Choosing an MPA Program for Public Service

When making a decision about which program to choose for your MPA, you should consider several important factors. Your interests, inclinations, and long-term plans should all be carefully weighed against one another before selecting a program.


Before selecting an MPA program, do some basic groundwork. Contact a university enrollment advisor from the program that interests you to find out what graduation rates are like, what the expected course load is, and what the program’s focuses are. If you can, try e-mailing faculty or current graduate students to hear from people with hands-on experience with the program in question. Getting a feel for the program, its staff, and its participants can help you figure out whether or not this particular program is a good fit for you.

Maintain Focus

Earning your MPA degree is an important step toward entering the public sector. The depth and breadth of the Public Administration field is significant, and when selecting a program you should be thorough in determining that it can provide adequate preparation for the path you wish to take. Good qualifiers for a suitable program include a strong selection of core subjects applicable throughout the market and many opportunities for diversification and specialization into the varying branches of Public Administration.

While pursuing your degree you should also keep sight of your initial goals. As stated on Internet public service indexer “MPA candidates who know their specialized interests before beginning their coursework should select a program that offers that specialization or concentration.” In short, choose programs based on your career aspirations. As an example, if you’re interested primarily in a government position, you should pursue programs that include courses in federal, local, or state government administration and management.

Confirm Accreditation

Accredited programs offer many advantages over non-accredited alternatives. First, accreditation is a guarantee that the program in question meets or surpasses agreed-upon standards of quality established by the independent accrediting body for that region, which is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education . An education from an accredited program provides you with the credentials and knowledge to operate professionally in your field.

Determine Graduate Earnings

Gather information on what the graduates of programs you’re considering make on average. Yearly salary data is a valuable piece of knowledge that can help you make an informed decision about which program to attend. Even in the field of public service, not typically a salary-driven pursuit for dedicated MPA students, knowing probable salary rates can help you determine which programs to pursue and what to expect once you’ve acquired your MPA.

Target Applications

Construct a hierarchy of programs to which to send applications. Prioritize them based on probability of acceptance, congruence with your goals, and projected salary. If you structure applications realistically and conscientiously you should be able to target the programs that are best suited to you.

Make the Final Decision

If you have carefully defined your goals, done your research, and prioritized the programs that you feel will best suit your goals, expectations, and personal situation, deciding which programs you will apply to should be easy. Hopefully deciding among the programs from which you receive acceptance will be just as easy.


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