Hilbert College Global Online Blog

What Can You Do With an MPA?

Written by: Hilbert College   •  Jan 31, 2024
An administrative services manager stands in an office holding a tablet.

What Can You Do With an MPA?

The public sector encompasses all federal, state and local government entities. Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and nonprofits, while typically categorized as the private sector, are often closely affiliated with the public sector. Professional roles in the public sector are more likely to require postsecondary education compared to those in the private sector, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). To advance their careers in the public sector, many professionals pursue a Master of Public Administration (MPA).

What can you do with an MPA? An MPA can qualify individuals to pursue influential policymaking, administrative and executive roles in government agencies and nonprofit organizations that require skills in communication, analysis and strategic thinking.

Typical MPA Career Fields

MPA graduates are well-equipped for leadership positions in government agencies, NGOs and nonprofits. MPA graduates’ understanding of policy, management and economics can be applied across various fields:

  • Federal, State and Local Government Agencies: Overseeing and executing policies for different government departments such as health, education, finance, labor and justice.

  • Human Rights: Tackling complex issues in human rights advocacy, shaping policies that protect and promote fundamental rights

  • Education: Leading initiatives or managing institutions, focusing on policy reforms and educational improvements

  • Nonprofit Organizations: Driving strategic planning and program development and improving organizational management

  • Health Care: Contributing to policymaking, health care administration and improving health services delivery systems

  • Public Media: Managing public media entities, focusing on content that educates and informs, while aligning with public policies

  • International Organizations: Working on global policies, international development projects or diplomatic initiatives

What Jobs Can You Get With an MPA Degree?

An MPA degree can open doors to a number of job opportunities, ranging from middle and senior management roles to top executive positions. This means that the median annual wage for individuals with MPA degrees can vary widely. Here are some examples of jobs individuals with an MPA degree are eligible to pursue.

Administrative Services Managers

Administrative services managers help ensure their organization’s operations run efficiently. They typically supervise staff, set goals and deadlines for meeting them and propose strategies for improving existing policies and procedures. In larger organizations, these managers may focus on specific areas—for example, record-keeping or office operations. In smaller ones, they often manage all support services. Work activities for administrative services managers range from managing the organization’s supplies and services to planning technology and equipment upgrades.

The median annual salary for administrative services managers as of May 2022 was $103,330, according to the BLS.

Political Scientist

Political scientists can specialize in local, national and global politics. They can also serve in international relations roles. A political scientist’s primary aim is to assess public policy’s impact on government operations, businesses and citizens. They gather data through surveys, censuses and quantitative means. They also use their insights into political trends and current events to analyze systematic political structures and develop political theories that may help address challenges.

As of May 2022, the median annual salary for political scientists was $128,020, according to the BLS.

Public Relations Managers

Public relations managers focus on enhancing their organization’s public image. Their responsibilities include developing the organization’s identity, identifying target audiences for the organization’s message, managing the organization’s interactions with the media and writing press releases. They also create campaigns in response to social, economic and political trends.

Public relations managers supervise staff and collaborate with other departments. Individuals in these roles might work with legal teams to ensure the accuracy of their public communications.

The median annual salary for public relations managers was $129,430 as of May 2022, according to the BLS.

Fundraising Managers

Fundraising managers’ primary responsibility is to generate donations for their organization. They do this by identifying potential donors, applying for grants, and organizing fundraising, annual and capital planned giving and major gifts campaigns.

Fundraising managers supervise teams and coordinate efforts with other departments. Individuals in these roles often need specialized knowledge. For example, they should understand the tax implications of different donation types.

The median annual salary for fundraising managers was $107,390 as of May 2022, according to the BLS.

MPA Degree Skills

For those wondering what you can do with an MPA, MPA coursework focuses on values and ethics in public administration and teaches skills that can help professionals thrive in a public administration career. MPA students can build key skills in areas such as the following:

Public Relations

The ability to craft effective communication strategies is crucial to engaging the public. Public relations skills include understanding media relations, crisis communication and how to build a positive public image through traditional media outlets as well as social and digital media platforms to secure the broadest possible outreach and impact.

Human Resources Management

Human resources skills enable an individual to build and maintain an organization’s workforce effectively and ethically. This encompasses being adept at developing recruitment strategies, managing performance evaluations, promoting workplace diversity and inclusion, handling conflict resolution and overseeing labor relations.

Program Planning

Program planning skills are essential to effectively address the public’s needs. This requires the ability to assess the community’s needs, set realistic goals, develop actionable strategies and allocate resources. To ensure that programs continue to fulfill their objectives, the ability to measure program outcomes is also important.

Finance and Budgeting

Public sector organizations often have limited financial resources, making knowledge of financial and budgeting processes essential. This encompasses proficiency in public finance principles, resource allocation, fiscal responsibility, accounting systems and auditing practices.

Political and Policy Analysis

Political and policy analysis work requires the ability to analyze and interpret political contexts and policy implications. This includes understanding the legislative process, how to formulate policies and the role of different government branches.

Prepare for a Career in the Public Sector

Those aiming to tackle societal issues that range from poverty to climate change often gravitate toward public sector jobs. This sector is dedicated to providing services in areas such as education, security, welfare, legal systems, natural resources, public transportation and health care.

A career in the public sector typically starts with an analyst, researcher, grant writer or program manager role. Each of these jobs has the potential to be a steppingstone toward a role at the executive level. Enrolling in an MPA degree program can help individuals rise up the ranks in their careers more quickly.

Learn how Hilbert College Global’s online Master of Public Administration program can help you achieve your public sector career goals.

Recommended Readings:

Electoral Integrity: Challenges, Goals and Resources

4 Careers in Health Insurance

Crisis Management Plans and Public Administration


The Balance, “Public Sector vs. Private Sector: What’s the Difference?”

Indeed, “Guide to Public Administration Jobs: Finding Your Role”

Investopedia, “Master of Public Administration (MPA): Careers and Requirements”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Administrative Services and Facilities Managers

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Political Scientists

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Public Relations and Fundraising Managers

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, State and Local Government Jobs More Likely Than Private Sector to Require Postsecondary Education

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Top Executives

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