Online Resource for Masters of Public Administration Degrees
MPAprograms is a provider of online guides to Public Administration programs. A Master of Public Administration degree prepares students for working in public service positions, including public safety, public policy analysts, and public officials to analyze major public issues.
Students are fit to work in public administration at the local, state and federal levels. While many of these professionals are employed by the government, we’re seeing increased positions for those with a Master of Public Administration in the non-profit sector.
How Long Will It Take Me to Complete an MPA Program?
Most MPA programs take two years to complete. It may take longer if a student is enrolled in classes part time, which is common for many masters programs. A thesis is included in the capstone of MPA programs and can take additional time to complete depending on the student.
What Will I Learn in an MPA program?
MPA programs have become interdisciplinary and now include a wide range of topics such as public policy, sociology, law, public planning, political science, and anthropology. You will learn how all of these things relate to the public sector and how to effectively implement new policies and bring ideas to life. For those who have an interest in public service, this is a degree that can lead to a very rewarding career working at any government level.
What is the Difference Between MPA and MPP Programs?
To some extent, the courses taken for both an MPA or a Master of Public Policy (MPP) program are similar. There will always be overlapping courses and material between the two degrees, though the MPP degree focuses on policy design and policy analysis. The MPA focuses on working directly with public management and implementing new programs to better serve the public.
What is an Executive MPA Program?
An executive MPA program is intended for those who already work in public administration and hold a management position. These courses are designed for people who already have the education foundation and work experience to learn more advanced techniques to implement at work. Both standard MPA and executive MPA programs are available online and through traditional schools.
What Kind of Classes Will I Take for an MPA Program?
- Managerial accounting
- Public finance management
- Policy process and analysis
- Micro economics
- Research methods and statistics
- Public management
- Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
Can I Get my MPA Through an Online Program?
There are many MPA programs specifically designed for students who are working full time. These programs typically take longer to complete, but work with a student’s schedule. There are also accelerated programs for students with ample work experience. Executive MPA programs are often designed the same way and focus on upper management and leadership skills for students looking to gain top positions. Online MPA programs are common and accepted by government, nonprofit and private employers. It is one of the most popular online degree programs along with a MBA. The good thing about online MPA programs is they are often well-established and make for a great learning experience. Whether you register with a traditional school that has an online branch or you choose an online only learning institution, the vast majority of MPA programs have been around for a number of years.
Online MPA vs. Traditional MPA
The only difference between an online MPA and a traditional MPA is for an online program you may never be in a classroom setting. This is an advantage for some students if they work full time and have other commitments, but still want to increase their earning power and job opportunities. Online and traditional MPA programs are one in the same once it comes to having your degree and eligibility for jobs. Online MPA degrees are quite common and accepted by all employers. For high ranking and management positions in the public sector, it’s preferred a job candidate has both work experience and an MPA in order to qualify for the job. For this reason, employers understand that an online MPA is convenient due to the flexibility it offers students who are working full time at public administration jobs.
What are the Prerequisites for Entering an MPA Program?
Prerequisites and admissions requirements vary by school. For the most part, students need a bachelor’s degree in a related field such as public policy, public administration or nonprofit. Not all schools require a related field, and accept a certain grade (usually a B or higher) for related courses such as American government and certain math courses. Check with individual prospective schools for an idea on what you need to apply for that particular MPA program.
Best Blogs for Learning About MPAs and MPA-Related Jobs
- TSU MPA Blog
- Liverpool MPA Blog
- UT McCombs MPA Blog
- UNC MPA Blog
- Public Administration Issues Blog
- Masters of Public Administration Blog
- NYU Autonomy as Vocation
- World Bank
- Blogs for Business
- Civil Service India
Can I Specialize in a Particular Area With an MPA?
People with MPAs and experience creating and implementing public policies are needed in many different industries. The first portion of the MPA will be the same, but latter courses may specialize in one area to better prepare students for working in that field. You do not typically need pre-requisites to specialize in a certain field. For example, if you already work in public administration for a children’s nonprofit but want to specialize in environmental public administration, you will sign up for that program. There is not usually a requirement for you to already have experience working with environmental issues, just the requirement that you have a related undergrad degree and experience working in public administration.
What Do I Do If I Don’t Have Any Work Experience But Want to Apply for an MPA Program?
Many MPA programs, especially those done through traditional colleges and universities, require work experience. Students that have an undergrad degree in a related field can qualify for an MPA program if they have a certain number of volunteer hours with a public service organization. This does not mean you can only work or specialize in the nonprofit sector; it’s only a means of gaining the prerequisites required for getting into an MPA program. It is very common for students to take one to two years between undergrad and grad school to volunteer and gain work experience that will be valuable once enrolled in an MPA program.
Where Can I Volunteer?
You want to focus on organizations that serve the public, such as the following:
- Peace Corps – This is one of the most popular public service volunteer opportunities, although it can be difficult to get in. Students should have ample volunteer hours, along with a degree in public administration, public policy, teaching or a language. Peace corps volunteers typically work in foreign countries helping communities learn to be self-sustainable and work to improve education and living conditions.
- City Year – City Year is an organization based in mid-large urban cities that focuses on helping students ages 17-24 finish high school, apply for college and graduate from college. It takes a year commitment on part of the volunteer (1 school year – fall and spring semesters) to work one on one with the child and help him or her excel. The volunteer is serving as a mentor of sorts and works to encourage the child do well in school. Hours revolve around basic school hours, but also go into afternoon and evening for homework programs and extra study time.
- Teach for America – Teach for America is an organization which places volunteers in low income, urban schools. It is a teaching experience, but also provides students with leadership and organizational skills. Teach for America is in most large cities, along with a few smaller cities. Placement for Teach for America does not revolve around prior education experience. Most Teach for America volunteers are only in the program for one to two years before moving on to their masters degree in public administration or education.
What If I Can’t Take Time Off to Volunteer Before Applying for an MPA?
If you can’t take time off to volunteer, consider an internship position with a nonprofit organization similar to those above or an internship with a government outpost in your city. These positions are not easy to come by, as most take only a few people each year. It will be a combination of high grades, some volunteer hours and an interview that gets you the position. These positions can lead to employment, but most importantly, they provide you with job experience which is required for many MPA programs. When looking at MPA programs you are interested in, you can weigh the prerequisites for each program and how qualified you are. Most online only programs (especially those not associated with a traditional school) do not always require job experience, only a degree in a related field.
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