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Advocacy and Political Leadership (MAPL)

About The Program

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MAPL Program Overview

The Master’s in Advocacy and Political Leadership (MAPL) is a cohort program that accepts new students in fall and spring semesters. MAPL courses are designed to help students learn how to ethically bring about social change and influence public policy. Advocacy and Political Leadership graduate degree courses offer a combination of theory and practice to help students gain 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.

Three MAPL concentrations are available to students seeking to become true masters in public leadership:

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

Students can also opt for a general Advocacy and Political Leadership degree without a concentration.

MAPL classes are almost universally face-to-face. Four core courses, offered in sequence to MAPL cohort members, are held Friday evenings. In total, there are 11 class meetings each semester, and classes for degree-designated concentrations are offered on Saturday mornings and afternoons.

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. They are leaders in their fields of advocacy and leadership, and draw from these life experiences as they teach. MAPL faculty also welcome the knowledge and insights from their students as part of the learning experience for everyone in the classroom.

The Advocacy and Political Leadership master’s degree was offered at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) from 2002-2015, prior to relocating to Metro State University. MAPL has more than 220 alumni, approximately four fifths of whom are working in the advocacy field. Two thirds of alumni 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, and many serve as true masters in public leadership.

Then-candidate Biden meeting with MAPL graduate Mark Goethel

Mark Goethel '21, alumnus of the Masters of Advocacy and Political Leadership degree program, was featured on President Joe Biden's official Facebook page as part of the President's announcement of his "Buy American Executive Order." In fall 2020, during an event on the campaign trail, Mark had the opportunity to speak with then-candidate Biden about his thoughts on the importance of creating good union jobs in the clean energy sector. "Thanks to my MAPL experience, I felt well-prepared to advocate for my union, for green jobs, and to take full advantage of this unique opportunity," Mark says. With the MAPL program, it is Metro State’s goal to prepare students to become leaders and advocates in society and public life.

MAPL Student Outcomes

Upon completion of the MAPL degree, students will be able to demonstrate skills and knowledge in the following five areas:

1) 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, MAPL 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

2) 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, MAPL 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 and current opportunities and constraints for political effectiveness
• Understand the diverse forces that have shaped civic life in the United States

3) Leadership - Understand different leadership types and styles, as well as demonstrate personal leadership self-awareness.

Specifically, MAPL 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 effectively use one’s strengths to move advocacy projects forward

4) Communications - Effectively advocate and communicate in different social change endeavors and forms.

Specifically, MAPL students will be able to:

• Write media plans that include press conferences, social media campaigns, and other tools relevant for bringing about action on one’s interests
• Create effective public presentations

5) Ethics and Values - Develop personal and institutional values that uphold the following civic values: open-mindedness, civic negotiation, human dignity, social justice, and public good.

Specifically, MAPL students will be able to:

• Understand the MAPL code of ethics
• Demonstrate action that is consistent with their code of ethics

Want More Information?

Metro State provides an inclusive urban atmosphere on campus where students of all backgrounds thrive. Wherever you are on your education journey, our innovative student-centered programs with award-winning faculty and committed staff work to help you succeed.

To learn more about the MAPL degree and program, email Adrienne Falcón, director of Advocacy and Political Leadership and chair of the Department of Public and Nonprofit Leadership. Additional contacts for MAPL program information are Megan Brown, assistant professor of Advocacy and Political Leadership, and Scott Cooper, assistant professor of Advocacy and Political Leadership.

How to enroll

Program eligibility requirements

MAPL accepts new cohorts each fall and spring semester and limits the number of students in each new cohort to approximately 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

Metro State University is participating in the common application for graduate programs (GradCAS). Applications are only accepted via the CAS website.

CAS steps

  1. Select the term for which you are seeking admission (below), and navigate to the CAS website. Open applications include:
  2. Create or log in to your account and select the Advocacy and Political Leadership (MAPL) program.
  3. Carefully review all instructions and complete all four sections of the application.

