How to Choose Best MPA Degree

A Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree provides aspiring students with the opportunity to pursue an exciting and fulfilling career. By earning an MPA, it is possible for people from all backgrounds to enjoy a wide range of specialized career options that give them a real opportunity to affect the people around them, and the community they live in, regardless of where they choose to work.

The MPA is a course designed for graduate-level students, which is intended to teach them how they can fulfill administrative and managerial positions in both nonprofit and public organizations, including regulatory agencies, health services, and schools. For many people, the best part of pursuing an MPA degree is the option to learn an interdisciplinary approach to healthcare that helps them to implement crucial policies, lead others, solve problems, and even enhance the efficiency of various institutions.

Of course, before you can start making a difference to the world with your MPA degree in hand, you’ll need to make a choice of which graduate program you want to take, and how you want your specialization to navigate your future career. In most circumstances, you will find that an MPA degree gives you an insight into areas such as ethics, communications, statistics, budgeting, administration, management, and policy analysis.

What Is Your Area of Interest?

An MPA is defined as a professional degree in the realm of public affairs that is designed to prepare graduates for executive positions in federal, state, and municipal levels of both non-government, and government organizations. Students who choose to enroll in MPA degree programs will study a variety of different subjects, such as urban planning, administrative law, management, budget processing, and public financing. There are also many circumstances wherein the said graduate level program might allow individuals to choose a specific area of specialization, such as public policy, international relations, or health policy.

No matter which specialty or degree path you choose, you should learn how to evaluate the effectiveness of programs in the healthcare industry, conduct research, and perform data analysis. Common areas of study include:

  • Public administration
  • Public budgeting
  • Human resources  management
  • Communication and writing
  • Basic statistics and economics
  • Policy analysis
  • Administrative theory
  • Decision making
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Alternatively, areas of specialization that are usually offered within most MPA degree programs include:

  • Local government and state administration
  • Education
  • Policy analysis
  • Criminal justice
  • Public finance administration

Examples of MPA Programs

While there are many impressive programs for MPA degrees available, some of the most highly renowned options include:

  • Texas University MPSA program designed to develop effective future leaders in public, nonprofit, and government sectors. This 48-hour program takes two years to complete and consists of common core courses, such as economic analysis, public policy formation, public finance, and nonprofit management.
  • Carnegie Mellon University’s MPM program is designed to offer professional students with a chance to obtain training in communication, analytics, management, and leadership skills. This course includes core classes on subjects such as organizational management, economic principles, strategic presentation, and more.
  • The University of Maryland-College Park MPM degree offers foundational courses, social events, internships, and more. The master of public management degree provides students with the skills they need to become a public service professional with an understanding of political processes.

When you are earning your MPA degree, you should begin to learn how the various interconnected levels of government function, as well as how world events can effect things like budgetary funding, and when policy changes should be implemented. Most of the time, experts suggest selecting a program that combines a relatively broad selection of core variety courses that might be applicable within a range of different careers, while also specializing in particular subsets of public administration. For example, if you know that you intend to work in a charity or non-profit organization following graduation, you may be best served choosing a program that offers certain courses, such as non-profit communication or non-profit management. Alternatively, if you’re looking to work on an international basis, then you might look for diversity courses, or those that cover international policy making, international management, global citizenship, and international finance.

Fortunately, many MPA programs are now offered through online systems, which means that you can complete your graduate degree without having to give up your existing job. With the correct online program, you might find that you are able to complete the majority of your classes from your own home or chosen location.

While online education sometimes holds the stigma of being unable to prepare students for the trials of the academic world, the truth is that online education has come a long way in the recent years. Indeed, rigorous standards are now imposed upon schools before they are allowed to offer online courses, especially graduate level programs. Many students now take an active part in their online education by getting involved with discussion boards, contacting professors, and getting in touch with their classmates.

Joint Degree Options

If you are considering an MPA degree but you want to consider the possibility of what you might be able to achieve with that degree a little further, then you might also consider combining your degree with another related degree so that you can earn the equivalent of two degrees in a much smaller time frame than you would expect where you to take both degrees separately.

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In regards to public administration, the most common joint degree option is the MPH/MPA degree option. This provides you with the chance to earn your education in the areas of public health, and public administration. This combination makes it an ideal solution for those who want an executive administrative position in the healthcare industry.


It’s important to know that the MPA program that you choose is fully accredited in order to give you the best chance of acquiring the job you want following graduation. While the education you receive should provide you with the knowledge you need to work competently within your field, it’s worth noting that potential employers often look to ensure that your program was accredited. Though attending school that lacks accreditation might not be a deal breaker for certain employers, you should be aware that accreditation will easily increase the value of your graduate degree. In most circumstances, MPA programs are accredited by the National Association of Schools for Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA).

The above information should help you to make a more informed decision about the best MPA program for your needs. Remember, if you’re interested in serving your community, then this particular graduate degree could be a great way to find your ideal career.

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