation, human dignity, social justice, and public good (from the AACU Civic Values Rubric).
  • Understand the MAPL code of ethics; and
  • Demonstrate action that is consistent with a code of ethics drawing from the MAPL code and AACU Civic Values rubric.

Enrolling in this program

Program eligibility requirements

MAPL accepts new cohorts each fall and spring semester and limits the number of students in each new cohort to 20. To be eligible for admission to the program, all candidates must have:

  • A four-year Bachelor's degree with a grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. (Exception: Applicants may be accepted in MAPL with grade point averages below 3.0 as long as they have accomplished significant community-oriented service activity.)
  • Accomplished at least some community-oriented extracurricular activity, whether in service with a nonprofit, serving community needs directly, or in politics and political organizations.

Application instructions

All application materials become the property of Metropolitan State University and are not returned.
To be considered for full admission you must submit all parts of the application packet:

Part one

  • Complete the Online Graduate Programs Application. You will use your Minnesota State StarID to complete the application. If you don't have a Minnesota State StarID, you will create one at the beginning of the application. If you encounter difficulty with the online application please email graduate.studies@metrostate.edu.
  • Non-refundable application fee
    • Current fee of $20 is waived for graduates of Metropolitan State.
  • Official transcripts
    • Official transcripts showing a baccalaureate degree or equivalent earned from an accredited institution with grade-point average or narrative description describing courses completed from all schools attended after high school and transcripts from any graduate or professional programs.
    • All transcripts from non-U.S. schools must be evaluated (course-by-course) by either ECE (preferred) or WES.
    • The equivalent of a baccalaureate degree is required for all graduate programs.

Part two

  • Two distinct reference letters from two people who can speak to your potential and experiences. Upload via the Applicant Portal using your StarID. Select from two of the three categories:
    • Faculty member (if you have been in school in the past three years we highly value an academic evaluation)
    • Supervisor/employer
    • Peer or colleague
    • Note: Personal references, including family, are not accepted.
  • Goals essay

    • A word-processed paper (double-spaced and approximately two to three pages) explaining "Why the Master's Degree Would Help Me Achieve My Professional Goals," with specific reference to the program. Describe significant achievements, planned career, and community or personal activities, including what you can contribute to the program as well as what you hope to get out of the MAPL program.
  • Current Resumé
    • Describe all community-oriented extracurricular activities in which you have been involved, including service with a nonprofit, serving community needs directly, and/or activity in politics, political organizations, and student government.

Part three - international students only

In addition to parts one and two, international applicants in the U.S. or abroad, on any type of visa, are required to provide this information for admission to the university.

  • Proof of English proficiency (official TOEFL or IELTS score)
    • Minimum scores: TOEFL 80 IBT, 213 CBT, 550 PBT or IELTS 6.5
    • IBT=internet based; CBT=computer based; PBT=paper based
  • Financial statement (F1 visa only)
  • Immunization records
  • Copies of passport, visa, I-94, and international home address and phone numbers

Visit International Student Services graduate admissions for part three details.

Submit materials to the Graduate Studies Office via mail using the mailing address below or by email to graduate.studies@metrostate.edu

Course requirements

Requirements (40 credits)

Core (16 credits)

Required for all concentrations.

First Semester

MAPL 610 Political Process and Public Policy

4 credits

MAPL 610 is the first required core course in the Master of Advocacy and Political Leadership (MAPL) Program. Its aim is to help student advocates understand the history of policy development in the United States and particularly in the states of Minnesota and Wisconsin. The course examines the classic study of policy development and implementation on a national basis, then looks closely at the more ideological take on policy formulation and implementation used in the 2000s. More locally, students examine the political cultures of Minnesota and Wisconsin and hear from leaders from those states involved in policy development and implementation. Each student prepares and presents a policy change project, some action they think desirable and in the public interest.

Full course description for Political Process and Public Policy

Second Semester

MAPL 611 Political and Advocacy Leadership

4 credits

MAPL 611 is a required core course in the Master of Advocacy and Political Leadership (MAPL) Program. The course provides the knowledge and skills needed to help advocates strengthen their abilities to lead wisely, ethically and effectively in political and community settings. It provides an interdisciplinary framework to explore the principles of power and leadership, and features effective leaders from Minnesota and other states discussing their principles of leadership.

