A Discussion on the Value of an MPA

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by friendorfoe, Nov 4, 2006.

  1. BruceP

    BruceP Member


    In the federal civil service the MPA is usually just a "check-mark" for a graduate degree... unless the position description requires a specific discipline (accounting, social work, etc.)... In the federal world it is more important to count your credits that you earned to determine how this will affect your GS level (30SH/45QH = 1 year of academic study)... experience will also count but you usually must quantify it on the resume in excruciating detail to earn credit for it...

    Cruising the Federal Jobs Digest for jobs of interest and looking up their position descriptions is standard practice to discover what you can qualify for... I'm not familiar with network engineering in health care so I can't advise you with this question...
  2. BruceP

    BruceP Member

    I'm going out on the limb here... but I don't believe that it is as important in the public sector unless you're looking for a doctoral program in public administration. There are exceptions to nearly everything in life... and if you encounter a NASPAA program graduate who knows the difference it could impact your success... more than likely it will not.
  3. friendorfoe

    friendorfoe Active Member

    Bruce....MSU has an excellent program, I was looking at their Grad Cert in Homeland Security..........thanks for all the replies.

    As a side bar, I called Amberton University today to speak with them on the matter and they suggested their Masters of Science in Managerial Science as a career neutral management degree stating that it would have more overall utility than an MPA.

    Do you guys agree with this statement?
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 7, 2006
  4. BruceP

    BruceP Member


    Here's the link to Amberton's MS in Managerial Science...

    The MS in Managerial Science looks like a reasonable alternative... but if you're going to do this right you should scan the curriculum of various MPA programs to see what's not in Amberton's program... I noticed the lack of a financial management course right off the bat... Labor-management relations is also absent... Consider what is absent, figure out how important it is to you, and then figure out what you're going to do...

    Here's something else to consider... how about an on-line Executive MPA?

    "...the executive MPA assumes that you already have developed competence within a specific functional area. It provides in-depth exposure to the critical areas of executive and managerial focus common to middle and upper level management in all public organizations. This includes: planning; process management; financial management; human resources and labor relations; organizational development and change; law and administrative process; public policy formulation, analysis and implementation; and ethics."



    GGU created the EMPA after a graduated so I know little about it... It looks good in concept... that and a graduate certificate in a CJ related area should cover the bases...
  5. friendorfoe

    friendorfoe Active Member

    Thanks Bruce......LSU has an excellent Grad certificate in financial management......


    .........you'll dig it.

    Anyhow, I really like APU's MPA program due to the curriculum flexibility. http://www.apu.apus.edu/Academics/Degree-Programs/program.htm?progid=3676&program_type=Masters

    That and the fact that almost everyone in law enforcement who reads Police magazine or any of the others you see laying around the briefing room are likely to know who they are.

    I like the overall concept of flexibility at Amberton and I love the $200.00 an hour tuition........but I honestly don't know how an MSM or MSMS (MS in Management) would be received in public sector work for management consideration, ala promotion board, etc.

    But for the price of an MBA from St. Joes and most places, I could get the MSMS and the MPA…….so many options, so little time.

    One question though, is the MPA considered a management degree?
  6. jdlaw93

    jdlaw93 New Member

    Yes, the MPA is considered a management degree focused on public sector management, just as the MBA is considered a management degree focused on private sector management.
  7. BruceP

    BruceP Member

  8. friendorfoe

    friendorfoe Active Member

    Actually I was speaking to someone at Norwich not too long ago. They were a bit costly, but otherwise a nice program.

    The best MSCJ I can find for the buck is Troy University.....the best management degree I can find for the buck is Amberton.

    Being that Southwestern cost me about $12,000 in student loans, I'd like to slow the pace down a bit and not rack anymore up.

    My employer reimbursed part of the debt, which is nice, but I'd like to keep it low key from here on out.

    I like the MPA concept a lot, but don't like painting myself into a corner so to speak. I like the flexibility of an MBA but have little to no interest in the curriculum.

    I really would like an MSCJ, but again, there's that corner that I'd be painting myself into.

    So I may be looking at an MSMS..........I still don't know yet. This is the third time I've changed my mind in so many weeks.

    One thing about Amberton though, is I can go there for FREE……….which is very nice.
  9. BruceP

    BruceP Member


    I totally understand your situation... especially the financial aspects... I'm in the same boat as I near completion of my current program and consider my future options...

    Best of luck!
  10. friendorfoe

    friendorfoe Active Member

    Here's a quick question.........

    Does an MPA demonstrate that the graduate has the same quantitative skills as an MBA in most cases?
  11. tcmak

    tcmak New Member

    I don't think there's a link between the two on quant skills. It's possible to have an MPA programme covering a lot on quant skills, or an MBA programme with little quant topics.

