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MPA vs. MPP: Which Is Right For Your Career?

MPA vs. MPP: Which Is Right For Your Career?

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For those who wish to work in the public sector, there is often a question of which degree aligns closest to their career goals: the Master of Public Administration (MPA) or the Master of Public Policy (MPP). Both the MPA and MPP degrees have definite merits, but it can be confusing for a student to know which one to choose. Defining what each of these degrees are, the differences between them and the preferred degree for different career paths makes it significantly easier to reach a decision.

What Is A Master Of Public Administration (MPA)?

Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree offers curriculum that focuses on preparing students for a management career in public service. Those who have earned this degree have gone on to work in all levels of federal, state, and local government agencies. Others have pursued careers in nonprofit agencies, international organizations, consulting firms, and even in the private sector. The MPA degree assures that students develop skills and techniques for best practices in implementing policies, projects, and programs to help them resolve societal problems.

What Is A Master Of Public Policy (MPP)?

The Masters of Public Policy (MPP) degree also prepares students to work on the issues society faces. The emphasis of this degree, however, is on evaluating and solving policy problems using quantitative and qualitative data. Those who have earned the MPP degree typically become leaders in all levels of government agencies, nonprofit agencies, international organizations, and consulting firms. Some also have careers as analysts or researchers in the private sector.

MPA Vs. MPP – Differences And Similarities

From this standpoint, the MPA and MPP degrees look quite similar. In fact, they have converged over the years where both degrees require many of the same core courses. The main difference between the two degrees is the MPA’s focus on administration and leadership with an emphasis on management. This degree focus includes studies in human resources, finance, management principles and information systems. To earn an MPA, students are usually required to have professional experience, such as internships or other working experience before the degree is granted. In contrast, the MPP focuses on evaluation and strategy with an emphasis on research and analysis. Coursework usually includes research methods, statistics, cost-benefit analysis, and economics. Most MPP programs do not require candidates to have relevant professional experience to be accepted into the program.

MPA Vs. MPP – Which Is Better For Different Career Pathways?

To determine whether an MPA or MPP degree is right for you, you only need to look at your goals. The MPA degree is more flexible for management positions outside of the public sector, even though it does maintain a focus on public service. Having that option available is a benefit if you aren’t sure if government or nonprofit agencies are your true calling. The MPP, on the other hand, is more focused on public service and is ideal if you are certain that you would like a career in government, nonprofit agencies, or philanthropic institutions.

As with any education decision, you should consider your own career goals before making a decision. If you still have questions, you can call an admissions specialist to discuss your future plans and the degrees available to you.


This article was written by Inbound Marketing Coordinator Logan Harper on behalf of CAREEREALISM-Approved Partner, 2U — an education technology company that partners with institutions of higher education such as the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill which provides one of the best MPA programs in the US./em>

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Founded in 2008, 2U partners with preeminent institutions of higher education to deliver rigorous, selective degree programs online to students globally.