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Competitive Students for a Competitive World: Public Service Management Graduate Program

Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership

Competitive Students for a Competitive World: Public Service Management Graduate Program

PSM
 
New York City thrives on competition. The well-worn clichés of what it takes to make it here are now more true than ever—and extend into the broader American marketplace. Celebrating its fifth year at The City College of New York, the Public Service Management (PSM) program at the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership, runs a rigorous Masters in Public Administration (MPA) degree program, preparing our students to be leaders in nonprofit organizations and government agencies across the city and the nation. 
 
Competitive Candidates
Newly minted graduates of both undergraduate and graduate programs are now expected to have gained considerable exposure to professional-level training before earning their degrees. Accordingly, the Colin Powell School is taking significant action to ensure our students receive internships and job placements that truly have students working. The PSM program is a prime model: while still in the program, students routinely balance the demands of a full-time MPA program while also entrenching themselves in the field. 
 
As one example, Sandy Guillaume, ’13, partnered with a professor at John Jay College to found a nonprofit organization that provides advocacy and services to those affected by HIV/AIDS, drug use, and homelessness. 
 
Other students display their pride and belief in the mission of the program and school by eventually working for the school. Both Evan Mastronardi, ’15, Finance Associate, and Nkemakonam Ejoh, ’13, Development Coordinator, committed themselves to the project of getting the Colin Powell School off the ground and ensuring its financial health. Mastronardi assists in creating management systems to handle finance and budget concerns for the school. Ejoh, who in her senior capstone project developed a program in Ghana to build new schools, began working in a development capacity for the school just after its inauguration. She plays an instrumental role in securing the financial success of the school, utilizing the fundraising and grantwriting skills she developed during her time in the PSM program. 
 
Competitive Offerings
The PSM program has awarded MPA degrees to nearly 80 students since 2008. Every year, the program attracts more competitive applicants from within and outside of the CUNY system, and every year, the program remains lean and mean as they reduce costs without reductions in service. They’re also making advancements in improving student learning outcomes by experimenting with digital classrooms that improve scores in quantitative coursework. And they’re the only comparable program in the country that ensures its students are ahead of the game as communicators by partnering with the Media and Communication Arts department to provide a course on effective communication in marketing.
 
In addition to the core graduate program, the PSM program also manages two undergraduate programs: the Colin Powell School’s Semester in Washington, D.C., which houses excellent undergraduate students in the nation’s capital for a semester of studying and internships, and the Josh and Judy Weston Public Service Scholarships, which supports students who work while studying—committing to performing 400 hours per year of public service. 
 
Strength in Diversity
Mark Musell, director of the program, knows what employers are looking for, and understands the stamina and practical knowledge needed to compete in public management roles. He worked for over 25 years as an adviser to the U.S. Congress, making the jump to higher education in 2008 when he came to City College and launched the PSM program. 
 
“One of the program’s biggest assets is its diversity,” Musell said. “The two-year program is located in New York City’s celebrated and culturally rich neighborhood of Harlem, and our students are primarily students from underrepresented populations. Students of color and new Americans comprise only about a quarter of students enrolled in masters programs across the country; our program averages over 80 percent representation from these populations.” 
 
Often we hear talk about diversity in the context of evening the playing field, but Musell stresses a different side of that narrative, one that reflects the mission of the PSM program, the mission of the Colin Powell School, and the historic legacy of The City College of New York. “Our country,” he said, “deserves a workforce in public service and policy that reflects the full range of diversity that our students represent.”