Leadership in the Public Sector - Online and Distance Education

Leadership in the Public Sector

Undergraduate Certificates | Leadership in the Public Sector

Leadership in the Public Sector

Entrance Exam: Not Required

The Leadership in the Public Sector (LPS) Undergraduate Certificate is designed for those students who want to develop the knowledge and skills to be effective leaders in the public sector. Students in this program will survey leadership theories, research, and applied practices in order to learn and apply necessary skills, methods, and techniques of effective leadership in public and non-profit organizations. This certificate program is offered entirely online and available only for non-traditional or non-degree-seeking students.

The primary assumption of the program is that leading public and nonprofit organizations present a more challenging but ultimately more rewarding career than leadership in the private sector. The Leadership in the Public Sector Certificate program provides non-degree students with a liberal arts foundation in the ethical, theoretical, and policy analytical skills necessary to be effective “values-based” leaders in the public and non-profit organizations.

The 15-credit LPS certificate curriculum provides quality, focused leadership study for adult learners and military transfer students. The certificate program is delivered completely online, allowing students to gain academic knowledge that furthers their career goals without taking a leave of absence or adhering to a rigid class.

The Leadership in the Public Sector Certificate is housed in the School of Public and International Affairs, serving North Carolina State University’s mission “to create an innovative learning environment that stresses mastery of fundamentals, intellectual discipline, creativity, problem solving, and responsibility.”


Students pursuing university certificate programs enroll as non-degree studies (NDS) students for the purpose of university registration. Contact the LPS program to enroll in the LPS certificate student.

There is no time limit on completion of the certificate; however, if students wish to take a “break” from the certificate program, they must notify the LPS academic advisor. This will allow us to keep track of the number of enrolled certificate students.

Students who complete the certificate may apply for admittance to the Bachelor of Arts Online Degree Completion Program: Leadership in the Public Sector. If a certificate student completes this B.A. degree, then the certificate will be removed from their transcript, as students may not have a certificate or a minor concentration in the same area as their major degree.

Plan of Study

The University Undergraduate Certificate in Leadership in the Public Sector (LPS) requires 15 undergraduate credit hours (5 courses). Students pursuing only the university certificate program are considered non-degree studies (NDS) students for the purpose of university registration. NDS students may register for a maximum of six credit hours per semester. Thus, the certificate may take from three to five semesters to complete.

A grade of C (2.0) or better is required for each course taken in the certificate program, as well as a 2.66 overall cumulative GPA in all certificate courses. If a student drops below this GPA, the student may not continue in the program.

The program administrator will determine whether courses, which have been transferred from other institutions, qualify for the certificate. No more than one course transferred from other institutions may count toward the certificate.

Upon completion of the Leadership in the Public Sector Certificate, student will be able to:

  • Survey, evaluate and demonstrate an understanding of the concepts and theories of mainstream leadership;
  • Differentiate between leadership in public versus private organizations;
  • Examine the latest strategies for recruiting, developing, motivating, and evaluating personnel in public sector organizations;
  • Complete a comprehensive self-assessment of the student’s leadership characteristics;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the dimensions of ethical behavior in the public and non-profit sectors.
  • Understand how to design a study that matches one’s research agenda and minimizes threats to validity
  • Utilize analytical and research tools to recognize policy problems confronting public sector leaders


Interested in motivating volunteers, running for office or making an impact through local government or philanthropic organizations? Get a jumpstart on a rewarding career in the public and nonprofit sector with the Undergraduate Certificate in Leadership in the Public Sector.

Our Students Say

"Since I have a lot to juggle with a full home and work life, I knew that taking online classes on my own schedule would be important. What I didn’t expect was how crucial the discussion boards and interaction with my classmates would become. Being able to collaborate with fellow students and having instructors who really care about my success makes me feel like I’m making a valuable investment in my education."

- James Johnson
"I’m pleased to say that my coworkers can certainly tell a difference in my behavior — my responses to different situations and my attitudes are all better because of my LPS experience. A counselor said to me just last week that she could tell I was going to be a great leader because I cared and because I could get people to follow me for anything!"

- Amanda Buchanan
"I now have a job in the public sector, and they were really excited that I have the degree that I do… Personal experience plus the degree program has helped me a lot in this position. And I am constantly told that there are numerous opportunities throughout the organization if I want to do something different."

- Chelsa Williamson

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