Master of Public Administration (MPA) Programs with Finance Concentrations

Students sitting on steps
MPA students come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences.

A Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree is designed to foster or advance leaders who strive to make positive change on behalf of the public. According to NASPAA (National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration), some notable figures who have completed an MPA include U.S. Secretary of Health & Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, TV Host Bill O’Reilly (The O’Reilly Factor) and former director of the CIA, David Petraeus.

As the economy plays a vital role in public policy and affairs, there are numerous Master of Public Administration (MPA) programs with Finance Concentrations. “Management and finance students are interested in serving as leaders and change agents in government organizations and consulting firms,” states Georgia State University’s Department of Public Management and Policy (regarding their MPA in Management and Finance program). “With the skills and knowledge gained in this concentration, you might manage a city, an embassy, an airport, or a state agency.  Or, you might work as a US Government Accountability Office analyst…or as a budget or program analyst with the state…as a consultant helping government to…increase citizen satisfaction.”

MPA grads go onto numerous directorial or organizational roles. Take Anna York, who is Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA)’s Mexico Country Director. In an interview with NASPAA’s, she explained why she decided to complete an MPA. “I knew that I wanted to pursue international development work, but I felt that I needed additional skills in statistics, finance, economics, management and policy formation in order to work effectively in the positions I was interested in.”

In her role with IPA, York “conducts evaluations of poverty interventions such as microfinance,” according to her interview with If you too would like to use your financial expertise (or budding interest in the field) to help a local, national or international community in a meaningful fashion, consider taking an MPA with a financial concentration.

Why Pursue a Master of Public Administration?

• An MPA degree helps you develop and hone analytical, managerial, research and decision-making skills relevant to fill the role of an effective public leader. It also helps you understand and evaluate current and past issues that a variety of public leaders have faced.

• MPA students come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, which is extremely educational in itself, particularly in interactive classes where presentations, group projects, or the like, are completed.

• A Master of Public Administration is interdisciplinary, meaning coursework delves into various areas, such as economics, political science, law, organizational behavior, analytical/statistical methods, finance, fiscal management of public organizations, psychology/human behavior, planning, communications, international development and more.

• Most MPA programs include a valuable experiential (real-world training) component, such as a capstone project, an internship or even an international lab.

• A Master of Public Administration degree can lead to a variety of careers with public, private or non-profit employers, including job titles such as business manager, consultant, director of operations, budget analyst, philanthropic advisor, donor relations specialist, project manager, policy analyst, chief of staff, development director, campaign manager, marketing coordinator, researcher and more.

Master of Public Administration (MPA) Programs with Finance Concentrations

Numerous MPA programs will allow you to select a concentration and/or specialization as part of your degree. Some also offer you the option of completing a relevant financial certificate program at the same time or separately from your Master of Public Administration. As you research prospective schools, just some of the finance-related concentrations, certificate programs or specialization electives you may uncover include:

• Financial Management
• Public Financial Management
• Non-profit Financial Management
• Advanced Policy and Economic Analysis
• Public Financial Administration
• Economic Development
• Financial Policy
• Human Resource Management
• Economics and Quantitative Analysis

If you have an idea of what type of job you would like after you complete your Master of Public Administration degree, talk to each school’s academic advisors to see how their financial concentrations line up with your career goals.

Other MPA Concentrations

Other possible MPA concentrations include:

• Non-profit Management
• Environmental/Natural Resources
• Human Rights
• Social Policy
• Homeland Security
• International Security
• Juris Doctor (Law)
• International Management
• Criminal Justice
• Public Health
• Policy Analysis
• Economic Development
• Planning
• United Nations Studies
• Public Service

Note that even if you do not complete a finance concentration, often an MPA core curriculum will still include finance-related courses.