Earning an MPA degree is a worthwhile career investment. Even in tough economic times, employers are seeking graduates of MPA programs for management and executive-level positions. As the demand for public service administrators continues to grow, MPA graduates will have a clear advantage when competing against job seekers with bachelor’s or master’s degrees in other fields.
MPA Return on Investment
Since graduate school does involve a large investment of time and money, it’s important to weigh the benefits versus the cost of an MPA degree. Benefits include the acquisition of advanced knowledge and skills, a competitive advantage in the job market, improved prospects for career advancement, higher compensation, fringe benefits like travel and greater professional visibility in your field. An MPA degree qualifies graduates to work in many types of positions with a wide range of salaries. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) publishes salary information for many types of public administration jobs. According to the BLS, median salaries for managers and directors in state and local government range from $44,000 to $95,000 per year. The U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2012 that employees with master’s degrees earn on average $1,300 more per month compared to employees who have only earned a bachelor’s degree. With tuition and fees from most MPA programs ranging from $20,000 to $75,000, it can be said that an MPA degree provides an excellent return on investment within just a few years for many public administration careers.
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The program can be completed in as few as 24 months. A bachelor’s degree is required to apply.
MPA Financial Aid
In addition to tuition, fees and course materials, the costs of an MPA degree include time away from work, housing, food, transportation and miscellaneous expenses. Before applying for an MPA program, it’s important to assess the total cost the degree and to factor in the cost of living near the university campus. Graduate students who find that they can’t afford all of the expenses associated with an MPA degree will find several types of financial aid available, including scholarships, fellowships, grants and loans. An overview of some of the available resources for financial aid for MPA programs is provided below.
- Federal Student Aid: The U.S. Department of Education’s student aid website. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) can be filled out and submitted from this website.
- MPA Scholarships: A list of national scholarships available for students pursuing an MPA.
- The Idealist Grad School Resource Center: Provides a wealth of information about public service graduate school programs, including financing.
- Fastweb: A free scholarship matching service that provides access to a database of 1.5 million scholarships.
- FinAid: A comprehensive source of student financial aid information, sponsored by the publisher of FastWeb.com. Also includes information about federal student loans and loan forgiveness programs for public service employees.
- ThoughtCo: Graduate School: Repository of articles about financial aid for graduate school.
- GradSchools: Financial Aid: Features advice about financial aid as well as details about loans, fellowships and scholarships.
- IMDiversity: Graduate School Channel: Guide to graduate and professional school grants and fellowships for minority students.
- SIPA Fellowship Directory: Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) directory of grants and fellowships for any student wanting to enroll in a public policy program.