Aug. 24, 2023

‘This degree has prepared me for my career’

NDSU’s master of public policy program, launched in 2022, provides rigorous training that meets regional, national and international needs for policy design and program evaluation. Students in the program work with faculty to understand complex problems and build definitive solutions.

Students interested in the program can choose from two different routes: accelerated or traditional. The accelerated option allows undergraduate students to complete their political science major and public policy master’s degree in a total of five years. Those in the traditional program finish their undergraduate degree first, then embark on their master’s. 

Current students recently shared why they joined the new program and the experience they’ve had as they prepare for successful careers in public policy. Courtney, Jason and Kaden are enrolled in the accelerated program and Crystal and Jonathan are going the traditional route.


Courtney Entzi

Scheduled graduation date
: May 2024

Hometown: Mandan, North Dakota

I knew I wanted to join the Master of Public Policy program when I found out I could continue to learn from my amazing professors, save money and graduate earlier with the accelerated option. The program is designed to take you through a policymaker's role, and every class has taught me an important step in the policy making process. I want to be able to do as much good as I can, and I’ve learned the importance of making decisions that are backed by research, to hopefully minimize any risk or harm. The mutual respect between faculty and students at NDSU has been so important to my success. The faculty have designed classes that are tough, but they are incredible educators who have pushed me to be my best and make it incredibly rewarding to learn.

Campus involvement: I’m in NDSU Pre-law Club, NDSU College Democrats, Young Democratic Socialists of America and I work as a contributing writer for the NDSU Spectrum. 

Career Goals: I am considering applying to law school after graduation. I have experience in the political realm and am also interested in labor and employment law, so my goal is finding a career that allows me to work in both of those areas. My dream job is at a nonprofit or advocacy agency lobbying for policy change and providing legal aid.


Jason Fincel

Scheduled graduation date
: May 2025

Hometown: Grand Marais, Minnesota

My experience at NDSU has been amazing. The faculty are really invested in you and want you to succeed. They have helped me find internships, provided direction for research and have been very supportive of the direction I want to go. Other students in the program are all very supportive of each other and we are often looking for new ways to solve problems together. NDSU also has amazing resources, particularly the library, that make the academically rigorous parts of the program manageable. NDSU’s standards of critical thinking, creative problem solving and evidence-based solutions have set me up with the mentality needed to address the problems that we are faced with today. 

Campus involvement: I’m in student government and the North Dakota Student Association and Residence Life as a resident assistant. NDSU’s culture of belonging and making sure that everyone is heard and advocated for has left a profoundly positive mark on me. I will take that culture with me wherever I go after college.

Career goals: I am hoping to work either in the field of foreign policymaking or in the realm of city management. I am very excited to put my degree to good use and help devise solutions to problems we face on a societal and governmental level.


Kaden Felch

Scheduled graduation date
: May 2024

Hometown: Mandan, North Dakota

I chose the program at NDSU because I had a great relationship with the political science faculty and was really interested in policy work. The classroom sizes help facilitate great conversations and the faculty members each have their own strengths in many areas, providing a very well-rounded education. The faculty has been a large part of my success as they helped me transition into a new major and find opportunities outside of class that have offered great experiences. They are always available to discuss questions or issues and consistently challenge me to move forward. NDSU has made this degree so accessible and has prepared me for my future career.

Campus involvement: I am the President of NDSU College Democrats and attend Black Student Association meetings. My favorite thing to do on campus is to go to club meetings and look through books on the top floor of the library.

Career goals: I aspire to support labor unions through policy work and to raise union membership numbers in the United States. 


Crystal Goodman

Scheduled graduation date
: May 2024

Hometown: Minneapolis, Minnesota

NDSU has challenged me in ways that have shaped my knowledge and I am so thrilled to be back and learning from my professors again. I thought this program would be a good fit for the nonprofit work I wish to do in the world as I learn to become an expert in my field and successfully create nonprofit policies and programs. I enjoy every single class I take and I have learned a wealth of information about how the world works. I have spoken to people who do similar work in the community and they were very pleased with the knowledge I have already acquired. The faculty bring out the best in me and their honest feedback has sharpened me in so many ways. The program is a great fit for students interested in government or the nonprofit world.

Campus involvement: I am so proud to be a graduate student here. I received a graduate assistantship at the NDSU Graduate School which has made my life so much easier. I was a member of the Black Student Association while completing my undergraduate degree. That’s also when I began volunteering and working with children. I love the work that student organization introduced me to.

Career goals: I will run my own nonprofit. My goal in life is to help children succeed. I want to implement policies and programs that help children read better and become the best version of themselves. I am a first-generation college student and I wanted to prove to myself that I could go to graduate school and inspire those around me that it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.


Jonathan Ross

Scheduled graduation date
: May 2024

Hometown: Bath, Maine

I’m an army veteran and have always been passionate about veteran healthcare and veteran suicide. The faculty thought the public policy program would be a great opportunity for me to learn the skills to be able to pursue that. The program has a lot of potential and the students and faculty in it are very motivated. The faculty are so easy to talk to and I feel like they know me. I try to hold myself to high standards and they do, too. I have a family and they understand I have a lot to balance. If I hit a roadblock, they are great at responding so I can continue my work. Most of the students have different areas of expertise that we’re pursuing and the professors will do extra research to make sure we are on the right track. If someone thinks something should be improved or modified, this program can teach them how to try and change it. Policy can seem daunting, but we learn how to do it in steps. By the end of the year, we’ve written a 70-page paper ready to present to a legislature or corporation.

Campus involvement: I’m on the executive board of the Veteran Alliance Organization at NDSU and am one of the founding members of Bison Student Veterans. We want to help students with military backgrounds connect with people and veterans on campus who might better understand their circumstances. 

Career Goals: I would like to work for Veterans Affairs and work on veteran’s suicide policy. I’d like to stay in this area because my family really likes it. Fargo isn’t a big city or small town – it’s the right size for us.


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