What Can You Do With a Public Administration Master's Degree?


Now more than ever, mid-career professionals are looking for ways to distinguish themselves as leaders in the public sector. A public administration master’s degree is an increasingly popular option that allows students to grow in their knowledge and reinforce their commitment to their career paths.

With a graduate degree in public administration, you can advance your public administration career or start your own nonprofit. This degree can also help prepare you to make the switch from a private sector company to a public organization.

But what exactly is a public administration master’s degree geared towards working professionals? Learn more about the online Master of Public Administration and Leadership, and reach out to us directly for more information on how the program can advance your career.


What is an MPAL?

A Master of Public Administration and Leadership (MPAL) is essentially the same as an MPA degree, although it was created specifically with mid-career professionals in mind.

“Because students are coming in with work experience, the expectation is that they are able to use that experience and go deeper in the course assignments,” said Mindy Niehaus, the MPAL Program Manager.

The John Glenn College of Public Affairs offers the MPAL program 100% online. Courses are designed to be completed asynchronously, allowing professionals to continue full-time employment while participating in the program. Students are expected to meet synchronously on Zoom only a handful of times, which gives students the flexibility to schedule coursework around their day jobs.

This public administration master’s degree can be completed in five semesters, with the ability to take more time to complete the program, if needed. The MPAL program offers students the opportunity to pursue a Master of Public Administration degree entirely online. The brand-new integrated curriculum targets the needs of working professionals in both public and nonprofit sectors.

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How Does a Master's Degree Prepare You for Public Administration Jobs?

During the MPAL program, students have the opportunity to address real world problems throughout their course of study. The program integrates a focus on ethical leadership, civic engagement, civic discourse and diversity in each course.

Faculty members of the MPAL program intentionally designed the curriculum by talking to employers directly about what they look for in employees.

“They took that employer feedback and created this curriculum to give students real, applicable, hands-on skills,” said Niehaus.

Culminating in a capstone experience, MPAL students are challenged to present solutions to relevant problems that were a focus throughout their program. Additionally, students have the opportunity to specialize in an area that addresses workforce needs and builds on the strengths of Glenn faculty. Specializations include:

  • Public Management

  • Public Policy

  • Criminal Justice Administration and Policy

  • Nonprofit Management

Students of the MPAL program come from diverse backgrounds, allowing students to learn from one another. Current students have occupations ranging from HR Consultant, Outreach Coordinator, Firefighter, Attorney and Research Assistant.

“You are able to look at a problem or issue and see it from multiple perspectives,” said Niehaus. “As opposed to a traditional class where you just learn from the instructor, students are encouraged to bring their experience to class and learn from one another.”


A public administration graduate leads a meeting


What Kinds of Jobs Can You Get with a Public Administration Master's Degree?

A public administration master’s degree offers students the opportunity to advance in their current positions, or obtain the skills necessary to switch fields entirely. Essentially, an MPA is an MBA for the public sector. Current students have ambitions ranging from moving up in their organization to starting their own nonprofit.

Public administration graduates may go on to become:

  • Program Managers

  • Budget Analysts

  • Operations Managers

  • Executive Directors

  • Project Managers

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for public administration professionals is $100,780.

MPAL students are supported with Ohio State's world-class faculty and career guidance during their time in the program and beyond. 

Ready to learn more? Explore the MPAL degree program.

Last modified: 
August 19, 2022