Master of Public Policy Vs. Master of Public Administration

Though there are commonalities in the coursework and duration of MPP and MPA programs, the program outcomes and career goals are more diverse than one might realize. Keep reading to compare and contrast these degrees. Schools offering Public Administration degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Comparing Master of Public Policy and Master of Public Administration Degree Programs

An Introduction to a Master of Public Policy

Individuals who want to be agents of change within state and national governmental agencies, in private and non-profit sectors, or at the international relations level may find their niche in earning a master's degree in public policy. Generally completed within two years with full-time study, these programs not only offer broad scope course work in quantitative analysis, ethics, and a historical context of democracy and policy issues, but students may also pick a special focus or concentration in their public policy studies, like international relations and global affairs or trade, finance, and economic policy.

Although some programs require applicants to have a minimum number of years in relative work or volunteer experience, other programs forego such a requirement and focus more on applicants' undergraduate records, GRE (graduate record exam) scores, and GPAs, when required for admission. There are many paths that graduates of master's programs in public policy may take, from continuing their studies at the post graduate level, becoming political analysts, or running for elected offices, to name just a few.

An Introduction to a Master of Public Administration

Many federal employees are preparing for retirement in the coming years, which could leave an employment gap to be filled. Earning a master's degree in public administration can be an advantageous start to a fulfilling career in public service in governmental, non-profit, and professional sectors, and unlike some MPP admission requirements, applicants may not need previous relative work or volunteer experience. Working professionals may be pleased to find that there are online and traditional on-campus formats to ease their transition back into student life as they tackle rigorous MPA coursework that can generally be completed within two years with full-time study.

Leadership ethics, finance and budgeting, research and data analysis, and being a driving force in positive changes in the public or private sectors are among the program goals of colleges and universities offering master's level degrees in public administration. Employment opportunities after graduation are as diverse as the master's level curriculum in public administration,l and graduates may seek out opportunities as political scientists, college administrators, or political campaign workers.

Degree Program Program Length Program Requirements Related Careers
Master of Public Policy 2+ years *undergraduate degree
*may require relevant work or volunteer experience
*Policy Analyst
*Consultant
Master of Public Administration 2+ years *undergraduate degree *Political Scientist
*Healthcare Administrator

A Brief Survey of Master of Public Policy Courses

Coursework in public policy blends analytic methodologies, pragmatic problem solving, and moral compass guide work in the scope of fostering a betterment of society through public and private policy decision making. Depending on the school of choice, students may take on internships and/or research/capstone projects that put their policy making skills to work in applicable scenarios.

Ethics

Public policy, special and public interest may be deeply intertwined, but understanding ethics and values and how they are relative to those interpreting them plays a significant role in public policy initiatives. Students may explore the dichotomy between capitalism, authority and democracy. While understanding ethics is important in public policy, students should also be able to effectively communicate the reasoning behind the policies they advocate and the ethical implications of those recommendations. Ethics coursework is program specific, yet effective understanding, analysis, and communication of values are common curriculum goals.

Economics

Students may be required to take and successfully pass more than one economics course during their studies. Intermediate economics and applied and macroeconomics are among the economics classes offered. Supply and demand along with consumer behavior may be explored at length. Market failures and government as a remedy for market failures are other focal points that may be addressed. Overall, students should come away from public policy economics courses with the ability to apply economic principles in sound reasoning toward domestic and global economic policy problems.

Policy Analysis

Policy analysis classes can guide students through the analysis of political, public, and organizational policies. Aside from critically analyzing policies and the goals they aim to accomplish, designing and implementing strategies and resolutions may be examined in this course. Healthcare, environmental, and global policy are often exploratory areas in such classes.

A Brief Survey of Master of Public Administration Courses

Similar to the Master or Public Policy program, the Master of Public Administration program's coursework explores data analysis, ethics, and policy decision making. But, MPA programs also focus heavily on management and leadership roles and theories that are necessary in the administrative arena.

Public Administration

This coursework may explore the theoretical history and development of public administration in the United States. Along with a historical context, coursework in public organization and management delves into the problematic nature of public administration and the decision-making process. The relationship between bureaucracy and democracy is another relative topic in public administration and management discourse.

Research Methods

Working in public administration requires the ability to appropriately apply data analysis in nonprofit and public sectors. Public administrations deal with data from a multitude of sources. This coursework often examines research methodologies and determines the relevance and value of various research in administration and public policy.

Nonprofit Management

Nonprofit management classes may cover human resources and volunteer management. Students might also explore fundraising for nonprofit organizations, financial management, and marketing and communication. In general, studies cover theoretical, as well as practical, issues involved in nonprofit organizational leadership roles.

Master's degrees in public policy and public management have similar goals in producing leaders in their fields who are ready and capable of influencing policy and being agents of change. But while Master of Public Policy degrees aim to produce leaders who drive program policies, Master of Public Administration degrees aim to produce those who manage the programs effected by policies.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

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  • Strayer University

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  • Grand Canyon University

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  • Southern New Hampshire University

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  • Northcentral University

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  • Liberty University

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  • Purdue University Global

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  • Colorado Christian University

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  • Columbia Southern University

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  • Walden University

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  • University of the Southwest

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