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What does MPA stand for?

October 11, 2021
Several professionally dressed people sit around a table in a sunny room discussing papers in front of them.

If you’re looking for a graduate degree that could help you on your way to establishing yourself as a leader in a compelling field, have you looked into the Master of Public Administration (MPA)? While it might not be as common as its private sector counterpart, the Master of Business Administration (MBA), it can help you build comparable skills for leadership in nonprofit organizations, the government as well as many for-profit businesses.

What’s the definition of MPA?

MPA stands for Master of Public Administration. As the name suggests, most people who pursue this degree work in the public sector which includes any part of a state or national economy that is tied to public programs or services and is controlled by the government. However, MPAs are also hired by plenty of for-profit organizations as they learn critical skills in organizing and management.

What’s the meaning of an MPA degree?

The degree name is straightforward but what’s the real meaning behind the MPA and why would someone choose to pursue one? According to the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NSPAA), one of the most important organizing bodies in the field, MPA programs develop the skills and techniques used by managers to implement policies, projects, and programs that resolve important problems within their organization and in society.1

A graduate of an MPA program is expected to be able to research, strategize and plan from a leadership position in a variety of organizations. MPA curriculums equip students to budget, plan and implement programs, use theory and statistics to evaluate projects, handle legal issues for nonprofits and much more. Similar to the MBA, the MPA will provide you with perspective and skills to be an effective leader.

Who is an MPA for?

An MPA is a good choice for all sorts of professionals. On average, people who hold a master’s degree earn nearly 20% more in salary compared with those who have only a bachelor’s degree.2 In general, an MPA could be a good choice for the following groups of people:

  • Public sector workers who want to get ahead. If you already work in the public sector, you likely know many people with MPAs in leadership positions. To position yourself for promotion or attaining a higher role in a public sector organization, consider going after an MPA to show your commitment and interest. The secondary degree could be key to qualifying for advanced positions. Your employer could also potentially help you pay for the program.
  • Professionals looking to pivot their career. Maybe you already have gained some professional experience and are starting to see your dream career in a different but related sector. An MPA program will help you learn all about working in nonprofit and government environments and equip you with excellent leadership skills.
  • Recent graduates with undergraduate degrees. If you’re already on an academic path and interested in continuing to hone your skills and build up your knowledge before you enter the industry, the MPA could be a natural next step. Some programs do require that you have some amount of experience before beginning the degree, however, so make sure you check out program requirements before you apply.

What do you learn in an MPA program?

A lot of professionals who choose to pursue an MPA do so because the courses are more focused on skills that are specifically helpful to the government program and nonprofit service-based industry they’d like to work in. MPA curriculums often include more focus on topics like advocacy, accountability and varying levels of governance than an MBA would.

MPA curriculums might include:

  • Public personnel management
  • IT governance for public systems
  • Program evaluation
  • Nonprofit law
  • Nonprofit board governance

What can you do with an MPA?

With nearly 22 million jobs3 and 12.4 million jobs4 in the U.S., respectively, the government and nonprofit fields represent a robust market of opportunities for MPA graduates. Generally, MPA holders work in the public sector and hold roles such as:

  • City manager
  • Public works director
  • Chief of police
  • Government program manager
  • Urban or regional planner
  • Social and community service manager
  • Grants coordinator
  • Director of advancement
  • Executive director
  • Development manager

Ready to become the leader your community needs?

Kent State’s online Master of Public Administration and Postbaccalaureate Certificate in Nonprofit Management programs can help you develop the skills you need to launch a career that makes a difference. The robust online curriculum is designed for working professionals who are driven to advance their public service careers while serving their communities and the greater good. Schedule a call with an Admissions Advisor to learn more or start your application today.

Sources
  1. Retrieved on September 28, 2021, from naspaa.org/resources/why-public-service-degree/mpampp-degrees
  2. Retrieved on September 28, 2021, from www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2020/data-on-display/education-pays.htm
  3. Retrieved on September 28, 2021, from www.bls.gov/oes/current/999001.htm
  4. Retrieved on September 28, 2021, from www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2018/nonprofits-account-for-12-3-million-jobs-10-2-percent-of-private-sector-employment-in-2016.htm?