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The Best Master of Public Administration Degree Programs

Written by Victoria Hudgeons
Last Updated: October 6, 2020

Master of public administration (MPA) programs build the knowledge and skills required for careers in management and governance of the public sector. The degree overlaps somewhat with a business administration curriculum, emphasizing principles, policies, and practices as they relate to the administration of public programs.

Public administration programs train students to thrive within ever-changing social, political, and economic climates. With a degree in public administration, individuals can pursue careers in local, state, or federal government. They also gain research skills applicable to positions in research and academia, and they qualify for careers in international and nonprofit settings.

The 10 Best Master of Public Administration Programs

Rank School Location
1 Harvard University Cambridge, MA
2 University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA
3 Columbia University New York, NY
4 Cornell University Ithaca, NY
5 Northwestern University Evanston, IL
6 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA
7 University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI
8 Villanova University Villanova, PA
9 George Washington University Washington, DC
10 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC

See Detailed MPA Rankings

Why Get an MPA Degree?

For the right person, an MPA degree can foster significant personal and professional satisfaction.

The ideal MPA candidate is an early- to mid-career professional interested in management positions in the nonprofit, public, or government sector. Successful MPA program candidates possess a bachelor's degree with completed quantitative coursework in economics and statistics, and several years of experience in a relevant field. Passion for public policy is a must.

Before choosing to pursue an MPA, prospective students should consider how they plan to finance their education, whether they want to study in person or online, and whether an MPA is the best option to help them achieve their long-term career goals. Related degrees like the MBA, master of public policy, and master of public health may better serve some professionals' goals.

With an MPA, graduates may see gains in upward mobility and salary. Other benefits of an MPA include:

  • Enhanced Leadership Skills: MPA degrees enhance hard and soft skills needed to enact effective leadership in the field of public administration and policy. Program capstones and internships allow students to apply these skills to real-world settings.
  • Focused on Student Interests: The best MPA programs offer concentrations and open electives that allow students to focus on narrow interests and fields of study, such as nonprofit management, social policy, health policy, or government management.
  • Opportunity to Influence and Impact: MPA degrees commonly require students to interact with nonprofit organizations and government agencies through internships, professional experiences, and capstones. MPA students get to apply classroom knowledge and start making a difference in the world even before they graduate.

MBA Vs. MPA Degrees

Graduate students earn more degrees in business than in any other field, which can lead many to make the incorrect assumption that an MBA is simply the "best" option available for professionals who want to work in management.

MBA and MPA degrees share several similarities and significant differences. If you find yourself unable to decide between the two, check out the following table to learn more about what makes an MPA stand out from the ever popular MBA.

Comparing MPA and MBA Programs

Master's in Public Administration Master's in Business Administration
Overall Focus Focus on using management competencies to evaluate and improve public policy, nonprofit efficiency, and public services. Focus on using management competencies to improve efficiency of business operations and increase profit margins.
Applied Experiences Project opportunities involve work with nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Project opportunities involve work with nonprofit organizations, for-profit corporations, and other private businesses.
Student Demographics Early- to mid-career professionals passionate about civic engagement, typically looking to pursue public service leadership. Early- to mid-career professionals with experience in business, typically looking to climb the corporate ladder and increase salary potential.
Program Length One or two years, if studying full time. Part-time options available. One or two years, if studying full time. Part-time options available.
Capstone Requirements Commonly project based with a real-world client. Sometimes a master's thesis or comprehensive exam. Almost always project based with a real-world client. Less commonly a master's thesis or comprehensive exam.

Top MPA Programs and Schools

The following MPA rankings can serve as a helpful resource to all prospective students, whether they are considering a public administration degree for the first time or fully prepared to start applying. Topics covered in our rankings include admission requirements, curriculum content, format and scheduling options, and any in-person requirements or capstones.

Read on to discover what makes each of the nation's best MPA programs worth considering.

1. Harvard University

Private, Ivy League university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, accredited by New England Commission of Higher Education

Established in 1636, Harvard ranks as the oldest institution of higher education in the U.S. The school boasts the largest academic library in the world and an unwavering commitment to the transformative power of an education in the liberal arts and sciences.

John F. Kennedy School of Government, master in public administration

Ideal for professionals with a master's in economics, public policy, or management, the MPA degree at Harvard Kennedy School suits learners seeking the advanced skills and knowledge required to take the lead in solving public problems. This two-year degree offers a flexible, interdisciplinary curriculum to fit each student's academic, personal, and professional interests.

