Boxer, politician, degree holder: Manny Pacquiao proves that it’s never too late

education of manny pacquiao
Manny Pacquiao, Philippine boxing legend and presidential candidate received his master's degree from the Philippine Christian University (PCU) last Saturday. Source: Ted Aljibe/AFP

At 33 years old, Manny Pacquiao has achieved things in the ring that other fighters could only dream of. As the only eight-time world champion in the history of boxing, the Filipino boxer is easily one of the greatest fighters in the history of boxing.

Outside the ring, the world champion is an avid learner with a passion for politics. According to the South China Morning Post, he graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in political science (major in local government administration) from the University of Makati in 2019.

Pacquiao’s political career started with a failed congressional run in 2007. Three years later, he won a seat in the lower house of Congress, representing the southern Sarangani province. In 2016, the boxer was elected for a six-year term in the Senate, Al Jazeera reports.

Adding to his line of achievements, Pacquiao received his master’s degree from Philippine Christian University (PCU) last Saturday, where the former Senator took up a Master in Management (major in Public Administration). A Twitter post by the Senate showed he graduated along with about 30 Senate employees.

Manny Pacquiao: Never stop learning

Pacquiao proves to us that it is never too late to learn. When he finally obtained his bachelor’s degree, he wrote on Instagram about his pride in attaining his bachelor’s degree. Among his achievements, he credits the degree as his “most meaningful” success.

“Let us engrave this in our hearts: It is never too late to dream bigger dreams. It is never too late to accomplish our dreams. LIVE YOUR PASSION, not just for yourself, but for your family and our country,” he wrote.

In 2008, the welterweight legend enrolled in Notre Dame of Dadiangas University under its business management programme for two semesters, according to the university. 2019 would be the first time “Pacman” graduated with a full-fledged degree.

Considering that he still had to balance his political and boxing career during his undergraduate studies, Pacquiao’s success exemplifies the values of perseverance, grit, and discipline.

Pacquiao’s advice to his fans? “Let this victory outside the boxing ring serve as an inspiration for people who are struggling to fight, to rise above adversity, to conquer and to embrace life and all its difficulties,” he shares.

manny pacquiao

This photo taken on May 7, 2022 shows Philippine boxing icon and presidential candidate Manny Pacquiao raising a clinched fist during a campaign rally in General Santos City, on the southern island of Mindanao. Source: AFP

How you can pursue a Master of Public Administration like Manny Pacquiao

A Master of Public Administration (MPA) is a professional degree that is suited for aspiring leaders in the public and non-profit sectors. In Pacquiao’s case, he was a senator. Hence, an MPA would have helped him to navigate his political career.

Generally, an MPA combines traditional business and finance courses with public policy courses to prepare students to serve in high-level positions in government. You’ll learn how to think strategically about leading organisations in a competitive political environment, learn the fundamentals of financial management, analyse common administrative problems, and many more. 

If you wish to serve in the governments of Asia, consider studying at the National University of Singapore (NUS). Qualified MPA students can pursue a double degree, either with NUS Law School or NUS Business School — allowing them to get the best out of both worlds. You can also choose a maximum of two elective modules offered in other postgraduate programmes. The downside is it can get pretty pricey to live in Singapore and scholarships are competitive.

Alternatively, you can choose to study in Singapore’s neighbouring country, Malaysia. The country’s oldest institution, University Malaya, was featured in the top 100 in the QS World University Rankings 2023 (70th), and they offer a Master of Public Administration by Coursework. Paired with a low cost of living, this university would be an affordable option for those who want to pursue their MPA.