Masters in Public Administration Directory

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Filter through over 1500 programs at almost 450 schools to find the best public administration degree programs available. You can use our convenient filters to sort through the programs to find the one that best suits your interests and career goals.

Master’s in Public Administration: FAQ

Because the public administration field is so broad and diverse, it can take quite a bit of effort to find out which specialization makes the most sense for you. Below is a collection of frequently asked questions you can refer to as you begin learning more about earning your MPA.

What is public administration, exactly?

Public administration is the practice of implementing public or government policies. It can be studied at both the undergraduate and post-graduate level. Knowledge of public administration is especially useful for students who are interested in pursuing a career in public service.

Is it essential to have a graduate degree to work in public administration?

You do not always need a graduate degree to work in public administration. In many cases, it is possible to join the public or non-profit sector with only a bachelor’s degree or even a high school diploma. Having an MPA, however, makes you a much more suitable candidate for specialized areas like healthcare administration and human resource management. An advanced degree is nearly always required for government-employed urban planners.

What are the career opportunities in public administration, and what salary ranges can I expect after graduation?

There are so many career opportunities within the public administration field that it would be impossible to list them all here. Some examples of entry-level jobs include healthcare social workers, human resource specialists and conservation scientists. These typically earn a salary ranging from $50,000 to $60,000 per year. Seasoned public administration professionals and those with graduate degrees can become urban planners, health service managers or human resource managers. These specialized roles can offer salary ranges between $60,000 and $100,000 annually.

Who should consider a master’s in public administration?

Students interested in entering public service should consider earning their MPA. As noted, it is possible to work in public administration without a graduate degree, but with one, candidates can move further in a greater number of field specialties.

What specializations are available in this field? How do I choose the public administration specialization that’s right for me?

Examples of public administration specializations include urban planning, local government, economic development, global leadership and non-profit management. Choosing the specialization that’s right for you is important. Think of your specialization as a way to expand your career possibilities, and remember that the field of public administration may change between now and graduation. Pick the public service role that you’re most passionate about, but be flexible about changing your focus once you’ve started your career.

How long does an MPA usually take to complete?

MPA programs usually take two years to complete. This can vary depending on the school. In many cases, graduate schools allow students to proceed at their own pace, as long as they complete their degree within five to seven years.

What are some classes I can expect to take?

Regardless of specialization, graduate students must complete several core courses in the field of public administration. These may include microeconomics of public policy, organizational theory, and public sector finance.

How should I pick a public administration school?

Picking the right public administration school for your interests and academic needs is of paramount importance. Not only can earning a master’s be a costly endeavor, once you’ve paid your tuition it can be difficult to change your mind.

Be thorough with your research before you make a decision. Investigate many of the public administration programs offered at schools throughout the country to make sure that your chosen specialization is adequately covered. Finally, be sure to communicate with alumni and professors about the program’s curriculum and how it is viewed by the industry at large.

How are public administration programs ranked? Do rankings matter?

Well-respected college ranking organizations, such as U.S. News and World Report, take broad swaths of data into consideration when ranking schools throughout the country. This data can include the breadth of courses the institution offers, input from researchers, and surveys done by students and faculty at the schools being ranked. While these rankings should not be the only factor in your decision to attend a public administration school, they can definitely help you find out more about the quality of education the schools offer.

Are there online public administration programs available? How do they compare to campus-based programs?

Online programs offer the ease and flexibility of earning a degree without having to attend a brick-and-mortar academic institution. This opens up higher education for full-time employees and others who may not have access to traditional campus programs. One drawback to online programs, however, is that students often miss out on helpful learning tools and resources, such as laboratory work, in-person access to a professor, and the ability to build close relationships with other students in your field.

What are the entrance requirements for a typical master’s in public administration program?

As with any field of study, the entrance requirements for a master’s in public administration program vary depending on the competitiveness of the institution and the program itself. While there are no major requirements to enter a master’s program in public administration, many colleges will look for relevant coursework done as an undergraduate such as courses in political science, public policy and economics. In addition, standard graduate school requirements will likely apply, such as a solid grade point average as an undergraduate and strong scores on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE).

What is the accrediting body for schools of public administration? Does accreditation matter?

The National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) is regarded as the standard accrediting body for schools of public administration. Not all schools are accredited. Not attending an accredited school doesn’t necessarily spell disaster since there are no licensing requirements in the public administration field that would require it; but if you attend an accredited program, you can be sure that your education will be high quality and respected in the field.

Directory of Masters Degree Programs in Public Administration