Within the 64-credit curriculum, students complete four credits in three key areas: economics and quantitative analysis, management and leadership, and public ethics and political institutions.

If desired, students can pursue a second, concurrent degree in business, law, medicine, design, or another professional field.

Applying to Harvard Kennedy School

  • Minimum of three years full-time professional experience
  • Completed bachelor's degree and at least four graduate-level courses
  • Online application and $100 application fee
  • Current resume and at least two essays
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Academic transcripts
  • Standardized test scores (GRE or GMAT)


2. University of Pennsylvania

Private, Ivy League university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education

More than 26,000 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students attend UPenn each year. The school dates its founding back to 1740 and maintains close ties with the values of its founder and first president, Benjamin Franklin: innovation, entrepreneurship, and interdisciplinary collaboration.

Fels Institute of Government, master of public administration

UPenn offers a full-time MPA degree that students can complete in just one year of study. The curriculum consists of nine courses taken in the fall and spring, including statistics for public policy, program evaluation and data analysis, and public economics.

During the summer, students gain practical experience through a relevant nonprofit or government internship. A final capstone project requires students to evaluate and analyze a real-world challenge facing a government or nonprofit organization.

Degree-seekers unable to commit to the full-time schedule may consider UPenn's low-residency executive MPA program, which combines online learning and monthly on-site sessions.

Applying to UPenn Fels

  • Online application and $75 application fee
  • Personal statement and essay
  • Current resume or CV
  • Academic transcripts
  • Two letters of recommendation, including one from a classroom instructor
  • Standardized test scores (GRE or LSAT)
  • Personal interview


3. Columbia University

Private Ivy League university in New York, New York, accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education

One of the world's most important research centers, Columbia uses the vast resources of metropolitan New York City to advance its scholarly endeavors. As the fifth-oldest higher education institution in the U.S., Columbia serves more than 30,000 students each year.

Columbia School of International and Public Affairs, master of public administration

Aimed at young professionals with substantial internship experience or 3-5 years of work experience, Columbia's MPA degree takes 21 months to complete. The 54-credit curriculum consists of core coursework areas including politics of policymaking, economics, quantitative analysis, and professional development.

To customize their program, students select one policy field concentration and one skill specialization, such as an urban and social policy concentration paired with a specialization in gender and public policy.

The program requires at least one internship experience. All students complete a final capstone workshop, working in small consulting teams to solve a carefully defined problem posed by a client.

Applying to Columbia SIPA

  • Online application and $95 application fee
  • Written essays and video essay
  • Current professional resume or CV
  • Quantitative and language resume
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Academic transcripts
  • Standardized test scores (GRE or GMAT)


4. Cornell University

Private, Ivy League university in Ithaca, New York, accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Since 1865, Cornell's mission has focused on discovery and dissemination of knowledge to educate the next generation of global citizens. Approximately 24,000 students attend Cornell's main campus and professional schools each year.

Cornell Institute for Public Affairs, master of public administration

The MPA degree at Cornell prepares graduates for management and leadership careers in public service. Emphasizing experiential learning, the curriculum combines 14 courses, a colloquium speaker series, and options for summer internships, off-campus externships, or certificate programs.

Degree-seekers can personalize their program according to their interests and goals by selecting one of eight concentrations. Options include economic and financial policy, human rights and social justice, international development studies, or environmental policy.

The program culminates with professional writing and analysis requirements. Enrollees may choose to fulfill these requirements through a semester-long capstone experience, a master's thesis, or an independent study and professional report.

Applying to CIPA

  • Online application and $105 application fee
  • Current resume
  • 500-word statement of purpose and 1,000-word essay
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Academic transcripts
  • Online interview
  • GRE scores not required
  • Applications accepted on a rolling basis


5. Northwestern University

Private university in Evanston, IL, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission

Officially established in 1851, Northwestern now features three campuses, 12 schools and colleges, and an enrollment of 21,000. Strong commitments to excellent teaching, innovative research, and personal and intellectual growth drive Northwestern's diverse academic community.

Northwestern School of Professional Studies, master's in public policy and administration

Northwestern's MPPA degree requires successful completion of nine core courses and three elective courses. The program organizes electives into five specialization options: public administration, public policy, global policy, global health, and data analytics for public policy.

