What is Public Administration?
Public administration is the creation, implementation and study of organizational policy, usually governmental policy, at the federal, state or local level. Public administrators are often required to address broad or difficult societal issues or to provide essential daily services to the public. The field often requires administrators to acquire a broad set of skills, such as policy analysis, budgeting, ethics, human resources and organizational theory. This is because administrators may be tasked with bringing diverse groups of people together to achieve a goal, or to create a multi-faceted public program. Broad, flexible and diverse skills are often necessary to bring all the different parts of a project together.
What is a Masters in Public Administration?
A Master’s in Public Administration, or MPA Program, is a degree that prepares students for a public service career, usually–but not exclusively–in an area of government. A public administration program teaches students governance, administration and finance, as well as analytical skills. Core coursework usually includes the study of public administration, administrative decision making, ethics, organizational theory, strategic planning, microeconomics, financial management and managerial statistics. The field of public administration is very broad, and students have a wide variety of tracks available to them. They may choose one of several possible concentrations, such as administration, organizational leadership, human resources management, city and county leadership, public service leadership, criminal justice, homeland security or health care administration, among others.
Though the MPA degree doesn’t require a specific kind of undergraduate training, a bachelor’s degree and several years of work experience in a relevant field are usually prerequisites for a Masters in Public Administration. Some MPA programs also give course credits to students who have a certain number of years of public service work experience. MPA programs are available both on-site and online, and often take two years of full time study. Many schools offer dual degrees in which a public administration degree is combined with another degree, such as law. These programs offer students the opportunity to earn two degrees in a shorter time than they could otherwise.
A public administration degree has very broad applicability. A masters in public administration prepares a student to create or implement government policy or programs, manage people or resources, perform policy analysis, manage human resources or organizational assets, and manage budgets—skills that may be utilized in any number of managerial careers. A public administration masters may be used as a springboard to an executive job in a large corporation or a managerial job at a nonprofit organization. It may result in a career as an urban planner, government policy analyst, lawyer, hospital executive or human resources manager. Graduates with a public administration masters are equipped with desirable skills that transfer easily from one sector to another.
Online MPA degree
Many schools now offer public administration masters online for students who work, or who need for some other reason to earn their degree part-time. Online MPA programs are steadily becoming more mainstream. While there are some online degree mills out there, and it’s important to be sure than an online school is accredited, online degrees are enjoying increasing popularity with time-pressed students due to their convenience and flexibility. They also offer students a much wider range of potential schools than they had before and save them the expense and time of commuting.
Public administrators have transferable managerial skills that can be used for the government, for private corporations or for non-profit groups. There are many potential employers waiting for those who have completed an advanced public administration program. MPAs work for federal institutions, agencies and commissions such as the Environmental Protection Agency, The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. House and Senate. MPAs may work as fundraisers for nonprofit organizations such as the Red Cross or the ALS Association. They may also work for any number of private sector corporations in managerial, human resource or budgeting positions.
Demand for workers with a public administration degree is expected to be higher than average in the next decade, especially for chief executives, public relations specialists, general and operations managers, surveying technicians, financial examiners and climate change analysts. These jobs are expected to grow especially quickly and offer large numbers of job openings. Most of these jobs are in governance, rather than other areas of public administration, such as national security, planning or revenue.
Most students embark on a public administration program because they’re excited about the prospect of making a difference in the world. They look forward to making a difference in the lives of other people by creating or implementing positive change. An MPA degree, while eminently practical, is attractive for many because it offers the chance to translate idealistic dreams into present-day realities.