Master of Public Administration (MPA) Degree

Become an Effective Leader in Government and Nonprofit Organizations.

As society’s challenges have become more complex, the need has grown for socially conscious citizens with an avid interest in politics, foreign affairs, and public policy to step up and take a lead role in government management. National University’s Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree program will prepare you to do just that.

This curriculum focuses on how to apply traditional business skills (financial management, budgeting, research, etc.) to the unique challenges of public administration. Among the skills you’ll be taught are how to utilize critical thinking and research methods, assess new public management, analyze political influences and governmental power division, evaluate government employees and public administration strategies and decision, and synthesize grant proposal resources and approaches.

If that sounds like a lot, you’re right, but with your MPA credentials, you’ll be prepared for a high-level position in government management at the federal, state, and local levels as well as for senior leadership positions in nonprofit management.

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A Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree will prepare you for a high-level position in government at the federal, state, and local levels. Apply online today.



Program Learning Outcomes

As a graduate of National University’s Master of Public Administration degree, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge and skills to manage a wide variety of public agencies and organizations, including how to:

  • Utilize critical thinking and research methods relevant to public administration in a multicultural environment
  • Analyze the impact of political influences on the public sector decision-making process
  • Describe, analyze, and evaluate the various approaches to managing government employees
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of public administration strategies for dealing with the media, community, and local government agencies
  • Evaluate the impact of public administration decisions on urban planning and redevelopment
  • Synthesize resources and approaches for developing grant proposals for community programs and services

Click here for program-specific course information.

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Public Administrators in leadership positions need advanced skills in everything from finance, accounting, auditing, and economics to strategic planning, project management, public policy, and data analysis. NU’s MPA program is designed to prepare you to utilize critical thinking and research methods, evaluate new public management, analyze political influences and governmental power division, evaluate government employees and public administration strategies and decision, and synthesize grant proposal resources and approaches.It’s possible to complete this program in 13 months or less if you have the proper prerequisite background.* By the time you graduate, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge required to manage a wide variety of public agencies and organization. Because you’ll be studying in a cohort of likeminded professionals, you’ll be building a network of professionals already working in various fields of government.

* Click here for program-specific course information.

About 29,200 openings for administrative services and facilities managers are projected each year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with an annual median wage of $98,890 for administrative services and facilities managers. Operations specialties managers can make significantly more.

Clearly, senior-level public administrators with the knowledge and credentials to plan, direct, and coordinate activities that help an organization run efficiently are in demand and well compensated. Emsi Labor Analyst data* suggests that employers in public administration seek highly educated professionals, such as those who have earned a market-relevant MPA degree, to fill leadership positions, such as:

  • Budget Analysts
  • Accountants
  • Program Managers, Specialists, and Coordinators
  • Executive Directors
  • Management Analysts
  • City Managers
  • Auditors
  • Directors and Managers of Human Resources
  • Project and Program Managers
  • Quality and Compliance Managers

Some of the industries where MPA graduates can expect to be in demand include:

  • Public Administration
  • Educational Services
  • Healthcare and Social Assistance
  • Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services
  • Utilities
  • Finance and Insurance

Click here to learn more about career opportunities in public administration.

SOURCE: Emsi Labor Analyst- Report. Emsi research company homepage at (Report viewed: April 6, 2022.) DISCLAIMER: The data provided is for Informational purposes only. Emsi data and analysis utilizes government sources to provide insights on industries, demographics, employers, in-demand skills, and more to align academic programs with labor market opportunities. Cited projections may not reflect local or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth. Current and prospective students should use this data with other available economic data to inform their educational decisions.

If your goal is to move into management, improve your leadership skills, or increase your salary, one approach is pursuing a graduate degree in your field or a closely related field. Many specialized master’s degree programs offer courses and training that can advance your expertise and potential for a higher-level position; two popular examples are the Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) and Master’s in Business Administration (MBA).The MBA has long been considered a top credential in the business field, and the newer MPA adds a focus on public service. The main difference is the direction you want your career to take. Most MBA graduates tend to follow a career path that leads them into business, banking, or retail. NU’s Master’s in Public Administration is designed to prepare you follow your passion into areas affecting our communities and neighbors and positions in either public or nonprofit areas, including:

  • City manager
  • County administrator
  • Mayor
  • Director of economic development
  • Executive director of a nonprofit
  • Membership director
  • Advocacy director
  • Program director
  • Grant administrator

To learn more about the difference between an MPA and an MBA degree, click here.

Because different career tracks require different knowledge and skill sets, NU’s MPA program offers an industry-relevant specialization in HR Management, which focuses on managing people, the human resource of the organization.Moving beyond common sense and good interpersonal skills, you’ll develop the knowledge to recruit, select, train, evaluate and compensate employees. You’ll also examine how changes in the workplace, such as governmental regulations, global competition, developing technologies, and organizational transformations influence the performance and productivity of workers. Technical knowledge and practical skills for dealing with a multicultural workforce offer new ideas on leadership and effective tools for managing human resource. Upon successful completion of this program, you’ll know how to:

  • Complete a job analysis of a specific job to be used for recruiting, selection, performance appraisal, training, and compensation
  • Develop a recruiting plan and design a selection process for recruiting, interviewing, and selecting candidates for employment for jobs within an organization
  • Conduct a needs assessment and design a training program for current employees on a specific topic related to organizational goals
  • Assess benefits relevant to the employee population and organizational structure, and formulate a compensation system based upon merit, knowledge, and skill acquisition
  • Recognize, analyze, and effectively address ethical, legal, and safety challenges faced in the workplace, and develop methods designed to prevent employer liability

Specialization Requirements (4 courses; 18 quarter units)

Course Description Quarter Units
HRM630 Legal, Ethical & Safety Issues 4.50
HRM637 Workforce Plan, Development & Outsourcing 4.50
ODV 606 Seminar in Training & Development 4.50
HRM667 Compensation & Benefits 4.50

Click here for program-specific course information.