The MPPA program offers two scheduling options. Cohorts complete the full-time accelerated option in one year, with two on-campus courses and one online course each semester. Part-time students work at their own pace, choosing any combination of online and on-campus courses.

Students may complete their final capstone experience as a team or independently, choosing either a capstone project or a master's thesis.

Applying to Northwestern SPS

  • Online application and $75 application fee
  • 300-550 word statement of purpose
  • Current resume
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Writing sample, not to exceed 10 pages
  • Academic transcripts
  • GRE scores not required


6. University of Southern California

Private university in Los Angeles, CA, accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges

Founded in 1880, USC holds distinction as a global center for the arts, technology, and international business. The school enrolls more than 45,000 students each year.

Sol Price School of Public Policy, master of public administration

The oldest program of its kind in the country, USC's top MPA program requires 40-41 credits. Students with less than 25 months of employment experience must complete an internship, including a one-credit seminar.

The flexible curriculum offers six optional specializations including local government management, nonprofit management, health management, and arts leadership. USC's unique MPA labs help students develop fundamental skills in professional writing, speaking, and research.

Students can complete their MPA degree as a traditional on-campus experience in Los Angeles, a hybrid program in Sacramento, or entirely online. Full-time students graduate in two years, and part-time students graduate in three years. The program concludes with a team-based capstone project.

Applying to USC Price

  • Online application and $90 application fee
  • Current resume
  • Statement of purpose
  • Three letters of recommendation, including at least one academic reference
  • Academic transcripts
  • Standardized test scores (GRE or GMAT)


7. University of Michigan

Public university in Ann Arbor, Michigan, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission

Through the application and preservation of knowledge, art, and academic values, U-M strives to develop leaders and citizens who will enrich the future. Founded in 1817, the school serves more than 60,000 students each year.

Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, master of public affairs

Launched in 2019, the MPA degree prepares graduates for senior leadership positions in government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and the private sector. The 30-credit curriculum requires study of policy writing, statistics, and economics for public affairs.

The MPA allows students to pursue broad professional interests by taking 12 credits of elective courses from across the U-M catalog. The program culminates in an applied capstone project for a real-world client.

Small cohorts complete the program in one year of intensive study. Students may seek fellowship opportunities to help cover the cost of their education.

Applying to the Ford School

  • Online or paper application and $75 application fee
  • Current resume or CV
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Academic transcripts
  • 500-word academic statement of purpose
  • 500-word personal statement
  • GRE scores not required


8. Villanova University

Private university in Radnor Township, Pennsylvania, accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education Bodies

Founded by the Order of Saint Augustine in 1842, Villanova is a Roman Catholic institution committed to the Augustinian ideals of truth, unity, and love. More than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate, and law students attend each year.

Villanova College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, master of public administration

Villanova's MPA degree requires 36-39 credits. Students with fewer than three years of relevant work experience must complete a three-credit management internship. Full-time students typically graduate in two years, while part-time students finish in 3-4 years.

Available both on campus and online, the MPA program requires study of public administration theory, leadership ethics, and human capital management. Elective offerings include courses like strategic planning, effective city management, and fundraising for nonprofits. With approval, students can personalize their degree with up to two electives from another graduate program.

The MPA culminates with a comprehensive exam. If desired, students can also apply to complete an individual research project.

Applying to Villanova

  • Online application and $50 (on-campus) or $85 (online) application fee
  • Academic transcripts
  • Current resume
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Two-page essay
  • GRE required for campus-based applicants, with waivers available based on work experience or educational attainment


9. George Washington University

Private university in Washington, D.C., accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Chartered in 1821, GW serves more than 26,000 undergraduate and graduate learners each year. Its location in the heart of Washington, D.C. provides unique student access to global media outlets, government embassies, and multinational corporations.

Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration, master of public administration

GW's MPA degree allows students to choose from 16 fields of study, including education policy, national security and foreign policy, regulatory policy, and state/local government management. With faculty approval and consultation, students can also create their own individualized study fields. Some fields provide a graduate certificate at no additional cost.

The 40-credit curriculum also requires 22 credits of core coursework and 3-6 electives from any related program.

During the final semester, students work in small teams to complete a pro bono consulting project for an external client. The capstone culminates in an oral presentation and comprehensive written report.

