What Can I Do with a Master of Public Administration?

Are you a public service professional asking, “what is public administration? Is a public policy degree worth it? Should a get a master’s in public administration?” One public administration definition, according to the UNC School of Government, says that it’s a community-focused field in which people strive to achieve positive change. Government, non-profit organizations, project management teams and many other industries are benefited from hiring public administration professionals. Those who are interested in having fulfilling, lucrative careers would be wise to look into the various public administration specialties in online and in-person programs.

A public administration definition includes a mission to help others, whether in the public or private sector. Is a public policy degree worth it? There are many benefits of studying public administration – there are so many job opportunities that become possible with a degree in-hand from a reputable online or in-person school. Many graduates find that pursuing a degree is definitely worth it in order to enhance career potential. What is public administration, people often ask, and the simplest answer is, serving others. Public policy workers make systems and policies simpler and more logical, and increase efficiency. Graduates of public administration programs are excellent critical thinkers and problem solvers.

mpa degree

There are so many areas in which graduates will be prepared to work, including transportation, community and economic development, public health/social services, education, parks and recreation, housing, law enforcement and public safety, emergency management, disaster response, and public works. Graduates strive to make a difference in their communities, states, regions, and potentially even worldwide. There’s no limit to the impact that can be made with a public administration degree from a solid program.

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Now is the perfect time to find out your personal answer to the question, “what is public administration?” Every public administration career looks a little different, and there isn’t one right way to pursue opportunities in this ever-growing sector of the public and private sectors. Start looking into career options and craft your own public administration definition today.

School/Program Accreditation in Public Administration

Wondering about accreditation? NASPAA is the most important accreditation organization for masters of public administration programs. A roster of accredited programs according to the NASPAA can be accessed here. Prospective students would be wise to only apply to public administration degree programs that are accredited by the NASPAA and other regional organizations. (Many business schools also offer MPA degrees and may be accredited by the AACSB.)

There are many schools that offer masters in public administration degree programs. Weeding through them can feel absolutely daunting! But the good news is that there are published ranking lists that help people choose between them. The College Affordability Guide provides a comprehensive list of the 43 best schools that offer public administration degrees online and/or in-person. Their masters in public administration rankings include a brief explanation of the salient characteristics of each program. The top 5 schools listed in this master’s in public administration rankings are Texas A&M University-College Station, Rutgers University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Illinois at Chicago, and CUNY Bernard M Baruch College. Affordability is an essential factor for many public administration students, and this list is an ideal place to start one’s search.


Many programs offer opportunities for specialization for those interested in honing in on a certain area of public administration. Those wishing to achieve their highest career potential would be wise to investigate the best public policy schools in the world. An excellent list of the best public policy schools in the world can be found here. This lists the top 25% public policy schools – which includes Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago, School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, DIW Berlin, and Crawford School of Public Policy at the Australian National University. Finding the best public policy schools in the world isn’t too difficult, thanks to the wonders of the internet.

Choosing a school on this list is wise because it gives students the necessary skills and many potential networking opportunities in order to take one’s career to the highest level possible. Keep in mind, though, that just because a school is listed as one of the top schools for public administration, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right for any specific person. Filter schools based on your areas of interest, and always make sure potential schools are properly accredited, before investing lots of effort in applications. Most areas of the US contain at least one of the top schools for administration, so now is the perfect time to conduct some research and start narrowing down the options. There’s no need to settle for a ho-hum career – pursue a masters in public administration degree to take your career to a whole new level of success.

Looking for an accredited online program? Top online master’s in public administration programs, many of which have been accredited by the NASPAA, can be found here

Types of Public Administration Degrees

Public administration is an up-and-coming field of work that has many potential career paths in the modern world. Those who wish to secure a public administration degree and become the ideal candidate for many lucrative job opportunities would be wise to specialize in a certain area of public administration. Potential specialty areas for public administration degrees include public policy, public management/administration, community and economic development, international relations, local government, public health, financial management, policy analysis and evaluation, nonprofit management, and more. Many job postings in this field require masters degrees for those seeking leadership positions. Perhaps you’ve been working in this field for a few years already and you seem to have stagnated. Seeking a public administration degree can enhance your potential and help you reach that elusive next step in your career.

Some public administration masters programs even offer dual degrees in law or nursing combined with MPA degrees, which can often be completed within 5 years. There are many financial programs available to qualified candidates, which vary from school to school, so money may not need to be an obstacle to students. Having a public administration masters on-hand, as long as it’s from an NASPAA-accredited school, can help people reach their career potential in meaningful ways. Dual degree programs can really set graduates’ resumes above their competitors’.

