Master of Public Administration Degrees
Could an MPA degree be right for you?
By Ann van der Merwe
Published January 20, 2012
Would you like to pursue a career in the nonprofit sector? Or, do you see yourself working for a government agency? If so, an MPA degree – Master of Public Administration
– might be for you. It is a professional degree designed for students who wish to use their interest and knowledge of subjects such as finance, politics, history, languages, and more to work in a public environment. Some students even pursue the degree in conjunction with a complementary one, such as law, social work, engineering, or cultural studies.
Associate Professor Gary Roberts, currently serving as Interim Dean of the Robertson School of Government at Regent University, has been instrumental in developing their new MPA program. It will replace the current concentration in public administration within the school’s MA degree, offering more specific preparation for students to assume leadership positions in the government and nonprofit sectors across a wide range of disciplines, policy and occupational areas including management, personnel, budgeting, and research.
You will probably want to complete an MPA program that is accredited by NASPAA, the National Association for Schools of Public Affairs and Administration. To earn this status, a program must meet curriculum standards and be approved by a panel of experts in the field. Regent’s new program, for example, is currently undergoing the review process to become accredited by NASPAA. You can find out more about the NASPAA and accreditation by visiting www.naspaa.org.
Depending on the specificity of your interests and career plans, you may find it helpful to explore the concentrations offered by various MPA programs. Students pursuing the MPA at Regent will have the option to concentrate in one of four areas:
• Nonprofit Administration
• Public Leadership and Management
• Emergency Management and Homeland Security
• General Public Administration
These concentrations are similar to those found elsewhere, though other specializations include environmental management, health care management, election management, and urban affairs. Such diversity demonstrates the wide range of career options for those with an MPA. If you are undecided on a particular path, you might want to look for a school with numerous options or a general track such as that at Regent. If you know your focus, though, you might do just as well to seek out a program in line with your interests, whether they are political or social.
As you consider your options, you will also want to think about the unique aspects of each program. Regent’s MPA, for example, will be distinctive from its peers as the only such program based on the Christian world view. Regent students will take courses such as Christian Foundations of Government, and, as Professor Roberts emphasizes, all courses in the program, regardless of their specific focus, will challenge students to connect their Christian beliefs with their field of study. He and his colleagues believe strongly in nurturing faith within the classroom and the workplace.
Gary Roberts teaches courses in nonprofit administration, human resources management, and public administration at Regent University. He is currently working on three books in the area of leadership, servant leader human resource management, and workplace spiritual intelligence.
Ann van der Merwe is a singer and music historian based in southwest Ohio. She holds a B.M. in music performance and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in music history.