The MPA degree is a Master of Public Administration. It focuses on training prospective administrators for nonprofit and public service organizations, similar to how the Master in Business Administration prepares leaders for corporate jobs. Some potential employers of MPA grads include government, charitable organizations, political parties and health care organizations. MPA programs are accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration, which provides a program search tool on its website. MPA degrees usually take two years, but part-time and evening programs are also available.
Prerequisites and Core Courses
Students need a bachelor's degree and prerequisite courses to enroll in an MPA program, and some universities also require related work experience. The prerequisite classes typically include social sciences and statistics or calculus. Schools often permit students to complete some of the prerequisites early in the master's program. The core courses form the foundation for later specialization and may include public administration, managerial economics, ethics, policy analysis and public finance.
Specialized Classes and Requirements
After completing core studies, MPA students typically choose an area of specialization. The available specialties vary depending on the university but may include finance, organizational behavior, methods of analysis and nonprofit management. Other possible specializations such as international development and international policy-making offer a global perspective. Students complete specific coursework relevant to their area of interest -- for example, health care or local government. Depending on the program, additional graduation requirements may include case studies, completion of an internship and a thesis or major paper.