Why Get a Masters in Public Administration Degree

The purpose of this page about the Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree is to provide detailed information about this graduate program for students and professionals. The field of public administration is rewarding both financially and spiritually, as you have the opportunity to work on important public policies that can improve lives. There also is good demand for experienced MPA professionals: According to the 2013 Nonprofit Employment Trends Survey, almost 45% of nonprofits in the US added jobs in 2014.

For most graduates, earning the master of public administration degree will prepare you to take on leadership positions in many types of government agencies and nonprofit organizations. For example, MPA graduates hold positions as city managers, county executives, directors and administrators of nonprofit organizations, and policy experts.

Many high-ranking government officials and even U.S. Cabinet members have MPA degrees.

Although the MPA degree focuses on management in the political arena, some MPA graduates work for corporations or nonprofit organizations, especially those that consult for government agencies or deal with government agencies for licensing, funding, or regulatory issues.

This page also will provide data about why earning your MPA can benefit your future. Did you know that alumni from some of the top MPA programs often obtain important jobs at the Red Cross, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Clinton Global Initiative and other highffeat profile organizations?

You also will learn more about what exactly you will learn in an MPA program: Be prepared to learn how to make budgets, do statistical analyses, policy analyses and program evaluations. Further, you will learn how to both lead and manage public organizations.

Skills that will be essential for completing your MPA and working successfully in this field include:

  • Analytical skills that include mastery of qualitative and quantitative research methods.
  • Critical thinking so that you can examine and process important information, drawing logical conclusions from findings.
  • Strong writing skills are important so that you can write papers and reports on important public policy findings, which then may be used to influence stakeholders.

Please feel free to contact us if you need more information about MPA careers and programs; we are glad to help you.

MPA Degree Overview

A Master in Public Administration degree is often compared to an MBA, the difference being that the MPA is designed specifically for professionals who want to work exclusively in the public or nonprofit sector. An MPA degree will teach you, like the MBA, the leadership skills that are needed to run an organization. The difference is that the MPA degree is centered on a career in public service.

A graduate degree in public administration will give you the vital skills needed to implement progressive public policy, manage government programs, and drive necessary changes in society and communities.

As an MPA student, you will learn about the necessary core proficiencies that the best public service leaders need to succeed. Some of these proficiencies include:

  • Organizational management
  • Public and nonprofit finance
  • Human resources
  • Public law
  • Strategic communications
  • Program and policy evaluation

Featured Online MPA Degrees

The following universities offer a Masters of Public Administration (MPA) online without the GRE requirement:

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University of San Francisco (San Francisco, CA)

Listed as one of the top National Universities for 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.

Levels Offered:
Master’s Degree

Online Program Offered:
Online Master’s in Public Administration (MPA)

University of Massachusetts Boston (Boston, MA)

Earn your degree from a respected institution in as few as 24 months

Levels Offered:
Master’s Degree

Online Program Offered:
Online Global Comparative Public Administration, MPA

Norwich University (Northfield, VT)

Levels Offered:
Master’s Degree

Online Program Offered:
Online Masters of Public Administration MPA

Reasons to Earn an MPA Degree

Earning an MPA degree has several excellent benefits. One of the most important is that an MPA often gives you a means to get your foot in the door of many government agencies on the state or federal level. Government employment is extremely stable and dependable, generally speaking. Once you are working for a government agency, you can likely continue to work there for many years, and move up into higher responsibility and pay.

The pay for MPA degree holders is solid, but depends largely on the type of position you end up taking, which can vary widely. According to Payscale.com, these are some of the salary ranges reported for MPA degree holders in various jobs:

  • Executive Director: $61,825 – $178,400
  • Program Manager Non Profit: $47,846 – $59,496
  • City Manager: $51,395 – $122,829
  • Program Analyst: $51,097 – $88,251
  • Grants Manager: $45,846 – $64,094
  • Statistician: $46,000 – $65,000

According to a survey by the Evans School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington, MPA graduates enjoy a 31% salary increase.

Also, state and local government jobs will increase by 8% in the next 10 years, which is about average. Job prospects for managers with MPA degrees should be stronger, as many current managers will be retiring in the coming years.

Youtube Special Feature

Learn first-hand from MPA students how they are using the theories learned in the classroom and applying them to create an inclusive and equitable society. Their interests include all levels of government as well as nonprofits and international organizations. They use the experiences of the diverse student population to build a vibrant student community.

MPA Degree Course Requirements

Common classes you will take in an MPA degree program include:

  • Financial Accounting
  • Financial Management
  • Legal Environment of Business for MPAs
  • Financial Accounting Standards and Analysis
  • Introduction to Taxation
  • Information Technology for Accounting and Control
  • International Economics
  • Data Analysis for Public Policy
  • Policy Analysis
  • Managing Public Organizations

Educational Prerequisites

To earn your MPA degree, you should have some background in political science and government. Also, you should have had undergraduate courses in micro and macroeconomics. Having a good understanding of Excel spreadsheets also is very helpful.

MPA Career Outlook

Employment in the fields of political science and public administration will see 21% growth by 2022, which is faster than average. Employment is anticipated to increase due to more interest in political issues and public policy. Many political organizations, lobbying groups and government agencies will need more professionals who are experts in public policy and administration to manage complex regulatory matters and policies.

Median pay for political science specialists was $102,000 in 2012.

Some of the jobs available for people with an MPA are:

  1. Executive Director, Nonprofit — The executive director of a nonprofit organization oversees virtually every area of the organization, from creating and implementing programs to marketing and recruiting. The salary can range from less than $30,000 for a small nonprofit organization to $280,000 for some of the largest.
  2. Human Resources Manager — A human resource manager hires new staff, plans and directs the administrative functions of an organization, and acts as a liaison between employees and management. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median salary as $99,180 per year. The job outlook is average.
  3. City Manager — City managers are hired by the elected officials of a city to make recommendations about the management of the city that are then reviewed by the city council. The council then decides whether to implement the plans presented by the city manager. The median income for a city manager is $88,695 per year and the employment outlook is fair.
  4. Healthcare Manager — A healthcare manager manages and supervises medical services in hospitals, public health departments, clinics, and other healthcare settings. They may work for public, private, or nonprofit health organizations. The median annual wage for a healthcare manager is around $84,000.
  5. Urban Planner — An urban planner usually works for a city government. The planner determines the best use of the land and helps create new residential, business, or industrial zones or work to revitalize existing communities and zones within the city. The median pay is $63,040 per year, and the job outlook is average.
  6. Budget Analyst — A budget analyst prepares budget reports for public and private organizations and helps them organize their finances and control their spending. The median pay for a budget analyst is $68,200 per year, and the job outlook is average.
  7. Policy Analyst — Policy analysts research complex problems—such as crime prevention, healthcare access, and environmental issues—and come up with possible solutions. Policy analysts typically work for the government and start out around pay grade GS-7, which is around $31,740 per year. Analysts who reach GS-15 can make between $93,000 and $145,000 per year.

MPA Financial Aid

There are many sources of scholarships, fellowships and grants for MPA students, such as:

Additional Resources for MPA Students

Additional Link Resources