Master of Public Administration Guide: Curriculum

When exploring careers in governmental or non-profit agencies, it is vital to understand how to obtain the education necessary to excel. Pursuing a master’s in public administration (MPA) is the quickest route to gaining key competencies in the organizational leadership and strategic planning necessary to run agencies and various departments throughout the public sector with refined purpose and efficiency. An MPA is a professional degree, often pursued in place of a master of business (MBA). The main difference is that the MBA is used more often to pursue jobs in the private (for-profit) sector, while the MPA is more often used to pursue public (non-profit) sector jobs. After completing the program and earning your MPA, you will be qualified to work in a plethora of areas like:

  • Administration within the public sector
  • The transportation department
  • The public library system
  • The social welfare system
  • Law enforcement
  • …and many more areas of expertise that you can find on any MPA website.


Top-Ranked MPA Designed to Prepare Tomorrow’s Public Service Leaders.
Multidisciplinary Curriculum with Real-World Experience; GRE Waivers Available.

Delivered by Syracuse University’s #1-Ranked Maxwell School.
Action-Oriented Curriculum Completed in as Little as 15 Months; No GRE.

MPA Online from USC Price
Earn your MPA online from USC Price, ranked #3 for public affairs.
The program can be completed in as few as 24 months. A bachelor’s degree is required to apply.


MPA Requirements

Some schools require that you have a minimum of a 3.0 GPA, have taken the GRE/GMAT and have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university. If you are unsure of the program requirements, it is a good idea to review the website of the online program you are pursuing to ensure you don’t miss anything.

MPA Coursework

Certain online MPA curriculums will provide a concise overview of their particular programs, but there are some general course requirements that will be a part of whatever program you end up deciding on. Core classes found in the majority of online MPA curriculums are:

  • Public administration
  • Communications
  • Public sector accounting and auditing
  • Policy analysis
  • Public service leadership
  • Public administration law
  • Human resources management
  • Organization theory

After choosing to pursue an MPA, it is possible to choose a concentration and elective. Some of the concentrations available under the umbrella of the MPA are:

  • Economic development
  • Energy
  • Environmental policy and natural resource management
  • Information systems
  • International development
  • Local government management
  • Non-profit management
  • Policy analysis
  • Public financial administration
  • Public management
  • Sustainability and sustainable development.

Some examples of electives that typically accompany an online MPA program are:

  • Productivity improvement in local government
  • Government and non-profit
  • Accounting and reporting
  • Decision analysis
  • City and county management
  • Introduction to public policy analysis
  • Administrative law
  • Labor management relations

MPA programs can differ from each other quite a bit. Familiarizing yourself with various programs will allow you to make an educated decision when the time to enroll arrives.