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Master of Public Administration (MPA)

The Master of Public Administration (MPA) is a professional degree for the public sector and it prepares individuals to serve as managers in the executive arm of local, state/provincial, and federal/national government, in non-governmental organization (NGO) and nonprofit sectors; it places a focus on the systematic investigation of executive organization and management. The degree generally takes two years to complete, but will vary depend on the country. An MPA equips students with the skills, perspectives, and nuanced understanding that they need to be effective leaders in solving public problems.


  • Globally recognized
  • Typically 2 years
  • 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
  • Focus Areas. 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, and criminal justice, etc.
  • Varies based on country, university and subject. For some programs there may be continual assessment that makes the final grade.  For others, it may be a heavily weighted final exam or project.
  • Varies based on country, university, and subject selection.

Global Differences

In both the United States and Canada, the Master of Public Administration degree typically takes two years to complete and is awarded for the completion of graduate studies in program evaluation, leadership, public decision-making and policy analysis and related fields.

In UK, a Master of Public Administration is typically awarded upon the successful completion of the graduate program in one year as a full time student or in three years as a part time student.

The MPA degree includes a substantial element of management education sitting alongside public policy and public administration thereby bringing it closer to the MBA degree.

Master of Public Administration or Master of Business Administration?

 Prospective students trying to chart their course might be wondering what is the difference between and MBA and MPA. The primary difference between the two types of degrees is the focus of the coursework students are required to complete in order to earn them.

The MPA is a graduate-level program designed to teach students how to fulfill managerial and administrative positions in public and nonprofit organizations, including schools, health services and regulatory agencies. The curriculum for an MBA, on the other hand, focuses on private sector management and readies students for work within a certain sector of business, like finance, marketing and management.

 What Degree Is Right For Me?

When deciding which degree program is the best fit, students need to look at the:

  • Does the course content align with their learning needs / goals and aspirations?
  • Career options. Does the degree provide the right foundation and framework for their future job?
  • Entry requirements. Does the student have the appropriate requirements stipulated by the degree.
  • Do they enjoy public administrative classes?

An MPA is generally best for those seeking a long-term career working for nonprofits, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), or government agencies where the degree’s emphasis on public policy issues, program implementation, and public management is most relevant.