Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) Career Guide
What Can I Expect from an Online Master’s in Public Administration Program?
Public administration is most commonly known as the implementation of
government policies. Duties vary by industry but usually include public
speaking, fiscal management and disaster recovery and response.
Advanced public administration management positions require
professionals to obtain the Master of Public Administration (MPA).
Online degrees offer the same coursework that traditional on-campus
degrees offer, but getting the degree online lets students work full- or
part-time, manage personal time easier and achieve the degree at the
desired pace. Those looking for an online MPA program should research
different schools to find the best concentrations and curriculum to suit
their desired career path.
Concentrations Offered for an Online Master’s in Public Administration
|CONCENTRATION||DESCRIPTION||POSSIBLE CAREERS THIS CONCENTRATION PREPARES FOR|
|Health Administration||Prepares individuals to work in health administration for nonprofits, public and private health organizations.||Nursing home administrators, clinical managers, health information managers, health care executives, medical records supervisors, health information technician managers|
|Policy Analysts||Focuses on the study and operations of political systems. Elective classes range from philosophy to research methods.||Policy analyst, government affairs director, vice president of government affairs, executive director of policy affairs, program analyst, guidewire business analyst|
|Human Resources||Classes center on the study and application of human resource principals. Other classes may include employee relations, compensation and benefits and a current issue class.||Shift representative, human resources manager, administrative manager, assistant director, director of benefits, applications specialist|
|Environmental Policy||Examine how to best manage the earth’s limited resources. Classes may include watershed management, environmental policy, physical science and environmental risk analysis.||Environmental analyst, conservationists, Environmental Protection Agency positions (EPA), resource conservationist, foresters|
|International Public Management||Focuses on bureaucratic structures within public agencies in the United States and other countries. Classes include human resource management, strategic management, budgeting and planning, information systems and intergovernmental systems.||Project manager, international city manager, international director, international nonprofit manager, international regulatory manager|
Curriculum for an Online Master’s in Public Administration
Core classes prepare professionals for high-level administrative
positions in both the public and nonprofit sectors. Students can expect
internships and capstone courses as a requirement of the degree. Some
sample courses include:
|Strategic Planning||Examines concepts on how organizations in the public and private sectors grow and thrive.|
|Ethics||Seeks to help students find the answers to deep philosophical questions and examine concepts based on good, evil and the right thing to do.|
|Budgeting and Planning||Offers effective financial management for nonprofit entities and the public sector, especially those with tight budgets.|
|Fundamentals of Nonprofit Management||Covers the work of nonprofit organizations across a variety of sectors and looks at how they work within communities to bring about a positive change.|
|Public Policy Analysis||Teaches students how data and politics influence policy decisions at the state, local and federal levels and focuses on the social impact of different policy approaches.|
How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master’s Degree in Public Administration?
Most online master’s degrees in public administration require
coursework of 36 to 48 credit hours, which can take up to two years to
complete. In some cases, it can take longer to complete the degree if
you opt to work full-time and take part-time classes or take time off in
the middle of the degree program.
Cohort learning requires you to take all your classes with the same
group of students each term, which can often slow the learning process.
Individually paced programs let you move through quickly at your own
Accreditation for Online Master’s in Public Administration
Most public administration positions require applicants to have a
degree from an accredited university or college. There are two types of
accreditations: national and regional. Regionally accredited schools are
more prestigious and include most of the colleges and universities
within the United States. National accreditation applies to for-profit,
religious and vocational schools. Public administration degree programs
receive accreditation when they meet the standards set forth by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration.
Employment Outlook for Master’s in Public Administration Graduates
Job Placement: Master’s v. Bachelor’s
Regardless of the industry, individuals in public administration have
a healthy job outlook. In 2016, nonprofits account for over 12 million
jobs in the private sector. Advanced degrees in public administration
offer greater opportunities in government, health care and management,
and it also means larger salaries throughout your career.
Because many public administration jobs are in the nonprofit sector, salaries vary from modest with a nonprofit organization to significant in health services and the medical field. The top earners in the field make around $145,000. The bottom tier earners can expect around $50,000. Consider some of the following salaries for those with an online master’s in public administration.
In 2018, there were more than 7 million public administration positions currently held within the United States. Some of the highest paid and most popular positions were management and advanced positions. These jobs benefit from individuals with master’s degrees. Consider the following labor force statistics by position.
There are many career paths for a professional with an online
master’s in public administration. Many individuals choose to work for
nonprofit organizations, but there are other industries that benefit
from the skills and expertise of those with a background in public
|JOB TITLE||JOB DESCRIPTION||MEDIAN SALARY||PROJECTED GROWTH RATE|
|Human Resources Manager||Human resource managers work in nearly every industry handling hiring, recruiting, payroll and benefits. They spend time consulting top-level executives on planning and act as a link between employees and management.||$110,120 per year||9%|
|Public Relations Managers||Public relations managers help maintain the public image of companies and individuals. They may also help raise awareness of the business brand and organize and implement fundraising for projects and nonprofits.||$111,280 per year||10%|
|Health Service Manager||Health service managers are also referred to as health care administrators. These professionals plan, direct and coordinate medical and health services in private and public practices. They might manage an entire hospital or a specific department within a facility, and they must stay informed on the changes in health care laws, technologies and regulations.||$98,350 per year||20%|
Joining a professional organization for those with a master’s in
public administration helps keep you informed and active within the
industry. It also provides an excellent way to stay up-to-date on
technological advancements, legislative rulings and important trends.
Consider one of these top professional organizations.
American Society for Public Administration (ASPA):
The ASPA was founded in 1939 and is comprised of almost 10,000 public
administration professionals in the United States. The group works to
advance the art, science, teaching and practice of nonprofit and public
Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA):
This U.S.-based organization connects public administration
professionals throughout the world to focuses on improving the work of
their organizations. The group holds annual conferences, mails out
publications, holds electronic discussions and provides special interest
groups to its members.
Public Management Research Association (PMRA):
PMRA is a nonprofit academic public administration association. The
group works to further professional and academic opportunities in public
Financing Your Online Master’s in Public Administration
An online master’s degree in public administration is often less
expensive than a traditional on-campus degree. For one, both in-state
and out-of-state residents usually pay the same tuition cost per hour.
Students also save money on commute costs. Even with online degrees,
many students still need financial assistance to pay for classes. The
first step in applying for financial aid is completing the Free
Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This qualifies the student
for specific grants and loan programs offered through the federal
government. There are also grants, private loans and scholarships to
those who qualify. Check out some of the resources below.
|Financial Aid for Graduate Students|
|Knowing Your Options|
|Scholarships for Public Administration Students|
Deadline: May 31
Eligibility: Open to graduate students currently enrolled or accepted for enrollment in a full-time master’s degree program in public administration, public and international affairs or political science in a Washington, DC, area university.
Deadline: May 14
Eligibility: Students must be a member of the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and must attend the annual conference. Students must also hold a full-time local government job, complete an online application and write an essay.
Award: Up to $30,000
Deadline: February 5
Eligibility: Students must be working toward a public-service-related graduate degree. He or she must be in the upper quarter of his or her class and a United States citizen or a United States national from American Samoa. Excellent candidates have an extensive record of public and community service.