You’ve come this far with your education and now you want to take it one step further by acquiring a Master’s degree. Looking at all the possibilities for upward career direction and availability of jobs, a Master’s in Public Administration looks like a suitable choice. But what is a Master’s in Public Administration exactly, and how does one go about achieving it?
A Master’s in Public Administration:
This is a degree which allows its bearer to serve in most public sectors of government as both office management and office support. In recent years, it is also a degree required of those searching out employment in private sectors of charitable organizations and in privately owned businesses which serve the public, such as lawyers’ offices. The duties are too numerous to list but usually include managing others within the office as everyone goes about administration tasks of typing, record keeping, filing, etc. The MPA graduate is responsible for the effective and efficient running of whatever office they work for and needs to make sure all tasks assigned to their office are completed on time.
While accreditation is not vital to the degree program, many employers like to see that MPA degree holders take their profession seriously enough to belong to an organization that provides special accreditation credentials to its members. It also makes a difference when applying for a job with a law firm versus applying for a job with your local city council’s office. One such accreditation program in the United States is NASPAA, or the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration, and can be reached for further information here: http://www.naspaa.org/accreditation/NS/index.asp
There are also international accreditation programs if you get a MPA abroad or intend to serve as a public administration official in another country. In Europe, where a MPA degree is very useful in most government offices, you would want to contact EAPAA, or the European Association for Public Administration Accreditation. Having this credential in your resume is particularly impressive to employers as it shows a more global understanding of your chosen profession. You can contact the EAPAA through: http://eapaa.org.
The Amount of Schooling Required to Graduate with an MPA
All Master’s degree programs run two years, full-time, for the coursework. Additional time may be needed to write your thesis before you are granted your degree and graduate. Some programs, depending on where you go, might require you to complete at least one accreditation process, but this is not universal and you will have to check with your schools of choice to see if this is a requirement for graduation.
The Fiscal Expense of a MPA Degree
No doubt if you have looked into any sort of Master’s program you know that the cost, at the very least, is typically $3,000 per credit unit, and since most courses are three credits apiece, a single class is about $9,000. While this is the average, attending an online school versus a traditional school makes quite a difference as well. Your Master’s this way can cost as little as $9,000 all the way up to $36,000. Obviously then, your choice in schools and how you pursue your degree and whether or not you specialize will dictate your expenses. (Note: these figures do not include room and board, books, etc.)
Campus Vs. Online Masters in Public Administration: What’s the Difference?
A campus degree program is just that; you go to school during the day like you did for your Bachelor’s. Your work schedule, if you are employed, has to flex around your class schedule to make this work. Most adults enrolled in a Master’s program do have jobs, which is why a regular campus program doesn’t always work. If you have to live on campus because you are far from home, that’s an additional expense of several thousands of dollars a year.
Many schools that offer long distance learning are making it more possible for people to earn their degree on their time. Online learning offers classes to fit your schedule, not the other way around, and the tuition is significantly less. The downside to this is that you don’t get the hands on experience you need once you graduate and start looking for employment.
Now that you have the facts, you can make an educated evaluation of your options. You can start looking for the school you want to enroll in and apply right away for financial aid, if that is an option for you. MPA’s have a broad and bright outlook on their careers; you have chosen well. Good Luck!