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Applications open: ANZSOG’s Executive Master of Public Administration will help you strengthen your public sector career

17 July 2020

News and media


Katherine EMPA headshot


Applications for ANZSOG’s 2021 Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA) are now open, with a new cohort of emerging public sector leaders set to strengthen their professional skills and expand their thinking about the challenges facing the public sector.

The EMPA has a track record of producing confident, critical thinking public sector leaders with the skills required to manage complex challenges, take the next step in their careers and deliver value to the communities they serve. Students work collaboratively to build a network, and the nature of the program allows students to immediately apply new learnings and insights to their workplace, providing opportunities to share their learnings with others and ultimately provide greater value to their agency.

Since 2003, more than 70 EMPA students have gone on to hold roles as CEOs, secretaries or equivalent after completing the program.

ANZSOG Dean and CEO Professor Ken Smith said that the COVID-19 pandemic, and the extra demands it had placed on government, showed it was vital for future public sector leaders to understand the ‘big picture’ of public administration and develop strategic and critical thinking skills.

“In uncertain times like this, ANZSOG’s mission to improve public sector leadership is more important than ever. We are all subject to a significantly changed economic and budgetary environment, as well as the unique health, social and economic challenge of COVID-19.

“The EMPA degree is designed to meet the needs of ambitious and emerging public sector leaders operating at the state, territory or national level in Australia or at the local or national level in New Zealand. It is regularly reviewed to ensure it is contemporary, comprehensive and one of the highest quality public administration degrees globally.

“Importantly, the EMPA has been designed with significant government input, for government leaders, and features renowned global and domestic faculty, including academics and respected senior practitioners.”

About ANZSOG’s Executive Master of Public Administration

Tailored to fit around the lives of busy public servants, the EMPA explores the core principles of public sector management, including public value and systems thinking, in an inspiring blended learning environment. It will help you develop the strategic leadership capabilities you need to contribute at the highest levels of the public sector.

The EMPA is a two-year part-time postgraduate degree featuring eight core subjects and three electives.

The core subjects are delivered by ANZSOG and elective subjects are delivered by our conferring universities. Each subject consists of around 40 hours of instruction and at least 80 hours of study time, reading and assignment work.

The 2020 EMPA program has shifted online as a response to COVID-19. EMPA academic director Dr Chris Walker said the 2020 EMPA has “kept the mix of academic and practitioner expertise, and the depth and quality of that expertise that makes the EMPA an outstanding experience”.

“ANZSOG has worked with experienced eLearning designers and our Subject Leaders to develop an online delivery model that will continue to provide a world-class EMPA that centres on learning and collaboration.”

The 2021 EMPA is expected to be delivered through a dynamic blended learning approach, combining online classes with face-to-face learning and cross-jurisdictional networking opportunities.

Current EMPA faculty include:

Professor Janine O’Flynn, University of Melbourne and ANZSOG, Delivering Public Value
Professor Paul ‘t Hart, Utrecht University, Leading Public Sector Change
Professor Kimberley Isett, University of Delaware, Decision Making Under Uncertainty
Professor Ross Guest, Griffith University, Government in a Market Economy
Professor Arie Freiberg, Monash University, Governing By the Rules
Dr Zina O’Leary, University of New South Wales (adjunct), Work-Based Project
Professor Suresh Cuganesan, University of Sydney, Public Financial Management
Professor Michael Macaulay, Victoria University of Wellington, Managing Public Sector Organisations
Dr Jo Cribb, Managing Public Sector Organisations
Dr Christopher Walker, Designing Public Policies and Program, Associate Dean, University Relations, Director, Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA), University of New South Wales and ANZSOG

What current EMPA students think

The inaugural director of the Office for Women in Sport and Recreation in Victoria and current EMPA student, Dr Bridie O’Donnell is using what she learned from ANZSOG to level the playing field for women and girls in Victoria.

Dr Bridie O’Donnell, current student and Head, Office for Women in Sport & Recreation

“The EMPA’s diverse subjects have helped build confidence in my expertise and enabled me to become more secure in the messages and the policy we’re delivering. I feel much more capable of voicing my opinions and to challenge those who are critical,” Bridie said.

The course has helped her to understand how public servants can create opportunities and ensure the people they serve receive equal opportunities and access to essential services, such as health, education, a fair justice system, sport and recreation.

An “absolute highlight” of the program are the relationships and conversations with fellow students; 100 public servants representing different areas and jurisdictions across Australia and New Zealand.

“These people bring a brilliant array of perspectives and experiences and make for really fascinating and informative discussions in every subject we attend,” she said.

“By tapping into the experience of others we can be more efficient, we can save money, we can save time and we can amplify what we are doing.

“You call a person in NSW and say, ‘I’m working on X, you’ve mentioned that you’ve done that before. What roadblocks have you encountered? What should I look out for?’

“There is such a wide range of experience and perspective and everyone brings an enormous amount of value.”

Dan Craig – current student and Manager, Kindergarten Reform Implementation

Dan Craig, from the Victorian Department of Education and Training, began his EMPA this year to ensure he was ready for the next steps in his career. He said that the shift to online learning had been challenging but that ANZSOG had worked hard to ensure its students felt part of a team.

“The thing I’ve enjoyed most about the experience is the cohort and getting to know my peers and building up my network. It’s great having people across government who are nice, helpful, smart and who you can work with on policy issues that relate to your patch,” Dan said.

“I’ve probably got 10 or 20 good contacts across Victoria now – one or two in every department – where I can pick up the phone and call them and say, ‘I’ve got this problem who should I talk to?’, he said.

He said the EMPA had already begun to help him think more deeply about problems, how to build coalitions and partnerships, and how his worked fit into the broader picture of the public service.

“I think a lot more deeply about problems. It used to be: ‘I’ve got a problem and here’s the policy response’. Now I think: ‘How should I talk about the policy issues? What sort of language should I use? What sort of narrative should I use when talking to different people? It’s a different way of thinking,” he said.

What EMPA alumni think

Paulleen Markwort, Director, Aboriginal Strategy and Oversight at Department of Health & Human Services, Victoria, described her 2016 EMPA as a key milestone in her public service journey.

Paulleen Markwort, Director, Aboriginal Strategy and Oversight at Department of Health & Human Services

“ANZSOG has just given an expanded skillset and has enhanced what was already there, it has also given me the confidence to actually engage in conversations with people of all senior levels,” she said.

“I now understand how to navigate those relationships, identify the right levers and act on windows of opportunity, for the benefit of the people I’ve been trying provide a platform for, which is vulnerable Aboriginal people.

“Now, I truly understand what my purpose is, and I feel like I can be placed in a role and add value.”

Liem Ngo, Director, Program Coordination & Engagement at Transport for NSW, said his 2013 EMPA was a “fantastic experience”.

Liem Ngo, Director, Program Coordination & Engagement at Transport for NSW

“They take a really interactive approach to learning, drawing out discussions to help you apply the theory in a way that is relevant to government work.

“Hearing about the great work done in other parts of the public service was an inspiration and made me reflect on what I could do to make a bigger difference.’

Liem said the experiences and opportunities the EMPA provided have improved his ability to deliver for the public.

“My EMPA experience was a rich one. The course has opened my mind to the possibilities and given me the confidence to tackle the challenges we face to deliver for the community.”

Applications open: 2021 Executive Master of Public Administration