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What Careers Can I Have with a Master’s in Public Administration?

June 11, 2020

Many of the issues currently facing society are dependent upon changing and improving public policy. Concerns surrounding healthcare, education systems, agriculture, human rights, and social equality are some of the major issues currently on the hearts and minds of policymakers. In today’s rapidly changing political and social climate, these pressing concerns are in need of urgent attention and creative professionals ready to implement innovative solutions.

With many diverse career opportunities, the field of public administration is perfect for individuals interested in finding solutions and making a meaningful difference in their communities. Read on as we explore the field of public administration and how a degree and career in this discipline sets you up to impact meaningful change in the world. 

Download our guide to the Master of Public Administration at SHU and learn how  your graduate degree can prepare you with hands-on experience to tackle  real-world problems.

What is Public Administration? 

Public administration focuses on implementing policies that help grow and improve communities. The dedicated professionals in this field work to ensure that, at every level of government, policies and systems are improving the quality of life for all individuals and communities. They work in a wide range of federal, state, and local government agencies, nonprofits, and private organizations where they serve as executives, managers, analysts, and planners — united by their shared desire to impact change.

Why Should I Earn a Master of Public Administration?

Although the field is broad, public administration is unified by mission-driven professionals who are committed to making a lasting impact on the communities they serve. One of the best ways to prepare yourself for a career in public administration is to earn a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree. An MPA prepares you to strategically manage resources in the public, private, and non-profit sectors and apply ethical and legal principles to solve problems, contribute to solutions, and advance the common good. 

An MPA program helps students develop a thorough understanding of the public policy process, in addition to building skills that inform data-driven decision making and effective communication with diverse audiences. The degree takes an interdisciplinary approach and builds upon a foundational knowledge in economics, finance, law, and public policy. Having a solid understanding of all these areas allows you to take your education from a public administration degree to a job in your area of interest while maintaining a competitive professional edge over other candidates. 

What's the Career Outlook in Public Administration?

As communities recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, they are relying heavily on the development of policies that aid in their growth and reopening. Individuals in public administration work in government, public safety, education policy, urban planning, social and community services, law enforcement, and more — all of which are areas significantly impacted by the recent social, economic, and health crises occurring around the world. We are more dependent than ever on honest, reliable, and knowledgeable professionals to help us build and maintain the structures of our communities.

With a master’s in public administration, your starting salary can vary depending on the career path you choose. Holding an MPA also allows you to enter the workforce with a greater competitive edge. With your increased knowledge and experience, you will be more qualified for senior leadership roles, which increases your long-term earning potential. Right out of graduate school, you can expect to earn $18,000 more per year on average than those with their bachelor’s degree alone. 

Masters in Public Administration Careers

Typically, the primary motivator for those who work in public administration is not the financial benefit, but rather the intangible value they receive from bettering society and leaving a lasting, positive impact on communities and policies. Because the field of public administration is so vast and varied, there is a wide range of job opportunities and a broad spectrum of salaries. 

Here is a small sample of the career opportunities available in public administration: 

1. Public Works Director

A public works director supervises the activities of various departments in the public works sector, including water and sewage treatment plants, street systems, parks, utilities and equipment maintenance, waste management, and more. While these services vary greatly from city to city, a public works director is typically responsible for analyzing and evaluating project proposals, budgets, and outcomes in order to appropriately allocate funding and resources. The director must also communicate regularly with outside vendors and oversee the staff of the public works department.  

2. Urban and Regional Planner

Urban and regional planners develop plans for how land should be used in order to create communities, accommodate population growth, and improve physical facilities. They identify community needs and help them manage economic, social, and environmental issues as they grow, such as planning new parks, sheltering the homeless, and making the region more attractive to businesses. The responsibilities for urban and regional planners may include meeting with public officials, developers, and the public regularly, collecting and analyzing data, reviewing proposals from developers, and creating plans for land use. 

3. Policy Analyst

Policy analysts work at every level of government and aim to influence political policy as well as raise public awareness on different issues. This generally involves conducting research, analyzing current policies, evaluating the effects of proposed legislation, and reporting on findings. Many policy analysts choose to build their expertise in a particular area and may be responsible for holding meetings with constituents to determine the needs and concerns of a community or to understand the impact of a specific program or project.

Earn your MPA at Sacred Heart University

From a public administration degree to a job in the workforce, your education will empower you every step of the way in a career that will leave a lasting impact on your community. To prepare you for your career, Sacred Heart University proudly offers a fully-online Master of Public Administration program uniquely focused on serving, strengthening, and uplifting our surrounding communities by equipping administrators with the leadership skills they need to serve and make a difference.

To learn more about our program, we invite you to download the guide below or get in touch with one of our admissions counselors if you have more questions. We’re excited to help you get started on your journey to a meaningful, fulfilling career!

Learn more about the MPA at Sacred Heart by downloading — What Is a Masters in Public Administration? An Online Degree Designed for Non-Profit, Emergency, and Community Managers. 

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SHU Graduate Admissions Team

About the Author

We are the graduate admissions team at Sacred Heart University. We aspire to create a welcoming and supportive environment for students looking to continue their education while empowering them in mind, body and spirit. We hope you find our resources helpful and informative as you explore and pursue a graduate degree at Sacred Heart!

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