A Master of Business Administration (MBA) and a Master of Public Administration (MPA) both focus on the management of organizations. That is why some aspiring graduates students in the public sector can be uncertain about whether an MBA or MPA is a better fit for them. If you have a strong passion for a career in either government or nonprofit work, you should look closely at the advantages and disadvantages of each degree.
You will find that there is some overlap in the required curriculum for each program. However, there are significant differences in the focus of each degree. The MBA degree has a focus on training in management in the private sector. The success of a company is most often measured by its profitability. Business schools are designed to teach managers of the future how to make their company’s as much money as they can. The curriculum focus in an MBA program is on finance, accounting, economics, marketing and effective business leadership in an organization where profit is the primary motivator.
On the other hand, an MPA program will focus on proper management of public sector and nonprofit entities. The main mission of such organizations is to provide for a better world and to improve society in a variety of ways. As a manager in a public or nonprofit organization, you need to understand that measuring the success of the entity is more complex than in the business world. You also have to be ready for the give and take between the demands of groups of citizens and the needs of the public organization.
Another major difference between public and private sector organizations is how they are funded. With a private business, funding is secured through the generation of profits. A public organization usually gets its funds through tax dollars, government grants, donations and foundations. An MPA program will provide you with the skills that you need so you are able to generate this type of funding for your organization.
At the end of the day, whether the MBA or MPA is ‘best’ will depend upon your specific career goals. An MBA program will teach you the skills so that you can succeed in the economic markets, and an MPA program will give you a skill set so that you can efficiently work towards better social solutions to many pressing public problems.
When it comes to which graduate program you select, also remember that usually tuition costs for MPA programs are lower than that for MBA programs. Business schools do not offer as much financial aids as universities that offer an MPA. Usually, more financial aids and grants are available for MPA students. Also, you may be able to take advantage of student loan forgiveness programs with an MPA. You can cancel out large amounts of debt with 3-5 years of public service.
Another thing to keep in mind is that some MBA schools offer a no GMAT option now, so it is easier to get into MBA school than it once was.
Also, earning your MPA often offers more flexibility in your career. The majority of business school graduates remain in the private sector all their career. With an MPA, you can work in public, private and non profit organizations.
The MBA or MPA choice that is best for you will depend upon where you want your career to go and what your passion is. Hopefully, with this information, you can make the decision that is right for you.