5 Public Administration Skills for MPA Graduates

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A group of public officials clapping and smiling.Public administrators are public service professionals who assist in the implementation of government policy. Working in different areas of government, from public policy to finances, human resources, civil and criminal law, and ethics, public administrators have the opportunity to implement change and make a positive difference in our society.

Effectively serving an organization and the public may be daunting for recent graduates. However, pursuing an advanced degree, such as an online Master of Public Administration degree (MPA), can help students gain the necessary public administration skills and resources to succeed in their future positions. With a well-rounded education, graduates are able to embark on an exciting and influential career in public service.

MPA Skills

The nature of public administration is nuanced and requires focused training and experience to find success. Working in the government and public sectors, future leaders must be able to master MPA skills such as leadership, fundraising, analysis, and communication. Through advanced education, graduates can build the practical knowledge and skills needed to help both individuals and agencies meet their professional goals.

As leading thinkers and changemakers, public administration professionals must be adaptable and have a variety of different skills at their disposal. From the ability to act as a leader and delegate to others to the ability to communicate and solve problems, the capabilities required of public administration officials require time and experience to perfect.

The following are five of the public administration skills gained through an advanced degree that can help graduates find success in the public sector:

1. Fundraising

Some or all of a nonprofit organization’s revenue comes from donors and fundraising. However, attracting and maintaining relationships can be difficult. The 2019 Fundraising Effectiveness Survey Report produced by the Fundraising Effectiveness Project found that participating organizations gave 4.2% more in 2018 than they did in 2017, even while the number of donors decreased by 2.8%.

The growth in giving doesn’t tell the whole story though. The report also discovered that for every $100 gained, it was offset by $93 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 course MPA 5680 Nonprofit Financial Management and Resource Development 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 can be a means to develop a career with a social impact that enables students to help people.

However, it’s not easy to start your own business or nonprofit; you need inherent entrepreneurship skills to manage everything and ensure that your startup is successful. Running a startup or nonprofit also requires persistence and the right attitude to see your efforts through and constantly move forward, despite adversity.

OHIO’s MPA 5890 Nonprofit Leadership and Governance teaches aspiring entrepreneurs how to make clear business plans, develop their leadership skills, and utilize best practices in a nonprofit setting.

These public administration skills are all essential not only for attracting customers and donors but also for putting together a team of skilled staff members who share the same passions and values. OHIO 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. According to Statista, global data creation, copying, and usage is projected to increase to 97 zettabytes in 2022.

With all that data, many organizations are struggling to analyze it all and are rushing to implement resources to help them parse 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.

The building of research and analytic skills are important parts of earning an MPA. Job-seeking candidates with a postgraduate 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.

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

Graduates can apply these MPA skills 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 and how to maximize returns from outreach expenses.

4. Leadership

Becoming a competent leader for an organization takes time, but an MPA can help graduates get there. Strong leaders are passionate, adaptable, committed to the mission, and willing to collaborate with all levels in the organization, requiring the ability to be both intelligent and emotionally perceptive.

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

Delegating tasks is an important part of a leadership role, as it prevents supervisors from stretching themselves too thin and upholds the quality of work. Identifying team strengths and capitalizing on them can show employees that they’re trusted and empower them to put thought and effort into their tasks.

Learning leadership concepts on the job can be challenging, but it’s often better to have the basics down before entering the position. OHIO’s MPA 5140 Organizational Leadership can provide management skills necessary for public administration roles. Students will learn about the hierarchy of organizational positions and their role as potential leaders within this environment.

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

5. Communication

The ability to communicate well is essential in public administration and can be integral toward innovation and valuable change. By building communication skills like empathy and active listening, administrators are better able to build relationships with others, establish a rapport, and make policy change more attainable.

Without valuable communication skills, information can be easily misconstrued. Public administrators with strong communication skills are better able to present a well-thought-out and reasonable argument, allowing them to be more influential or better able to negotiate with others.

For future administrative leaders, pursuing an advanced education can allow them to build the MPA skills required to find success in the public forum. OHIO’s MPA 5660 Strategic Communication and Outreach for Nonprofit Management can teach students how to make connections and maintain professional relationships for an organization’s success.

Become a Leader in Public Administration

Public administrators implement policy and allow governments to make positive change in the lives of others. By pursuing an advanced education, graduates can build the public administration skills required to take on vital roles in the government and corporate sectors. With the proper training and education, administrators can bolster their organizations to provide the best services possible.

For prospective public administrators, pursuing an advanced degree like Ohio University’s online MPA can provide you with the knowledge to lead effectively, gain actionable insights, manage your own startup, and attract funds for nonprofit operations. With its fully online program, the ability to choose from four concentrations, and an innovative curriculum, OHIO’s MPA program can prepare you with the practical skills to succeed. Learn more about what you can do with a public administration degree today.

Video to Add: https://onlinemasters.ohio.edu/blog/my-ohio-mpa-experience-thomas-raabe/

Recommended Readings

12 Qualities of a Successful Public Administrator

Running a Charitable Organization in Uncertain Times

Understanding the Budgeting Process in the Public Sector


AFP, 2019 Fundraising Effectiveness Survey Report

IBM, “How to Manage Complexity and Realize the Value of Big Data”

Partnership for Public Service, Pros and Cons of Working in Government

Statista, Volume of Data/Information Created, Captured, Copied, and Consumed Worldwide From 2010 to 2025

The Balance Small Business, “Why People Want to Work for Nonprofits”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Field of Degree: Public Policy and Social Services