Plenty of candidates for public administration degrees already have lots of responsibilities that they can’t (or don’t want to) simply put on pause for a few years while in school. But guess what – they don’t have to! Online public administration masters degree programs are an ideal solution for people who work full time, have family responsibilities, or both. Here is a helpful list of fantastic online programs for public administration degrees. Some programs included on this list are at Norwich University, American University, Anna Maria College, and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The flexible format of online learning allows students to fulfill their personal responsibilities while still aggressively pursuing an excellent career path.

Get ready to become a leader in your field upon completion of one of your public administration masters. A public administration degree can dramatically open up opportunities for career achievement. Graduates are amazed to find many lucrative, highly fulfilling jobs available in this field upon completion of their public administration degrees. High sought-after programs, including online degree programs, can provide incredible networking opportunities. In today’s workplace, having the right credentials is key, but having a solid network may be even more important. Choose wisely! Selecting a program that’s affordable, has a well-established alumni network, and most importantly, provides the skills necessary to be successful can be an arduous task, but it must not be taken lightly. It could mean staying stagnant or reaching previously unimaginable heights with your career.

Interested in pursuing a master’s in public administration online degree? There are plenty of masters in public administration online programs available to choose from, but the prospect of sifting through all the options to pick a select few can feel daunting. But don’t worry – there’s plenty of information here to help.

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Top Online MPA Programs

An excellent list of online MPA programs can be found here. A few fantastic online MPA programs included on this list are Norwich University, American University, and Anna Maria College. Graduates are prepared to lead with confidence in a wide variety of public and private sector positions. Some people assume that interrupting their lives and going to school in-person is the wisest choice, but it isn’t always. Earn and online MPA degree without sacrificing your day job and family responsibilities. An online master of public administration degree opens just as many doors as one from an in-person program. The skills learned are the same, just the scheduling is so much easier to fit into your busy life.

Did you know that there are online MPA programs that don’t require students to have a GRE? That’s right – there’s no reason for prospective students to feel limited just because they don’t have their GRE. Norwich University does not require a GMAT or GRE. University of North Carolina offers GRE waivers. A simple online search of “online mpa programs no GRE” yields a plethora of options.

Interested in taking your career from ho-hum to WOW? Feel stuck in middle management? Now’s the perfect time to sign up for an executive master of public administration program at an accredited school. Executive master of public administration degrees launch careers to whole new levels. Students who are tired of being passed over for career advancement opportunities should apply to one of the executive MPA programs suitable to their interests and career path goals. There’s no reason to accept mediocrity – instead, start researching executive master of public administration programs online now. There are so many options – the only hard part is picking a few to apply to!

Affordable MPA Programs

There are plenty of prospective students who are budget-conscious. But don’t let finances stop you from achieving your dreams! There are plenty of affordable online MPA programs to choose from. Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman would certainly approve of students selecting one of these cheap online MPA programs. There’s no shame in picking one of the cheapest MPA programs so students get the most bang for their buck! Student debt is no joke, so it’s best to avoid it whenever possible.

Differences Between MPA, MPP, and MBA

Interested in a career in public administration? There are many masters degree programs to choose from according to your interests and career goals.


MPA stands for Masters in Public Administration; MPP stands for Masters in Public Policy. At the most basic level, “an MPA degree is primarily focused on managing programs that serve the public good while an MPP is primarily focused on creating the policies that drive those programs.” Agonizing about whether MPP vs. MPA program would be better for you? Don’t rush your decision. Read up, think it through, get advice, and then go for it. Prospective students should carefully analyze their options and choose their paths wisely.

Whichever choice you make, whichever MPP vs. MPA program you pick, will lead to plenty of new career opportunities upon graduation. One factor that many people rely on to help them decide is the MPA vs. MPP salary. Which program will increase graduates’ earning potential the most? That’s hard to say because there are so many variables. Potential student should consider whether they plan to use their degrees in the public or private sector. If private, their earning potential will likely be much higher, though many find that the opportunity to serve their communities outweighs the benefit there would be from receiving a higher salary.


Perhaps the two most popular career paths people choose from is between MPA vs. MBA. MPA stands for Master of Public Administration, and MBA stands for Master of Business Administration.

