Dealing with people and budgets can be a formidable challenge, which is one reason why aspiring leaders often seek graduate-level education to learn how to effectively run an organization.
However, it is common for these individuals to be conflicted about whether to pursue a Master of Business Administration degree – commonly known as an MBA – or a Master of Public Administration degree, which is often called an MPA.
Experts say that both MBA and MPA programs offer training in essential management competencies, such as accounting, human resources, and strategy. However, the key distinction between them is the career they prepare the aspirants for. While an MBA is geared toward aspiring business executives PMA, on the other hand, is tailored to future public service leaders.
MPA programs are focused more on preparing students for government positions in the public sectors, in contrast, MBAs have a broader focus that includes course work relevant to both for-profit and non-profit positions.
Another crucial difference between MBAs and MPAs, experts say, is that when students work on class projects where they are tasked with solving problems faced in real life, MPA students typically help non-profit or government clients. In contrast, MBA students may assist either for-profit or non-profit ventures.
One of the most important distinctions between an MBA and MPA is that while the former tend to heavily emphasize cost-efficiency, the latter focuses on social impact.
Public administration is about serving the public, particularly in a democracy, in which we want all voices to be heard. The skills the students learn in an MPA program, therefore, emphasize what it takes to use government and nonprofit organizations to serve the public: how to get input from a wide range of stakeholders, how to use evidence to make decisions that will serve the public interest, and how to lead people around a shared cause or mission to strengthen communities.
even when MPA and MBA programs include courses on the same topics, those topics are often taught in a different fashion. For instance, while an MBA marketing class might teach students how to effectively advertise a commercial product, an MPA marketing class might delve into how to create an effective public awareness campaign that convinces citizens to adopt pro-social behaviors like conserving water.