Applying to the Trachtenberg School

  • Online application and $80 application fee
  • 250-500 word statement of purpose
  • Current resume
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Academic transcripts
  • Standardized test scores not required
  • April 1, fall admission deadline; Nov. 1, spring admission deadline


10. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Public university in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

In 1789, UNC-Chapel Hill became the first established public university in the nation. UNC serves as a center for research, scholarship, and creativity, educating more than 30,000 students each year.

UNC School of Government, master of public administration

Offered in both an online and on-campus format, UNC's MPA degree requires a minimum of 45 credits. Degree-seekers may select a concentration in local government, nonprofit management, public management, community and economic development, international relations (online only), or public health (online only).

Students must fulfill a professional work experience practicum requirement by completing a 400-hour internship with a public service organization or by demonstrating prior significant work experience.

During the final semester, students complete a portfolio and comprehensive oral exam. Full-time on-campus students graduate in two years. Online MPA students may graduate in as little as 18 months.

Applying to UNC

  • Online application and $95 application fee
  • Statement of purpose
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Current resume or CV
  • Academic transcripts
  • Standardized test scores (GRE, GMAT, or LSAT)
  • Applications accepted on a rolling basis


Methodology for Our MPA Rankings

To find the best master's in public administration degrees available, we obtained and evaluated a list of over 320 schools based on the following factors: accreditation, affordability, and prestige.

  • Regional Accreditation (20%): Institutional accreditation attests to each program's value and higher education standards. Each bachelor's program on this list holds accreditation from one of the six regional accrediting institutions recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Public Administration Accreditation (20%): Each MPA program received a ranking based on its status of accreditation by The Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA). NASPAA is the most-recognized global accrediting institution for master's degree programs in the fields of public policy, affairs, and administration. This accreditation certifies that a master's program in public affairs received a rigorous voluntary peer review.
  • Affordability (20%): We calculated the base tuition for the full degree plan, excluding room and board, books, and fees. We used in-state pricing for schools that offer lower tuition rates for in-state residents. Each program received an affordability score based on this tuition data.
    • Expensive = $50,000+
    • Above Average = $30,000-$49,999
    • Average = $20,000-$29,999
    • Affordable = $14,000-$19,999
    • Very Affordable = $0-$13,999

  • Regional College Prestige (20%): We consulted the Princeton Review, one of the most prestigious sources in educational rankings. We assigned each program a ranking based on whether the school received recognition in the Princeton Review's 2018 regional college rankings.
  • Graduate Public Affairs Program Prestige (20%): We ranked each program based on their score within the respected U.S. News & World Report's Best Graduate Public Affairs Program Ranking.

What To Expect From Top MPA Programs

Specific coursework and requirements for top MPA programs vary, but most feature similar objectives and outcomes. MPAs prepare students for careers in government, the private sector, and nonprofit organizations by exploring a breadth of topics including management, communication, and public policy.

Core classes in MPA programs emphasize topics such as principles of public administration, ethics and social justice, and public policy analysis.

Through coursework in applied economic metrics, policy analysis, and the politics of public policy, learners establish foundations to explore advanced aspects of public administration.

MPA degrees may allow students to specialize in a subset of public administration. Specializations such as nonprofit management and leadership, social entrepreneurship and innovation, and law and public policy prepare learners for careers in nonprofit organizations, start-ups, and legal institutions, respectively. Other concentration options include policy analysis, public management, and emergency management.

Hybrid and online degrees offer the same classes as traditional programs, but often with more flexible, convenient options. Hybrid public administration degrees integrate online content with in-person requirements, such as weekend class meetings or workshops. The hybrid format meets working professionals' needs through the flexibility of online classes, while still offering opportunities to meet and interact with classmates and instructors.

How Long Does It Take To Get an MPA?

The time it takes to earn an MPA varies by student and institution. Programs typically include 30-48 credit hours, which traditional students can complete in two years. Part-time learners usually complete their classes in 3-5 years.

Online public administration master's degrees may allow students to complete classes on an accelerated schedule, earning their MPA in as little as 18 months. Some online MPA programs allow public administration students to earn their degree at their own pace.

MPAs often include capstone requirements that may extend the time to completion, as some capstones require a significant amount of time and research.

Popular MPA Program Courses

MPA programs typically comprise three types of courses. Core courses ensure every student receives a similar foundation of knowledge and skills. Electives allow students to customize their program according to individual interests. Capstone courses serve as a culminating experience prior to graduation.

