Return to: 2130 Department of Public Management and Policy
Dr. John C. Thomas, Faculty Program Director
The Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.) degree is the preferred professional graduate degree for those wishing to enter or advance in careers at all levels of government. It is also an appropriate degree for management of nonprofit agencies and professional associations. The M.P.A. is a broad-based, interdisciplinary program designed to prepare graduates for leadership positions as managers, analysts and policy specialists in government and nonprofit organizations. In addition to the high-quality, generalist core curriculum, the program offers opportunities to develop specialized knowledge and skills in such areas as public management, public budgeting and finance, and public policy analysis and evaluation.
Public administration, the art and science of effectively managing the public’s business, contributes to the health, prosperity and security of every country. The actions of public administrators influence and improve our lives in innumerable ways. One out of every six persons in the U.S. work force is employed by government, and government spending accounts for almost a third of the gross national product. In addition, those who do not work in government increasingly work with government as a consequence of increasing interaction between the public and private sectors, the growth of nonprofit organizations, and the blurring of lines between the sectors, making an understanding of government and public administration essential.
Contemporary public administrators must meet the challenges of changing social needs and priorities, new directions in public policy, pressures for increased accountability and productivity in government, and demands for greater citizen involvement in decision making. The “information revolution” and the boom in computer-assisted management systems also challenge the way in which organizations do business. Meeting these challenges requires greater sophistication and skill from professional public administrators.
A Top Ranked Program: The Andrew Young School of Policy Studies (AYSPS) is nationally recognized as having one of the elite programs in the field of public policy and management. The U.S. News and World Report’s “2022 Edition of America’s Best Graduate Schools” ranked the AYSPS program 19th overall, and in the top 10 programs in urban policy, nonprofit management, public finance and budgeting, and local government management, also in the top 20 programs in public management and leadership and public policy analysis. The school’s many research centers and community outreach efforts provide opportunities to enhance students’ education, as well as often opening doors to attractive jobs.
The AYSPS M.P.A. program, the school’s flagship program in public policy and management, is designed for a diverse student body, as is appropriate for a multicultural city such as Atlanta. It is tailored to meet the needs of both in-service and pre-service students, with classes scheduled principally in the late afternoon and evening. The curriculum provides a two-year course of study including a common core curriculum focused on developing skills in such areas as policy development and implementation, leadership, organizational behavior, research methods and statistics, decision making, managing people, money and resources, and representing the public interest. Core courses are supplemented by elective coursework in one of a number of concentrations, including management and finance, nonprofit management, planning and economic development, policy analysis and evaluation, criminal justice, and public health.
Students have the option to develop an individualized specialization, such as disaster management, in consultation with the Faculty Program Director.
Students may also apply for the joint Master of Public Administration and Juris Doctor degree program offered in collaboration with the College of Law. See section 2050.50 of this graduate catalog for details about the Public Administration/Juris Doctor, M.P.A./J.D. .