Select Page

News & Updates

Stay up to date on all things UWO Sociology!

May 10, 2024 


University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Department of Sociology & Public Administration Launches Innovative “4+1” MPA Program

Only Such Program in Wisconsin

Oshkosh, WI – The Master of Public Administration (MPA) program at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh (UWO) was established 1972 to meet the needs of employees in public, nonprofit, and health care agencies interested in enhancing their administrative knowledge and skills.

It is now largest MPA program in Wisconsin and offered completely online, with emphases in General Public Administration, Nonprofit Leadership and Leadership, Fire and Emergency Administration and Management, and Health Agency Administration. It has an extensive network of alums that help provide excellent job placement opportunities.

The MPA program recently joined forces with the undergraduate Sociology program at UWO to create an innovative, accelerated dual-degree pathway.

It is known as a “4+1” program because students have the opportunity complete a substantial portion of their MPA graduate work while still undergrads, with those credits likewise counting towards their Bachelor’s degree. This allows them to complete their undergrad and graduate degrees in as little as 5 years.

It is the only such program in Wisconsin and one of the only in the entire Midwest.

According to UWO MPA program director Dr. Michael Ford, “Our new Sociology to MPA 4+1 program connects public-service minded undergraduates with a longstanding professional degree program. This program will strengthen the talent pipeline of public service professionals working to improve Wisconsin communities and their residents.”

Michael Ford

Dr. Paul Van Auken, chair of the UWO Department of Sociology & Public Administration, worked closely with Ford and two other colleagues – Drs. Anna Filipova and Juyeon Son –from a department subcommittee to develop the program plan and curriculum, in consultation with the university’s registrar Jenny Bonack and Dr. Kathy Zuckweiler, Dean of Graduate Studies at UWO.

According to Van Auken, it is quite common for Sociology graduates to pursue careers in public service, various educational settings, and health-related fields. “We’re very excited about this partnership,” he said. “It’s a natural fit, and the  4+1 will create a quicker path to the leadership roles that so many of our alums eventually land in.”

Paul Van Auken

To pursue this opportunity, undergraduate Sociology majors or minors declare the Public Administration emphasis within Sociology and apply to the 4+1 program during their junior year. This involves taking multiple MPA courses, such as Introduction to Public Administration and Leadership & Ethics, during their senior year.

Though approved only very recently, the Public Administration emphasis already has its first student, Jelani Lawson, a junior from Kenosha who is a Sociology major and African American Studies minor. “The main factor in me choosing to pursue the Public Administration emphasis,” said Lawson, “comes from my desire to help socially and economically marginalized people; specifically, through community organizing within local and state government programs.

Lawson, who also runs track and cross country for UWO and helped revive the local chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity after 20 years of dormancy, noted, “Throughout my time here as a sociology major, I’ve grown to realize that I am privileged in many ways, and I want to give back to those who have less opportunities than I had growing up.” He continued, “I believe UWO’s new Public Administration emphasis will best equip me for that field of work.” 

Lawson added, “I believe this will also satisfy my craving to challenge myself by taking two MPA classes in the upcoming 2024-2025 school year while still being enrolled as an undergraduate.” He will complete the emphasis in the fall 2024 semester and then consider the option to go forward with the full MPA program after he has this initial grad-level experience under his belt.

Jelani Lawson

Olivia Madrigrano, another junior Sociology major who also happens to be from Kenosha, is currently applying for the program. “As a sociology major, joining a 4+1 program in public administration offers me a unique opportunity to bridge the gap between understanding societal dynamics and implementing effective policies,” said Madrigrano. She continued, “By combining my knowledge of social structures and behaviors with practical skills in governance, I think I could make a real impact in addressing social issues and creating positive change within communities.”

Olivia Madrigrano

The MPA program at UWO is indeed not only about helping produce changemakers that work for the common good but is also very practical and career oriented.

“I am interested because from what I’ve heard, this program sounds like I’d be set up with a diverse set of skills,” according to Madrigrano, “getting me ready for roles where I can really make a difference in how society functions.”

Learn more: 

Dr. Paul Van Auken, Chair, UWO Department of Sociology & Public Administration;
Dr. Michael Ford, UWO MPA Program Director;

Most of the new department of Sociology & Public Administration (SPA) after the opening day awards ceremony, fall 2023. Jeremiah Bohr (second from left) received the Excellence in Mentoring Award from the College of Letters & Science (COLS) and Alphonso Simpson (far right in first row) received the Excellence in Diversity Leadership award from COLS. First row left to right: Sam Larson, Bohr, Juyeon Son, Simpson. Second row: Michael Ford, Paul Van Auken, Kenneth Jackson, and Greg Peter (Missing were Anna Filipova and Meghann Krueger, our former Department Assistant).

Students, faculty, staff, and alums gathered in downtown Oshkosh on September 13, 2023, to celebrate the new department, which is the result of Sociology and Public Administration merging.

Sociology majors Caprice Swanks and Nolan Race were excited on the first day of classes. (September 6, 2023)

Sociology Potluck and Awards 2021

Sociology Potluck and Awards 2021

We had a great time at our annual Sociology Potluck and Awards get-together! This year the Greg Olsen Student Service Award went to Alyssa Wastradowski, and the Don Martin Distinguished Sociology Scholar Award went to Kyle Gretz....

read more

Department of Sociology & Public Administration

(920) 424-2030
Sage Hall, Room 3003 or 3464

About Us




Contact Us