Earning an online master’s degree in public administration (MPA) will provide you with the advanced skills and knowledge in areas including analysis, leadership and management. After you earn your master’s degree in public administration, you will be qualified to lead organizations whose goal is to improve public services at the community level.
To study for your master’s degree in this field, you should hold a bachelor’s degree in public administration, public management, policy studies or policy analysis. After you complete your master’s program, you will earn either a master of science or a master of arts in public administration, which will open up doors to many rewarding careers.
Why Earn a Master’s in Public Administration
If you are dedicated to the idea of working in public service, earning a master’s degree in public administration could be a good career choice. With this advanced public sector degree, you could find yourself employed in many exciting public positions in government and nonprofit organizations, including these:
- Administrative Officer
- Administrative Services Manager
- Agency Director
- Business Services Director
- Cabinet Secretary
- Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
- Chief Operating Officer (COO)
- City Manager
- Compliance Program Director
- Deputy Executive Director
- Director of Government Relations
- Director of Planning
Public administration is a rapidly growing field. Many mid and senior level managers with MPAs will be needed in the coming years in government and in nonprofit groups. You may be able to find employment as a manager for groups such as the Girl Scouts, United Way, Red Cross and more.
Working for these types of organizations is a major plus for many MPA graduates; such entities are not run to benefit the owners or stockholders. Instead, they are run to further a mission, and are usually overseen by a board of trustees.
Demand for master of public administration graduates is on the rise. According to Franklin University, there were at least six job openings in public administration for every MPA graduate in 2012.
Also, with an MPA degree, you will develop and hone skills that are of great benefit for working as a manager or administrator for public and nonprofit groups:
- Cost-Benefit Analysis
- Decision Making
- Financial Management
- Government & Nonprofit Leadership
- Human Resources
- Information Systems
- Legislative Analysis
- Personnel Administration
- Political Advocacy
- Process Improvement
Getting your MPA can help you to serve the public interest in these ways:
- Improve the performance of your public organization to better serve the public
- Apply modern technology and critical thinking skills to engage with clients or customers more effectively
- Make more effective decisions regarding policies, programs and administration from the view of public service
- Empower major changes to take place through strong public sector leadership and strong project management
The University of North Carolina also states that MPA graduates frequently work in law enforcement, parks and recreation, budget and fiscal management, consulting, urban planning, waste management and utilities management. Your MPA degree will provide you with the opportunities to serve in the public interest in many capacities.
Featured Online Master’s in Public Administration
- MPA Masters of Public Administration: (Highly Recommended & 100% Online!) Earn your Online MPA degree from Norwich University located in Vermont. Academic rigor with the ability to customize your degree by choosing from a variety of concentrations. Choose from one of 8 MPA specializations:
- Criminal Justice and Public Safety
- International Development and Influence
- Fiscal Management
- Public Works and Sustainability
- Nonprofit Management
- Municipal Governance
- Public Administration Leadership and Crisis Management
- Policy Analysis and Analytics
- MPA Master of Public Administration: (Highly Recommended & 100% Online!) Earn your Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of San Francisco and spark your professional growth, build your career as an effective public administrator, and start leading today. No GRE required for this program. Listed as one of the top National Universities for 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
- MPA Master of Public Administration: (Highly Recommended & 100% Online!) With this advanced degree from Capella University, you will boost your theoretical knowledge and skills that you need to manage the latest public health problems. This fully online program is designed around national public administration curriculum standards. You will learn how to build public value by growing highly collaborative networks, and will learn how to promote ethical performance standards. You can complete this degree in two years of full time, online study.
- Master of Public Administration: (Highly Recommended & 100% Online!) This graduate degree from Grand Canyon University has an emphasis in government and policy. This program is designed for professionals who want to find good employment in all areas of the government. You will have the chance in this online program to apply strong administrative skills in leadership, human capital development, policy and governance in the public sector area. GCU is featured in our best online masters degrees report for 2017.
- Master of Public Administration: Arkansas State University Jonesboro – Our programs can be completed 100% online, giving you the flexibility to learn on your own time.
- Master of Public Administration: With this MPA from the University of Colorado-Denver, you will learn the skills, knowledge and experiences to be the most innovative leaders in the public and nonprofit areas. You will be able to lead and manage in public governance; fully participate in difficult policy development processes, and be better able to analyze, synthesize and make strong decisions. This degree can be earned fully online.
- Master of Public Administration: This MPA from Portland State University will ready you for administrative leadership positions in both government and nonprofit organizations. You will take classes in public administration, ethics and values, administrative theory, public policy, administrative law and policy implementation.
