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Diff’rent Strokes: The Divide Between MPA and MPP

What is the difference between MPP and MPA?

You might be wondering about this and the simple answer is not much. However, depending on the school you attend the MPA can focus on a more qualitative curriculum and the MPP will focus on a more quantitative curriculum. However, it is not uncommon for their to be heavy quantitative focus in certain MPA programs or a more qualitative structure around an MPP degree. The best thing to do is go to a school’s website and look at their curriculum for yourself. An even better thing to do is visit the school, and see if you can sit in on a class to get a real feel for the academic standards and process of that particular program.

As a soon to be Master of Public Administration, I may categorize the differences between MPP and MPA a little unfairly. However, given the structure of the degree program at the George Washington Univeristy, where I attend school, one could assess that MPAs are the managers and MPPs are the wonks. This does not mean that MPPs cannot find a successful road to management, or that MPAs can’t evaluate the heck out of a policy. What it does mean that those skills sets are highlighted in those degrees. So if you are trying to figure out what the right fit is for you, this might be another thing to consider.

One could also say that MPAs don’t know how to add, and MPPs can’t talk their way out of a paper bag. MPAs party hard and MPPs hardly party. MPAs have charisma and charm, MPPs have skill and knowledge. One could say all these things, but generalizing is not productive.

So what is the difference between MPP and MPA – MPAs write blogs like this and MPPs evaluate its validity.

For further reading please check out our MPA Guide and our MPP Guide.

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Profile Photo Steve Cottle

The MPPs you work with have finished evaluating your post and conclude that we take great offense to your characterization of us as lacking charisma and charm. Further, it is statistically significantly unlikely (p < .0001) that your last paragraph is valid.

Profile Photo Allison Primack

This is what Matt Lane said on GovLoop’s Facebook:


“As I understand it, public administration programs focus on the technical management of government organizations, including budgeting and finance, personnel administration, organization development, with a little bit of politics and public policy sprinkled in. Public policy programs focus on the research and development of public policy and their effects on society. Would you agree that that’s an accurate assessment?”