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In as little as five years, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh students could cross the graduation stage with both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in a new, first-in-the-Midwest “4+1” program.

The Sociology & Master of Public Administration (MPA) 4+1 is the latest advancement from the now-fused UWO Sociology & Public Administration department. Faculty leaders joined forces to blaze the accelerated, dual-degree pathway that helps learners earn both career-oriented degrees flexibly and quickly.

Michael Ford

“The Sociology-to-MPA 4+1 program connects public-service minded undergraduates with a longstanding professional degree program,” UWO MPA Program Director Michael Ford said. “The program will strengthen the talent pipeline of public service professionals working to improve Wisconsin communities and best serve their residents.”

Paul Van Auken, chair of the UWO department of Sociology & Public Administration, worked closely with Ford, department colleagues and the university’s Registrar and Graduate Studies leaders to develop the novel program plan and curriculum.

“We’re excited about this partnership,” Van Auken said, noting many Sociology graduates pursue careers in public service, educational settings and health-related fields. “It’s a natural fit, and the 4+1 combination creates a quicker path to the leadership roles that so many of our alums eventually ascend to.”

Paul Van Auken

To pursue the pathway, UWO undergraduate Sociology majors or minors declare the Public Administration emphasis within Sociology and apply to the 4+1 program during their junior year. This streamlined, accelerated journey allows undergraduate students to take multiple MPA courses, such as Introduction to Public Administration and Leadership & Ethics, during their senior year. By the end of year five, students are able to attain a bachelor’s degree in Sociology as well as an MPA degree.

Jelani Lawson was the first to sign up. The UWO junior from Kenosha pursuing a Sociology degree and African American Studies minor plans a career supporting socially and economically marginalized people.

Jelani Lawson

“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,” Lawson said. “I believe UWO’s new Public Administration emphasis will best equip me for that field of work. I also believe this will 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.”

UWO student Olivia Madrigrano, also of Kenosha, is ready to start the 4+1 program journey and sees its value in helping her pursue a rewarding career as a community change-agent.

Olivia Madrigrano

“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,” Madrigrano said. “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.”

The MPA program at UWO has a long history of success. It was established in 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 the largest MPA program in Wisconsin and offered completely online, with emphases in General Public Administration; Nonprofit Leadership; Health Agency Administration; and Leadership, Fire and Emergency Administration and Management. It boasts an extensive network of alumni that helps provide job placement opportunities for new graduates.

The mission of UWO’s Sociology program is to “provide a high-quality, inclusive educational experience that challenges and prepares students to become engaged and effective members of their communities; engages in interesting and relevant scholarship; and interacts regularly with stakeholders from wider communities, producing valuable public sociology.”

Graduates have successfully launched careers in public health, corrections, education, economic development and a spectrum of other fields. Nearly 25 percent of UWO Sociology graduates continue on for a graduate degree in fields such as sociology, law, organizational leadership and professional counseling.

Learn more:

4+1 Dual Degree Pathway

UWO Sociology

UWO Public Administration