Full course description for Political and Advocacy Leadership

Third Semester

MAPL 612 Organizing and Communication for Advocacy

4 credits

MAPL 612 is a core course in the Master of Advocacy and Political Leadership (MAPL) Program. This course is designed to provide students with a foundation of the history and techniques of grassroots political organizing, plus honing the writing and speaking skills needed by advocates. The focus will primarily be on the power of communication for advocates and organizers who must mobilize others and change minds.

Full course description for Organizing and Communication for Advocacy

Fourth Semester

MAPL 613 Policy Evaluation

4 credits

MAPL 613 is the last required core course in the Advocacy and Political Leadership (MAPL) track within the Master of Public and Nonprofit Administration Program. This course prepares students to understand and to perform program and policy evaluations. Given a defined problem, students will learn how various policy proposals might be compared and judged. Students will understand how to demonstrate the value or worth of a program or policy. They will understand how to use evaluation methods to improve programs and policy. The course will explore the complexities of evaluation and why it is important.

Full course description for Policy Evaluation

Advocacy in the Nonprofit Sector concentration (12 credits)

MAPL 620 and MAPL 621 or an approved course, plus one of the remaining courses listed.

MAPL 620 Nonprofits as Agents of Democracy

4 credits

MAPL 620 is a concentration course in Master of Advocacy and Political Leadership (MAPL) Program. The course focuses on understanding the nonprofit sector and its many relationships with governments. Nonprofits and governments can be partners, adversaries, or sectors working on parallel paths. Students gain a better understanding of the nonprofit sectors history, revenue sources, historic and current relationships with government, and strategies for positioning nonprofits for leadership in nonprofit and governmental interactions.

Full course description for Nonprofits as Agents of Democracy

MAPL 621 Advocacy, Organizing and Lobbying in the Nonprofit Sector

4 credits

MAPL 621 is a concentration course in the Advocacy and Political Leadership (MAPL) track within the Master of Public and Nonprofit Administration Program. Nonprofits are essential players in providing all people a voice at all levels of American government. This class focuses on one level of that government, the state, and specifically will follow and engage in the work of the 2015 Minnesota State Legislative Session. Students are expected to learn how lobbying works through closely tracking specific issues and learning from the advocates and lawmakers involved in those issues. Besides following issues, students are expected to learn in class about the skills required for direct lobbying and for grassroots organizing and advocacy, about media relations on issues, and about the rules governing direct lobbying for nonprofits.

Full course description for Advocacy, Organizing and Lobbying in the Nonprofit Sector

MAPL 660 The Impact of Art on Social Change Movements

4 credits

MAPL 660 is an elective course in the Advocacy and Political Leadership (MAPL) track within the Master of Public and Nonprofit Administration (MPNA) Program. Students committed to advocacy and political leadership will build an understanding of the importance of art in shaping political culture and major policy and political directions. We will examine the impact of art as a means of engaging the interest and influencing the political will and positions of targeted audiences.

Full course description for The Impact of Art on Social Change Movements

MAPL 661 Ethics in Policy, Politics and Advocacy

4 credits

MAPL 661 is an elective course in the Advocacy and Political Leadership (MAPL) track within the Master of Public and Nonprofit Administration (MPNA) Program. The course will develop a shared, rudimentary ethical code for participation in advocacy and political life. The course begins by examining classical ethical theory, from Plato on. Then we examine ethics in government, looking at the systems established to insure not that actors on the governmental stage do the right thing, but rather that they avoid the appearance of a conflict. The exercise in developing the code will combine these two ethical systems, one normative and the other procedural, in a single proscriptive document. The codes development will be informed by reading a few of the major political/ethical theorists, by dialogue with some of Minnesotas leading political/advocacy figures, and by case studies.

Full course description for Ethics in Policy, Politics and Advocacy

MAPL 662 The Legal System and Public Policy

4 credits

MAPL 662 is an elective course in the Master of Advocacy and Political Leadership (MAPL) Program. This class prepares advocates to understand the extent to which courts - or more precisely the issues confronting our legal system -- drive policy and social change. Students will develop practical skills to seek legal remedies for their constituencies, and strategies for knowing when to choose the courts instead of the legislative process.

