The Master of Public Administration (M.P.Adm., M.P.A., or MPA) is a professional post-graduate degree in public administration which is the public sector's offering equivalent to the private sector's Master of Business Administration.
The MPA program is a professional degree for the public sector and it prepares individuals to serve as managers in the executive arm of local, state/provincial, and federal/national government, and increasingly in non-governmental organization (NGO) and nonprofit sectors; it places a focus on the systematic investigation of executive organization and management. Instruction includes the roles, development, and principles of public administration; public policy management and implementation. Through its history, the MPA degree has become more interdisciplinary by drawing from fields such as economics, sociology, law, anthropology, political science, and regional planning in order to equip MPA graduates with skills and knowledge covering a broad range of topics and disciplines relevant to the public sector. A core curriculum of a typical MPA program usually includes courses on microeconomics, public finance, research methods / statistics, policy process and policy analysis, public financial management, managerial accounting, ethics, public management, leadership, planning & Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and program evaluation/performance measurement. Depending on their interest, MPA students can focus their studies on a variety of public sector fields such as urban planning, emergency management, transportation, health care (especially public health), economic development, urban management, community development, education, non-profits, information technology, environmental policy, cultural policy, and criminal justice, etc.
MPA graduates currently serve in some important positions within the public sector including Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, former CIA Director David Petraeus, President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Former President of Mexico Felipe Calderón, Foreign Minister of Serbia Vuk Jeremić, New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, Former Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, former Treasurer of Australia Wayne Swan, Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek, former Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard Thad Allen. Other notable MPA graduates include Bill O'Reilly (Fox News).
In recent years, there has been a gradual convergence between the MPA and the Master of Public Policy (MPP) degrees. Today, the course offerings of most MPA and MPP programs overlap to some degree, but MPP programs tend to provide more focused training in policy analysis and policy design, while MPA programs usually still provide more focused coursework in program implementation and public management.
Many educational institutions are now offering MPA degrees via online instruction. There are also Executive MPA programs for professionals who have prior work and management experience.
Outside the United States, the MPA degree increasingly includes a substantial element of management education sitting alongside public policy and public administration thereby bringing it closer to the MBA degree. However, some MPA programs in the United States are housed in Business schools (see BYU's Marriott School of Management and LSU's E. J. Ourso College of Business). In other cases, they bring together multidisciplinary approaches and methodologies as to give their students a more comprehensive overview of the current challenges of public administration. (see School of Government, LUISS Guido Carli)
A Master of Public Administration can be acquired at various institutions. See List of schools offering MPA degrees.