Master in Public Administration (MPA) is a graduate program designed to equip students with administrative and management concepts and theories useful in formulating solutions to problems associated with public and nonprofit administration. It also aims to enhance students’ research capability in the areas of public administration, policy formulation and analysis, development management, budgeting and financial resource management, human resource development and contemporary issues in public affairs management.
Students under the MPA program are exposed to current issues in public administration as well as to the practical application of various skills and techniques in the field. The program is inter-disciplinary drawing from both business and economics.
There are two types of graduate programs under the Master in Public Administration degree:
- MPA – Thesis option:
The thesis option provides researchers, teachers and professionals with an advanced education in public administration and governance. The degree is awarded upon completion of 30 units of prescribed courses with a specific weighted average and the submission of a master's thesis.
- MPA - Non-thesis option::
The non-thesis option provides students with theoretical background and technical skills needed for the effective implementation of public policy in a developing country.
To qualify for the degree, a student must successfully complete 36 units of formal course work, obtain a specific weighted average in all courses taken, and pass a comprehensive examination after completing the 36 units.
Reasons to have a Master in Public Administration degree
A master’s degree in Public Administration is important because it will enable you to apply to advanced positions in public service and administration. There are some public and private organizations who require their employees to have a master’s degree, or specifically a MPA degree in order to apply; others use this credential as basis to determine the employment status (contractual, temporary, permanent employees). A master’s degree is also a common requirements in colleges and universities; if you are planning to work in the academe, it is almost a must to hold a master’s degree.
Subjects and Curriculum
The subjects in the Master in Public Administration curriculum are divided into four main categories:
- Core/Foundation Courses: Philosophy and Science of Public Administration, Public Administration Theory, Processes and Practices, Statistics in Public Administration, Human Behavior and Ethics in the Public Service, Local Government and Regional Administration, Basic Research Methods and Statistics, Organization Theory and Management in the Public Sector
- Major Courses: Human Resource Management in Public Administration, Public Policy and Program Administration, Public Fiscal Administration, Leadership and Organizational Change, Local Government and Development Administration, Trends and Issues in Public Administration, Organizational Behavior, Administrative Law, Fiscal Administration and Budgeting, Management and Entrepreneurship
- Electives: Rural & Urban Development, Human Relations, Philippine Values System, Current issues & Problems in Education, Seminar in Thesis Writing
- Thesis (thesis program)
Comprehensive Examination (non-thesis program)
The lessons in the MPA program are taught through classroom lectures. Students may be exposed to a number of government and non-government agencies to observe the processes that take place inside these institutions. Students may also be required to attend educational talks and seminars.
What are the admission requirements for Master in Public Administration?
Requirements at each school may differ, but these are the common requirements:
- A Bachelor’s degree: To be admitted in the MPA program, an applicant must have obtained a bachelor’s degree in the fields Political Science, Public Administration, Management, Economics or Sociology. However, an applicant with another bachelor’s degree may still be admitted in the program as long as he/she takes the required prerequisite courses.
- Graduate School Entrance Exam: some schools have an entrance exam for graduate students.
- Certificate of Employment: some schools require applicants to submit a Certificate of Employment to determine the length of the applicant’s work experience.
- Interview: must pass the interview conducted by the college.
- Recommendations: some school require applicants to submit letters of recommendation from former/current employers and/or from their Bachelor’s degree professors.
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What skills, traits and attitude will help you succeed in this course?
- English skills – when you study masters the method of teaching is self-directed, there will be a lot of reporting and presentations so the ability to proficiently speak and write English and convey information is very important
- Reading comprehension – most of the time, you will be left alone in the library by your professors to read a materials that you will have to understand on your own. Long chapter exams will also be part of your daily meeting therefore you must have the ability to read and understand professional materials.
- Interpersonal skills – in your master’s class you will less likely be working alone because professors love to group students to perform certain activities. You will encounter classmates who come from different age groups and background thus it’s important to be able to maintain good working relationships and adapt to different kinds of attitude.
- Active Listening – while graduate school practices self-directed learning, there will also be times when your professors will give very long lectures for consecutive days, this is to emphasize the most important lessons which cannot be solely studied by students. It is important that you listen carefully and ask questions because your professors will not discuss lessons again.
- Analytical skills – unlike in the undergraduate level, studying masters is different because you will do most of the things that are supposed to be the job of your professors. From looking for relevant books, reading them and jotting down your thoughts and ideas. Because of this, you have to see the logical connections among concepts and be able to apply them in the practice of your profession.
- Problem-solving skills – the ability to debate, persuade, mediate and present your thoughts and opinions clearly to others, as well as the capacity to recognize and incorporate other potential solutions or applications to given problems
- Strategic thinking – the ability to interpret and analyze information presented by peers and efficiently and constructively support or challenge their proposals, theories, ideas and reports in order to achieve a project's intended and successful end result
- Patience – long lecture hours will wear students down, it’s important to have the patience to withstand long hours of plain listening and taking down notes.
- Organization – there will be a lot of paper works when you study masters thus the ability to sort and arrange information in a systematic order is highly important
How difficult is Master in Public Administration
Master in Public Administration is not a difficult course. Generally, studying a master’s degree is easier than undergraduate studies because there are less requirements, and you already have previous learning experience and know how to handle requirements and exams. In the MPA program, the curriculum requirement is 46 units, which means that you have to take 3 to 4 subjects every semester for two years.
The challenging part of the program is the final requirement: for the thesis option - the thesis making and for the non-thesis option - a comprehensive examination or a special project. Generally, studying a master’s degree is easier than undergraduate studies because there are less requirements, and you already have previous learning experience and know how to handle requirements and exams.
How long does it take to complete the MPA program in the Philippines?
The MPA program takes a minimum of 2 years to complete. Most students who enroll in the MPA program are already employed, so because of time restraints, the majority of graduates take more than two years to complete the degree.
Students under this program can specialize in any of the following areas of public administration:
- Fiscal Administration – involves lessons in financial management, public fiscal administration, governmental accounting, budgeting and auditing, fiscal policy and national development and revenue and treasury management
- Organizational Studies – provides students with an in depth understanding of management planning and control, public personnel administration, human behavior in organizations, human resources development and organization studies
- Public Policy and Program Administration – includes important topics such as policy analysis, project development and management, the policy process and program development and administration
- Local Government and Regional Administration – lessons center on rural administration and development, urban and metropolitan administration and development, local and regional finance, local and regional development planning and comparative local politics and administration
- Public Enterprise Management – studies the Philippine public enterprise system, Financial Management in Public Enterprises and Economics of Public Enterprises
- Voluntary Sector Management – teaches students about public administration and the development of civil society, human resources management, resource generation and financial management and strategic planning in the voluntary sector
- Spatial Information Management – gives special emphasis on the study of geographic information systems, information and data flow analysis and spatial information management for public organizations
Career Opportunities for Master in Public Administration graduates
The main purpose of taking a MPA degree is for career and professional advancement. A person who is a holder of this degree will be able to take on advanced positions in public administration and management. Since Master in Public Administration is a very general degree, the positions you can apply to are any supervisory or managerial position in government organizations, municipalities and non-profit organizations. Obviously your work experience will have a major role in determining your fit to any specific position.