7 Government Jobs for MPA Graduates

7 Government Jobs for MPA Graduates-image

The Master of Public Administration (MPA) is a postgraduate degree that provides rigorous training to prepare you to serve in organizations working to make a difference.

Those organizations come in various kinds, from local to global, from nonprofits to federal agencies. On all levels, government agencies are some of the most important actors in the public sphere. Their actions and policies shape the daily lives of millions of people.

If you’re drawn to help improve the lives of others through public service, keep reading to find out how an MPA can equip you to do exactly that — along with the kinds of positions for which it can qualify you to serve. 

Download Cornell University's MPA Career Report to explore a variety of MPA  alumni who have pursued diverse careers in fields related to public  administration!

What are the benefits of an MPA?

To truly make a positive difference, desire isn’t enough. There are many examples of government policies and private programs making matters worse, despite the good intentions of those who designed them. In addition to desire, you’ll need competence.

The world is complex. That’s why an MPA program takes an interdisciplinary approach to give you a solid understanding of several different areas, including economics, finance, management, and psychology. You’ll be equipped to take a broad view and identify solutions that work in the real world. 

Your degree will also help to qualify you for more senior positions with greater potential impact (as well as greater pay).  

Those who have been trained in an MPA program and go into public service usually work in some area related to public policy. This may be in a private organization, like a think tank or other nonprofit, or in government. 

Wherever they serve, their work makes a significant impact on our daily lives through the policies they help to develop and deploy. There will always be a need for knowledgeable, ethical, and motivated public servants to help ensure that the impact is a positive one.

Earning your MPA will equip you to help fill this need. But what might your role actually look like? In the next section, we’ll profile seven government jobs you could fill as an MPA graduate.

7 government jobs for MPA graduates

An MPA degree equips you to work within any organization, public or private, concerned with promoting the public good. The government, though, is one of the most significant in terms of its reach and impact.

Here are some specific ways you can get involved: 

1. Policy Analyst

These professionals are engaged in researching, formulating, and evaluating the effectiveness of policies within government agencies. They might work on existing policies or provide decision makers with data and forecasts about the effects of potential policies. 

2. Policy Advisor

This is a similar role but in a different context. Members of Congress on both the national and state level rely upon policy advisors to provide them with carefully-researched data and analysis about existing and proposed policies so they can make informed decisions about legislation. 

3. Program Analyst

While the first two positions are centered on the development and evaluation of policy, this role is focused on its implementation. The program analyst evaluates existing government programs, including matters like finances and effectiveness in achieving its goals, and makes recommendations for improvement.

4. Public Policy Manager

Often a state-level role, this person is responsible for overseeing both the formulation of public policy and its implementation, including coordinating government actions with non-governmental entities like businesses and nonprofits. This person may also be responsible for communicating with the public about policies and how they will be implemented. 

5. Director of Economic Development

This is a more specific example of a public policy manager role. This person helps to create and deploy policy in this crucial area to strengthen the state or local economy. Such a role will likely include related goals, like increasing opportunities for economically depressed communities.

6. Community Health Director

Typically found at the level of a city or county, this person coordinates and oversees efforts to improve public health outcomes. This can include cooperation with many potential stakeholders, from local nonprofits to federal agencies. 

7. City Manager

This person is the highest appointed official in a municipality and is responsible for its day-to-day administrative operations. The role usually involves preparing the city’s budget as well as offering policy advice to those tasked with enacting municipal laws and ordinances. 

As you can see, the opportunities here are broad — so are the possible issues you might work on in these roles. They can include very practical matters like transportation as well as issues like public health and economic policy that can touch our lives in profound ways. 

Serving well in these kinds of positions means helping to ensure the policies that shape our society contribute to the greater good of the whole community. It is truly vital work.

Getting an MPA at Cornell University — here’s what makes us different

If you’re exploring MPA programs, you probably realize they are not all the same. At Cornell, we’ve designed our program to get you ready for impact by emphasizing hand-on experiences to compliment your classroom learning. 

Every student has the opportunity for a public administration internship with recent participants finding placements at organizations like The World Bank and the U.S. Department of State.

Our interdisciplinary curriculum ensures a broad base of knowledge while our concentrations, including one in Government, Politics and Policy Studies, provide domain expertise.  

Our value is even clearer when you consider our price. Students in Cornell’s Ivy League MPA program pay significantly less than at other leading programs. 

Ready to move forward in your public service career? Connect with us.

Public policy matters. Public service is a strategic way for you to work on the problems that matter and help create the kind of society in which we all can flourish. Earning your MPA is an important step towards being prepared to do the work well.

If you’d like to find out more about what Cornell’s MPA program has to offer, you can request more information and explore our resource library

Feel confident that Cornell is the place for you? Apply now.


Download "The Cornell Brooks School MPA Guide to Professional Development and Career Management" for professional development tips, information on jobs for MPA graduates, and more!

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