Why An MPA Degree?

Many Ways to Make a Difference

The phrase “Public Administration” leaves a lot of room for individual interpretation. This is what makes earning a Master’s degree in Public Administration (MPA) from the University of San Francisco both exciting and rewarding. The future for Masters of Public Administration graduates is wide open and may include excellent opportunities in government, private nonprofit, and private for-profit sectors.

Public Administration: Defined

Public Administrators ensure effective and appropriate formulation, implementation, and oversight of policies, procedures, systems, and programs. The goal is to provide essential public services for the citizenry to thrive socially and economically.

The position is typically associated with local, state, and federal agencies and governments. However, the study of Public Administration can also apply to private and not-for-profit organizations, particularly those that work closely with government agencies. There are many complexities associated with a Public Administration career. Professionals need to have both a theoretical and practical understanding of the interplay between budgeting pressures, policy process actors, program management, public relations, and other key areas.

Pursuing an MPA Degree

A Master’s degree in Public Administration is an ideal choice for individuals who want to make a positive impact on policies and programs that impact people in different ways. It can add a major boost to your career, if you currently have a bachelor’s degree and professional experience in the field. An MPA can also significantly enhance the value of undergraduate degrees in law, health, economics, education, and other disciplines that are vital to our society’s socio-economic infrastructure.

A Public Administration career is unique in that it requires seemingly unrelated skill sets. MPA graduates are driven by data, statistics, analysis, and details. They are also strong and intuitive communicators, with a true dedication to citizenry and the human condition. The right balance is essential for success in Public Administration.

Public Administration Career Paths

Securing a Master’s degree in Public Administration can lead to many different roads ahead, depending on your areas of interest. The diverse choice of public and private sector opportunities is one of the most attractive features of pursuing a Public Administration career.

There are many ways that you can make a difference in the world with an MPA degree in hand. Here are some of the numerous career paths that may be available to you:

Policy Analyst
Policy analysts are responsible for creating policies based on statistical data and anecdotal evidence. They periodically evaluate the effectiveness of these policies and make alterations according to their findings. Policy analysts work for non-governmental organizations, public policy agencies, and think tanks. Detailed, well-organized, data-driven individuals with a Master’s degree in Public Administration or Public Policy are ideal for this role.

Social Advocate
Social advocacy workers are casually referred to as activists. Passion for justice is a prerequisite for this career, which addresses the concerns of a specific population group or society as a whole. In order to be effective, social advocacy groups require the skills of well-organized, analytical and courageous professionals that can speak and act with conviction. Getting an MPA can help to elevate your role, expand your influence, and improve your access to decision makers.

Health Services Administrator
Health services administrators are leaders, policy setters, financial managers, patient care advocates, and business analysts. They lead the day-to-day operational aspects of health services organizations, looking for ways to leverage resources for optimal effectiveness. Health services administrators also have responsibility for the fiscal health of the entity, and the overall health and wellness of the communities they serve. A Master’s degree in Public Administration can help to familiarize you with many of the required competencies for this role.

City Manager
City managers are appointed officials who serve over their assigned municipality. It is a natural choice for an individual who has earned an MPA. The specificity of the job title may vary based on location, but the responsibilities are similar no matter the community. Activities normally include construction planning, operational budgeting, revenue collection, and the direction of local fire and police agencies. City Managers also need expertise in labor relations, as many of their employee groups will be represented by unions.

Nonprofit Director
Leading a nonprofit organization can be one of the most rewarding of all career paths available to individuals with a Public Administration Master’s degree. It is a highly competitive field in many respects. Once in a leadership role, you will be challenged to compete for government funding and charitable donations.

Human Resource Specialist
Human capital is vital to the success of any agency, municipality, or organization. Talented employees not only need to be recruited and selected, they also have to be trained, developed, rewarded, and retained. Skills learned through MPA studies can prove especially valuable in preparing you for a high-level role in human resources in the public or nonprofit administration fields.

Salary Potential for MPA Graduates

As with other careers, Public Administration salaries will vary based on experience, location, and organizational size. There may be commonalities among specific employer types, which can be categorized as follows:

Federal Government

  • One of the single largest employers of MPA graduates
  • An aging workforce facing retirement and creating new openings
  • Mid-career salaries range from $65,000 to $85,000 and above
  • This sector offers good job security, considerable benefits, and pension plans

Local Government

  • Opportunity to specialize in health services, fiscal administration, resource allocation, economic policy planning, and other areas
  • Good venue for gaining experience and upward mobility due to smaller staff and larger responsibilities
  • Mid-career salaries average at approximately $66,000 but continue to grow, especially in municipalities and special districts
  • Excellent professional advancement potential for MPA graduates

Nonprofit Organizations

  • An increasingly attractive field for MPA graduates
  • Excellent opportunities for experiential learning and professional growth
  • Possibility to earn up to $100,000 as a high-level executive, especially in development
  • This sector continues to expand in response to greater public needs

Private Sector

  • Competitive landscape for MPA graduates
  • Frequent opportunities include policy analyst, program administrator, management analyst, and business consultant
  • Salaries can range anywhere from $50,000 to upward of $125,000
  • Industries vary in terms of stability, growth rates, and future projections

Master of Public Administration from the University of San Francisco

Earning your Master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of San Francisco can help prepare you for a future in service to the public interest. Our program is based on the core values of social justice, commitment to service, diverse governance, and ethical responsibility—all of which are critical to a successful future in Public Administration.

It is our goal to help you gain knowledge of the intricacies of public policy and the importance of the contributions that you could make. As such, the Public Administration Master’s degree program offers in-depth study of Public Economics and Finance, Public Policy, Quantitative Analysis, Human Resources Management, and Ethics. You can also choose to concentrate on a specific discipline within the field, and have the opportunity to explore public administration principles and leadership techniques applicable to real-world scenarios.

We invite you to consider joining our MPA program at the University of San Francisco, as you reflect on your future goals and aspirations for a Public Administration career. Please contact us with any questions you may have. We welcome your interest and inquiries.

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