Designed for professionals who want to lead in the public or nonprofit sectors, Northeastern University’s Master of Public Administration (MPA) is the management degree for those who want to serve the public good. Our MPA has been creating leaders since 1969, making us the longest-running program in New England.
Our students participate in interdisciplinary work and applied research with government and community partners, as they learn how to effectively create social change and address the emerging challenges affecting cities. Offered both online and on campus, this degree allows students to exchange diverse views, consult with faculty, and work collaboratively no matter where they are in the world.
“Studying and working in public administration has never been more important than it is now. This past semester, a professor reminded me that it is important to focus on the small wins. The small wins often go unrecognized or are deemed insignificant, but they are necessary for continued progress. I know that if my classmates and I can continue to produce small wins in the public sector, it can amount to big changes for all.”
Monique Gibbs, MPA ’18
The Northeastern MPA meets the rigorous standards of the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration.
Northeastern MPA at a Glance
- Flexible options to take courses on campus, online, or both.
- The upcoming start date is May 8, 2023.
- Tuition: $952 per credit hour; $38,080 total plus fees
- Courses taken at Northeastern University outside of the College of Social Sciences and Humanities are subject to different tuition rates. This includes courses in the cybersecurity concentration.
Master of Public Administration Overview
The Northeastern MPA takes a practice-oriented, research-based approach. Students gain a toolkit of core leadership, budgeting, management, and analysis skills. They also gain advanced technology skills, including Big Data, analytics, data visualization, programming languages such as R and Python, GIS applications, and artificial intelligence. Public administration graduates enter or advance in careers as program directors, management analysts, research analysts, town administrators, and more.
Whether pursuing the MPA online or on campus, our students have the chance to gain first-hand experience in management. All of our courses incorporate real-life case studies and we partner with public and private organizations to offer on-the-job training through co-op, capstones, and internships. In addition, many graduate students make valuable contributions to our highly collaborative scholarly community by joining multi-generational research teams.
The ultimate goal of our MPA is to prepare students to be effective in a dynamic and increasingly diverse professional environment. This includes assisting students in every possible way to secure internships, post-graduate employment, and career advancement.
Master of Public Administration Learning Outcomes
The Master of Public Administration (MPA) is a management and leadership degree for those seeking to serve the public good and advance social, economic and racial justice. The goal of the program is to equip students with skills in policy analysis, program evaluation, research methods, and written and verbal communications to become change agents in public administration. Students also develop competencies in budgeting and human resources, organizational management and antiracist leadership, and the interplay between ethics and accountability in a diverse society. The program seeks to place students in management and leadership careers in a broad range of public and nonprofit settings, ranging from local to international.
As a professionally-oriented graduate program, the MPA is focused on “developing leaders for a changing world” through:
- Coursework that combines methodological rigor, diverse analytical tools, and real-world relevance through applied management and leadership projects
- Policy-relevant internships and opportunities to work with faculty on applied research with a social justice lens
- Team-based capstone projects that deliver actionable advice to a range of local and regional clients
MPA Student Learning Outcomes
- To lead and manage in public governance
- To participate in and contribute to the policy process
- To analyze, synthesize, think critically, solve problems, and make decisions
- To articulate and apply a public service perspective
- To communicate and interact productively with a diverse and changing workforce and citizenry
Master of Public Administration Admission Requirements
- Completed online application
- Application fee ($75)
- Personal statement
- Unofficial transcripts from all institutions attended
- Three letters of recommendation
- Evidence of English proficiency for international applicants
Applicants to the MPA program are not required to submit GRE scores.
Visit our admissions page for more details about application requirements, tuition, and financial aid.
“Northeastern is an exciting and dynamic place, and we attract students who reflect that.”
Alicia Sasser Modestino, Associate Professor
School of Public Policy & Urban Affairs and the Department of Economics
Master of Public Administration Program Curriculum
The Master of Public Administration at Northeastern consists of 40 credits and can be completed in as little as 1.5 years (4 semesters as a full-time student). Both our online and on-campus modalities include the same core courses, and are taught by exceptional faculty.