- Master of Public Administration: The MPA from Penn State will help you to improve your ability to understand, control and analyze your organizational environment. You will be able to effectively manage and promote change in nonprofit and public organizations. This curriculum stresses governance, finance and administration, and also provides much real world experience through the use of internships.
- Master of Public Administration: With this MPA from Kent State, you can earn the only fully online MPA in the state of Ohio. You can earn your MPA either in Public Management or in Public Policy, and you also can choose to specialize in nonprofit management. Most students are able to complete this online degree program in two years.
- Master of Public Administration: This is a unique online degree program at Clemson University, because the classes meet only once per week in the evening. You will be able to continue to work full time while you complete your advanced degree. The curriculum at Clemson allows you to focus on Sustainability and Public Administration, Nonprofit Management, Local Government, Emergency Management, and Homeland Defense and Security.
- Master of Public Administration: This MPA program from the University of Baltimore was one of the first in the country to be fully accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA). In this fully online program, you will study the large role of public administration in a democratic society. You can choose to focus on public policy/administration, health care policy/administration, budgeting and financial administration and public and nonprofit management.
Popular Career Paths for Master’s in Public Administration
Some of the career fields, with salaries, that you can enter with your MPA include the following:
- Policy analyst: $85,000
- Economist: $79,000
- Strategic management consultant: $100,000
- Public affairs and communication: $60,000
- Public policy consultant: $80,000
- Executive director – nonprofit: $60,000
- HR director: $88,000
- Program administrator – nonprofit: $46,000
- Purchasing manager: $52,000
- Research director: $66,000
- Research manager: $58,900
- Education director: $59,800
- Development executive: $86,500
Some of the most popular career fields for MPA graduates are as follows:
Administrative Service Manager
These managers are involved in planning, directing, and coordinating the various supportive services of a public or private organization. Their specific duties can vary a great deal, but administrative service managers often are responsible for the maintenance of facilities and supervising duties and activities including keeping records, supervising staff, distributing mail and keeping up the office.
In a smaller organization, they could direct all of the support services in the office, and could be referred to as the office manager. In a big organization, there is often several layers of administrative managers who will focus on different areas.
Common duties for administrative service managers include:
- Supervise various administrative and clerical personnel
- Set deadlines and goals for departments
- Manage, develop and monitor records for the organization
- Make recommendations to procedures and policies so as to improve how the public organization works, including changing the supplies that are kept and policies that are used
- Make and plan budgets for future contracts, equipment and supplies
Some of the specific types of administrative service managers include:
- Contract administrators: Responsible for the purchasing, storing and distribution of equipment and supplies.
- Facility managers: Provide oversight of grounds, buildings and equipment. They often oversee operations and maintenance, as they plan and manage projects and deal with various environmental issues.
- Record and information managers: Responsible for the development, monitoring and management of organizational records.
The job outlook in this field is bright, with 8% increase in jobs expected by 2024. It is thought that the proper handling of administrative tasks, including management of facilities and managing records and information, will continue to be of great importance in the public and private sector as the economy continues to grow.
There is more focus in the modern era on environmental effects of public and private sector organizations. Also, there is a strong drive to improve energy efficiency to cut costs. You can expect to be working in some jobs on reducing the environmental impact of doing business in the public sector.
The median wage in this field is $86,110.
Urban and Regional Planner
These public service professionals are responsible for developing land use plans and programs that can create communities and to improve them. This is needed as the years go by to deal with population growth and to revitalize cities, towns and counties.
Urban and regional planners usually engage in the following duties:
- Meet with public stakeholders, real estate developers and members of the public about new land use and development plans
- Provide oversight to government plans and policies that have an effect on land use, zoning, and the environment
- Collect market research data, census information and economic and environmental information
- Do field examinations to look at the factors that affect community development and decline
- Stay up to date on zoning and building codes, environmental laws and related legal matters
Urban and regional planners are needed to pinpoint community needs, and to devise solutions to develop and revitalize communities and parts of cities that have suffered urban blight. For instance, planners may examine new ideas for new facilities, including schools, to make sure that the new facilities will provide for all of the needs of a growing population.
Some of the specific types of urban and regional planners include:
- Land use and code enforcement planners
- Transportation planners
- Environmental and natural resource planners
- Economic development planners
- Urban design planners
Job demand in this field will increase by 6% by 2024, which is about average when compared to other jobs. Median pay is $68,220.
- Franklin University. Should I Earn My Master’s Degree in Public Administration? (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.franklin.edu/blog/should-i-earn-my-masters-degree-in-public-administration/
- Administrative Service Managers. (2015, Dec. 17). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/administrative-services-managers.htm#tab-2
- University of North Carolina. Careers in Public Administration. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://onlinempa.unc.edu/student-life/careers-in-public-administration/