Full course description for The Legal System and Public Policy

MAPL 668 Topics in Advocacy

4 credits

MAPL 668 is an elective course in the Master of Advocacy and Political Leadership (MAPL) Program. This course will provide students with in-depth insight into timely political advocacy issues of the day. Students will become proficient in the context, the arguments, and the specific techniques used to advocate for and against these specific issues.

Full course description for Topics in Advocacy

Advocacy in the Public Sector concentration (12 credits)

MAPL 640 and MAPL 641 or an approved course, plus one of the remaining courses listed.

MAPL 640 Advocacy in the Public Sector: Service in the Elective Branch

4 credits

MAPL 640 is the first of two required segments of the Concentration, Advocacy in the Public Sector. The class prepares students who have or will have careers in the elected branches of government, at the local, regional, state or national level. Those careers can be either as elected members of councils, boards, the Legislature or Congress themselves, or as staff to those elected. Familiarizes students with three essential skills for persons interested in such careers, instruction on understanding and using public opinion measurement, instruction on best practices for those operating as staff to elected or appointed officials, and instruction on media relations in a political setting; all three skills-oriented segments will be taught by guest lecturers with outstanding credentials; the first and last three-hour periods of the class will discuss the ethical dimensions of working in the political realm. The course is always offered in the Spring Semester, to coincide with Minnesota's…

Full course description for Advocacy in the Public Sector: Service in the Elective Branch

MAPL 641 Advocacy in the Public Sector: Service in the Executive Branch

4 credits

MAPL 641 is a concentration course in Master of Advocacy and Political Leadership (MAPL) Program. This is the second of two required segments of the MAPL concentration, Advocacy in the Public Sector, designed for use by students wishing to work in government. This class prepares students who have or will have careers in the executive branches of government, at the local, regional, state or national levels as elected officials, as political staff to these various elected officials, or as members of the bureaucracy. Students will become familiarized with how to find and use the best administrative practices as they related to personnel, resource and information management, with special emphasis on finding innovative solutions to management problems.

Full course description for Advocacy in the Public Sector: Service in the Executive Branch

MAPL 661 Ethics in Policy, Politics and Advocacy

4 credits

MAPL 661 is an elective course in the Advocacy and Political Leadership (MAPL) track within the Master of Public and Nonprofit Administration (MPNA) Program. The course will develop a shared, rudimentary ethical code for participation in advocacy and political life. The course begins by examining classical ethical theory, from Plato on. Then we examine ethics in government, looking at the systems established to insure not that actors on the governmental stage do the right thing, but rather that they avoid the appearance of a conflict. The exercise in developing the code will combine these two ethical systems, one normative and the other procedural, in a single proscriptive document. The codes development will be informed by reading a few of the major political/ethical theorists, by dialogue with some of Minnesotas leading political/advocacy figures, and by case studies.

Full course description for Ethics in Policy, Politics and Advocacy

MAPL 662 The Legal System and Public Policy

4 credits

MAPL 662 is an elective course in the Master of Advocacy and Political Leadership (MAPL) Program. This class prepares advocates to understand the extent to which courts - or more precisely the issues confronting our legal system -- drive policy and social change. Students will develop practical skills to seek legal remedies for their constituencies, and strategies for knowing when to choose the courts instead of the legislative process.

Full course description for The Legal System and Public Policy

MAPL 663 Campaigns and Elections

4 credits

MAPL 663 is designed to give students an in-depth and practical look at the campaigns necessary to win elections. In combination with guest lecturers, the class will look at both local, state and national campaigns and elections. Students will examine case studies if what has and has not worked and will hear firsthand from the people who were on the scene and making decisions. Students will also be exposed to the mechanics and operation of running a campaign for local office.

Full course description for Campaigns and Elections

MAPL 668 Topics in Advocacy

4 credits

MAPL 668 is an elective course in the Master of Advocacy and Political Leadership (MAPL) Program. This course will provide students with in-depth insight into timely political advocacy issues of the day. Students will become proficient in the context, the arguments, and the specific techniques used to advocate for and against these specific issues.