This degree combines MPA fundamentals with a unique focus on public sector and nonprofit needs. Students build core policy and leadership skills that can be applied to any position. The curriculum is centered on rigorous, applied training in organizational management, public and nonprofit finance, policy analysis, and ethics and accountability. Courses include:
- Statistical Analysis
- Techniques of Policy Analysis
- Economic Analysis for Policy and Planning
- Principles of Public Administration
- Public Budgeting and Financial Management
- Institutional Leadership
- Capstone in Public Policy and Urban Affairs
MPA students who would like to specialize in a particular field of interest can choose to pursue the following certificates:
- Nonprofit Sector, Philanthropy, and Social Change
- Urban Analytics
- Urban Studies
- Data Analytics
- Information Ethics
- Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
- Security and Resilience Studies
- Public Policy Analysis
See our certificates information page to learn more.
Master’s students in both the on-campus and online modalities have the option to concentrate in Healthcare Management and Policy to equip themselves to better assess and act within today’s complicated healthcare sector. However, choosing a concentration is not mandatory for this program.
Our experiential learning opportunities are a hallmark of Northeastern’s educational mission. Students acquire hands-on experience through capstone projects, partnerships with research labs and centers, and work opportunities—no matter whether they take the MPA online or on-campus. Students finish with practical skills and a broadened professional network.
- In-Class: Courses incorporate case studies, small group exercises, and applied projects
- Research: Students collaborate with faculty on groundbreaking research in class and with our research centers
- Co-op: NU’s signature experience lets students earn credit for six months of full-time, on-the-job training
- Capstone: Teams partner with local, state, or federal agencies or nonprofit institutions to assess a problem, produce a policy analysis, and recommend solutions
- Internship: Students gain practical experience through part-time work in public and nonprofit organizations
Visit our curriculum page for more information, including a full course list with descriptions.
Master of Public Administration Careers
Why Pursue an MPA?
Now more than ever, public, private, and nonprofit organizations need well-trained leaders who can effectively manage projects and teams. They are tackling issues that affect cities around the globe, such as income inequality, mass transit service, food access, homelessness, gentrification, and so much more. A successful public manager can have a measurable, positive impact in people’s lives and in communities.
MPA graduates are equipped with essential organizational skills, and also understand the unique requirements of public-service work, which includes accountability, transparency, and efficiency. They are prepared for leadership roles in government agencies, nonprofits, international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), social enterprises, private businesses, and more.
Northeastern also offers a Master of Public Policy (MPP). For more information, view our article discussing the differences between an MPA and MPP.
Public Administrator Salaries
The median salary for a public administrator is $84,231, according to the job-analysis site Burning Glass. And it estimates that graduates with a master’s degree earn a salary 13% higher than those with bachelor’s degree alone.
However, salary can vary widely depending on whether someone is working in the public, private, or nonprofit sector. A report from the Congressional Budget Office estimated that federal employees with a professional degree made 18% less than private-sector employees.
For those at the beginning of a government career, $45,627 is the national salary for the pay classification of GS-9, defined by FederalPay as “the starting grade for most employees directly out of school who have a Master’s Degree.” The Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration estimates that federal workers are promoted one or two steps up in their pay grade every year.
What Can You Do With an MPA?
NU MPA Alumni by Sector
The business fundamentals and analysis skills that come with an MPA make it a versatile degree. The majority of Northeastern’s MPA alumni work in the public sector, with the rest evenly split between nonprofit and private organizations.
|Careers of Recent Grads||Employers of Recent Grads|
Assistant director of clinical research
Aviation security specialist
Cyber security analyst
Director of Business Strategies
Hospital department manager
Urban data scientist
City of Boulder
City of Boston
City of Burlington
City of Somerville
Department of Education
Department of Homeland Security
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Great Boston Food Bank
Massachusetts Service Alliance
JP Morgan Chase & Co.
State of Maine
Master of Public Administration
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