Courses you can expect to encounter in your MPA program include:

  • Management and Leadership: A course in management and leadership teaches students about organizational dynamics; management theory and techniques; human behavior in public organizations; and how to coordinate with stakeholders to produce change. Coursework uses real-world examples to prepare students to manage effectively in a variety of social and political organizations.
  • Financial Management: Financial management courses in an MPA degree focus on the ways government and public service organizations obtain, allocate, and spend resources. Students develop hands-on budgeting and analytical skills as they explore operating and capital budgeting processes, including the forces that influence government spending decisions.
  • Public Administration Values: This course increases student awareness of the ways in which moral and political values impact both the public policy process and non-elected public officials who serve their communities. Students develop the skills needed to conduct civil discourse in order to create, analyze, implement, and evaluate public policies and programs.
  • Statistics for Public Policy: As part of an MPA degree, students study the application of statistical methods in addressing public policy and management concerns. Essential subject matter in this course includes probability theory, sampling distributions, hypothesis testing, and experimental design. Students become capable of independent basic statistical analysis.

The MPA Capstone or Thesis

Prior to MPA completion, all candidates must successfully complete a culminating experience — typically a capstone seminar or thesis.

The MPA capstone seminar involves a semester-long professional experience with a real-world client, such as a government agency or nonprofit organization. Working alone or in small teams, students typically serve as consultants aiming to solve a specific problem by designing and implementing projects. Students also complete a written report and formal presentation of their research and findings.

Degree-seekers who elect to complete a master's thesis produce a substantial, independent 50- to 60-page research paper. A thesis aims to contribute original research to the field of public administration.

A capstone project serves the needs of degree candidates who plan to seek leadership positions in the public administration sector. Candidates who plan to continue their education and pursue a Ph.D. often find that a thesis better suits their goals.

What Jobs Can You Get With an MPA?

The best MPA programs provide students with rigorous training in management, analytics, finance, and communication. Graduates can apply these highly transferable skills to virtually any job sector.

The BLS projects some of the country's highest job growth rates from 2019-2029 in three attractive industries for MPA graduates: educational services, healthcare, and social assistance.

Social and community service managers, in particular, may experience major employment growth. The BLS projects a 17% increase for these careers from 2019-2029 — much faster than the average for all other occupations.

MPA degree-holders should know that their career options extend far beyond the boundaries of the following representative list. According to PayScale survey data, MPA graduates also secure well-paying positions like management consultant, data analyst, government affairs director, and communications manager.

Whether you hope to work for a government agency, an international nonprofit, or a private business, an MPA provides countless opportunities for you to make a difference in the lives of others.

Social and Community Service Managers

These professionals coordinate programs that support public well-being and supervise the workers who provide program services. Tasks include identifying necessary programs, analyzing data to determine effectiveness, and implementing improvements.

  • Required Education: At least a bachelor's degree. Preferred fields of study include social work, public administration, public health, and related fields.
  • Job Outlook: +17%
  • Median Annual Salary: $67,150


Top Executives

Top executives work in nearly every industry, including government, social assistance, and the nonprofit sector. Tasks vary by organization size but typically include establishing and implementing goals, policies, and procedures.

  • Required Education: At least a bachelor's degree. Preferred fields of study include public administration, business administration, and related fields.
  • Job Outlook: +4%
  • Median Annual Salary: $104,690


Public Relations and Fundraising Managers

These professionals coordinate and direct campaigns to enhance their organization's public image and encourage donations. Major employers include educational services and civic organizations.

  • Required Education: At least a bachelor's degree. Some jobs require a master's. Preferred fields of study include nonprofit management, public relations, and related fields.
  • Job Outlook: +9%
  • Median Annual Salary: $116,180


Human Resources Managers

Human resources managers coordinate and direct administrative functions. Tasks include overseeing employee recruitment, consulting with management regarding strategic planning, and handling employee services like payroll and training. The government, healthcare, and social assistance industries regularly employ HR managers.

  • Required Education: At least a bachelor's degree. Preferred fields of study include human resources, business administration, and related fields.
  • Job Outlook: +6%
  • Median Annual Salary: $116,720

Financial Managers

These professionals analyze data, create financial reports, and develop plans for the long-term financial goals of their organization. Financial managers with an MPA may also focus on securing grants. Common employers include government agencies and nonprofits.

