The Arkansas State University Master of Public Administration (MPA) Public Management online program offers courses that focus on the skills required for effective public administration, from managing people and money to resources and programs. The program specifically emphasizes building communities and social infrastructures using clear communication and ethical and effective management techniques.
The population is booming across the globe and on our continent. As a result, North American demographics, migration patterns, lifestyles and even how and where people work has changed dramatically over recent decades. Graduates of MPA programs are now developing the cities and towns of the future, where the needs of citizens will be met with visionary infrastructures and innovations.
Northwest Arkansas is projected to have nearly one million residents in 25 years, which is double the current population. Planners in state and local agencies have already begun to determine where these people will live and work in order to zone areas and allocate land. These professionals use demographic forecasting models and U.S. Census Bureau data to factor in projected demographics, birth and death rates and migration patterns. In addition, they examine economic cycles in historical data that have impacted the rate of growth, including recent events like the COVID-19 pandemic.
While this growth rate accelerates in northwest Arkansas and many other places around the country, the rate of retirement among Baby Boomer planners in public administrative, management and executive roles may even outpace it. There will likely be a scarcity of talent to replace the outgoing professionals, making graduates of MPA programs uniquely valuable and eligible for a growing number of roles. A-State’s online, interdisciplinary MPA program provides the educational foundation for careers in the government, non-profit and business sectors.
Government: A local government manager, such as a city or county manager, ensures that basic services — including infrastructure, roadways, sanitation and utilities — are dispersed to a community. They collaborate with officials and professionals in public works, public safety, economic development and other service areas to accomplish their goals.
According to the International City/Council Management Association (ICMA), in nearly 85% of cities and in 372 counties across the country, there is a professional manager in place, overseeing day-to-day operations. These professionals allow mayors and other officials time to develop a community vision, offer expertise to produce real results and provide accountability to the citizenry in response to political promises.
Like coursework in A-State’s MPA online program, the daily work of public administration professionals draws from so many disciplines including economics, political science, business, law, sociology, anthropology and regional planning. The interdisciplinary approach of the curriculum matches the reality of interdisciplinary work at every level of government and in countless departments, commissions and agencies.
There are managerial roles in the federal government, including departments, agencies and congressional offices. At the state and city or municipal levels, MPA graduates find work in state departments, legislative agencies and service agencies, among other employers.
The public sector offers MPAs many opportunities for career advancement. Many agencies use Individual Development Plans to help with long-term career development, according to Go Government. Federal employees benefit from flexible work schedules, federal holidays and generous paid time off plans, job security, competitive pay and dependable benefits.
Nonprofits and NGOs: The MPA degree is also ideal for those seeking long-term careers in non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and nonprofits where the program’s focus on policy issues is most relevant. Graduates find work in charitable organizations, think tanks, trade associations, research associations, nonprofit organizations and foundations.
The nonprofit sector is growing quickly. According to Independentsector.org, the sector is the third-largest workforce in the U.S., behind retail and manufacturing, with 10% of the workforce and 11.4 million jobs. Over the years, there has been a shift of government responsibility to charitable nonprofits in filling service gaps and addressing community needs.
NASPAA, the accrediting body for MPA degree programs, confirms the positive career outlook: “MPA graduates are found in a wide variety of workplaces, but are especially attracted to the public and nonprofit sectors.” In describing the wide range of jobs graduates pursue, NASPAA says, “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.”
Versatility and Your Future
There are abundant opportunities for MPA graduates in the political and media spheres, businesses and law firms. This degree is the post-graduate, educational foundation for thousands of administrative, management, executive and leadership careers in the public and private sectors. Versatility matters for today’s students and professionals who want to invest in their education for long-term career growth and stability. Few academic degree programs confer as broad a range of skills or career opportunities, and the need for graduates is only getting stronger.
Learn more about Arkansas State’s online MPA program.