Public administration and public affairs are alike in that they both cater to students that desire leadership positions in their future. However, their focus and purpose differ when applied in the workplace.
Public administration degree programs have a more employee-centered approach, while public affairs programs operate under a client-centered approach. Read more about these differences in the paragraphs below.
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What are the Main Differences between Public Administration and Public Affairs?
When you are seeking degree programs in the public domain, the different degree majors and specializations can sometimes run together in terms of what each provides to their discipline.
Master of Public Administration
The Master of Public Administration program is an excellent choice for individuals that are interested in providing leadership to organizations that provide needed services to the public. Public administration is a field that is focused on the administrative components of different agencies, such as staffing, budgeting, and ethical cooperation. This field is especially inviting for students that wish to pursue management positions in different offices of the government at the local, state, and national level.
The Master of Public Affairs
The Master of Public Affairs is similar to the MPA in that it also focuses on the need for knowledgeable leadership within public service organizations. However, public affairs as a discipline is more focused on the need for effective partnerships, communication, and connection to consumers. Public affairs is an important part of the field of public service, in that it investigates all parts of a properly running organization as a method for increasing success for the organization as a whole.
While both degree programs offer benefits to learners that seek careers in public service, the focus of each program is in 2 different areas completely. If you are interested in providing leadership in government offices or non-profit organizations, the Master of Public Administration can be a great option for you. If you desires cater more to the relationships and connections between an organization and its stakeholders, the Master of Public Affairs is the right path for you. Regardless of which degree program is more fitting for you, each can provide a needed service for the organization in which it serves.
Are there online programs for each?
If you are interested in pursuing a career within social or public service, but you do not have the means to quit your career and attend school full-time, there are plenty of online options for you to consider. Online degree programs can provide students with the flexibility of attending class at any time throughout the week, submitting assignments through an online environment, and connecting with instructors via online discussion boards or email. As more and more students feel compelled to further their degree in order to find more meaningful careers, online degree programs may continue to flourish. The rapid change in technology and students’ desire for quick satisfaction plays a role in how popular these types of degree programs have come within the last few years.
Master of Public Administration programs are found at many universities in online format. This program is suitable for online instruction, since a lot of the curriculum is investigation and requires independent research. One school that offers this option is the University of Southern California. The online MPA program at this university requires that students enrolled in their program complete 40 credit hours in order to graduate. The curriculum at this university offers students the opportunity to learn more about the administrative components of organization from a theoretical and applied perspective. For students that are enrolled full-time, the entire program can be completed in 5-6 semesters, which includes enrollment during the summer.
The University of Missouri offers students the opportunity to enroll in an innovative and effective online Master of Public Affairs program through their university. This program is 100% online and has a 33 credit hour requirement for graduation. Each course taken through this program lasts 9 weeks and the entire program has the potential to be completed within 2 years at full-time enrollment. The online Master of Public Affairs program at this university can help prepare students for leadership positions in non-profit organizations, the government, healthcare, and business.
Although our team has provided a reputable example of online programs within each discipline, there are still large numbers of options for you to choose from depending on your requirements. Searching for online programs should include scrutiny into the quality of the degree programs and verification of accreditation of degree programs. Programs in public administration and public affairs are accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration (NASPAA).
What can you do with the MPA?
When you have completed the Master of Public Administration program, you can find careers in a diverse set of fields. The most prominent component of the MPA program is leadership, which is the position that most graduates seek after their degree program has concluded. In terms of what fields they work in, there are numerous options. Organizations that focus on business, healthcare, government, finance, and public service are popular fields that call upon public administration specialists to help run their facilities – but your options are not limited to these fields. Our team of education experts looked at some of the most popular career positions available to public administration graduates and provided a list of potential careers below.
- Emergency Management Director
- Regional Planner
- Community Development Specialist
- Fundraising Manager
- Non-Profit Fiscal Management
What can you do with the Master of Public Affairs?
With a Master in Public Affairs, graduates can seek out careers working for high-end organizations at many different levels of service. Since public affairs professionals are concerned with their relationship with partners, providers, and consumers, their expertise is not limited to any certain discipline or field. Public affairs graduates can be found working in political settings, for the government, in non-profit organizations, private businesses, and even individual consulting firms. The expertise of the public affairs specialist includes a long list of skills, including leadership and organizational intelligence. With these skills, you could potentially find careers working for many diverse organizations. Check out our list of popular career titles below.
