A Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) is the government and public service equivalent of the common MBA degrees in the business world. MPA programmes are designed to school the future leaders in organisations that are part of or closely work with the government.
In order to progress in many public service careers, it is necessary to develop your leadership and management skills. A Master’s degree in Public Administration is great for this. It is the degree of choice for people who want to advance their careers in public management, policy-making, and the nonprofit sector. An MPA is especially aimed at those who want to pursue management positions within these sectors and the degree focuses on leadership roles like creating policy and managing public funds as well as managing people.
Studying Public Administration at the postgraduate level gives you a great opportunity to build a network of peers with a wide range of experience. Many students coming into an MPA programme will be currently working in public sector roles and you will immediately have access to a great network of professionals with varying levels of experience within your chosen field.
Many MPA programmes have an international focus, studying the ways in which other world governments and economies respond to public issues, and they also attract cohorts of students from all corners of the earth. This gives you the unique chance to grow an international network. Virtually all of the top MPA schools even offer the option to study abroad during the programme.
Postgraduate study may seem intimidating, but it really doesn’t have to be. You can study for your MPA at many of the top schools throughout Europe, and most of them will offer flexible course structures and sometimes even online study options.
Most MPA programmes are actually intended for students with at least a few years of work experience. And the universities realise that not everyone is working to leave their job altogether for 1 or 2 years of full-time study, so working while you study is often possible. And it is a great way to immediately put your lessons into action in your current role. If needed, you can find many part-time MPA programmes out there; for instance, the Executive MPA at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, Germany, is tailored for busy professionals and only requires 43 days of campus attendance, spread out over up to 4 years if required.
Postgraduate study is your time to specialise, and an MPA programme is no different. This is your chance to really become an expert in your area. Some public sector topics that you might specialise in are international development, public management, health management, nonprofit management, policy analysis and policy making.
That said, if you are interested in specialising in policy making in particular, you may consider a Master of Public Policy (MPP) degree as an alternative to an MPA. This degree focuses on the analysis and implementation of public policy.
Getting your MPA opens up many job opportunities, with graduates working in a variety of government roles, politics, education administration, healthcare administration, international development, urban planning - and many other roles in and around government and public service.
Taking on more responsibility in leadership roles also means receiving a higher salary, with MPA graduates often earning 30 to 50% more than those who have not pursued Master’s studies.
But don’t think that with an MPA you are limited to working in a government organisation! In fact, many private corporations love to hire MPAs for a variety of roles. For instance, news and broadcasting organisations like CNN or the BBC hire MPA graduates for policy analysis in political news research. Google and other tech giants have been known to put MPAs to use for their international organisational management. Hospitals, medical insurers and other healthcare companies often prefer MPA graduates that specialise in health policy and health management. And, of course, leading consulting companies like McKinsey or EY welcome graduates from MPA programmes to their public service divisions. The list of possibilities is seemingly endless!
With its focus on public organisation and policy, as well as communication and people management, an MPA will equip you for key roles in government. If you want just one example of how far you can go with an MPA: Former Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) Ban Ki-moon. He studied abroad to get an MPA degree and then went on to lead one of the most important organisations of the world.
With your MPA and the experience and networking possibilities it provides, you will truly be ready to make a change, and influence decisions in your local and global community.