Because different career tracks require different knowledge and skill sets, NU’s MPA program offers an industry-relevant specialization in Organizational Leadership, which focuses on preparing diverse adult learners to become effective, change-oriented leaders in an international society.This area of specialization is ideal for individuals who desire to understand the technical and reflective processes that often accompany opportunities to exercise leadership in profit and not-for-profit organizations. Upon successful completion of this program, you’ll know how to:

  • Distinguish between multiple approaches for exercising leadership to promote innovation and confront complex issues within organizations
  • Interpret organizational dynamics, group dynamics, and engage in systems thinking in order to promote the development of a learning organization capable of innovation, adaptation, and orchestrating conflict
  • Evaluate ethical issues and aid organizational members in creating a culture appropriate to the organizational and global environment that supports operating in environments of diversity, uncertainty, and unpredictability
  • Distinguish between the functions of authority, power, and the practice of leadership, and utilize frameworks that serve organizational purposes

Specialization Requirements (4 courses; 18 quarter units)

Course Description Quarter Units
LED 602 Developing Groups and Teams 4.50
LED 603 Leadership in the 21st Century 4.50
LED 604 Leading Change and Adaptation 4.50
LED 605 Conflict and Power Dynamics 4.50

Click here for program-specific course information.

To be awarded a Master of Public Administration, students must complete at least 54 quarter units of graduate work. A total of 13.5 quarter units of graduate credit may be granted for equivalent graduate work completed at another institution, as it applies to this degree and provided the units were not used in earning another advanced degree. Students should refer to the section on graduate admission requirements for specific information regarding application and evaluation.For students in the Bachelor of Public Administration/BS in Criminal Justice Administration/BS in Domestic Security Management/BA Political Science/MPA transition program, the University will waive up to two public administration courses taken as part of the bachelor’s degree (see BS in Bachelor of Public Administration/Criminal Justice Administration/BS in Domestic Security Management/BA Political Science transition program), but these students must still meet the residency requirements for the MPA. The number of courses waived is dependent on the courses taken and grades earned in the transition program.

Core Requirements (8 courses; 36 quarter units)

Course Description Quarter Units
PAD 620 Foundations of Public Admin 4.50
PAD 622 Seminar in Urban Affairs 4.50
PAD 626 Public Personnel Policy 4.50
PAD 627 Quantitative Methods 4.50
PAD 628 Ethics 4.50
PAD 631 Urban Planning & Redevelopment 4.50
PAD 632 Finance Mgt & Grant Admin 4.50
PAD 644 MPA Project 4.50

Program Electives (4 courses; 18 quarter units)

Students must complete four graduate courses from the following subject areas to meet the elective requirement: CJA, HUB, SCD, HRM, LED. Students who elect to have an area of specialization are not required to take additional elective requirements.

For details and course listings for these specializations, please visit our catalog.

All coursework in National University’s MPA degree program can be taken online. Most online courses offer one or two live voice/visual evening sessions per week, in which instructors orally explain important concepts, visually illustrate problem-solving techniques, and respond to student questions. These sessions are recorded so that students who are unable to attend at the scheduled time can play back the video recording at a convenient time.

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Take the first step by starting your application online today.
To speak to an enrollment advisor about this program, please email [email protected].

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Why Choose National University?

We’re proud to be a veteran-founded, San Diego-based nonprofit. Since 1971, our mission has been to provide accessible, achievable higher education to adult learners. Today, we educate students from across the U.S. and around the globe, with over 185,000 alumni worldwide.

Program Disclosure

Successful completion and attainment of National University degrees do not lead to automatic or immediate licensure, employment, or certification in any state/country. The University cannot guarantee that any professional organization or business will accept a graduate’s application to sit for any certification, licensure, or related exam for the purpose of professional certification.

Program availability varies by state. Many disciplines, professions, and jobs require disclosure of an individual’s criminal history, and a variety of states require background checks to apply to, or be eligible for, certain certificates, registrations, and licenses. Existence of a criminal history may also subject an individual to denial of an initial application for a certificate, registration, or license and/or result in the revocation or suspension of an existing certificate, registration, or license. Requirements can vary by state, occupation, and/or licensing authority.

NU graduates will be subject to additional requirements in a program, certification/licensure, employment, and state-by-state basis that can include one or more of the following items: internships, practicum experience, additional coursework, exams, tests, drug testing, earning an additional degree, and/or other training/education requirements.

All prospective students are advised to review employment, certification, and/or licensure requirements in their state, and to contact the certification/licensing body of the state and/or country where they intend to obtain certification/licensure to verify that these courses/programs qualify in that state/country, prior to enrolling. Prospective students are also advised to regularly review the state’s/country’s policies and procedures relating to certification/licensure, as those policies are subject to change.

*Positions may require additional experience, training, and other factors beyond successfully completing this degree program. Depending on where you reside, many positions may also require state licensure, and it is the responsibility of the student to ensure that all licensure requirements are met. We encourage you to also review program-specific requirements. Any data provided on this page is for informational purposes only and does not guarantee that completion of any degree program will achieve the underlying occupation or commensurate salary.

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