A Master of Public Administration is a graduate degree that prepares professionals for leadership roles in government, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and nonprofit organizations. Degree curriculum combines elements of an MBA and a Master of Public Policy with organizational theory, strategic management and ethics subject matter. A quality MPA program is ideal for action-oriented leaders dedicated to serving the public. The degree can typically be completed in two years of full-time study, however online programs may provide greater flexibility, which can decrease the time it takes to complete the program.
There are three basic types of courses that comprise the MPA curriculum. The first teaches how to design, implement and evaluate public policy. Often this includes quantitative and qualitative research techniques. Secondly, management courses focus on how to manage not just people, but all of the required resources to solve problems and meet organizational goals. Lastly, an MPA will help professionals hone leadership skills through courses on ethics, decision making and accountability. Budgeting and effective communication are also essential to managing in the public sector.
Public administration programs accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA) feature a variety of concentrations from which candidates can choose according to their intended career tracks. Students may choose to specialize in nonprofit operation, public health, urban affairs, criminal justice or environmental management.
In short, an MPA degree will provide those already working – or those who aspire to a career – in federal, state or local government, public education, community development, healthcare or military leadership with the values, knowledge and skills necessary to be ethical, knowledgeable and creative public-service professionals.
MPA graduates emerge from the program with a broad skill set applicable to several spheres of employment. An MPA can help make candidates competitive in any career that serves the public and promotes the general welfare of neighbors, communities, nations and the world. A few brief examples, compiled from data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), include:
Earning a Master of Public Administration degree can expand the professional horizons of anyone with a passion for serving the public. It is a welcome challenge for those who seek to learn how to more effectively shape a brighter future for our communities and our world.