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Public service in a tight economy: MPA/MPPs even more in need
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28th Sep, 2011 | Source : NASPAA

It is clear that public service is currently a top career choice for students and recent graduates. An annual survey of college seniors shows that the number planning on working in government has been increasing, and is now over 10%. Another recent survey of young professionals found that almost half of the top 25 “ideal” employers are in the public or non-profit sector, including nine federal agencies.

Unfortunately, it’s also clear that in the current fiscal climate, governments at all levels, from federal to state to city, are having to make difficult choices about hiring and retaining staff. There are increasing calls for a more accountable, smaller government from many quarters.

But almost all corners call for smarter government: more efficient, able to do more with less, in which policy and spending decisions are based on rigorous analysis of available evidence.

So there are certainly public sector jobs for highly-skilled, highly-qualified professionals who can do that analysis. Jobs for those who have earned a master’s in public administration or public policy (MPA or MPP).

Graduate programs that focus on public administration or public policy offer professional training in public service. In an MPA/MPP program, you will learn how to manage people, resources, and opportunities. You will develop advanced quantitative, analytical, and writing abilities. Graduate schools of public affairs offer training in cutting-edge skills highly valued in the public sector: management, leadership, and communications. Schools also offer a diverse array of specializations, ranging from budgeting to human resources to public policy analysis.

There is another reason that highly trained public servants will be in even higher demand over the next few years: the impending retirement of thousands of Baby Boomers. A recent projection found that within two years, almost 40% of federal managers will be eligible for retirement. Another estimated that nearly 600,000 jobs will develop over the next few years that will need to be filled with highly-qualified individuals, those who have a large toolkit of skills and are ready to assume leadership roles.

2011 happens to be a crucial year for students and recent graduates interested in federal service: last December, President Obama signed an Executive Order that created new “Pathways” into federal internships, jobs and careers. The new programs will offer positions across the nation, not just in Washington, and will start up later this year. There will be exciting opportunities for graduates of programs in public administration, public policy, and public affairs.

Despite the tight economy, it’s clear that for those interested in public service, the investment in a MPA or MPP degree will yield rewarding and challenging career options. You can make a difference and change the world. One MPA/MPP at a time.

NASPAA is the membership organization of 275 graduate programs in public administration, public policy, and public affairs. It also accredits master’s programs in those fields. For more info on MPA/MPP degrees and to search graduate programs, visit .


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