MPA vs. MBA – which is the best choice for you? There is no objective, one-size-fits-all model. No one can make the choice for anyone else. However, students should know that MBA is a broader field of study, whereas MPA focuses more closely on the public administration field. Some people find that specializing with an MPA degree enhances their resume for potential employers. Though others reason that an MBA degree allows them to be candidates for other fields of study that may not be available otherwise. Wondering about an MPA salary vs. MBA salary? Money is an essential factor for students who are about to invest plenty of their hard-earned income on an online degree program. MPA salary vs. MBA salary parameters vary greatly because there are so many different opportunities available to graduates. Students’ intended location, public or private sector jobs, and industry parameters are all huge variables to consider when picking a MPA vs. MBA program.

Careers in Public Administration

What can graduates expect job prospects to be after completing an MPA degree? It’s natural to wonder, “what can I do with a masters in public administration?” and “what can you do with an MPA degree”? There are plenty of master of public administration jobs available now, and a quick internet search will likely yield lots of results in your or a neighboring city. The answer to the question, “where can a public administrator work?” can easily be found. The only tricky part is narrowing down the field of possibilities to hone in on various options for each candidate. Public administration careers and salaries can vary widely depending on whether a specific job in question is in the private or public sector, which city it is in, and the industry involved. “What can I do with a masters in public administration,” you ask? The sky is the limit!

MPA jobs/Master in Public Administration jobs

Thinking about pursuing an MPA degree? Wondering, where can a public administrator work? Check out some public administration job descriptions. There’s so much variety! People who pursue public administration careers don’t often regret it. There are plenty of booming industries looking for high quality individuals with MPA degrees in hand from top online and in-person schools. Top MPA jobs that are in demand now include financial analyst, urban planner, logistician, medical/health service manager, training and development manager, executive director, public relations manager, human resources manager, financial manager, and chief executive officer. These public administration job titles are enticing to many prospective students.

Public administration job descriptions often require advanced analytical skills, leadership potential or experience, and so much more. Click through some public administration job examples and public administration job titles to find a few that interest you, and apply to programs that specialize in the skills you desire. Imagine being a leader in an up-and-coming industry- and then make it happen with an MPA degree. Master of public administration jobs are plenteous in many of areas throughout the US, so graduates have excellent job prospects upon completion of their degrees. Find some MPA jobs that interest you!

Public administration jobs in private sector

Many people incorrectly assume that MPA degrees automatically lead people to lives of public service. That can be the outcome, but it isn’t always. There are plenty of public administration jobs in private sector that graduates will be eligible to apply for. In fact, there are lots of jobs in the private sector that support public sector organizations – for example, pharmaceutical companies, law firms, and government contracting agencies. Connections between government and private industry grow all the time; there is little separation and much overlap between the two today.

Public administration jobs in private sector have a wide range of potential salaries. A top executive can expect an average salary of $104,700, a human resource manager can expect $110,120, and a management analyst can expect to be paid $82,450 per year. Public administration careers and salaries are already quite lucrative. Public administration jobs in private sector are expected to see some steady growth in the future, so now is the perfect time to get the training needed to meet that need.

Wondering whether you’ll be able to find a solid job without any work experience? The odds are in your favor if you have an MPA. Jobs for MPA graduates with no experience are still plentiful in many areas across the US. Check LinkedIn, Indeed, and other job posting sites to find some options for those with MPA degrees. Public administration jobs are expected to only increase in demand as time goes on, so an MPA program is most certainly a wise investment. Public administration careers are highly rewarding, both financial and in terms of gaining a sense of purpose for one’s life.

Careers in public policy

Interested in serving the greater good? Now is the ideal time for prospective students to start their careers in public policy. Government administrator jobs include political positions at the local, state, or federal level in the a wide range of areas including legislative analysis, communications, and campaign operations. As government systems begin to become more complex to serve diverse communities, government administrator jobs will continue to gain traction and become more in-demand. Careers in public policy are often highly rewarding and lucrative. Prospective students who want careers in public policy would be wise to invest in a MPA degree. Careers in public policy go hand-in-hand with public administration careers.  

MPA Salary Expectations

Wondering how much graduates make with a public administration degree? A public administration salary is often generous. Those with a masters in public administration can expect to receive anywhere between $35,000-$100,000 per year. People already earning a public administration salary who earn an MPA degree can expect to boost their earnings by about $18,000 per year after graduation. For the public sector, public administration graduate salaries include:

  • Human Resources Director $80,000
  • Mid-Level Position $75,000
  • Program Administrator $60,000

For the private sector, those with a masters in public administration can expect to receive the following average salaries:

  • Program Administrator $40,000
  • Government Affairs Executive $100,000
  • Top Research Executive $100,000

A public administration salary can be generous when graduates hone in on the right specialty and pursue their degrees with gusto.

Carrie Morris

Warren Dahl