An MPA program should prepare students to develop and manage policies, regulations and rules for a company, government agency or non-profit organization. Students will be expected to build their knowledge of political situations and public policy. They should also learn how to advance their administrative and management skills. In addition to non-profit management, other specialized areas of concentration include urban, environmental and emergency administration. Prior to graduation, students must pass a comprehensive exam and submit a dissertation.
Admission into an MPA program usually requires meeting strict requirements, mainly due to the competitive nature of these programs and limited admission slots. Admission requirements usually include holding a bachelor's degree, having an undergraduate grade point average of at least 3.0, completing the Graduate Record Exam at or above the school's minimum accepted score, submitting letters of recommendation and completing a personal essay.
Master of Public Administration
Curriculum in a public administration master's degree program covers leadership and management topics, such as organizational strategies, team building exercises, conflict management, organizational initiatives and management tactics. Courses may include:
- Financial accounting
- Financial management
- Human resource management
- Non-profit management
- Strategic management
- Administrative law
Popular Career Options
Upon completing a Master of Public Administration program, students should have developed the organizational and leadership skills needed to work in corporations, government agencies, non-profit organizations, educational institutions, healthcare facilities and entertainment businesses. A master's program is typically the choice of those wishing to further their skills, so students may already be working within the public administration field. Upon graduation, they may advance into careers as public official or policy analysts. Students may work in positions including:
- Government official
- Environmental regulation officer
- Hospital board member
- International business manager
Employment Outlook and Salary
Salary will depend on the individual position. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that, as of May 2014, legislators made a median annual salary of $20,500. Payscale.com reports that, as of September 2015, policy analysts made a median salary of $54,909 a year, and members of boards of directors earned a median salary of $71,876 a year.
Graduates of an MPA program also have the option of furthering their education by enrolling in a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Public Administration program. Such programs are typically designed to further students' research and analytical skills and prepare them for positions in the fields of academia, consulting, management and research.
Applicants to a Ph.D. program in this field are sometimes required to have both professional work experience and a master's degree before they can apply. A Ph.D. program in public administration often consists of several hours of independent study and concludes in a dissertation. Students often pick a specialization or area of research, such as public policy analysis, community building, ethics or organizational theory.
In a Master of Public Administration program, students build the advanced management skills they need for executive positions in a wide range of industries or to pursue a Ph.D. in the field.