State of Public Administration Today | The Future of Public Administration | Evolving Political Climate | Public Health Policy Changes | Rapidly Advancing Technology | Grassroots Advocacy | SustainabilityCareer Options with an MPA

Public Administration: The Basics

You’ve chosen a career path in public administration. The decision to enter a field that provides value and services to people is not one to take lightly, and the work you do is likely to have an impact on communities and lives, in both the long and short term.

Today’s ideal public administration professional is tech-savvy, communicative, globally minded and efficiency driven. They must be an expert at managing their own organization and have the ability to interact with a wide range of complementary and sometimes contrasting entities in order to achieve their mission and goals. They also must have the capability to lead others, even those who are not subordinates, and be able to design governance arrangements that benefit the greatest number of people while using resources judiciously.

This requires constant learning and the will to stay informed; this is where an MPA degree provides great value to the individual and the communities he or she serves.

With a Master of Public Administration, you’ll acquire both the knowledge and skills to effectively work within local, state and federal governments, developing and implementing policies and regulatory structures that advance a society. You might also choose to use your talents and expertise in the nonprofit world or within nongovernmental organizations to improve the welfare of a populace that needs a strong voice. Regardless of the path you choose, you’ll find measurable value in this advanced degree.

Public Administration Basics

Today's ideal public administration professional is tech-savvy, communicative, globally minded and efficiency driven.

State of Public Administration Today

The role and function of public administrators is rapidly evolving as the needs and demands of citizens, governments and organizations influence their ability to create and implement policies. Today’s public administrators face many issues as they deal with political, social and economic factors that impact both public and private sectors. Not the least of these are increasing demand for services and finite resources.

Additionally, political environments and parties in power—which can change through election cycles—can shift the focus on priorities, from centralized federal oversight, to state and local control of programs. How budgets are determined, whether contracts for products and services remain under governmental authority or are privatized, and the level of transparency and citizen engagement in policy development are all affected by legislative bodies and their leadership.

To address these issues, public administrators must think “outside the box” and employ innovative strategies to manage not only processes but the people responsible for their development and implementation. They must be able to adapt to their governments or organizations and the cultures that are the result of them. Shifts in management paradigms, along with the use of emerging technologies, will greatly influence those strategies and the attainment of an MPA can provide the knowledge and insights to address these ever-changing aspects.

State of Public Administration



Public Administration Innovators
By developing the concept of democracy, Plato paved the way for administrators to expose ideas and platforms for education and social services.
The organizational leadership to amass an army and empire unlike anything the world had seen before takes serious delegation skills.
Machiavelli recognized that it’s easier to mobilize communities when they believe in the same cause than force administrative rules upon them.
Taking a page from Machiavelli, Jefferson introduced a voting tactic that encouraged people to rally behind a candidate whose success would mean civil service jobs for voters.
Smith’s novel, The Wealth of Nations, has become a benchmark for addressing the public administration needed for capitalism to succeed.

The Future of Public Administration

Public Administration FutureWith a growing number of professionals retiring from public service, there is a need to educate and develop the next generation of public administrators. Old practices will not work going forward. Public servants cannot continue to operate in closed bureaucracies; instead, they must work in flexible organizations. Our MPA program is designed to meet current and future challenges and develop committed professionals with distinct competence and values to best serve the public, the community and elected leaders in government.

Global Trends

The field of public administration is experiencing a dramatic and rapid change.
Locally and globally, some of the most significant trends that will have
impact on public administrators for years to come include:

1. Evolving Political Climate

Public administrators frequently employ their talents and skills in multiple scholarly disciplines, including, but not limited to, sociology, economics, political science, and business to build strong, sustainable communities. They are constantly identifying and addressing community needs, evaluating available assets, and prioritizing investments to support infrastructure, economic development, public services and many other areas that affect their citizens’ quality of life.

Among the biggest challenges in community development is the uncertainty of resources, which can rise and fall based on the political climates in federal, state and local legislative bodies. In an era of declining budgets and public employment, especially at the state and local levels, vital government services are always at risk and public administrators must be able to adapt their policies and practices to provide necessary services with the funding and personnel available to them.

From public health and safety to transportation, a majority of the expenditures of our governments are related to community development in some manner and administrators are tasked with ensuring that the resources to which they have access are managed efficiently and effectively to fairly benefit a majority of the constituents in their care.

Today’s ideal public administration professional is tech-savvy, communicative, globally minded and efficiency driven.

Public Health Policy

2. Public Health Policy Changes

Public administration touches every facet of our lives, and as such public administrators have the responsibility for making decisions in the best interests of their publics’ health. There are few regulatory decisions that do not affect population health.

Many of the factors that affect health are outside of the healthcare sector. Consider the development of sanitation systems and the establishment of building codes so that people have clean water to drink and safe homes in which to live. These have a positive effect on citizens’ health and wellness. Occupational safety laws, minimum wage standards, professional licensing of health providers, and the advent of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration were all set into motion to advance public health through the development of policies and regulations by public administrators.

