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Is an MPA Right for You?

A graduate degree can catapult your career, giving you a head start compared to your peers by providing advanced knowledge in an accelerated timeframe.

But before enrolling in a graduate degree program, one must consider the options. For some business leaders, the question is whether to obtain a Master of Business Administration (MBA), or a Master of Public Administration (MPA). It is easier than ever to earn a degree that can help launch your career in the nonprofit or public sector with an online MPA program, but is it the right degree for you?

Considering a career in public administration?

Most business degree curricula focus on how to run for-profit companies. MPA degree programs focus more on the specific challenges faced by nonprofits, non-governmental agencies and government agencies that emphasize public policy. If your dream job is to serve as the executive director at a large nonprofit like the American Red Cross, for example, an MPA may your best path to achieving that goal.

If your career is under way, an MPA can still benefit you. In fact, real-world experience can offer unique insights that make the coursework more relatable. An online MPA program would even allow you to continue working while earning your degree.

Want to change the world?

MBAs and MPAs share some similarities, like managerial and finance education. However, MPAs have a strong focus on public policy issues. If you possess a passion for social change, the virtual classroom can be a good place for you to explore your ideas.

Those with MPAs also have opportunities in many growing sectors, like healthcare, the environment, education policy and public finance.

Need to stand out?

An MPA degree can give you skills and knowledge to set you on a path to success in the public sector or in a nonprofit role. You will develop a solid foundation in human resources, budgeting, leadership and communications. Internships, which are usually required in most traditional and online MPA programs, can help graduates find jobs and become more comfortable in higher-level roles.

Evidence supports the fact that MPA degrees give graduates advantages when landing leadership roles, with most transitioning into leadership positions soon after earning a master's degree. The knowledge and networking that accompanies earning an advanced degree can bolster a career.

So, if you are interested in a career in public administration, then an MPA may be your next step. And if you have any concerns about putting your career on hold, you can explore your options. An online MPA program, for example, can keep you in your current role while allowing you to complete your degree at an accelerated pace.

Only you can determine if an MPA is right for you. But if you have a passion to serve the public, then it is an option you may want to consider.

Learn more about the UT Arlington online MPA program.


Should You Get a Master of Public Administration (MPA)? (n.d.). Retrieved October 16, 2015, from

MPA vs. MBA: How to Choose the Right Master’s Degree. (2014, August 13). Retrieved October 16, 2015, from

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