Change through Direct Engagement | Master of Public Service at the Clinton School

What has always distinguished the Clinton School of Public Service from other public service and public affairs schools is that a significant portion of its curriculum is direct field service work. These “hands-on” field service projects range from local work in Arkansas communities to international projects on each of the world’s six inhabited continents and prepare students for the on-the-ground work of creating change in communities.

Why Field Service Matters

The Clinton School’s Master of Public Service (MPS) degree program requires each of its students to complete three field service projects in collaboration with partners locally, nationally, and internationally. By engaging in hands-on experiences and reflection, students are better able to apply theories and knowledge learned in the classroom to solve real-world problems. They emerge from these experiences confident and prepared for careers in public service leadership. 

Through these hands-on experiences, students gain an understanding of public service organizations and their networks, resources, stakeholders, and methods of service delivery. Field service allows students to participate in networking opportunities with diverse organizations and professionals across public, private, and nonprofit sectors. 

Students will also gain increased knowledge of ongoing and emerging public service issues that create a broader view of the world, its interconnectivity, and fosters an appreciation of community. The real-world experience field service offers will develop the skills and abilities to navigate the complexities and challenges faced in a public service leadership career while achieving sustainable social change. 

While coursework can provide some insight into a student’s interests and passions, fieldwork allows them to deep-dive into those interests to develop their own core values while gaining marketable experience. 

Field service promotes the vision of the Clinton School by emphasizing the practice of public service. Placing students in challenging environments gives them the opportunity to gain valuable experience and work with community leaders to help build healthy, engaged, and vibrant communities, both in Arkansas and around the world.

Field Service Projects at the Clinton School

Intensive experiential learning at the Clinton School goes far beyond conventional internships. Field experiences are fully integrated into your studies and carefully designed to increase in complexity and independence—reflecting your growth curve as a leader of change.

The Master of Public Service (MPS) degree program requires students to complete three courses where they engage in field projects:


The First Year Practicum is a closely mentored, team-based project in Arkansas – a state with a unique blend of urban and rural populations, a thriving business community, and a growing nonprofit sector. Throughout the year, students are challenged to become an integral part of the community they are serving.

The Practicum project takes student teams into local areas to foster community development and social change in economic development, environmental awareness, public education, youth leadership development, and health improvement. This primary field service project fosters teamwork and the direct application of classroom skills.

Examples of project work include but are not limited to:

  • Designing and conducting surveys, interviews, and focus groups;
  • Facilitating public discussions and/or building stakeholder coalitions;
  • Conducting best practice research;
  • Conducting needs assessments to identify problems and recommend appropriate solutions.

For additional information on Practicum or one of the other two field work experiences, please contact Dr. Nichola Driver, Faculty Director for the Office of Field Service, at

International Public Service Project

The International Public Service Project (IPSP), which is supported by a stipend, is an individual, 8-10 week experience in the summer term. You can tap into the Clinton School’s extensive network of overseas partnerships as well as domestic organizations that have a global mission.

The IPSP provides students with the opportunity to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom by testing their newly developed skills in a setting that stretches the boundaries of their existing cultural experiences, fostering academic, professional, and personal growth.

All students choose an international project that builds on the knowledge and skills they gained in their first two semesters at the Clinton School and their prior academic and public service experiences. Students spend the spring semester researching and developing a plan before their projects begin, which is then approved by the faculty director and the partnering organization.

To learn more, contact Tiffany Jacob at


The Capstone Project culminates a student’s studies with an in-depth, on-site project focused on understanding and transforming complex systems. The Capstone Project challenges students to put their learned skills into action and complete an in-depth public service project to benefit local and state government or nonprofit organizations. Many students combine their Capstone with an employment opportunity, and others see their projects lead directly to full-time positions.

The Capstone employs an independent study format overseen by a Clinton School faculty advisor. Through their Capstone, students will:

  1. Apply the knowledge, skills, and values from the MPS program in a sophisticated way to a real-world problem or challenge;
  2. Understand, engage, and seek to transform systems across sectors; and
  3. Produce a deliverable that meets an identified community need and exemplifies, in its product, the knowledge, skills, and values of the Clinton School curriculum.

Students have three (3) semesters to complete their Capstone once they enroll in the course.

The MPS Admissions Process

Admission to the Master of Public Service degree program is determined by several factors including academic background, public service experience, and personal vision for future public service contributions. The Clinton School is test-optional and there is no application fee.

All applicants should meet the minimum criteria for graduate studies at the University of Arkansas, which includes a 2.85 undergraduate GPA. The Clinton School welcomes academically and experientially qualified applicants of all ideologies, backgrounds, ages, and life experiences.

Ready to Make a Change?

For more information on the Clinton School’s field service projects or earning your master’s degree in public service, contact the Office of Admissions at or by calling (501) 683-5220.