Specific application requirements for individual programs can be found on each program page in CAS. Carefully read the instructions that appear throughout the application pages. You can only submit your application once. If you need to update information you have submitted, please notify

Application fee

A nonrefundable $38 fee is required for each application.
Applications will not be processed until this fee is received.

Active-duty military, veterans, and Metro State alumni can receive an application fee waiver. Contact

Courses and Requirements



At the beginning of their first semester new students should plan to attend an orientation that will introduce them to other students, alumni, and faculty as well as provide important information to navigate University systems and succeed in their graduate studies.

Transfer Credits

Once admitted, students may transfer up to 8 graduate level credits into the MAPL program. This coursework must be relevant to their degree and career plans and have not been already used in the pursuit of a different degree. Coursework used for certificates are eligible for transfer. Courses are accepted in transfer upon the approval of a Graduate Program Director.

Academic Standing

Students must remain in satisfactory academic standing to continue in the MAPL program. A cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 is required for graduation and only courses for which a letter grade of C (2.0) or better is received count toward degree requirements. The option of a competence/no competence with a narrative transcript is not available to MAPL students.

Students that do not remain in satisfactory academic standing must meet with their advisor. Students may repeat courses if they receive a grade below a C. Only the higher grade (if the course is repeated once) or highest grade (if the course is repeated twice) is used in computing the grade point average.

To Maintain Satisfactory Academic Standing

Full policies on how to progress through and succeed in the MAPL program are available on the program D2L site.

Requirements (40 credits)

+ Core (16 credits)

These four core MAPL classes are taken in sequence, with cohort members only. These courses are required for all MAPL students.

First Semester

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 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 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 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

+ Capstone (4 credits)

The fifth required course is the MAPL Capstone in Advocacy, Policy Research and Organizing. This course may be taken by any students who have completed MAPL 610 and MAPL 611.

+ Electives (20 credits)

Students must take 20 credits of electives, in addition to the five core classes. Students may choose to focus on a concentration in nonprofit or public sector advocacy or labor organizing, if they wish, and they can design their own path through their electives. Students can take up to 8 credits from other relevant graduate-level courses at Metro State University with the approval of a faculty advisor.

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 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

Fundraising for Nonprofits and Advocacy offers a broad overview of fundraising tools and strategies. Students will learn about different fundraising models and develop practical skills for fundraising to support a variety of types of organizations and campaigns. The course will explore events, donor appeals, grant writing, corporate sponsorships, and online fundraising, among other topics. The course design offers flexibility for students to focus on fundraising in the issue area and organizational type of their choice; they may focus on a chosen 501c3, 501c4, PAC or political campaign.

Full course description for Fundraising for Nonprofits and Advocacy

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 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 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 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 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 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 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 664 is an elective course in the Master of Advocacy and Political Leadership (MAPL) Program. This class focuses on the politics of sustainable development specifically surrounding transit and transportation, housing, community planning, business development, and the environment. Students will develop working knowledge of the legislative and legal processes surrounding sustainable development policy making at the local/state/federal levels: how development decisions are made, when they're made, by whom they're made, and how the decision making process works. Students will develop organizing and advocacy strategies to influence that policy process.

Full course description for Sustainable Development Policy and Advocacy

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

This class offers an introduction to the skills and basic concepts necessary for negotiation, with a focus on public interest negotiation. The course includes: lectures and readings on negotiation theory and practice; case studies of actual negotiations; and interactive negotiation exercises that will help students build negotiating skills. There are no prerequisites for this class.

Full course description for Public Interest Negotiation

+ Advocacy in the Nonprofit Sector concentration (8 credits)

Students who wish to complete this concentration must take both MAPL 620 and MAPL 621 as part of their 20 credits of electives.

+ Labor Organizing and Leadership concentration (8 credits)

Students who wish to complete this concentration must take both MAPL 630 and MAPL 631 as part of their 20 credits of electives.

+ Advocacy in the Public Sector concentration (8 credits)

Students who wish to complete this concentration must take both MAPL 640 and MAPL 641 as part of their 20 credits of electives.