UNCP’s MPA program in demand


Success is a mix of good planning and good timing.

Nicholas GiannatasioDr. Nicholas Giannatasio, director of UNC Pembroke’s fast-growing Master of Public Administration (MPA), describes the program’s success as an idea whose time has come, an example of when “a need meets an opportunity.”

The 15-year-old program has more students currently enrolled, 115, than it has alumni. 113.

“We are an idea whose time has come,” Dr. Giannatasio said. “We have the right product at a time when people in this region are realizing they need this type of public management training.”

The program, that trains managers for the public sector, had only a handful of students when Dr. Giannatasio took the reigns, and good planning has also played an important role, said Dr. Roger Brown, provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs.

“We learned through planning that a serious need exists in our state for more professional training in the public service sector,” Dr. Brown said. “I am pleased that my own faculty appointment is in the MPA program. It is a degree program that trains our students to manage programs and services in the best interests of the taxpayers and the communities that we serve.”

“The MPA faculty also stepped forward when we sought to develop international degree programs. Our first ever graduates of a program delivered in another country will be at the China University of Mining and Technology,” he said. “As of next year, those graduates will hold MPA degrees from UNC Pembroke.”

Dr. Giannatasio recited enrollment numbers and new programs.

“We have 90 students enrolled in our new online program, and 36 in the daytime program which is only three semesters old,” he said. “We will begin our international program in January at Harbin Normal State University in China.”

The MPA program can be completed completely online or in a night program. Under Dr. Giannatasio’s leadership the program’s focus has changed and the changes keep coming.

“We offer two concentrations – in health administration and criminal justice – which are very popular,” he said. “This spring, we will add an emergency management concentration, which will be a relatively unique product in higher education.”
With very few emergency management programs, even at the undergraduate level, Dr. Giannatasio expects online enrollment to come from across the nation.

What’s next for UNCP’s fastest growing graduate program?

“We have a few more ideas waiting in the wings,” Dr. Giannatasio said. “A doctoral program is a logical next step.”