Students > FAQ Page
What is an MPP degree?
Several NASPAA member schools offer both degrees. See how they are
Washington University, American University,
Arizona State University, and the
University of Southern California.
What are the admissions criteria for an MPA or an MPP program?
All programs require the following: an application and application fee (can sometimes be waived), evidence that you've finished a bachelor's degree (transcripts), and letters of recommendation. Most schools require standardized test scores, such as the GRE or the GMAT (for programs in business schools), a current resume, and a statement of purpose. Many also ask for an additional essay or writing sample.
In addition, some schools may prefer that you have demonstrated an ability to complete quantitative courses (i.e. statistics, economics) before you enter the program. For specific requirements, check with the schools you're interested in.
Does my undergraduate degree need to be in political science?
No! In fact, MPA and MPP students possess a wide variety of undergraduate majors, including economics, environmental affairs, languages, biology, sociology, religion, history, math, etc. Some schools prefer that you have taken some quantitative courses (i.e. statistics, economics) before you enter the program, while others may allow you to take quantitative courses while you pursue your MPA or MPP.
Should I choose a NASPAA-accredited program?
NASPAA accreditation for MPA, MPP, and similar master's degree programs is very different from university-level accreditation. In public affairs, accreditation is voluntary, unlike fields such as law, where graduation from an accredited program can be a prerequisite to taking a licensing exam.
There are currently 179 NASPAA-accredited master's programs. Accreditation indicates that a program has met a set of rigorous standards, has been reviewed by a team of experts, and his been judged to be a high quality program. One benefit of graduating from an accredited program is that prospective employers are assured that you have been adequately prepared for the profession. You can read more about accreditation here.
However, an unaccredited program is not
necessarily of lower quality. It simply means that the program has chosen not to participate in
the peer-review process. You should research the
quality of unaccredited programs yourself.
Accreditation is one of many signs of quality
that you can use when considering and selecting a master's program.
Coursework for MPA candidates typically includes required core courses and a concentration or specialization. Core courses often include introduction to public administration, budgeting/finance, managerial economics, political and legal processes, quantitative methods, and ethics.
Specializations offered by NASPAA programs include areas such as public management, nonprofit management, health care management, international development, urban affairs, human-resource management, state/local government administration, and financial management.
Is a graduate degree a worthwhile investment?
Deciding whether to pursue a graduate degree may be one of the most important decisions of your professional life. Research shows that graduates of masters program do, in general, earn more than those with only a bachelor's degree. As you compare short-term costs with long-term benefits, useful data to complement your research is helpful. See updated salary data for recent MPA/MPP graduates.
How can I pay for my education?
To supplement personal funds for education expenses, university financial aid offices provide assistance through scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study for eligible students. Each institution should provide students with preliminary information about financial aid. Students should follow-up their institutional applications with searches for other financial aid details, scholarships, and funding opportunities. See NASPAA's overview of financial aid.
What types of jobs do MPA/MPP graduates have?
Since the degree programs offer so many different specializations and class options, assembling a comprehensive list of jobs that graduates may have is impossible. Common starting jobs for graduates include policy analysts, program managers, grant writers, researchers, and budget analysts. As their experience grows, many graduates rise to upper-level positions in government, nonprofit, and even business organizations. See more on our updated salary page
Do MPAs/MPPs work in the international arena?
Yes. In fact, many MPA/MPP programs offer specializations that effectively prepare students for international service or to work for an international organization based in the United States.
How can putting the letters "MPA" or "MPP" after my name help me?
Putting the letters "MPA" or "MPP" after your name (e.g. Jane Gomez, MPA) will set you apart in the job market. Employers look for distinctive characteristics in applicants, and they will recognize the degree. When an HR manager has 30 seconds to review a cover letter, this could make a big difference. Simply adding those three letters instantly signals the skills and knowledge you have gained.
Use the designation on online profiles such as LinkedIn, in your email 'signature', resumes, and professional letters. Current students can benefit too - use "MPA Candidate", "MPP Class of 2015", or similar.
Page updated July 2012