    However, an MPA usually won't cover topic like Risk Management or Finanical Engineering, or even Investment Theory, Operations Research.... while some MBA programmes may choosesto cover these..

    Also, the emergence of MPA programme is due to the difference that private companies reports to shareholder (although stakeholders' involvement is getting more important), whose looks for financial return, which is easily quantifiable...while for public sectors.... the objective is not easily quantifiable.... or not quantifiable at the current state of knowledge. They often have multiple, qualitative objectives too. This makes managing public sector organisations different from than that in private companies.

    Accordingly, an MPA programme has less quant things to look at.... probably that gives an impression that MPA graduate can demostrate less quant skills than MBA graduates

    Again, the quant skills required in MBA programmes are not demanding at all. I don't believe there is a clear cut comparsion on their quant skills.

  12. BruceP

    BruceP Member

    On the surface... kinda-sorta-maybe...

    In reality... probably not.

    Reason: Many programs emphasize qualitative more than quantitative research. First, that answer is dependant on the curriculum and the quantitative coursework required for each degree (not every MPA is created equal... same is true with the MBA). Second, it is dependant on the academic environment created by the faculty... in specific - are they research-oriented or practitioner-oriented...

    In generalized terms, practitioner-oriented programs are more likely to push qualitative tools... research-oriented programs will usually treat quantitative tools with a little more respect...
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 9, 2006
  13. friendorfoe

    friendorfoe Active Member

    Do you guys see many Chiefs of Police and law enforcement administrators with an MPA? I realize the mainstay is the MSCJ or equivalent, I'm just wondering if an MPA applies when running a police dept.???
  14. JH50

    JH50 Member

    Our last chief had an MPA. Our current chief has a master's degree in communications. Occassionally, I read the job postings for police chief on officer.com and most postings say "master's degree preferred." The biggest thing in being a police chief, IMHO, is your work experience and the type of department you worked for (and of course a bachelor's degree).
  15. friendorfoe

    friendorfoe Active Member

    I may have answered my own question. I did a quick "google" of police chief bios and read them at random.

    There were about a half dozen who had an MS or MA in Criminology or Criminal Justice, etc.

    There was 1 that had a Master of Science in Security Management

    There was 1 that had a Master of Social Work

    There was 1 that had an MPA and an MSM.

    There was 1 that had an MBA (Pepperdine), a MSCJ (Sam Houston) and an Ed D. or the like from South or Southern, something like that.......oh........and a face only a mother could love.....but I digress.......

    There was 1 that had an MACJ and a Ph D.

    1 had a Master of Liberal Studies......this is the second time I've seen this today though....not sure if it was the same fella' twice.

    and about a half dozen that don't mention a degree at all.

    One thing I did notice, everytime education was mentioned, the chief had a graduate degree of some type.

    What I'm getting is that having a graduate degree is more important than what it's in.......just a hunch.
  16. BruceP

    BruceP Member

    Bingo. Getting hired as a police chief (or in any senior management job) is all about two things.

    1. Making the cut to get an interview.
    2. Beating out the competition in the interview to get the job.

    If you're an insider (that is respected) and there is little or no competition for the job you may not even need a grad degree... of course it is rare not to have competition... so don't rest on your laurels just because you're known and respected...

    In all of the other scenarios you will need a solid grad degree... in a related area... then it depends on the hiring authority and their preference for police chief educational qualifications... one might prefer the MPA... others might prefer the CJ areas... who knows... In many cases the grad degree is the check-off on the laundry list... just about anything will usually satisfy the requirement... the position description will sometimes indicate the preference... and then of course the parchment in many cases can carry greater influence than the title of the degree...
  17. BruceP

    BruceP Member

    Yowza... I just read tcmak's response... in my educational experience "quantitative skills" has always referred to research. tcmak gave you an answer from a totally different perspective... did at least one of us answer your question?
  18. cumpa

    cumpa New Member

    friendorfoe I don't know if you've checked this out yet in your research but the NASPAA site has some alumni profiles that you might find interesting. It shows some of the variety of options that an MPA degree might offer in terms of career opportunities.

  19. Bruce

    Bruce Moderator

    You forgot;

    3. Shamelessly kissing the ass of the mayor/appointing authority.

    Because of a very generous education incentive in MA, most chiefs around here have their graduate degrees in CJ, but if there is an open competitive process for a chief's job, the ad usually reads "Master's degree in criminal justice, law enforcement, or a closely related field". Once in awhile you'll see public administration, but not often.
  20. friendorfoe

    friendorfoe Active Member

    Thanks for the input guys.

    Bruce "3. Shamelessly kissing the ass of the mayor/appointing authority."

    That goes for anyone above the rank of Sergeant.:D

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