  • Required Education: At least a bachelor's degree. Preferred fields of study include finance, economics, and business administration.
  • Job Outlook: +15%
  • Median Annual Salary: $129,890


Selecting Your Master's in Public Administration Program

Program guides and rankings provide a good head start, but they cannot completely replace careful, individualized consideration. A variety of factors may impact a prospective student's search for the right school. Areas to evaluate include:

  • Accreditation: Accreditation ensures that a college or university meets certain minimum standards pertaining to academics, financial matters, and student services. When looking for an MPA program, seek out schools with NASPAA accreditation and appropriate regional accreditation. Visit this guide for more information on master's program accreditation.
  • School Size: Regardless of school size, graduate programs typically offer small class sizes and easy access to faculty. However, school size may impact research and funding opportunities for students. Larger schools can often support more extensive campus facilities, for example.
  • Concentrations: Nearly all top MPA programs offer the opportunity to select electives according to your professional interests. However, if you aim to work in a specific area of public administration, consider seeking out a program with a corresponding concentration or specialization option.
  • Program Length/Format: MPA degrees offer a variety of completion schedules, including accelerated one-year plans, full-time two-year plans, and longer part-time plans. Consider, too, whether you prefer to take classes on campus, online, or a combination of both.

Should You Get Your MPA Degree Online?

Online formats often suit MPA degrees well. Programs generally accept a limited number of students, ensuring meaningful collaboration and networking even at a distance.

For those who plan to live and work in their home communities after graduation, online learning enables professionals to study without relocating to a distant campus. Students do not need to give up their job, and if the MPA curriculum requires an internship, they can seek out local opportunities to make a difference.

Before you commit to a distance program, consider the following:

  • Your Learning Style: Think back to your previous school experiences. If you excelled in an active classroom environment, online studies may present a learning curve. If you found it easiest to focus in a quiet dorm or computer lab, online learning may offer a better fit for you.
  • Your Learning Environment: When you study remotely, it becomes your responsibility to find a suitable learning environment. Does your home offer the quiet time and space you need to complete rigorous graduate coursework?
  • Technology Requirements: Before you enroll, make sure you meet all basic technology requirements and feel comfortable completing a majority of interactions through web-based means like discussion boards, email, and video chat.

Resources

Professional Organizations in Public Administration

Professional organizations for public administration professionals allow like-minded individuals to connect, cooperate, and collaborate. Professional organizations provide their members with access to continuing education resources, networking opportunities, and advocacy campaigns. Additional benefits include career guidance and access to job boards, research publications, and topical updates.

Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management

APPAM unites research, analysis, and education to improve public policy and management around the nation. Members receive access to the APPAM community of academics, practitioners, students, and field veterans. Other member benefits include webinars and podcasts, an annual conference, and a job board.

Public Management Research Association

PMRA fosters research on public organizations by publishing field-related journals and holding annual events. By linking the study of public institutions, their management, and public policy, PMRA seeks to expand interdisciplinary research into government and governance.

American Society for Public Administration

Dedicated to linking public administration scholars and practitioners, ASPA serves public service professionals by building networks and fostering solutions to governance challenges. Members include civil servants, elected officials, researchers, and nonprofit managers. Individuals who join gain access to networking opportunities, ASPA publications, and professional development programs.

Alliance for Nonprofit Management

ANM brings together consultants, funders, academics, and executives to exchange perspectives across the nonprofit management field. Through events, award programs, and the alliance's directory, members learn to advance their practice, initiate and participate in innovative methods, and lead in the field.

International City/County Management Association

Uniting local government professionals from around the world, ICMA provides development programs, research updates, and publications to members. Additional resources include technical assistance, training programs, data, and job postings.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an MPA good for?

MPA degrees provide advanced applied education in leadership, finance, and public policy issues. This degree suits professionals seeking long-term employment in big-name nonprofits, NGOs, and government agencies focused on public administration and policy.

Which is better: an MPA or MBA?

This depends entirely on the aspirations of the prospective student. Both program types require advanced study of similar concepts (management, economics, etc.), but MPAs focus on public policy, while MBAs focus on business operations.

Is an MPA degree worth it?

For the early- to mid-career professional looking to enhance their leadership skills and climb the management ladder in the government, nonprofit, or public sector, an MPA can certainly be a worthwhile investment.

What is an MPA degree salary?

According to PayScale data, U.S. professionals with an MPA earn an average of $67,510 annually, but you may earn more or less. Salary potential varies based on occupation, employer, years of experience, and geographic location.

Learn More About MPA Programs and Business Schools