- Program Coordinator
- Research Analyst
- Development Manager
- Policy Analyst
What is the MPA?
Public administration is a career field that involves a greater understanding of how businesses and other public services agencies operate from an inside perspective. This may include the management of large numbers of employees, financial budgeting and tax analysis, and quality improvement.
Public administration takes into consideration the need for problem-free business operation and fair treatment of employees and consumers. At the government level, public administration can consist of providing public services to the general population while operating under federal regulations and ethical guidelines. If you are considering the MPA for your degree program, you might want to know the specific requirements of professionals in this field prior to enrolling in a program.
The MPA program includes topics that surround the need for more educated and seasoned leaders in government positions, local businesses, larger chain businesses, and even non-profit agencies. Positions within these different settings are related in terms of the requirements of each. One thing that each of these areas has in common is their need for knowledgeable, fair, and concise leaders.
The way that you can become a chosen leader within each of these fields is to learn more about how each organization operates and attain the skills needed to be an influential management professional. In order for these organizations to operate efficiently, it is important for the business to hire knowledgeable professionals that can handle large numbers of employees, financial management, ethical considerations, human resources, and interpersonal communication.
All of these skills are outlined within MPA programs throughout the country. Public administration has grown into one of the more popular degree options for students that want to have options with their careers, while still having a thorough set of skills that are appropriate for management professionals and leaders. Public administration within a degree program is also a great addition to a professional resume. If you want to pursue a career in leadership, public service, or business, the MPA program is definitely a great choice for you.
What topics are covered in the MPA program?
While in MPA programs, students might find that the curriculum is more definitive of what the degree program provides as a whole. In some programs, students might be expected to take courses such as Financial Accounting, the Legal Environment of Business, and Assurance Services. These courses in particular can help prepare learners for the financial aspects of running a business as well as the legal aspects of financial and personnel management.
On the other side of the spectrum, the MPA program can also consist of courses such as Leadership Practices, Policy Analysis, and Human Resources. These courses are more focused on the personnel side of leadership positions, which is an important part of public administration from within the business perspective. Public administration programs typically focus on the need for providing a smooth running organization that’s effectiveness begins from the inside.
Depending on where you have enrolled, you may see a variance in the topics and courses you take – especially if you have chosen a specialty for your degree program. In general, most public administration programs focus on the monetary components of running a business, the ethics involved in providing public services, and the hiring/training process of new employees.
What is the Master of Public Affairs?
The field of public affairs is concerned with the relationship between an organization and entities that play a role in its functioning. The specific entities that are of interest to an organization can vary depending on the company and its purpose, but in most instances the relationship of concern is focused on stakeholders, customers, partners, communities, or even the media.
The Master of Public Affairs program is focused on providing students with the opportunity to learn more about these relationships and how they should be maintained. As with most organizations, the relationships formed and maintained can determine how successful is in the long run. During the MPA program, students can learn how to break down organizations into finer pieces, so that they can better understand the functions, ethics, and views from an inside perspective.
Communication techniques and critical analysis are other terms that may be frequented during these programs, since public affairs professionals are sometimes tasked with communicating new policies to stakeholders, providing insight into the correction of organizational issues to partners, or developing customer support programs for consumers. This degree program is cumulative of many different parts of organizational activity.
What topics are covered in the Master of Public Affairs program?
While enrolled in a Master of Public Affairs program, you might find that there are various topics to be covered depending on your chosen specialty. In the generalist track, students may focus on various components of public affairs needed to be a well-rounded professional. Some topics may include effective communication and critical thinking, while others are more focused on the specific roles that public affairs specialists play within an organization.
In MPA degree programs, students are likely to take courses that shine their skills in ethics and leadership. Organizations that provide services to the public are required to follow ethical guidelines and regulations in order to operate lawfully, so leaders within these organizations must have a solid understanding of ethics prior to managing a staff. Public Policy and Budgeting are 2 other common courses in this program, which can contribute to a professional’s deeper understanding of their organization’s inner functioning.
Most of the coursework for this degree program focuses on the inner structure of professional working environments and the policy development and implementation that is involved in public service agencies. Having a diversified knowledge of these topics can assist students with becoming more efficient public affairs specialists in a variety of settings. While communication and leadership are the keys to success in this field, a valid understanding of the organization’s functioning contributes to a more knowledgeable standing in management positions.