Making a Difference with an Online Master's Degree: the MBA in Public Administration

By Joe Aguilar

If you have strong convictions but want to make a living, the Master of Business Administration in Public Administration (MBA/PA) opens doors to a career where you can stay true to yourself and change the world. An online program offers a flexible way to get your master’s degree and qualify for jobs like city manager, environmental program manager, and civil rights manager.

Why Get an Online Master’s Degree?

People generally seek a master’s degree to increase their earnings, make themselves more attractive to employers, and find a more fulfilling career. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, a worker with a master’s degree will earn an average of $10,000 per year more than an individual with only a bachelor’s degree. In many areas of public administration, such as public planning and budget analysis, the U.S. Department of Labor reports that a master’s degree is required for entry-level positions. Finally, if helping to shape public policies is important to you, you’ll need the kind of detailed understanding of the system that an MBA/PA provides.

But you may not be able to attend school full-time for a master’s degree and you may not live near a university offering the courses or training that you need. Online grad school programs allow you to conveniently complete your training from almost anywhere. Most students are able to continue working for their current employer, and they can often apply what they’re learning directly to their work.

Where Can Public Administration Lead?

An MBA/PA can be useful in all employment sectors—public, private, and nonprofit. The career choices are quite broad and include analysts, department directors, and even vice presidents of major corporations. One characteristic many alumni share is a desire to make a difference in the world. As Mark Blacknell, Executive Policy Analyst to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, said, “I am a tree hugger and I do more than walk around with a long beard and a bunch of stickers on the back of my car. I am in the trenches, clean shaven and in a suit, shaping conservation policy.”

Patrick Tyndall, Environmental Program Manager for the Federal Highway Administration, noted “You do not have to work for the government…The policy analysis, program management, and finance skills you will learn will benefit you in almost any sector. I’ve even had consultants in the private sector tell me that they are looking for people with (public administration) degrees because they need people who can effectively manage programs and solve complex problems.”

Keith Fulton is one private sector employee who put his public administration studies to work as Vice President, AOL Time Warner Foundation and AOL Time Warner, Inc. He stated, “I do feel that my graduate degree is helping me to make a difference. In my line of work, you need skills to distinguish between pretty good, good, and great programs…I credit the analytical skills I learned in graduate school with much of my good fortune.”

An online master’s degree can provide the base you need to start an exciting career and change the world.


U.S. Department of Commerce, The Big Payoff: Educational Attainment and Synthetic Estimates of Work-Life Earnings.
U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook: Budget Analysts.
U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook: Management Analysts.
National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration, Profiles of Alumni.

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