As populations increase and communities evolve, public administrators must create and implement policies which will drive better and fairer health outcomes that are appropriately administered and implemented. Through continuing education, such as that provided through our MPA program, these professionals learn best practices, proven management tactics, and diverse approaches to accomplishing their missions.

Public Health Policy Changes

3. Rapidly advancing technology

Emerging technologies are having a significant impact on how governments and organizations interact with their constituencies. With increased capabilities and accessibility, today’s software and hardware is allowing public administrators to better analyze data and trends, learn about best practices from colleagues around the globe, and institute policies and procedures that streamline operations and provide more transparency to stakeholders.

Technology can have the benefit of lowering the costs to do business for both organizations and those they serve. Less physical resources like paper and file storage facilities are needed to acquire and store information, and computing systems are becoming more compact and energy efficient. Personnel can accomplish more tasks in less time and automation and online access means travel and time to obtain files and forms is reduced for those an agency serves.

The advent of mobile devices, like smartphones and tablets allows teams to quickly find and share information, communicate with their leadership and citizens, and address issues as they arise, all in real time and wherever they may be working, whether in the field or in their offices.

As technology advances, the need to guard sensitive information also becomes a priority. Programs designed to infiltrate computing servers to steal confidential or personal data are constantly evolving and today’s public administrators must remain vigilant and employ up-to-date systems to ensure information remains secure and the public trust is maintained.

Grassroots Advocacy

4. Grassroots Advocacy

More people have access to information through the internet and their use of mobile technology. They can communicate quickly and easily to influence public opinion and affect everything from the outcome of elections to a nation’s revolution. Technology has changed the way news is reported, how agencies interact with the public and how elected bodies respond to proposed legislation on all levels of government.

Never before have people been able to effect change through advocacy efforts as rapidly as they can now and will continue to do. With the push of a button, messages can almost instantly reach millions of people and mobilize them to take action on critical social issues.

As information from around the world is shared and brought to the public’s attention, societies are converging to demand change. Environmental issues, human rights abuses, international accords and other topics that once were isolated to individual countries and regions are now global concerns. Governments and their policies face greater scrutiny not only from their own citizens but from a global audience and must now operate from a broader mindset.

Social media is also having a dramatic effect on how public administration is conducted. Citizens and leaders can express their insights and opinions to large and diverse audiences, and administrators can communicate important information more directly and succinctly with the public. However, these same platforms can also be a place for disgruntled or dissatisfied people to share their disdain for government or organizational actions, or spread misinformation which can impede the progress of important initiatives that could benefit their communities.

Social MediaSocial media is also having a dramatic effect on how public administration is conducted.


5. Sustainability

It’s not just about saving the rainforests or protecting natural resources. Global crises are calling attention to public administrators’ development of policies and expecting those policies to address public interests that include everything from utilizing renewable energy sources to minimizing opportunities for government corruption.

With climate change having many organizations debating or planning, public administrators must find ways to meet today’s needs without compromising future generation’s needs. President Theodore Roosevelt’s administration saw an urgent need to protect the country’s natural resource and established policies to protect national treasures.

With the continually changing tides of public policy priorities, public administrators have to evaluate the urgency of addressing environmental concerns. Organizations that value social responsibility and stewardship are more likely to have established and evolving sustainable public administration policies. Public administrators play an important role in keeping sustainability top of mind in public policy.

Environmental ConcernsWith the continually changing tides of public policy priorities, public administrators have to evaluate the urgency of addressing environmental concerns.




Career Options with an MPA

Depending on your interest, as an MPA student, you can focus your studies on a variety of public sector fields such as urban planning, emergency management, transportation, health care (especially public health), economic development, urban management, community development, education, nonprofits, information technology, environmental policy, cultural policy and criminal justice.

There are many career paths from which to choose once you have completed your MPA degree program. Local, state and federal governments, along with nonprofits and private companies often look to hire those with an MPA degree. Positions can be found in local governments as an urban planner, city manager or community health director. You can also find opportunities as a director for budgets, economic development, transportation, public housing or public affairs. In federal government, many agencies employ MPA graduates, especially those that deal with human and social services, as well as within departments such as the CIA and State Department.

The private sector also employs those with an MPA and with your unique knowledge and skills you could find yourself in the position of CEO, COO, president, vice president or director of a company or nonprofit organization.


Why an MPAIf you’re debating earning your Master of Public Administration degree, consider that this education will help you excel in many different areas. You’ll be required to take classes in economics, communication, finance, legal, health and administration, among others that will provide you with in-depth knowledge of many areas important to management positions in the public sector, as well within nonprofit and some for-profit organizations. You’ll develop strong leadership skills and gain a deep understanding of the impact your role can play in improving society. 

Get the Whitepaper: 5 Global Trends in Public Administration