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 you to grow your knowledge and reinforce your commitment to your career paths. 

With a graduate degree in public administration, you can advance your public administration career or start a nonprofit. This degree can also prepare you to 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, giving you the flexibility to schedule coursework around your current job. 

The MPAL program allows you to pursue a Master of Public Administration online. 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 brand-new integrated curriculum targets the needs of working professionals in both the public and nonprofit sectors.


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

During the MPAL program, you will address real-world problems throughout your studies. The program integrates a focus on ethical leadership, civic engagement, civic discourse and diversity in each course. 

The MPAL program faculty members 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, you are challenged to present solutions to relevant problems that were a focus throughout your program. Additionally, you can specialize in an area that addresses workforce needs and builds on the strengths of the 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 you 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 allows you to advance in your current position or obtain the skills necessary to switch fields entirely. Essentially, an MPA is an MBA for the public sector. 

Public administration graduates may go on to become:

  • Program Managers
  • Operations Managers
  • Chief Executives
  • Regulatory Affairs Managers
  • Technical Project Managers
  • Directors of Social Services
  • Social and Community Service Managers


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor 2022 Statistics, the median annual salary for public administration professionals is $98,100. 

You are consistently supported by Ohio State's world-class faculty and career guidance during your program and beyond. 

Ready to learn more? Explore the MPAL degree program.

Last modified: 
May 30, 2023