Many people turn toward the Masters of Business Administration for an advanced degree in this field. This makes the Master of Public Administration a unique and shallow pool of graduates. This can be an advantage for the right graduate degree candidate.
Specific Characteristics of MPA Programs
The Masters of Public Administration degree is quite broad. There are a few things that most well-designed MPA programs will have in place. It is a professional, not an academic degree.
A good MPA program will have a mixture of the MBA and Master of Public Policy degrees that focus on various management topics, such as finance, strategy, human resource management, public policy issues among others. It will set them up to work for nonprofit organizations as well as federal agencies or contractors.
Specialize Your MPA
There are many ways to make this specialized degree even more narrow in its focus. Areas that you can specialize in include:
- Human rights
- Urban policy
- Specific geographic regions
- International affairs
- Health care
Time to Complete an MPA Degree Program
It can take up to two years to complete an MPA degree program. There are some accelerated degree programs that are available at traditional colleges.
There are also many quality online MPA degree programs that students can enroll in from home. They are flexible and convenient and can be completed in a year to 18 months, depending on the program and the commitment of the student.
Arizona State University School of Public Affairs
Public service is a calling. It benefits the individual as well as the world when done with integrity, transparency and passion. This 42-credit MPA program prepares students to work in all levels of public services, from their city and county through to national levels. Students acquire proficiencies in problem analysis, the effective and ethical management of public agencies and collaboration with teams to get to a workable solution to serious issues affecting the public.
The program is broken down into four concentrations. These are:
- Emergency management
- Nonprofit administration
- Public finance
- Urban management
The program’s impressive internship offers invaluable experience to students, particularly if they don’t have a lot of real-world experience in public affairs. There is also a flexible and convenient weekend-intensive format for those who are already busy with a professional job as they work toward their MPA degree.
University of Georgia
This MPA program is well known for producing highly skilled public service leaders who have a wide range of skills in high demand.
The affordable MPA program requires students to complete 41 credits. It is designed to develop learners who have the technical skills that are necessary for effective public administration. It also focuses on public service values, such as ethics, transparency and accountability.
To apply, have a high GRE Score and strong academic record and submit all of those to the admissions department.
University of Nebraska Omaha School of Public Administration
Taught by international scholars in the field of public administration this 39-credit degree has a six-concentration curriculum, including health care administration, emergency management and public policy.
Graduates pursue leadership roles in public service careers once completing this comprehensive curriculum program. Students can choose from a specialization in criminology and criminal justice or information and technology management. An internship component at a public agency or nonprofit organization is recommended for students in the program to boost students who don’t have the benefit of related work experience.
To enter the program, applicants need to have taken the GRE and have a minimum 3.0 GPA.
University of Kansas School of Public Affairs & Administration
Graduates from this top MPA program have the resources to solve the many types of issues that affect the public. Students develop skills in a wide array of areas, including public service delivery, human resources management, budgeting and leadership.
The specialized areas in this 43-credit degree include policy, urban planning, sustainability and law and society. A 3.0 GPA and GRE score are required to be considered for this affordable and top-notch MPA program.
For students who are interested in city management, this MPA program offers a rare opportunity to engage in peer-to-peer learning through the optional two-year City Management Fellowship. This unique aspect of the MPA program offers a hands-on experience that students of the program can acquire with a one-year internship.
Florida State University Reubin O’D. Askew School of Public Administration and Policy
The highly acclaimed MPA program at the campus located in Tallahassee, Florida, has been training public policy to graduates since 1947. The core of this 42-credit program includes public financial management, human resources management and policy development.
The degree centers on the valuable research that forms policy. The program delves deep into the study of research design and quantitative analysis in public administration.
For those who have enrolled and don’t have a minimum of one year of work experience in a related field, they must complete an internship. This program ensures that students leave with professional competency and ethics. Graduates are able to creatively approach problem solving in the real world with integrity.
University at Albany, SUNY Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy
This highly accredited Master’s of Public Administration has exceptional certifications and national prestige. The 49-credit program produces graduates who have developed proficiencies that can give them a head start or advance their careers in the field of management, advanced analysts or leaders in their field.
