Best Careers for Veterans in Public Service

Best Careers for Veterans in Public Service-image

Behind every thriving society is a team of strong, selfless leaders.

If you are a veteran or active military service member, you are well-versed in the traits of excellent leadership. Military service teaches how to lead with honor, dignity, and sacrificial care for others. Those who serve in the military exhibit a fervent passion to serve others, and this mission-driven mindset is a unique talent needed throughout society.

Perhaps you are actively serving and looking for a way to advance your current career in public service. Perhaps you are a veteran searching for a career that will continue to fulfill your desire to serve the public. No matter where you are in your career path, if you want to serve others in the public sphere, pursuing a Master of Public Administration might be the next step for you.

Keep reading to learn why so many veterans and military service members choose to earn an MPA and how it helps them fulfill their passion for public service.

Are you a veteran or military service member thinking about pursuing a public service career? Read more in our guide: Getting an MPA for Military Personnel and Veterans.

What is an MPA Degree?

Do you want to enact positive change that directly impacts your society? Are you looking to build a career where you will better the lives of fellow citizens? 

A Master of Public Administration degree could be your next step in pursuing a career that aligns with and grows your passion for public service.

An MPA degree prepares students to be leaders in the world of public affairs. The arenas of business, economics, and politics intersect in an MPA to foster well-rounded individuals ready to serve the public good through their careers. 

An MPA develops candidates to:

  • Manage government and nonprofit organizations at the local, state, and federal levels
  • Oversee the creation and implementation of public policies
  • Find jobs other than management as researchers, analysts, or advocates across fields of education, healthcare, criminal justice, sustainability, or economic policy

The MPA program helps mission-driven individuals establish and advance careers that focus on people rather than profit. MPA graduates will be ready to serve others in an array of fields across the public sector.

Note: Check out this article to learn more about the difference between an MPA and an MBA

What are the Benefits of an MPA for Veterans and Military Personnel?

Veterans and military personnel have an unparalleled passion for selflessly serving the greater good of their fellow citizens.

Military service hones a number of skills integral to public service, such as communication, adaptability, dependability, critical-thinking, quick problem-solving, and a strong work-ethic. All of a service member’s skills cultivate minds that lead others with integrity. Experiences and challenges faced in the service give background to face challenges in the public sector. 

If you want to learn more about how an MPA will complement your military experience, check out this interview with Amber Ingwell, an active military service member pursuing Cornell’s MPA degree.


“The MPA program puts emphasis not only on technical skills but also on leadership and management principles. There is ample opportunity to translate leadership skills exercised in the military to future roles in the civilian sector.”

— Amber Ingwell


MPA degrees are designed for people who are others-focused. If you have served or are actively serving and are looking to continue your career in public service, an MPA will seamlessly integrate your skills learned during your service into academic advancement for your career. 

Best Careers for Veterans in Public Service/Affairs

An MPA equips graduates to think critically about various societal issues. Through earning your degree, you will gain the knowledge to carefully and meaningfully tackle some of the toughest policy issues in our current society.

Cornell’s MPA program offers eight areas of concentration to pursue within your degree. Each concentration helps prepare candidates to face different sets of social issues. 

Read below to find out more about three of the most common concentrations for veterans and military personnel:

Government, Politics, and Policy Studies

A concentration in Government, Politics, and Policy Studies focuses on where politics and political management connect to policy processes, program development, and resource management in the public sector. 

Students will study policymaking and administrative processes in both domestic and international contexts, equipping them to work on policies across the public sector with elected officials, public managers, and citizens. 

If you are interested in addressing policy issues involving immigration business policy by aiding immigrants in the workplace or public health challenges by confronting problems like the opioid crisis or healthcare access, this concentration will develop skills necessary for your chosen career.

Career titles available to those with experience in this concentration include:

  • Legislative assistant
  • Political scientist
  • Policy analyst

Public and Nonprofit Management

With a focus in Public and Nonprofit Management, MPA candidates sharpen abilities in negotiations, leadership, staffing, and compensation. They combine their managerial competency with a number of monetary skills, like budgeting and debt financing, to prepare to lead public and nonprofit organizations into success. 

Those in this concentration will help advance the core causes of organizations, become general managers in the public sector, or become leaders of domestic or international nonprofit organizations. 

Through studying Public and Nonprofit Management, you can work with policies that undertake issues of social justice and human rights or victim advocacy and rehabilitation for incarcerated individuals, changing lives for individuals across society.

  • Program coordinator
  • Fundraising manager
  • Executive director

Science, Technology, and Infrastructure Policy

Work in the physical systems that build our society with a concentration in Science, Technology, and Infrastructure Policy. In this concentration, you will learn how to work in policy and project analysis, project planning, and implementation of science, technology, and infrastructure policy. 

You will also deal in both the natural and artificial infrastructures necessary for a community to thrive, from the physical aspects that make up a community like buildings, parks, power grids, water and sewer systems, transportation, and public safety, to the infrastructures of digital technologies that our modern society relies on. 

If you have a passion for issues surrounding infrastructure erosion or environmental challenges like climate change, this focus will prepare you for success.

Career titles available to those with experience in this concentration include:

  • City manager
  • Urbal planner
  • Management analyst

Join a Community of Veterans Getting an MPA at Cornell University

Veterans and military personnel impact all lives in their society. With an MPA, you can continue to better and serve your society at large.

Cornell University’s MPA program cultivates those with a mission-driven mindset to become the next leaders in the public sector. Over the course of earning their degree, candidates will strengthen natural leadership skills and develop new abilities that prepare them to handle the most complex challenges burdening our society today. Graduates will find fulfilling, lifelong careers to continue selflessly serving their fellow citizens.

We invite you to become a part of a community of veterans and military personnel looking to advance their careers at Cornell University. If you think that an MPA from Cornell is the next step in your career, request more information about our program or apply today

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