MBA & MPA Dual Degree

Jun 08, 2018

This article explores Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Master of Public Administration (MPA) dual degree programs. Program, admission and course information are provided.

A combined Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree program gives students a very broad range of business management training. The MBA typically focuses on management in private industry, and the MPA on government agencies and non-profits. Combining the two into a graduate program of study not only creates opportunities for students in both areas, but also helps them break into certain career fields that draw on both disciplines. Examples include public-private partnerships, corporate social responsibility and lobbying. Students who hope to work in areas of industry that are heavily regulated may also find particular value in this degree combination.

General Program Information

MBA/MPA programs tend to have students enroll in both schools simultaneously. A standard expectation is for the program to require about 80 credits and take three to four years to complete. These programs also differ in how academic years are structured, but some do have the student focus entirely on one of the disciplines for one academic year, then alternate the following year.

Each degree program divides the required credits between the two schools in different ways, with some tilting much more strongly in one direction than the other and others keeping the two programs evenly balanced.

Some coursework commonly found in this dual degree program includes:

Public Policy

Public policy classes cover various aspects of policy making, from democratic procedures and politics to cost-benefit analysis. Policy evaluation is also often an area of focus.


Econometrics can be described as the use of mathematics and statistics within the framework of economic models to explain and track phenomena within them. A dual MBA and MPA curriculum will likely expose students to the use of econometrics to create sound fiscal policy in both private and public settings.

Macro- and Microeconomics

Microeconomics focuses more on decisions at a company level, while macroeconomics is more at a national or global level. While it might initially seem like microeconomics is the most relevant branch, both will be important for an MBA/MPA dual major as macroeconomic factors will be considerations in public policy.


Marketing MBA courses generally explore how marketing is used in individual organizations and management's role in it. Students can also expect to learn about the concept of a brand and how to manage perception of it and add value to it.

Business Ethics

Business ethics covers the responsibilities that organizations have to society and to maintaining fair commerce. Ethical issues in business include things like discriminatory hiring practices, labor laws, diversity and compliance with regulations.

Organizational Theory

Organizational theory courses in an MPA setting examine the most effective ways of organizing and managing public agencies and bureaucracies. These courses are also offered in MBA programs, with an expected shift in focus to private industry structure and the management of employees.

General Admission Requirements

Schools may require students to submit an application to each of the programs. It is possible that a student may be accepted to one program but not the other. Schools may also not allow students with a prior MPA or MBA to undertake a dual degree program.

Some programs may also have GPA, GMAT or GRE score requirements. Some may require completion of certain course types or an equivalency exam (such as algebra or calculus). International students may also be asked to take an English proficiency exam.

A dual MBA and MPA opens the worlds of both public and private industry to students. It can also help job seekers to stand out from an increasingly crowded MBA field and qualify them for leadership roles in private industry sectors that have complex government regulation.

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