The core curriculum digs deep into topics that affect public policy, including decision-making, financial management and public economics. The MPA program drills down into specialized areas tailored to the student’s chosen concentration, from local government management to global affairs and policy analysis.
Graduates earn multiple accreditations based on their interests, such as women and public policy or public sector management. All students of the MPA program participate in internships that offer many networking opportunities. Many graduates find full-time employment in the public or private sector through the connections they made through their internship and time in the MPA program.
University of Texas at Austin Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs
Theoretical learning and real-world application are weaved together for a comprehensive master of public affairs. The degree program includes the study of applied microeconomics for policy analysis and the applied empirical methods.
One of the unique components of this 48-credit degree program is the two-semester research projects where students can conduct research for an agency outside of the program. The degree can be customized to offer a very detailed education for an MPA degree seeker. These include:
- Information policy
- Public management and leadership
- International affairs
An internship opportunity with governmental organizations or non-profit corporations during the first or second year of the program allows students to gain hands-on experience in their area of interest. This also opens up invaluable networking opportunities for potential future career prospects.
University of Central Florida School of Public Administration
This is probably one of the more diverse and affordable MPA programs with relatively easy application requirements. The 42-credit MPA program at this sprawling university can be completed on-campus or online. The nine-course core of the program highlights the skills that graduates will need to work in the public service arena. These include:
- Financial management
- Analytic techniques for public administration
- Public budgeting
The program is tailored to the student’s specific interests through electives, which can also be used to complete an internship to build on real-world experience. It also offers dual degree options in criminal justice and nonprofit management. Applicants don’t need to take the GRE to be considered for enrollment to this affordable MPA program.
Baruch College, CUNY Marxe School of Public and International Affairs
Students have options at this premiere MPA program. They can go the traditional route with a flexible program or earn a degree the nontraditional way. The MPA program, either traditional or nontraditional, covers leadership skills, budgeting and economic analysis and the fine art of people management.
The traditional MP program requires students to complete between 42 and 45 credits where they can specialize in areas such as urban development, sustainability and health care policy. It requires that students enroll in a one-year internship to gain experience. For those who are working, classes are offered during day and night hours, or they can choose to complete their coursework online.
The Executive MPA is the nontraditional option that works for mid-level professionals who already have three years of experience under their belt in public service. It offers Saturday classes with experienced faculty each Saturday from September to June.
University of Missouri’s Harry S. Truman School of Public Affairs
The on-campus and online options to complete an MPA degree for this storied institution are both rated top in the nation year after year. This is a competitive school so a minimum of a 3.0 GPA and competitive GRE score is required to gain entry.
Students who attend the on-campus version of the program need to complete 45 credits that include economic analysis, organizational dynamics, leadership and team management and public policy. Of the 45 credits, 15 are devoted to specializations. Students must choose between public policy or public and nonprofit management.
The required internship program allows students to gain experience in the public service sector. The thorough internship offers many opportunities for students to apply what they are learning to real-world situations and increase their network of professionals in their chosen field.
Texas A&M University Bush School of Government and Public Service
Based in College Station, Texas, this master of public service and administration degree is tailored to develop public service leaders with a firm foundation of ethics and integrity. There are unique concentrations offered at the on-campus institution, which are cybersecurity and security policy and management.
Students can choose from public policy analysis, nonprofit management and public management. Internships are available at governmental organizations, NGOS and think tanks both nationally and internationally.
University of Utah College of Social and Behavioral Sciences
For busy professionals, this flexible program allows for students to complete the 42-credit program in two to four years. Work at your own pace with evening and executive formats. The admission requirements include a prerequisite American Government course along with a minimum GPA of 3.2 and a GRE, MAT or GMAT score.
Students need to complete the typical MPA core classes and then design their own program geared toward their interests. It includes a semester-long internship where students can network and apply what they have learned in real-world situations.
The Executive MPA program requires applicants to have a minimum of five years of administrative experience in middle or upper level positions. Classes are offered during the week and on weekends to accommodate a busy professional's hectic work schedule.
Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing about education, jobs, business trends and more for The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Today’s Parent and other publications. She graduated with a B.A. in Journalism from UNLV. Her full bio and clips can be seen at www.vegaswriter.com.