Master of Public Administration

Master of Public Administration

The Master of Public Administration Degree is a graduate level program in which students interested in a career in public administration complete Master’s level coursework, which usually consists of two to four years of concentrated study and the successful completion of a thesis. Though the Master of Public Administration Degree can take on several names within the world of academia, the core curriculum and the practical application of the degree will remain fairly consistent.

What is Public Administration?

Public administration is an academic field and professional career in which individuals focus on the structure, development and implementation of governmental policies or “mass management” of systems and organizations. In other words, it is the administration of large scale programs and organizations which are meant to serve the needs of the populous.

Public administrators are in charge of public programs, governmental departments and facilities, as well as the non-elected public officials who work in those programs and departments. Public administrators are servants of the public tasked with smooth operations, fair and ethical public policy development, implementation and maintenance, as well as the consistent review and advancement of public programs to meet the ever changing needs of the general public.

Master of Public Administration Curriculum

Master Of Public Administration

The curriculum of the Master of Public Administration is a multidisciplinary degree in which students often incorporate academic components from policy analysis, human resources, ethics, organizational theory, budget development and analysis, as well as statistics and management theory into their course of study. Master of Public Administration curriculum can vary from one school to the next and emphasis may be placed on different aspects of the aforementioned interdisciplinary academia; however, some combination of all of these fields are usually included in the standard requirements for achieving a Master’s Degree in Public Administration.

Most Master of Public Administration curriculums draw on social science, anthropology, legal studies, economics, political science, urban and regional planning, public finance and microeconomics. As with any graduate level degree, the curriculum of a Master of Public Administration program will require high level analysis, theory, and practical application methodologies.

Master of Public Administration Programs

There are hundreds of graduate schools that offer Master of Public Administration programs. There are also many related degrees offered, including:

  • Master of Public Affairs
  • Master of Public Policy
  • Master of Non-profit Organizations
  • Master of Business Administration

In recent years, more and more graduate programs have collapsed their Master of Public Policy and Master of Public Administration programs into a single, multidisciplinary degree that can serve more students who wish to enter the field of public administration. These converged degree programs are particularly geared for those interested in high profile positions in international and national public offices.

History of the Degree

The Master of Public Administration degree did not receive much attention until the mid-20th Century; however, in the past few decades, the degree has become a very popular choice for grad students. It has also garnered increased attention as a result of high profile individuals in national and international political and non-governmental organizations holding a Master of Public Administration credential.

Careers for Master of Public Administration Degree Holders

Master of Public Administration students may pursue a career in a range of areas within the public sector, including healthcare, community development, education, environmental organizations, criminal justice, transportation, and urban planning to name just a few.

Those who hold a Master of Public Administration Degree may be qualified to work in local, state, regional, national or international offices. Master of Public Administration Degree holders can also fill offices of elected and non-elected officials, though the degree is usually more targeted to those who wish to serve in a non-political or non-elected official position.

Many Master of Public Administration students are interested in the non-profit sector and may run programs for local, national or international efforts, including non-governmental organizations with a global reach. The degree is particularly well suited to a career in as a non-profit leader and prepares individuals to tackle every facet of public policy development, implementation and management.

Master of Public Administration Accreditation

It is advisable to select a Master’s program which is accredited by the National Association of Schools in Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA). NASPAA accreditation ensures the quality of the degree program and meets the internationally accepted standards for programs in public policy, public affairs, and public administration.

There are more than 150 programs in The United States accredited by the NASPAA, and once a degree program is accredited, that accreditation status extends to include all venues or campuses in which the program is offered, including online executive Master’s Degree programs in public administration in some cases.

The NASPAA accredits individual degree programs rather than schools. In those cases where a university offers more than one degree in the academic area of public policy, master of public administration and public affair, each program is evaluated and accredited individually in order to ensure the professional standards of each.

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