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A Guide to Master of Public Administration Courses

The Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree is rising in popularity for graduates. You will be given the opportunity to build on the knowledge you have gained during your undergraduate degree, preparing you for a role in the public administration field. Students on an MPA degree will be from a diverse background of academics and professionals, with a mixture of mature and younger students.


An MPA degree will cover a range of public administration topics. You will explore different subject areas including public policy, local and national government, management of public financial matters, and public service delivery among others.

Your course will be delivered through a mixture of modes. These will include lectures and seminars, as well as group discussions and presentations. You may have the chance to take part in a placement module, working for a business alongside part of your degree. A placement will allow you to apply and develop your skills in a real world environment, but also build your contacts in the business world.


Depending on where you choose to study, you may be able to specialise throughout your studies. This will allow you to focus on a certain area of public administration, developing your knowledge to an advanced level. Common specialisms include:

  • Public Finance
  • Political Science
  • Urban Poverty
  • Disaster Management
  • Local Government Management
  • Public Management

Your course may require you to write a dissertation or thesis. This will be an opportunity to perform in-depth research into an area of public administration that interests you.

Accreditation and certification

The accreditation of a Master of Public Administration degree is generally standardised internationally. Most institutions will award you with an MPA degree once you have graduated. Gaining an internationally recognised award will mean that no matter where you choose to work, your future employers will recognise that you have advanced knowledge of public administration.

Certain degree courses may be accredited by independent professional or academic bodies. You should check with your institution for more information about this.

Timeframe and further studies

Normally, a Master of Public Administration will take one to two years to complete, when studied full-time. If you wish to study part-time, your degree will be spread across a longer period of time. The duration of your degree can sometimes be flexible to fit around your current work/home commitments. Your institution will be able to provide you with more information about their part-time study options.

On successful completion of your degree, you can either seek employment in your chosen area, or further your studies. You may choose to continue with your studies and gain another degree, such as an MPhil or PhD, or a graduate diploma or certificate.

Entry requirements

The entry requirements for an MPA degree will depend on where you choose to study. Typically, you will be expected to have gained an undergraduate degree in a relevant field. Some universities will accept a first degree in any discipline. If you have relevant previous work experience, this might be considered as an alternative to an undergraduate degree if you do not meet the academic requirements.

Universities may also require you to provide reference letters as part of your application. These tend to be requested from both an academic and a professional contact.

You should check each institution to see what entry requirements they have for their MPA programmes.

  • UK – 7.0 IELTS, letters of reference
  • US – 3.0 GPA, letters of recommendation

Funding your studies

Tuition fees for international students are not fixed. This means that they can vary greatly from institution to institution. You should make sure that you are aware of how much your course will cost you.

You may be eligible for a scholarship or funding. This could be awarded by your institution, or by a separate funding body. For more information, visit our scholarships and funding section.

Career options

Graduates of a Master of Public Administration will find that they have a broad range of career opportunities. Popular destinations include government roles, politics, healthcare administration, education, urban planning and international development. Your degree will allow you to progress into middle and senior management roles at a faster rate.

You will gain a variety of transferable and useful skills throughout your degree. These will allow you to apply your knowledge to a wide range of organisations, in the private sector, non-profit sector and public service sector. These skills could include oral and written communication, people and project management, analytical thinking, and financial management.

Masters in Master of Public Administration

Highlighted courses in Master of Public Administration

MPA (Master of Public Administration) MPA

Ulster University United Kingdom

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Master of Public Administration Masters Degree

Northeastern University United States

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Online Masters of Public Administration Master

University of Birmingham Online United Kingdom

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Master of Public Administration MPA

The University of Hong Kong Hong Kong

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Master of Public Administration Masters Degree

Flinders University Australia

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Master of Public Administration MPA, PG Dip

University of Nottingham United Kingdom

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View all courses in Master of Public Administration

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