Masters in Public Administration and Policy Schools could ready students to pursue the path of leadership in the public sector. Degrees in this area could thoroughly explore critical issues in government, public policy or public management. Prospective students might build highly focused skill sets to serve the interests of the public. Depending on one’s professional goals one might focus their studies around public-sector finance, environmental policy, health administration or other related areas.
Some of the main degrees available at Masters in Public Administration and Policy Schools are the Masters in Public Policy (MPP), Masters in Public Administration (MPA) and Masters in Government – which may be offered through a university’s department of Political Science.
Professionals who aspire to pursue careers in government have two major options for graduate education: a Master of Public Administration (MPA) or a Master of Public Policy (MPP). Both degree paths might enable students to gain a solid grasp of global concepts from social, economic, and political contexts, with a focus on responsible and ethical policy communication. However, each degree is uniquely designed to prepare individuals with dedicated skill sets.
How does an MPP differ from an MPA? An MPA (Masters in Public Administration) school might have students learn about management for the public and nonprofit sectors. MPP (Masters in Public Policy) schools could help students craft solutions to hot point issues like health care and homelessness. There are also Masters in Government policy schools which may specifically cover areas such as U.S. government and politics, human rights and homeland security.
Students who are drawn to the field of public health might weigh their options between a Masters of Public Health and an MPA.
How does an MPH differ from an MPA? MPH programs prepare students to work administratively and on the ground in key areas of public health: population health, health policy, epidemiology, and patterns of disease. MPA programs focus more heavily on program realization and management within these fields.
On-campus MPA and MPP degree programs could suit student who enjoy and learn best in an in-person classroom environment. Campus formats may also be perfect for students who are looking for full-time, intensive programs during the day, although there are many with schedules made with at-work professionals in mind.
Search for schools for masters in public administration and policy in your home city, another state or abroad. The location of your school could provide ties to its local alliances for internships, practicum and case study research. But first, decide on professional interests and weigh them against the dynamic array of masters degrees. We explore some of the primary degrees below. Weigh course plans with career interests.
A Masters of Public Administration (MPA for short) is a professional masters degree that is often seen as the public sector equivalent to an MBA. Most MPA degree programs aim to ready students as effective, ethical, and savvy leaders from the view point of public service. Thus, students might learn specific ways solve problems and oversee policy in this sector through strategic and sound decisions.
Schools for Masters in Public Administration degrees set their own syllabus and so program specifics such as length, credit requirements and course topics vary. That stated, an average MPA degree is planned-out to include about 36 – 39 credit hours and may take a full-time student one to two years to complete. Length is often determined by prior education and work experience. Part-time formats are also available.
Courses within some schools may be grouped into four areas: (1) core courses, (2) areas of concentration, (3) research/internship, and (4) capstone experience. A core sequence may furnish students with the knowledge and skills needed to become effective public managers. Students might then pursue a greater depth of study in a concentration. These areas of emphasis change from school to school so sleuth out ones that line up with your interests or career trajectory.
MPA – Public Management: Students might take a broad range of management courses such as Employee Relations and Delivery of Public Services to Organizational Performance Assessment.
MPA - Public Affairs Administration: Could offer coursework in public relations, public law, and diversity.
MPA-Human Resource Management: Participants might study conflict management, labor relations and recruitment techniques.
MPA- Health Care Administration: Reasonably expect to discuss key issues along with topics such as economics of health and medical care, and health informatics.
MPA- Nonprofit Management: Students might study the finer points of strategic planning, fundraising, human resources, social entrepreneurship and nonprofit finance.
MPA - Emergency Management: Students could learn about disaster preparedness – federal, state and local levels and how to take on an administrative capacity.
MPA – Global Transportation: Could discuss administrative structure and issues, environmental components and operational aspects in the context of international transportation and commerce.
MPA – Public Policy: Could meld analytics with administration and students might learn how to analyze, evaluate and devise policy for others to implement.
MPA/PharmD: A dual degree such as a Master of Public Administration and Doctor of Pharmacy could add on mastery in non-profit and public-sector administration.
