Benefits of Earning an Online MPA Degree

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An advanced degree in public administration can offer a competitive edge.

Many administrative professionals are drawn to the variety of job responsibilities inherent in public-sector work, as well as the opportunity to have a positive impact on individuals and communities. For them, providing the benefits of public administration to society is one of the most rewarding parts of their occupation.

So, why get an MPA degree? A master of public administration (MPA) can offer the technical, analytical, communications, and related skills that altruistic public service professionals need to advance to greater leadership roles. It can also be the gateway to a variety of diverse and satisfying career opportunities in public management, policymaking, and the nonprofit sector.

Online master of public administration degrees is becoming an increasingly significant option for people looking to move up in their careers. Programs such as the one offered by Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs offer the flexibility and diversity that working professionals need to be able to balance their educational goals with personal and career responsibilities.

Reasons to Pursue an MPA Degree

An advanced degree in public administration can offer a competitive edge, both in terms of position and salary, for professionals who aspire to be city managers, chief administrative officers, government affairs directors, senior consultants, directors of public policy, or executive directors of nonprofits.

Other advantages of an MPA include:

  • Enhanced leadership skills: MPA programs offer a well-rounded curriculum with classes on management, administration, finance, legal issues, public policy, and human resources.
    Programs also focus on soft skills such as critical thinking, project management, analytical and research skills, and working with diverse populations.
  • Opportunity to make an impact: Public administrators, who carry out the work of legislators, policymakers, and other elected officials, can influence some of today’s most crucial issues. Efforts to end homelessness or have an effect on homeland security, climate change, food insecurity, housing discrimination, education reform, and social justice can fall within the purview of public-sector professionals and their nonprofit peers.
    “The economic, cultural, and even spiritual progress, for that matter, of a society depends on the public administration,” according to the Management Study Guide article, “Role of Public Administration in the Modern State.” “The day-to-day functioning of the government machinery, external affairs, and the most important of all, the national defense, are the other important functions performed by the public administration of the country.”

Why Get an MPA Degree Online?

Career advancement is one of the top reasons for pursuing an online degree. Getting an MPA degree online can allow a student to continue working full time while pursuing graduate studies.

“Nearly 80% of online college students cite a career-focused reason as their primary motivation for enrolling in their programs, such as transitioning to a new career (25%), increasing their salary (20%), updating their skills (11%), or seeking a promotion (11%),” according to Online College Students 2017, a joint project of the Learning House, Inc. and Aslanian Market Research.

Other advantages of pursuing an MPA online include:

  • Flexibility: Degree-seekers often see flexibility as a primary benefit of online education. Online programs let students work in a way that fits their learning style and schedule, all while balancing work, life, family, and other responsibilities.
    Class formats include regular reading, assignments, and discussion boards while encouraging self-paced learning.
    Some employers view the ability to manage a degree while also working and taking care of personal issues as a positive attribute, according to U.S. News & World Report.
    “The flexibility that it’s offering — it’s very appealing to an employer,” the magazine notes, quoting Chris Vennitti, president of the Washington, D.C. staffing firm HireStrategy. Strong time management, “illustrates a drive to further both an education and a career.”
  • Technology: Online programs also appeal to digital-savvy learners.
    “Eighty percent of online students use a mobile device during their search for an online program and school, and 40% go on to use their device to access their online coursework,” according to Online College Students 2017.
  • Quality of Education: Online learners today benefit from the same professors and rigorous academic standards available to on-campus students. Online graduates also receive the same diplomas as their peers in traditional brick-and-mortar programs.
  • Networking: Making and maintaining connections with other professionals is an essential skill for those working in the public sector. Online graduate-level education brings together students from diverse backgrounds and locations. In addition to sharing insights with each other, students also have access to respected faculty and the Executives in Residence at Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs.

Salary and Career Outlook

An MPA can position graduates for a variety of career paths, including city or county managers, program administrators or managers, human resources directors, nonprofit executives, government affairs directors, or public policy directors.

Many public service careers offer stability and excellent benefits. Salaries for MPA holders vary greatly by sector, title, location and work experience. The median salary for the range of positions is $65,000, according to

Salaries can easily exceed six figures for upper-level positions. City manager income, for instance, may vary from $60,000 to more than $110,000, depending on location and size of the municipality, according to

About Ohio University’s Online Master of Public Administration (MPA) Program

Ohio University’s online MPA program is dedicated to preparing professionals for a career in public administration. Through the University’s prestigious Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, students gain an overview of the scope of public administration work while building skills in policy, finance, leadership, business, management, and communications. The school occupies the No. 12 spot in the SR Education Group’s 2019 Best Online Colleges Offering MPA Programs ranking.

The program, which is 100% online, offers four concentrations: Crisis and Emergency Management, Public Leadership and Management, Non-Profit Management, or State and Local Government. Students can finish their degree programs in as few as two years.  

Recommended Reading:

Career Spotlight: City Manager
Essential Communication Skills for Public Leaders
Master of Public Administration vs Master of Business Administration

Sources:, “Role of Public Administration in the Modern State”, “Online College Students 2017”
US News, “10 Things Employers Think About Your Online Degree”, Master of Public Administration Degree salary, “How to become a City Manager”