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What is the difference between an MBA degree and a MPA degree?

An MBA is a Master in Business Administration, and offers a broad overview of business. Normally, the MBA student selects a specialization among variety of business fields such as finance, marketing, management, information systems, etc. Accomplishment of an MBA offers one with a competitive edge over the business job market.

In contrast, an MPA is a Master in Public Administration, and provides students with a general overview of management, planning, operations, etc. of government agencies (i.e. federal, state and local) and not-profit organizations (i.e. associations, hospitals, etc.). Alike MBA, the MPA student will be required to specialize in a particular area such as public finance, auditing, budgeting, strategic management, organizational behavior, public policy, healthcare policy, social policy.

Important Factors in Selecting a Degree Program
Before taking any degree program one need to consider the following;

  • Fee – which program economically suits you?
  • Course selection – Full-time or Part-time, Regular or Online.
  • Research or Practice – Do you want to be a policy maker or policy implementer.
  • Your interests and your options.

The focus of the MBA is on managing businesses while the MPA focuses more on dealing governments. The MBA is primarily a degree for use in private sector (profit) organizations. The MPA is primarily a degree for use in public sector (government and not-profit) organizations. The subject matters are different, target groups and student goals are different and the university departments offering these degrees are different. The management responsibilities exist in both settings; still there are substantial differences among the two which describe the presence of two distinct degrees.

To sum up, it really depends on what you want to do, you should understand which degree will be crucial for your career and matches your interests as MBA is better for managers and directors (e.g. human resources manager, finance director, marketing manager, accounts manager) while an MPA is better for analysts (program analysts, policy analysts). Finally, The MPA makes program recommendations that the MBA would then implement.

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