Raleigh Master of Public Administration | MPA Programs

Master of Public Administration (MPA Degree Programs) may be a great fit for graduate students interested in business, policies and public impact. The Masters of Public Administration (MPA) Degree is a professional post-graduate degree in public administration, similar to the private sector Master of Business Administration Degree. Earning an MPA may prepare students to function in a managerial capacity within government, nongovernmental organizations and nonprofit sectors. Most Public Administration Masters programs are interdisciplinary and incorporate economics, sociology, law, anthropology, political science, and regional planning in order to equip MPA graduates with the skills and knowledge to understand a broad range of topics and disciplines relevant to the public sector.

Master of Public Administration MPA

Master of Public Administration MPA Program Overview

Master of Public Administration (MPA) Programs equip students with a solid academic foundation and training in research methods, public management and public affairs. Students also study business subjects such as budgeting and economics to gain a thorough understanding of government and policy issues. 

Students seeking admission to an MPA program are required to have a Bachelor’s degree – usually a mathematics or economics major is recommended; personal statement, letters of recommendation, and scores for the GRE. Earning a Masters of Public Administration may take 2 years of full-time study after your undergraduate degree. Usually in the senior year, a thesis paper is required for graduation


A master’s degree in public administration (MPA) is the widely accepted professional credential for a management career in public service. MPA programs are for graduate students who have a commitment to public service. Completing an MPA program is a potentially important step for prospective public leaders to gain

knowledge and hone managerial capabilities to be able to implement policies, projects, and programs within government and nonprofit organizations. Furthermore, earning a Masters in Public Administration is a stepping-stone to Doctorate Public Administration degrees; this path would suit those whose goal is advanced leadership and expertise.

FUN FACT: Political scientists often complete a master of public administration (MPA), master of public policy (MPP), or master of public affairs degree.[i]

Public Administration Masters Programs: On-Campus or Online MPA?

Choosing the right learning format for your lifestyle, career aspirations and academic needs is often a matter of preference or necessity. An on-campus MPA program might be advantageous for students who would benefit from a social learning experience with real-time interaction. On the other hand, if you live too far from a graduate school, cannot relocate, or you work and need to study when you have time, an online Public Administration Program may be a convenient format to look into.

GradSchools.com makes it easy to find graduate schools with either type of MPA program. You can search by location to determine whether the city, state or country you prefer has the right academic fit. Otherwise, search for online MPA programs. Either way, you can request information from the site to find out more from each college or university. Some of the listings might include:  Master of Public Administration: Online, Master of Public Administration: Sustainable Communities, Master of Science in Management-Public Administration, Master of Business Administration-Public Administration, Master of Arts in Public Management, and General MPA.

Students should note that National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) Accreditation is the peer review quality assurance process for graduate-level, master’s degree programs in public policy, affairs, and administration. 

Types of Master of Public Administration MPA Degrees: MBA vs MPA Curriculum

The curriculum for the Master of Public Administration is designed to teach students how to assume managerial and administrative positions in public and nonprofit organizations, including schools, health services and regulatory agencies. MPA students might study subjects such as criminal justice, human resources management, budget processing, management, administrative law, urban planning, community development and public financing.

Furthermore, students may be able to delve into a specialization such as:

  • Health Care Policy
  • Government
  • Social Justice
  • Emergency / Crisis Management
  • Nonprofit Administration
  • International Relations
  • Policy Analysis and Evaluation
  • Public Management
  • Urban Development and Sustainability
  • Public Policy

Whereas MPA degree programs are designed for potential public sector employees, an MBA is often intended for those planning to work in the private sector. MBA candidates begin by taking core business courses in areas such as finance, marketing and human resources management. Once this coursework has been completed, students then might choose to specialize in public administration, or other specialization.

What you might need to do is evaluate your vocational goals. For instance, if you wanted to specifically work in Human Resources or Labor Relations, you may find that an MBA might be a good choice. If you are leaning towards Policy Analyst or work in International Affairs, you might consider an MPA.

Potential Career Outcomes For MPA graduates

Graduates might choose from a variety of potential career paths. Some might aspire to work in government as managers. However, there are other opportunities for public administration graduates in many different industries. Some possible career outcomes might include:

  • Nonprofit manager
  • Human Resources Manager
  • Community Relations Director
  • Policy analyst
  • Political Scientist
  • Public sector manager
  • Labor relations specialist
  • Urban or Regional Planner
  • Emergency Management Director
  • Healthcare Administrators

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Healthcare Administrators held about 333,000 jobs in 2014 and employment is projected to grow 17 % from 2014 to 2024[ii]. In other areas, employment of social and community service managers is projected to grow 10 % from 2014 to 2024[iii] While competition for jobs is expected to be strong as far as Emergency Management directors, employment is expected to grow fastest in private companies; a 6 % growth in employment is projected in this sector from 2014 to 2024[iv]

Ready to Search For a Master of Public Administration Program?

If you want to learn how to become an effective and in-demand leader, build the professional flexibility to move between government and nongovernmental careers, or be able to analyze and manage your organizational environment, an MPA Degree may suit you well. Contemporary leaders in Public Administration need to have managerial expertise as well as fully understand public policy and its impact in society. Why not review your options today!

Sources: [i] bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/political-scientists.htm | onetonline.org/link/summary/11-2031.00 | bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/urban-and-regional-planners.htm | bls.gov/ooh/management/human-resources-managers.htm | bls.gov/ooh/management/emergency-management-directors.htm | bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm | accreditation.naspaa.org | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm | [iii] bls.gov/ooh/management/social-and-community-service-managers.htm | bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/labor-relations-specialists.htm | [iv] bls.gov/ooh/management/emergency-management-directors.htm

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