More and more, people want jobs where they can make a difference in the world. Over 80 percent of employees say having a sense of purpose is one of their top priorities at work, according to a 2023 Deloitte survey. The Society for Human Resource Management also found that employees who believe their work has a positive impact on society are more satisfied with their jobs compared to employees who do not feel their work makes a difference.
Public administration careers can provide that balance of satisfaction with a sense of job security. A successful public manager can effectively manage prospects and teams, helping their organization better achieve its goals. They are also well-positioned to have a measurable, positive impact in people’s lives and in communities. Public administrators are tackling issues that affect cities around the globe, such as income inequality, mass transit service, food access, homelessness, gentrification, and so much more.
“Federal and state governments are hungry for students who not only have the public service mission at heart, but who also bring hard skills — especially data analytical skills — to their work,” said Linda Kowalcky, associate director for the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University. “There’s a lot of competition for those who do have these skills and can put them to practical use.”
Below is a brief overview of the career landscape for Master of Public Administration (MPA) graduates. You can also download our detailed career guide for more information.
What Can You Do With an MPA From Northeastern?
The business fundamentals and analysis skills that come with an MPA make it a versatile degree. A slight majority of Northeastern’s MPA alumni work in the public sector, with the rest split between nonprofit and private organizations.
NORTHEASTERN MPA ALUMNI BY SECTOR (GRADUATING CLASS OF 2021-2022)
|Job Sector||Number of Students|
|National or central government in the same country as the program||1|
|State, provincial or regional government in the same country as the program||3|
|City, county, or other local government in the same country as the program||1|
|Government not in the same country as the program (all levels) or international quasi-governmental||0|
|Private sector – research/consulting||1|
|Private sector – not research/consulting||1|
|Obtaining further education||0|
|Unemployed (not seeking employment)||0|
|Unemployed (seeking employment)||0|
|Careers of Recent Grads||Employers of Recent Grads|
Assistant director of clinical research
Aviation security specialist
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
In terms of compensation, the median salary for a public administrator is $80,300 according to the labor analytics site Lightcast. However, salaries can vary widely depending on whether someone is working in the public, private, or nonprofit sector, and even within those categories compensation may depend on the size and type of the organization.
Why Pursue an MPA Degree?
Earning a master’s degree in public administration offers a variety of career benefits for professionals at any stage of their career.
- Recent grads: Many students join the MPA program directly from their undergraduate degree. There is no requirement for a students’ previous degree to come from a related field, and no need for test scores like the GRE.
- Career-changers: Professionals who want to move into a public-service role often find that an MPA is an excellent bridge between careers. An MPA provides a deep understanding of budgeting, policy analysis, and program evaluation, while opportunities like the internship or co-op allows students to get a feel for what it’s like working in a new field.
- Policy professionals: For those who want to advance further in their public administration careers, an MPA can add needed management skills plus update their knowledge of project management software, data visualization tools, GIS technology, and social media. They can also make new connections that could open new doors.
Find out even more about career outcomes and see more potential job titles in our “What Can You Do With a Master’s in Public Administration” article.
Master of Public Administration
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