What Can You Do with a Master’s in Public Administration (MPA)?

11 March, 2021

Public administrators lead our society to build stronger communities and create system-level change where it’s needed most. Those who wish to make an impact through local, state or federal government organizations can expand their career opportunities with a master’s in public administration (MPA). MPA students can gain a blend of managerial skills combined with policy-specific communications knowledge, designed to make them more effective community leaders and prepare them for careers in public policy and administration.

The coursework included in a master of public administration program prepares students with strong administrative and analytical skills, leadership expertise, and the in-depth, specific policy knowledge needed to hold a successful public management career.

A comprehensive master’s in public administration program will teach students to be strong consumers, interpreters and creators of data so that their analyses are understood and utilized by other decision makers and stand the best chance at influencing policy.

After all, managerial and analytical skills can be quite helpful in determining an optimal career path. So, if you’re asking yourself, “What can I do with a master’s in public administration?” read on to learn about popular MPA career opportunities, including how this degree can be used in government roles.

Public Administration Job Descriptions and Salary Info

Budget Director

Average Salary: $91,010
Job Description: These professionals are tasked with approving and maintaining budgets for an organization and the departments within it. The budget director may be called upon to help prioritize the short- and long-term objectives of a political or social campaign, for example, in addition to reviewing a budget throughout the fiscal year to ensure proper spending practices are in place. The budget director also is likely to oversee all finance staff members in an organization.

Data Analyst

Average Salary: $58,585
Job Description: Data analysts are responsible for surveying data to determine actionable insights and results that can be communicated and shared with an organizations leadership and staff. A data analyst in the public school sector, for example, may be analyzing data related to equity and student outcomes. These professionals must be well versed in programming languages such as SQL and database management systems such as Microsoft Access.

Digital Strategist

Average Salary: $59,384
Job Description: A digital strategist is responsible for determining short and long-term goals of an organization, specifically strategizing on how an organization can best communicate the advantages of their products or services. In the non-profit sector, digital strategists may be responsible for raising awareness for fundraising efforts, for communicating their organization’s mission or educating the public about a key issue.


Average Salary: $71,609
Job Description: The primary function of a lobbyist is to persuade elected officials such as senators and representatives to act and vote in accordance with the objectives of their organization. Lobbyists are also responsible for developing media strategies that can raise public awareness of their desired outcome and encourage individuals to reach out to their elected officials.

Research & Development Manager

Average Salary: $96,103
Job Description: The research and development manager is responsible for fundraising initiatives. Ensuring that their team and the greater organization understands their customers or membership base is a key function of this role. The research and development director works closely with an organizations leadership to meet high-level objectives in accordance with the organization’s mission and vision.

School District Treasurer

Average Salary: $83,789
Job Description: The school district treasurer understands and utilizes economic knowledge to aid the school district leadership in making sound financial decisions. This professional is responsible for managing the financial assets of the district and communicate the status of these assets to the appropriate parties. It is important for this professional to have strong ethical standards.

School Superintendent

Average Salary: $117,013
Job Description: Put in place by a school board, the school superintendent oversees a school district’s operations and needs, including staffing, student success and financial security. These professionals are responsible for instituting trustworthy, reliable principals for individual schools. A major challenge for the superintendent is to ensure their skillset is current and that their strategies are effective for those who work with and rely on the school system.

Public Administration Careers in Government

Careers in public management and governance are a popular choice because the common thread among public administration careers is a dedication to public service. Governmental and public safety-based roles offer an avenue for public administrators to make a direct impact on their communities and an effective pathway to enable organizational change. These jobs are also popular because they often provide excellent benefits, including pension.

There is a wide range of industries for public administrators to work in; however, those seeking a master’s in public administration for a role in government or public safety are encouraged to consider a program with a government-focused curriculum. Coursework included in a program with a government track is specifically geared to students who want to learn management skills that can be applied to federal, state and local governmental levels. This track also provides a detailed look at the public policy process and may include specific case studies for students to analyze.

Those seeking leadership roles at the federal, state and local government organizations such as armed forces, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Housing and Human Services (HHS), and municipal management, as well as those who desire to be elected officials, will find this track especially beneficial.

Army Officer

Average Salary: $80,481
Job Description: Army officers are responsible for managing enlisted soldiers. They are responsible for coordinating missions and assigning soldiers to specific tasks within a mission. Officers within the army can serve in a wide variety of fields, from engineering to leading the army band.

City/County Manager

Average Salary: $87,577
Job Description: The city manager is responsible for a broad range of duties from balancing budgets to communicating mayoral objectives to city council. The responsibilities of this role vary dependent upon the most pressing needs of a municipality. Some cities may require a manager who has a strong financial background while others might need someone with experience in the field of criminal justice.

City Planner

Average Salary: $55,804
Job Description: The city planner oversees all development within a municipality. They are also responsible for overseeing a city’s zoning and permit processes. This position requires leadership skills and collaboration between stakeholders, community members, and various municipal departments.

Emergency Management Specialist

Average Salary: $57,524
Job Description: When disaster strikes, emergency management specialists are responsible for restoring order in partnership with the rest of the emergency management team. These professionals may also be responsible for helping to prevent emergencies and to determine the cause of disasters. These specialists often work in tandem with police and fire departments as well as governmental agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Housing and Community Development Director

Average Salary: $62,000
Job Description: In addition to overseeing a housing community, the housing and community development director is responsible for ensuring housing developers and property owners follow local, state and federal laws and maintain their properties accordingly. The types of housing communities this professional may oversee range from public housing to campus and university housing.


Average Salary: $60,275
Job Description: This elected official is responsible for serving the citizens of a municipality and their needs. This, at times, includes serving as a representative for a city on state and national levels. Mayors are also responsible for overseeing other elected city officials such as councilmen and aldermen.

Police Sergeant

Average Salary: $67,576
Job Description: In addition to many of the regular duties of a police officer, the police sergeant is responsible for overseeing a command of lower-level officers. The police sergeant must ensure that higher-level directives are properly enacted by the commanding officers. This individual also signs off on and ensures the accuracy of reports from commanding officers.

Village Administrator

Average Salary: $51,721
Job Description: The village administrator is often appointed by a mayor and may require a vote of approval from other city council members. This professional is responsible for overseeing a municipality’s public utility and improving and maintaining public property. This individual may appoint agents and clerks to assist with their tasks.

About Pace University’s online Master of Public Administration (MPA)

The 100% online Master of Public Administration (MPA) program from Pace University’s Dyson College of Arts and Sciences prepares working and aspiring professionals with a toolbox of unique skills to qualify for multi-faceted positions in the complex administrative, policy, and organizational processes of public service. Graduates are confident in their ability to identify and interpret data that impact community relations and are aptly prepared to use empirical evidence to make changes at systemic and policy levels.

The MPA curriculum is vetted and regularly evaluated by practicing public administration professionals through our Michaelian Institute for Public Policy and Management to effectively prepare students to apply what they learn in the classroom to their current and future work environments and our dedicated and experienced faculty inspire students to capitalize on their own unique strengths so they can graduate confident in their ability to lead and manage in public governance.

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