Did You Get An MPA or MPP? Did It Make a Difference in Your Career?

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This topic contains 12 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  Mike McDowell 8 years, 9 months ago.

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  • #169302

    In a couple weeks, GovLoop is hosting an online training entitled, “Advancing Your Public Service Career: What You Need to Know.” The hour-long session — which will include career experts and offer ample time for Q&A — will mostly cover the advantage and impact of getting an advanced degree, such as an MPA or MPP. You can learn more and register for the event here.

    I’ll be moderating the session and I’m curious to learn from MPA / MPP grads:

    What were your expectations in terms of an MPA / MPP impact on your career?

    If you obtained an MPA or MPP, has it helped to advance your government career?

    How has what you learned been applicable on the job?

  • #169326

    Mike McDowell

    Obtained an MPA in 1975. It’s primary benefit for me is teaching me how to frame and think about the various issues that have been thrown at me over the last 37 years.

  • #169324

    Thanks, Mike. Do you keep up on any reading? What have been valuable refresher books, resources or courses over the years?

  • #169322

    Steve Ressler

    A friend recently got her MPA and we had this conversation – she said it especially helped in understanding the larger context of how gov’t operates – how Congress and executive branch tie together, how budgets are prioritized, and the role policy plays.

  • #169320

    Nichole Henley

    Great question!! I’ve been questioning whether to pursue this- not because I don’t want to but because of the cost factor.

  • #169318

    Susan Duffin

    Good morning, Andrew:

    I received my MPA prior to starting work with the State of Georgia. This degree has been very useful throughout my 30-year government career – both in terms of specific knowledge (how federal funding flows, or what Congressional committees handle different types of business, for example) as well as more general skills, such as knowing how to organize information to obtain efficient results. My career, while primarily with one state agency for the past 28 years, has certainly evolved and I believe the MPA degree helped me to advance and achieve recognition as a quality government professional.

    I highly recommend this degree to anyone looking to work for any level of government. Even as funding decreases, lots of baby boomers are and will be retiring, so there will always be spots in agencies for motivated, knowledgeable folks.


    Susan Duffin

    Georgia Department of Labor

  • #169316

    Katie Reed

    I’m graduating with a BS in Management in December; I have worked in finance for local government entities over the last 6.5 years. I know I want to stay in the public sector, but at what level, I’m not sure. I plan on continuing on in my schooling, and have considered an MPA degree. I’ve also signed up for the session and am looking forward to learning more about the degree to see if that’s what I want to be “when I grow up”.

    Any additional insight would be GREATLY appreciated!

  • #169314

    Thanks, Susan. That’s great to hear!

  • #169312

    I think you’ll learn a lot on Thursday, Katie. I’m looking forward to it myself as I’ve considered an MPA as well.

  • #169310

    Stuart Heiser, MPP

    Hi Katie,

    NASPAA, the association of public affairs schools, has a website section for prospective MPA (and MPP) students. We have summaries of the degrees (and the differences between them), FAQs, career paths, alumni profiles, salary data, and a comprehensive school search. Good luck!

  • #169308

    Stuart Heiser, MPP

    Nichole, pursuing any graduate degree is an investment in your future. It’s true that most master’s recipients do graduate with some debt. But there’s now the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. Some MPA/MPP programs offer merit-based aid (competitive scholarships), and many offer Research Assistant or similar positions. Take a look at NASPAA’s updated salary information for MPA/MPP grads; I think you’ll find the investment definitely pays off. Good luck!

  • #169306

    Thanks for the session today! It was very informative. Although I am still working on my MA, I do agree that grad school can be very beneficial when it comes to advancing a career. I do also think, though, that it is VERY important to find a program that you really love. (And this point was raised today by the speaker.) I know a few people who went back to school, hated it and didn’t get anything out of it because the program turned out to not be a very good fit. My advice to anyone looking into grad school: DO YOUR RESEARCH!

  • #169304

    Terrence Hill

    I got my MPA by going to night school at the Pentagon for 7 years early in my career. Although I personally benefited from the degree, it is not as valued as it should be in the government. Like professional certification, graduate degrees are more appreciated in the private sector.

    I feel like I have never really completed my education though. I am constantly reading management books, attending webinars, and seeking opportunities to be engaged in meaningful work.

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