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Master of Public Administration

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MPA Program Mission

The mission of the Master of Public Administration program is to strengthen the public service in a democratic and diverse society by educating students to manage and lead public and nonprofit institutions effectively, ethically, and democratically.

UNO's MPA Program

The University of Nebraska at Omaha School of Public Administration offers a Master's Degree in Public Administration (MPA). The MPA degree is the recognized graduate degree for professional positions focusing on public service. UNO offers its MPA degree in three places: Omaha, Lincoln and Online. On average, there are 200 active students in the three programs.

Regardless of the setting, the UNO MPA program affords students an environment that serves as an incubator for acquiring the skills necessary for their desired careers, and developing a self-understanding that will enable them to succeed both professionally and personally. Students are assured of a high-quality degree program that not only meets, but exceeds national standards of professional education; in fact, UNO's MPA program was one of the first accredited graduate public administration programs in the United States.

Outstanding Teaching

The School of Public Administration stresses a teaching “portfolio” approach for its entire faculty. The result is that the School's faculty members have for many years utilized active and service-learning teaching strategies; multiple assessment tools; participated in extended education on improving teaching and learning; and published research on teaching in a public service degree program.

The 14 core MPA faculty members are regarded as national and international scholars, with many having received awards and recognition by scholarly and professional associations/societies. Faculty members have been published in over 30 journals/books and have secured grants from entities such as the U.S. Department of Transportation, Omaha Public Power District (OPPD), Aspen Foundation, Community-Campus Partnership for Health, and NASA. A number of School of Public Administration faculty members have won both internal and external teaching excellence awards.

MPA faculty members have practice and research expertise in a variety of areas, including:

  • Public budgeting and finance
  • Program evaluation
  • Local government management
  • Nonprofit management
  • Organizational behavior
  • Administrative law
  • Management of information systems
  • Health care administration
  • Policy design, implementation, and evaluation
  • Aviation and transportation policy

Concern for Quality and Relevance

In recent years, faculty have provided leadership to the University Committee for the Advancement of Teaching; the Teaching, Learning and Technology Roundtable; and studied instructional issues such as distance learning outcomes, approaches for fostering effective class group projects, and led a national study of Generation X and its implications for public service education.

For many years the UNO MPA Program has conducted exit interviews of its graduates. The exit interviews show very high levels of satisfaction with the quality of instruction, the advising process, the amount of attention paid to students, and the ease with which the students interact with School personnel and procedures

The School of Public Administration also surveys its MPA alumni about the quality of the instructional programs. The results consistently show high levels of alumni satisfaction. For example, 82 percent of alumni that responded to the January 2005 survey rated the academic preparation they received in the MPA program as “excellent/good,” and 66.0 percent responded that the MPA degree provided greater advancement opportunities; this is significant considering that many alumni already had public service positions when they entered the program. The results of the exit interviews and the alumni surveys are used in the School's on-going strategic planning process. The strong support for the MPA program by its alumni contributes directly to the strong esprit de corps found within the SPA.

Graduates of the MPA program report working in occupations and industry groups related to their academic preparation. For example, the January 2005 MPA alumni survey found 89.0 percent of those responding worked in professional or managerial/administrative jobs. Sixty-four percent of respondents earned more than $40,000 annually, and 84 percent worked in a governmental or nonprofit organization.

The Degree for Careers in Public Service

The Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree is the professional degree for those seeking a public service career. The UNO MPA program develops the skills used by managers to implement policies, projects and programs. MPA program alumni work in all levels of government; in nonprofit organizations delivering services in health care, youth and human services, and in housing and community development, in international development, and in public service-related private businesses.

Most Lincoln, Omaha and online MPA students work in the government and nonprofit sectors. In addition, many people working in for-profit organizations—especially those providing services for federal, state or local governments—find the MPA degree to be a significant benefit for their career.

The outlook for public services remains strong. According to the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook:

  • Between 2002 and 2012, government employment is expected to increase by 11.8 percent
  • Healthcare and social services—including hospitals, nursing and residential care facilities, and individual and family services—will grow by 32.4 percent from 2002-2012.

In addition, the value of an MPA degree is high. The Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) states that graduate education is expected to continue to give persons working or seeking careers in the public and nonprofit sectors a competitive edge. Not only are opportunities greater, but salaries can be higher.

Why Should I Get a Master's Degree?

Master’s degrees are essential for future employment and overall career advancement. Based on projections by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in occupations that typically require a master’s degree will increase by 18% between 2008 and 2018, approximately twice the 10% rate of growth expected for all occupations.

In addition to career advancement, a master’s degree also increases the likelihood of current employment. In a report aptly titled Education Pays, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that in 2010, among individuals 25 years of age and older, the unemployment rate for those with a master’s degree as their highest degree was 4.0%, compared with 5.4% for those with only a bachelor’s degree, and 10.3% for those who had only graduated high school.

Over the course of their career, a Georgetown University study reports that individuals whose highest degree is a master’s degree can expect to earn nearly $2.7 million, while individuals with only a bachelor’s degree can expect to earn $2.3 million. Moreover, in 2010, the median annual salary of master’s degree recipients was 22.5% higher ($66,144 compared to $53,976) than the median for those with only a bachelor’s degree.

  • Advance your career
  • Become credentialed
  • Earn a higher salary
  • Hone your professional skills
  • Develop new competencies
  • Change careers
  • Enter a doctoral program
  • Think independently and learn actively

Updated 9/7/2012 by Melanie Kiper