Core courses in an MPA program often highlight managerial topics such as financial administration and organizational management as well as larger concepts like ethics and global awareness. Take a peek inside a generalized MPA course plan below, then review the course lists provided by the MPA school you are interested in applying to.
After the core course sequence and the chosen emphasis, students might complete either an internship (pre-service students) or a research course (in-service students). The curriculum is often completed with a capstone project of the student’s own design although it may be guided by faculty advisement.
Each MPA school sets their own admissions standards and application protocol though prospective students need to have a bachelors degree from an accredited college or university with a minimum GPA.
Students may also need to complete or have completed ‘MPA prerequisites’ which could include intro courses in political science, statistics, psychology and sociology. Apart from transcripts, form and fee, applicants often need to furnish a professional resume and letters of reference.
A Masters in Public Policy (MPP) degree is a professionally-oriented academic program which could ready students to pursue analytic careers in government, non-profit agencies or in businesses subject to government regulations. To this point, most MPP programs focus on analysis of public policies, problems and solutions to public sector issues.
Each MPP school sets its own credit requirements and program length though it is normally a two-year degree for full-time students. In some MPP schools, students must complete from 48 to 60 credits of required course work and elective credits.
There may not be a thesis, however, students may need to pass an exam to demonstrate mastery in policy analysis applications. The degree often culminates with a seminar focused on analytical projects where students might develop, present, and discuss individual research. Participants usually develop a unique set of electives related to their interests and may pursue joint graduate degree programs.
Throughout the MPP degree program, students are usually asked to develop an area of policy expertise. In order to do so, they might need to direct a set number of elective units toward a substantive policy area. These areas could vary greatly between schools and are usually selected based on student interest.
The specifics of an MPP course list vary but students could reasonably expect to study how to form and implement public policy as well as analyze governmental programs. A fairly broad topic, this may touch on areas such as federal policymaking, models for policy choice, and intergovernmental policy problems.
Policy analysts use surveys, cost-benefit analysis, focus groups, and other tools to gauge potential policy outcomes thus students may take multiple courses in research and quantitative methods, statistics and data analytics.
There may also be courses in leadership and policy internships where students could learn the art of persuasion. MPP students might thus develop skills for the clear, concise, and effective communication of ideas. This might include the presentation of evidence, analysis, and arguments via written, visual, and oral methods.
Policy analysts—also called researchers, scholars, and fellows—work to raise public awareness of social issues, such as crime prevention, access to healthcare, and protection of the environment.i
A Masters in Government degree typically has a scholarly focus which could enable students to conduct research in areas such as social justice, policy analysis, or national security policy analysis.
Students might explore in depth the institutions of government, politics, policy, and the systems used to govern communities and nation-states. Many programs also discuss the complex role of governmental organizations within society.
Participants might thus gain a firm grasp of the government’s role in relation to economics, education, ethics, history, law, philosophy, and sociology. In addition, they might have the opportunity to explore political practice and theory, and analyze political behavior, cultures, and systems.
Applicants to MPP schools need to have a bachelors degree from an accredited university or college with a school-set minimum GPA. Some MPP programs may recommend but not require GRE scores, though students should ultimately check the requirements for the schools on their list. Letters of reference and academic preparation or work experience that indicate an applicant’s analytical and writing skills may also be required.
NASPAA accreditation identifies that a masters in public policy, affairs, or administration program has undertaken a rigorous process of peer review conducted by the Commission on Peer Review and Accreditation (COPRA).
All NASPAA-accredited programs have successfully met the NASPAA Accreditation Standards for Professional Master’s Degree Programs in Public Affairs, Policy and Administration. In universities that have more than one NASPAA-accredited program, each masters degree program must meet NASPAA standards on their own.
Ready to find schools for public administration and policy masters programs? Discover partner schools with MPA or MPP degrees with filters for location and subject preference. Then, easily contact schools through the on page form which is very easy and quick to use.
[i] bls.gov/careeroutlook/2007/spring/art03.pdf | [ii] accreditation.naspaa.org/resources/roster-of-accredited-programs/
Mississippi State University
Jackson State University