Master of Public Administration

The Master of Public Administration (MPA) is a professional post-graduate degree in Public Administration. The MPA program prepares individuals to serve as managers in the executive arm of local, state/provincial, and federal/national government, and increasingly in nongovernmental organization (NGO) and nonprofit sectors; it places a focus on the systematic investigation of executive organization and management. Instruction includes the roles, development, and principles of public administration; public policy management and implementation; the relations between organizational management and legislators; the public and non-profit budget processes and financial management; administrative law; personnel management focusing on civil employees; professional ethics; and appropriate research methods. An MPA program typically takes 2 years of full-time, post-baccalaureate study to complete and can require additional time to complete a thesis. Through its history, the MPA degree has become more interdisciplinary by drawing from fields such as economics, sociology, law, anthropology, political science, and regional planning in order to equip MPA graduates with skills and knowledge covering a broad range of topics and disciplines relevant to the public sector. A core curriculum of a typical MPA program usually includes courses on microeconomics, public finance, research methods / statistics, policy process and policy analysis, public financial management, managerial accounting, ethics, public management, leadership, planning & Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and program evaluation/performance measurement. Depending on their interest, MPA students can focus their studies on a variety of public sector fields such as urban planning, emergency management, transportation, health care (especially public health), economic development, urban management, community development, education, non-profits, information technology, environmental policy, cultural policy, criminal justice, etc. MPA graduates currently serve in some important positions within the public sector including Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, General David Petraeus, President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Mexico Felipe Calderón, Foreign Minister of Serbia Vuk Jeremić, NYC Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, and former Commandant of the US Coast Guard Thad Allen. In recent years, there has been a gradual convergence between the MPA and the Master of Public Policy (MPP) degree. Today, the course offerings of most MPA and MPP programs overlap to some degree, but MPP programs tend to provide more focused training in policy analysis and policy design, while MPA programs usually still provide more focused coursework in program implementation and public management. Some educational institutions are now offering MPA degrees via online instruction. There are also Executive MPA programs for professionals who have prior work and management experience. Outside the U.S., the MPA degree increasingly includes a substantial element of management education sitting alongside public policy and public administration thereby bringing it closer to the MBA degree. However, some MPA programs in the United States are housed in Business schools (see BYU's Marriott School of Management).

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