As competition for jobs turns fiercer, anything that can give job seekers an edge is vital. For some, this entails a carefully crafted resume or curriculum vitae, along with strategically selected references from one’s professional networks. However, having the skills, experience and education in the first place is critical. In many industries, the right kind of advanced schooling can speak volumes to convince a potential employer. With these conditions, it’s no surprise that graduate degrees are becoming a popular choice. For many public-sector professionals, a master of public administration may help in landing a lucrative, rewarding job.
A Modern Degree With Recent Roots
The development of the master of public administration degree is a recent event, with roots in political science studies. A 2010 article in the New York Times revealed this was the case, with writer Anemona Hartocollis disclosing that early local government courses were offered at the University of Kansas beginning in the late 1940s. These curricula spread to other universities, with many schools creating new programs or crafting them by both new and existing classes. The primary focuses of these early programs were on public policy and finance, reflecting a move towards professionalizing the field to combat governmental corruption.
As this field grew, it also became more interdisciplinary in nature. Modern MPA programs usually encompass a vast array of subject areas, including economics, anthropology, law, regional planning and sociology. These have many different applications in the public sector, particularly as social conditions change and concerns grow over the welfare of the citizenry, the availability of resources and climate change. Depending on the program a student selects, several focus areas may be available such as community development, information technology and urban planning.
Advanced Learning and Other Advantages
An MPA degree could potentially open doors to many career possibilities. The Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration releases an alumni survey yearly. The last available version of its results, which date from 2015, revealed that over 80 percent of graduates from public policy programs and similar curricula are employed full-time. Areas of specialization in post-graduation jobs varied, but tended to include health, education, technology, law enforcement, advocacy, community development and human rights issues.
Additionally, MPA candidates gain other benefits besides advanced knowledge and skills. According to the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management, the MPA is considered a terminal degree. With such an advantage comes more opportunities to secure student financial aid, along with access to classes with a low teacher/student ratio. Moreover, MPA students may benefit from multifarious internship possibilities in a wide range of organizations. With these bonuses, opting to study in the field of public administration is a plus that shouldn’t be ignored by those considering making the leap.
Online Programs Are Available
It’s not unusual for future MPA students to be professionals already working in the field. Distance learning programs have made access to graduate studies increasingly easier for many individuals. For instance, USC’s online MPA degree is offered through the University of Southern California’s Sol Price School of Public Policy, which is known for its research contributions to the discipline. Learners all over the United States can directly benefit from this, despite living nowhere near the school.
Public policy and administration is a field that may naturally draw skilled professionals interested in contributing to the public good through leadership, along with their advanced understandings of complex issues. Graduate programs in public administration are an excellent start to taking advantage of a growing field in need of more talented people, now more than ever. Asynchronously delivered curricula provide more opportunities for learning, allowing most potential students to pursue a master’s degree in the focus areas of their choices.