The School of Public Service launches Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree

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group with credit to Barry Blackburn Shutterstock
Photo Credit: Barry Blackburn /

Today Excelsior College’s School of Public Service launches the Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree. This new program offers individuals from a variety of educational backgrounds the opportunity to enhance their knowledge and skills in the government and non-government sector. Excelsior Life sat down with Dr. David J. Hennessy, associate dean for the School of Public Service and Dr. Karen R. Bryce, MPA program director to learn more.

Excelsior Life: How does a MPA program at Excelsior College differ from other colleges offering something similar?

Hennessy: Many MPA programs require seat time or taking classes every other Saturday. Our program creates flexibility for the adult learner who is working. Our courses are scheduled in eight week sessions and offered fully online. Our expert advisors help students make the right academic plans to meet educational aspirations and achieve a life, work, and education balance.

Bryce: The MPA program at Excelsior College is a dynamic and practical program that provides students with the knowledge and tools they need to be leaders who are skilled, ethical, and key influencers within the public and non-profit sectors. One of our main goals is to help students network with each other, the faculty, and current public service leaders. Excelsior College creates flexibility for adult learners and is a strong choice for students who are working full time. Our rigorous curriculum allows students to complete their degree requirements in diverse, time-proven ways.

Excelsior Life: Who would be a good candidate for pursing this degree?

Bryce: The program will attract students seeking advanced degrees in public service with the objective of working in the public and/or non-profit sectors. Students may come from a variety of backgrounds, including political science, sociology, psychology, economics, and management. They should have a desire to serve their communities in the public or non-profit sectors. We have a unique admissions process that will consider a potential student’s previous experience, writing, analytical skills, and motivation to complete the program.

Photo credit: Shutterstock
Photo credit: Shutterstock

Hennessy: This program is a great option for people seeking a career advancement or transition. The MPA also appeals to first responders like law enforcement and firefighters who desire leadership positions. The MPA provides the skill set for public service work.

Excelsior Life: What are some of the things students will learn with a Master of Public Administration?

Bryce: Our quality courses have been designed by top academics and practitioners in the field. The courses will provide students with understanding and practice in strategic management, personnel management, public budgeting, economics, statistical analysis, technology, non-profit management, and leadership. Students will develop analytical, decision-making, and leadership skills throughout their courses.

The program culminates in a required capstone course allowing students to take on several roles, including city manager, in a simulated environment and make decisions that will help the city to prosper. Students will demonstrate mastery in the field of public administration through satisfactory performance in the capstone.

Excelsior Life: What is the biggest advantage of an MPA compared to an MBA?

Bryce: The biggest advantage of an MPA is the focus on public service. An MPA is for people who care about communities, care about how government runs, and care about serving the public. Those who work in public service can make a difference in people’s lives and bring fulfillment to their own by making things better for those around them.

Hennessy: The distinction is between the private and public sectors. In business, the goal is to make a profit. An MBA is appropriate. The MPA is the best option for those working in the government and non-government sectors since their goal is effective and efficient community service.

Excelsior Life: Is there anything you would like someone reading this article to know that we missed?

Hennessy: There are three things to think about when a person is considering a degree. Find a field that you like. Find something you do well. Find something that allows you to make a living while doing it. Having two-of-three is okay, but three-of-three is what makes for a satisfying career. The MPA is the degree program option for those that want to have a positive impact in their community.

Bryce: In our efforts to expand the networking opportunities for students we plan to hold special events, including an optional “Week in D.C.” to assist students with establishing significant connections. This will also provide them with professional and collegial support to enhance both their educational pursuits and future careers as public employees. Additionally, we plan to hold a “Voices of Leadership” webinar series that features public sector leaders from various parts of government and the not-for-profit world.


Highlights of MPA

What makes a Master of Public Administration Degree at Excelsior College different?

  • 36 credit MPA with 9 credits in an elective.
  • No GRE required.
  • Affordable
  • All 8 week courses are offered online and create flexibility for working adults.
  • Transfer of relevant and recent graduate credit is considered for program.
  • Rigorous curriculum including a capstone simulation to demonstrate learner competence of subject matter.

Did you know?

MPA courses provide students with understanding and practice in strategic management, personnel management, public budgeting, economics, statistical analysis, technology, non-profit management, and leadership development.



Alicia Jacobs
About Alicia Jacobs 298 Articles
Alicia Jacobs is Excelsior College’s Director of Communications and Community Engagement. She responsible for internal communications, public and media relations, employee and community engagement. She assists with special projects, events, committees on behalf of the President's Office. Jacobs career includes television production, broadcast media, healthcare, renewable energy, sports & entertainment, hospitality and higher education. She is also an Emmy Award-Winning TV Producer. During her career, she has worked for three international charities. Her work with non-profits continues today as she leads community engagement initiatives for the College including the Annual Excelsior Cares Volunteer Week. Outside of work, Jacobs is community-minded. Jacobs is a graduate of the University at Albany and earned her Master of Arts, communication with concentration in public relations from Western New England University. She is also a graduate of Excelsior College's Leadership Academy.

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