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Center for New Directions in Politics and Public Policy

Master's Degree Program Overview


The Master’s Degree program is designed to prepare participants with the theoretical base and the applied competencies necessary for becoming effective leaders and agents of change in neighborhoods, communities, government, non-profits, and the broader private sector. The program culminates in a Master’s Degree in Political Science with an area of emphasis in politics and public policy. Throughout the program students study and are challenged to think critically about factors that guide leadership and change in Colorado and the nation as a whole, e.g., political behavior, political structures and functions, political phenomena, political ideas, political documents, and projections for the political future.

To complete the degree, students take a prerequisite course, Politics, Public Policy, and Leadership; 4 core courses; 4 electives; and the Master’s Project Independent study – the capstone of the student’s experience in the program. Below is a list of course titles; please see the Curriculum Page for additional explanation of the courses.

Core Courses

  • American Politics
  • American Political Thought
  • Local Governance and Globalization, or Comparative Public Policy
  • Research Methods for Political Science


  • Conflict Resolution and Public Consent Building
  • The Politics of the Budgetary Process
  • The Legislative Process
  • State Politics: Focus on Colorado
  • Public Priorities for the 21st Century
  • Beyond Political Correctness
  • Applied Leadership
  • Ethical Responsibilities of Leaders
  • Environmental Politics and Policy
  • Municipal Government and Administration
  • Organizational Change Agents
  • Political Psychology

The Master's Project comprises three semester hours of credit. The Research Methods for Political Science course helps the student to develop the research proposal for the Master's Project Independent Study. A faculty advisor/Project Committee chair provides additional guidance toward completion of the individually-devised Master's Project papers, expected to be 45-50 pages in length. Students are encouraged to utilize their Master’s Projects to address a real need, problem, or area of concern of a community or within a public or nonprofit entity.

Common Course Outcomes

All of the courses and the Master's Project will go beyond addressing the specific subject outcomes, to incorporating competency areas that are critical to leadership in a political environment. These "common course outcomes" are:

  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Changing Public Priorities
  • Political and Social Diversity
  • Ethical and Legal Accountability
  • Deductive and Inductive Reasoning
  • Applied Use of Appropriate Technology
  • Strategic Planning and Decision-Making
  • Resolution of Conflicts and Public Consent Building
  • Individual, Organizational, and Cultural Communication Effectiveness

Student Testimonials

"The NEW DIRECTIONS Master's Degree program stands alone in providing much needed graduate level education and training to public sector and non-profit employees in Southwest Colorado. The NEW DIRECTIONS Program is also valuable to persons interested in becoming more efficacious citizens." – Ashton N. Harrison (Graduate), Town Manager, Rico, CO

"As a working professional, the Center for NEW DIRECTIONS has provided me with a high quality, challenging educational alternative in obtaining my Master's Degree. In addition to the professors, I have enjoyed the opportunity to interact with and learn from other professionals who are also working in the field." – Carol Mehesy, After School Program Coordinator, CO Foundation for Families and Children, Denver, CO

"The NEW DIRECTIONS program is timely, cost-effective, high quality, and
ultimately practical. It leads from theory to the real world making it a most valuable post-graduate program. The professors are top quality." – Pat Senecal (Graduate), Assistant to the Town Manager, Ignacio, CO

"When I was investigating graduate programs I was excited to hear from past students that NEW DIRECTIONS graduate courses had provided both relevant and challenging classes that contributed to their success in the public sector. Interviewing these students I came to realize that many of the graduates of NEW DIRECTIONS are the most effective citizens working in the public sector on the Western Slope. Since NEW DIRECTIONS came so highly recommended, I chose to pursue my graduate degree at UC Denver with NEW DIRECTIONS and I have not been disappointed." – Tecumseh Burnett (Current Student), Community Activist, Durango, CO

"The students are from many age groups, cultural backgrounds, both rural and urban settings and have widely differing employment experiences. They are accepting of one another and seek the viewpoints of others who have first hand experience in areas they are unfamiliar with. I always look forward to attending the classes. The professors are realistic as opposed to totally theoretical, and I can always see how I can put the new information/skills to practical use in life. I enjoy it so much, and have talked about it with my grown kids so often that they are both considering the possibility of working on masters degrees in the same field!" – Diana Milner (Current Student), Researcher, Pueblo, CO

"Thus far, my educational experience with the Center for NEW DIRECTIONS has been pivotal in making positive changes in my career and my life. Class offerings are succinctly presented in a format which is current and pertinent to real world applications. More importantly, the information has been presented by professionals who are either currently in the trenches doing and or have numerous years of experience and expertise to share. In closing, I have and will continue to give the Center for NEW DIRECTIONS high marks for excellence and praise them on their continuing effectiveness." – Frank M. Kolb (Current Student), "Best and Brightest" Intern at the City of Evans, CO

"The Best and the Brightest" program has enabled me to further my education in a very progressive manner. This affordable program offers convenience in terms of both location and weekend format, frontline theory, small class sizes, responsive advisors, and is a good education decision for those in rural communities, on the outskirts of Colorado, who are interested in graduate level study in public policy." – Julie Jessen (Current Student), Administrative Intern, Pagosa Springs, CO

Click on the following links for more information about admissions, registration, class format and location, and tuition