Earning Your MPA Can Improve Your Future

Earning Your MPA Can Improve Your Future

When life feels unpredictable, most people want a plan for certainty. That’s especially true when it comes to making decisions about careers and weighing the pros and cons of graduate school. While no crystal ball will predict exactly what jobs will exist in the global economy in the years and decades ahead, authorities suggest that lifelong learners will have the advantage in getting hired and promoted.

Your commitment to public service and leadership can be the foundation of a career that improves your community and the world at large—but you need more than motivation to make it happen. Read on to see how earning your Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree can improve your future.

The MPA Prepares People to Lead.

According to the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA), an MPA is the professional degree for students seeking a career in public service or nonprofit management. MPA graduates can expect to “develop the skills and techniques used by managers to implement policies, projects, and programs that resolve important problems within their organization and in society,” with an emphasis on management and implementation techniques.1

Further, MPA graduates can expect to serve in executive positions in municipal, state and federal levels of government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Similar to the Master of Business Administration (MBA) in the private sector, the MPA is designed for candidates with above-average leadership skills, and competence in economic and quantitative analysis to deal with challenges in public administration.

The first MPA degree program was established in 19142, and the MPA degree has only become more relevant as the demand for increased professionalism, transparency and management acumen in government has grown stronger, and issues confronting our world have become more complex.

Ninety percent of alumni from NASPAA-accredited programs surveyed in 2018 said their MPA/MPP degree was important or very important to their success. The same survey reflected observations of timeless importance: Ninety-two percent said their public service degrees prepared them to be more productive or ethical public servants, and 96 percent said their degree prepared them to articulate and apply a public service perspective.3

An MPA Can Help You Pursue Your Passion.

While an advanced degree isn’t currently required for a successful career in government or the non-profit world, simply having a passion for public service may not be enough, either. People often cite a commitment to social justice, an interest in policy-making, a sense of civic duty, and commitment to the public interest as reasons to enter public service, whether in government or non-profit work. Those qualities are clearly important, but public service leaders also need the management skills and knowledge instilled in MPA programs to meet the demands of future challenges.

In addition, employers may be increasing their educational requirements. A 2016 CareerBuilder survey revealed that 27 percent of employers are recruiting those who hold master’s degrees for positions that used to only require four-year degrees, and 37 percent are hiring college graduates for positions that had been primarily held by those with high school diplomas.4

Employers also told CareerBuilder that higher education not only increases applicants’ chance of getting hired, but it boosts the chances they’ll be promoted.4 While the survey targeted private-sector employers, public and non-profit employment often follow similar business trends. Today’s nonprofit employees need to learn business strategies that also fit public sector needs.5

An MPA Prepares You for Success.

Global events increasingly affect local communities. Issues such as climate change, healthcare, justice and safety present real challenges for everyone. As the late business theorist Arie de Geus is noted for saying, “The ability to learn faster than your competitors may be the only sustainable competitive advantage.”6

The future depends on leaders who can document their credentials as lifelong learners. An advanced degree can ignite your interest in specific areas of research, and it signals to others that your interest in learning is ongoing.

While technology might render some jobs obsolete, many experts say that traits that can’t be found in automation and artificial intelligence will likely be highly sought-after skills.7 Increasingly, MPA programs are teaching so-called ‘soft skills’—accountability, leadership, ethics, communication, and others—further preparing students for success, rather than for specific jobs, in an uncertain labor market.8

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice once said, “There’s no greater challenge and there is no greater honor than to be in public service.”9 A Master of Public Administration degree appeals to idealists who believe in those words while bestowing credibility on those hoping to position themselves for future leadership.

Make a Difference in the World.

Reshape your future and the future of the organizations and people you’ll help through public service. Focus your motivation in the online Master of Public Administration and Postbaccalaureate Certificate in Nonprofit Management programs at Kent State. Each robust online curriculum is designed for working professionals looking to advance their public service careers while serving their communities and increasing their earning potential.

  1. Retrieved September 24, 2020, from naspaa.org
  2. Retrieved September 24, 2020, from investopedia.com/terms/m/master-of-public-administration.asp
  3. Retrieved September 24, 2020, from flipsnack.com/naspaa/2019-naspaa-annual-data-report.html
  4. Retrieved September 24, 2020, from fastcompany.com/3057941/how-the-masters-degree-became-the-new-bachelors-in-the-hiring-world
  5. Retrieved September 24, 2020, from thebalancesmb.com/nonprofit-degrees-to-launch-your-career-2502378
  6. Retrieved September 24, 2020, from hbr.org/2016/03/learning-to-learn
  7. Retrieved September 24, 2020, from www.hrdive.com/news/how-to-train-employees-for-jobs-that-dont-exist-yet/515598/
  8. Retrieved September 24, 2020, from hbr.org/2020/01/should-you-go-to-graduate-school
  9. Retrieved on September 24, 2020, from cnn.com/2011/POLITICS/01/19/rice.morgan/index.html
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He is an Associate Professor in the Evaluation and Measurement program within the College of Education, Health and Human Services at Kent State University. He is also the program coordinator for the online Master of Education degree in Research, Measurement, and Statistics.
Dr. Astrid N. Sambolín Morales is an Assistant Professor in Kent State Online’s 100% Online Master of Education degree in Cultural Foundations. She received her PhD in Educational Equity and Cultural Diversity from the University of Colorado Boulder and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research provides a more nuanced picture of the agency, resistance, and empowerment enacted by displaced Puerto Rican m(others) in the U.S., and her work was funded by several grants, including the University of Colorado Natural Hazards Center, the BUENO Center for Multicultural Education, the URBAN Research Network, and the NAEd Spencer Foundation.
Felesia McDonald, ’14 is an adjunct instructor in the iSchool, teaching courses in the 100% Online Master of Science in User Experience. McDonald is also the Sr Manager UX Design at Optum, a branch of UnitedHealth Group.