MPA or MPP
Professionals who aspire to careers in government have two major options for graduate education: a Master of Public Administration (MPA) or a Master of Public Policy (MPP). Graduate students, educators and even government officials have long debated the merits of an MPA versus an MPP, but what exactly is an MPA? What is an MPP? Are they really that different?
What is an MPA?
The Master of Public Administration is a postgraduate degree that prepares students for management roles in the public and nonprofit sectors, working with and leading people, and managing money and projects. Subjects typically covered in the curriculum include policy implementation and management, finance and budgeting, connections between organizational management and legislation, civil worker management and professional ethics. When compared with MPP programs, MPAs tend to emphasize program implementation and management. MPA programs are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA), of which UNC School of Government is a member and the MPA program is accredited by.
What is an MPP?
The Master of Public Policy is a postgraduate degree that prepares students for analytical roles in the public and nonprofit sectors. Subjects typically covered include microeconomics, macroeconomics, public finance, research methodology, statistics, politics of policy process, management of public organizations and research ethics. Many of these subjects overlap with those covered by an MPA degree, although the curricula differ in significant ways; when compared with MPA programs, MPPs tend to emphasize policy analysis and design, and tend to develop more skills in statistical analysis, data management, financial/cost benefit analysis and modeling. MPP programs are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA).
A comprehensive comparative study of MPA vs. MPP programs published in the Journal of Public Affairs Education found limited differences between the two program types. The study showed that students typically enter the two programs with similar interests and dispositions, and that many employers view the degrees as interchangeable.
So what does distinguish MPA and MPP programs? MPA program curricula and faculty backgrounds emphasize public policy administration, while MPP program curricula and faculty backgrounds emphasize economic analysis and policy. Though the subject matter in both program types is closely related, these distinct perspectives set them apart.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Government offers one of the most highly rated MPA programs in the United States. MPA@UNC is part of UNC’s School of Government, the largest university-based organization for local government training, advising and research in the nation. Because UNC School of Government’s MPA faculty engage with local government officials on a daily basis, MPA@UNC students benefit from their instructors’ high levels of practical experience and professionalism. To prepare for leadership roles in public service, MPA@UNC students take core courses such as Institutions and Values, Organization Theory, Analysis and Evaluation, Public Financial Management, and Law for Public Administration. Elective offerings include Collaborative Governance, State Government, Mediation Skills, and Nonprofit Management.
To learn more about the MPA@UNC, click here.