4 MPA Skills That Will Help Your Career

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Graduation cap on hundred-dollar billsEffectively serving an organization and the public can be a bit overwhelming for any recent graduate.

However, pursuing an online Master of Public Administration degree will help students gain the necessary capabilities and resources they may need to succeed in their future positions. Ohio University’s online MPA program provides some of the most sought-after characteristics in potential candidates and is taught by faculty with experience in the field.

Let’s take a closer look at four skills you can learn from earning an online MPA degree that can help throughout your career:

1. Fundraising

Some or all of a non-profit organization’s revenue comes from donors and fundraising efforts. However, attracting and maintaining these relationships can be difficult. According to industry research compiled by Qgiv, 88 percent of dollars raised comes from 12 percent of an organization’s donors. In addition, 12 percent of all giving happens within the last three days of the year.

The 2017 Fundraising Effectiveness Survey Report produced by the Fundraising Effectiveness Project found that participating organizations gave 3 percent more in 2016 than they did in 2015. The number of donors rose by 0.6 percent within that time frame as well, with a retention rate of 45 percent.

While there is certainly growth in giving and donors, that does not show the entire story. The study also discovered that for every $100 gained, it was offset by $95 in losses from downgraded and lapsed gifts. Similarly, for every 100 new and recovered donors recruited, 99 donors were lost through attrition.

Attracting and retaining donor relationships requires a set of skills found in many MPA jobs and can take time to cultivate. Ohio University’s Online MPA 5680 Nonprofit Financial Management and Resource Development course gives online MPA students the opportunity to apply fundraising techniques and practices to real-life projects.

MPA graduates will also learn the practical, moral, and legal issues surrounding fund development. These skills will be essential for boosting fundraising efforts and enabling career opportunities.

2. Entrepreneurship

More people are being inspired to drive the change that they want to see in the world. An MPA program is seen as a means to develop a career with a social impact that enables students to help people.

However, it’s not easy to start up your own business or non-profit; you need inherent entrepreneurship skills to manage everything and ensure that your startup is successful. Entrepreneur contributor Larry Alton noted that risk management, problem-solving and marketing are essential areas of focus for any good entrepreneur.

Running a startup or non-profit also requires persistence and the right attitude to see your efforts through and constantly move forward, despite adversity.

Ohio University’s MPA 5710 Social Entrepreneurship educates aspiring entrepreneurs on the knowledge they need to make clear business plans, build their reputation and develop a good elevator speech to take any pitch to the next level.

These capabilities are all essential not only for attracting customers and donors but also putting together a team of skilled staff that share the same passions and values. Running a business is not for everyone, and the online Social Entrepreneurship course will give students a taste of what they can expect in the real world and how they can achieve their goals.

Ohio University offers the only Center for Entrepreneurship that partners a public affairs school, with a College of Business, providing an outstanding basis for instruction in social entrepreneurship.

3. Data Analytics

More data is being generated than ever before, thanks to the rise of smart and connected devices and machine-to-machine communications. In fact, IBM found that 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created every day.

With all that data, many organizations are struggling to analyze it all and are rushing to implement resources that will help them parse through their growing data sets. While many data analytics tools can now be used across varying skill levels, making sense of this information, and using it for decision-making can be quite a learning curve.

Research and analytics are an important part of earning an MPA. Jobs seeking candidates with a post-graduate public administration education want to know that their new employees are well-versed in modern research techniques. Data is now its own form of currency in business and skilled public administrators should know how to gain value from it.

Analyzing data effectively and gaining actionable insights can help managers fine-tune their organizational processes, coordinate staff, and volunteer deployments, compile reports, comply with regulations, and create targeted fundraising campaigns.

The MPA 5830 Data Analytics for Public and Nonprofit Managers will teach students how to manage complex data systems as well as how to use that data to inform decision-making and strategy development.

MPA earners can apply this knowledge to their budgeting and forecasting processes, creating more accurate predictions for upcoming months. Analytics can also help identify what prospects are most likely to donate as well as how to maximize returns from outreach expenses.

4. Leadership

Becoming a competent leader for your organization will take time, but an MPA can help get you there. Strong leaders are passionate, adaptable, committed to the mission, and willing to collaborate with all levels in the organization. You not only need to be intelligent, but emotionally perceptive as well.

Pushing for strong teamwork and encouraging open communication are also essential elements to building a cohesive staff of experts who operate effectively together.

However, you also should not take on everything by yourself and must learn to trust your co-workers. Delegating tasks is an important part of a leadership role, as it prevents you from stretching yourself too thin and upholds the quality of work. Identifying team strengths and capitalizing on them will show that you trust and believe in your staff and empower them to put thought and effort into their tasks.

Learning leadership concepts on the job will certainly test you, but it is often better to have the basics down before you enter the position. The online MPA 5140 Organizational Leadership course can provide management skills necessary for public administration roles.

Students will learn about the hierarchy of organizational positions and their role as a potential leader within this environment. The course will also show that exhibiting leadership is not relegated to one position but can also apply to take charge of a specific project or initiative.

Having the right skills is necessary for adding value to MPA jobs and opening future career opportunities. However, some capabilities should be understood prior to entering the position.


Pursuing an online MPA from Ohio University can provide you with the knowledge to lead effectively, gain actionable insights, manage your own startup and attract funds for non-profit operations. For more information about what you can do with a public administration degree and what skills an MPA can provide, visit Ohio University today.

Recommended Readings

10 Traits of a Successful Public Administrator
What an MPA Can Do for Your Career”
Working in Public Administration
Policy Analysis in Public Administration
Citizen Engagement in Public Administration


Go Government.org, “Pros and Cons of Working in Government”
Joan Garry Blog, “Top Reasons to Work NonProfit”
Forbes.com, “9 core behaviors of people who positively impact the world”
Poynter.org, “What great bosses know about rewards management”