Full course description for Topics in Advocacy

Labor Organizing and Leadership concentration (12 credits)

MAPL 630 and MAPL 631 or an approved course, plus one of the remaining courses listed

MAPL 631 Labor and the Political Economy

4 credits

MAPL 631 is a labor concentration course in the Master of Advocacy and Political Leadership (MAPL) Program. The course will study the history and current status of collective bargaining issues through the lens of the political economy, i.e. the intersection of economics and politics. Early sessions of the course will provide a theoretical and historical grounding in basic concepts in the political economy of labor, both generally and in the specific context of the United States. In later classes, we will consider a number of contemporary political-economic issues in light of these concepts, issues like the minimum wage, the right to work, and whether employees should have any control over the compensation for and conditions of their jobs. Students will examine and debate these issues from several political-economic perspectives.

Full course description for Labor and the Political Economy

MAPL 621 Advocacy, Organizing and Lobbying in the Nonprofit Sector

4 credits

MAPL 621 is a concentration course in the Advocacy and Political Leadership (MAPL) track within the Master of Public and Nonprofit Administration Program. Nonprofits are essential players in providing all people a voice at all levels of American government. This class focuses on one level of that government, the state, and specifically will follow and engage in the work of the 2015 Minnesota State Legislative Session. Students are expected to learn how lobbying works through closely tracking specific issues and learning from the advocates and lawmakers involved in those issues. Besides following issues, students are expected to learn in class about the skills required for direct lobbying and for grassroots organizing and advocacy, about media relations on issues, and about the rules governing direct lobbying for nonprofits.

Full course description for Advocacy, Organizing and Lobbying in the Nonprofit Sector

MAPL 660 The Impact of Art on Social Change Movements

4 credits

MAPL 660 is an elective course in the Advocacy and Political Leadership (MAPL) track within the Master of Public and Nonprofit Administration (MPNA) Program. Students committed to advocacy and political leadership will build an understanding of the importance of art in shaping political culture and major policy and political directions. We will examine the impact of art as a means of engaging the interest and influencing the political will and positions of targeted audiences.

Full course description for The Impact of Art on Social Change Movements

MAPL 661 Ethics in Policy, Politics and Advocacy

4 credits

MAPL 661 is an elective course in the Advocacy and Political Leadership (MAPL) track within the Master of Public and Nonprofit Administration (MPNA) Program. The course will develop a shared, rudimentary ethical code for participation in advocacy and political life. The course begins by examining classical ethical theory, from Plato on. Then we examine ethics in government, looking at the systems established to insure not that actors on the governmental stage do the right thing, but rather that they avoid the appearance of a conflict. The exercise in developing the code will combine these two ethical systems, one normative and the other procedural, in a single proscriptive document. The codes development will be informed by reading a few of the major political/ethical theorists, by dialogue with some of Minnesotas leading political/advocacy figures, and by case studies.

Full course description for Ethics in Policy, Politics and Advocacy

MAPL 662 The Legal System and Public Policy

4 credits

MAPL 662 is an elective course in the Master of Advocacy and Political Leadership (MAPL) Program. This class prepares advocates to understand the extent to which courts - or more precisely the issues confronting our legal system -- drive policy and social change. Students will develop practical skills to seek legal remedies for their constituencies, and strategies for knowing when to choose the courts instead of the legislative process.

Full course description for The Legal System and Public Policy

MAPL 668 Topics in Advocacy

4 credits

MAPL 668 is an elective course in the Master of Advocacy and Political Leadership (MAPL) Program. This course will provide students with in-depth insight into timely political advocacy issues of the day. Students will become proficient in the context, the arguments, and the specific techniques used to advocate for and against these specific issues.

Full course description for Topics in Advocacy

Internships (4 credits)

Required for MAPL degrees.

MAPL 650I Masters in Advocacy and Political Leader Internship

1-4 credits

MAPL 690 is a required internship course in the Advocacy and Political Leadership (MAPL) track within the Master of Public and Nonprofit Administration (MPNA) Program. Students will take 180 hours of supervised direct experience with an individual or organizational sponsor in advocacy. A written agreement specifying the work the student will complete, a supervisor evaluation, and a capstone paper, evaluated by the program, that describes what the student has learned about advocating for policy change, are required at the completion of the internship credits.

Full course description for Masters in Advocacy and Political Leader Internship