Why go back to school after years in the public sector?


The University of San Francisco Online Master of Public Administration is designed for professionals who want to invoke change through advocacy and policy administration. Individuals in the public sector might pursue an online MPA to acquire skills that help them become successful managers and honorable leaders. For a look at a well-rounded, enriching educational experience, see how an MPA can impact your career in the public sector.

Defining the Master of Public Administration

A Master of Public Administration is an advanced degree in the public sector that helps working professionals gain leadership skills and knowledge about the ever-evolving public health and administration industries. The MPA is a highly respected degree that is applicable across many sectors, such as community development, education, policymaking, and public safety and defense. An MPA can benefit individuals striving to improve their performances in any field that strives to help and protect the public.

The difference between the MPA and a master’s degree in management is the niche prestige that comes hand-in-hand with this degree. Public service employers typically view the MPA as the ideal degree for those who wish to work and excel in their industry. While a master’s in management can benefit individuals in the public sector, employers may recognize the MPA as the most applicable and recognizable graduate degree.

Why an MPA makes a difference in the public sector

Competitive edge in the workforce

If you are hoping for a promotion in the near or late future, a Master of Public Administration could put you a few steps ahead of the competition. A master’s degree can show your employer that you take your job seriously enough to learn more about the public sector.

Career-changers, or professionals who want to switch careers within the public sector, might benefit from an MPA. Particularly if they did not major in public administration in their undergraduate education, a master’s in this field can qualify them for more careers in the industry.

In order to be considered among other candidates, a bachelor’s degree might not be enough. The competitive job market typically favors those with advanced degrees, especially in leadership positions. Some careers in public service might require a graduate degree. If you are interested in pursuing one of these jobs, you should pursue an applicable advanced degree. Some examples include:

  • Urban and regional planners
  • Public relations and fundraising managers
  • Education administrators
  • Political scientists

USF’s flexible schedule

Since this program is primarily dedicated to individuals working in the public sector, the university strives to provide flexible course schedules to accommodate busy professionals. With a full course load, USF’s online MPA program can be completed in as few as two years or six terms. Since a full-time schedule consists of two courses per term, a part-time student might decide to take one course per term. Students can start at the beginning of any of the three terms: fall, spring or summer. Rather than expecting its students to adapt to them, USF adapts their programs to meet students’ needs.

Develop leadership skills

The University of San Francisco has its own definition of an effective civic leader. It is the university’s goal to create leaders that model this framework. The best kinds of civic leaders are characterized by their implicit desire to help others. Civic leaders might have different morals, ideologies and opinions, but their common goal is to serve the public. They have short-term and long-term visions and map out strategies to fulfill them. Honorable leaders are honest about their motives and transparent regarding their actions. They do not play favorites and instead serve all individuals in the public equally. Finally, strong civic leaders act, rather than simply performing dormant duties.

Useful curriculum topics

The MPA program challenges its students with stimulating course requirements. Even individuals who have worked in the public sector for decades can learn new information and skills in the University of San Francisco’s online curriculum. A handful of course requirements include:

  • Leadership Ethics
  • Public Sector Budgeting
  • Emerging Technologies for Public Managers
  • Strategic Management of Public Communication

Networking and collaboration

Although this is an online MPA program, USF advocates for students to collaborate among each other and within their communities. Since many of the students in this advanced program currently work in the public sector, you can use these contacts for networking purposes. Additionally, it can benefit your education to hear different perspectives from professionals with various opinions, backgrounds, and perspectives on subject matters. You can learn almost as much from your peers as what you can learn from your professor.

Increased industry expertise

As economic and social conditions change in the U.S., it is imperative that public administrators can uphold 21st-century public service needs. If you got your undergraduate degree decades ago, you may benefit from studying current practices. Policies that worked in the past may not be effective in today’s climate. Therefore, updating your scope of knowledge can help you adapt to modern policies and industry expectations. USF’s hands-on approach to experiential learning can help you meet industry standards and excel in the public sector.

Personal satisfaction

Pursuing an MPA degree can help you reach your full potential in your career and your education. Aside from the valuable lessons you can learn during your time studying online at USF, you can gain a sense of empowerment, which can influence you to make a difference in your city or community. It can prepare you to move up in your career or can allow you to refine your skills and become an expert in your current career.

Add the University of San Francisco to your resume

If you are interested in improving your career in the public sector, USF online can provide you with invaluable skills, knowledge and hands-on experience to teach and inspire you. USF offers students the chance to collaborate with classmates who are currently working in the public sector across the country, which can open your mind to policies and ideologies outside your comfort zone. You can draw inspiration from the university’s Jesuit values, which prioritize advocacy, service, and public support, and incorporate them in your own practices in your career.

Are you ready to make impactful change in your community? If USF is the right fit for you, reach out to an advisor to learn more about the Master of Public Administration program.

Recommended Readings:

The Rise of the Nonprofit Sector

What’s an MPA Worth? Opportunities for New Career Paths


Online Master of Public Administration Program by the University of San Francisco

Urban and Regional Planners by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Public Relations and Fundraising Managers by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Postsecondary Education Administrators by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Political Scientists by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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