Boston-based Northeastern University offers a Master in Public Administration (MPA) degree that is practice-oriented and research-based. Students acquire hands-on experience through capstone projects, on-campus research labs and centers, and real-world work opportunities. Students can interact with faculty practitioners and industry experts who are driving public policy, including Michael Dukakis, former governor of Massachusetts and the 1988 Democratic nominee for president of the U.S.

The degree is earned through full- or part-time study in traditional or hybrid formats. The credential can also be earned as a 100 percent online public administration degree. The Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration has accredited the Northeastern MPA. The network is the membership association of graduate programs in public administration, public policy and public affairs.

The university offers a range of undergraduate and graduate programs leading to degrees through the doctorate in nine colleges and schools. The school offers select advanced degrees at graduate campuses in Charlotte, North Carolina; Seattle, Silicon Valley, and Toronto.

Thomas J. Vicino, director of the program, offers his views below.

GPN: Can your school’s MPA degree offer new opportunities to our GPN and American City & County audience?

Thomas Vicino: The MPA program at Northeastern University was founded in 1969. It integrates theoretical foundations with practical skills in the public sector. The MPA program is housed within the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs. The program is directed toward defining and developing analytical, conceptual and practical competencies for management and leadership careers in the public or non-profit sectors.

GPN: Is 2016 a great time to earn an MPA for government administrators?

TV: 2016 is a great time to earn an MPA degree! In the public and non-profit labor force, many individuals seek to re-tool their careers to gain new skillsets and experience to give them an edge in the marketplace. Nearly one-third of the public sector labor force is estimated to retire by the end of the decade. This creates a large demand for a new labor force to join the ranks of managers, analysts and leaders as a new generation, and as the public and non-profit sector grows.

GPN: Do you have any advice for our audience on choosing an MPA program?

TV: Earning a professional master’s degree is a significant investment of time and money. It is essential the program be a good “fit” for you. Visit the campus. Attend a class. Talk to current students. Take a look at where alumni are employed. Seek out as much information as you can to make a well-informed decision.

GPN: What sets the Northeastern MPA program apart from other MPA programs? What is unique about the program?

TV: The Northeastern MPA is a nationally ranked program that offers students access to a world class research faculty, experiential learning opportunities such as client-based capstone projects and professional internships in the public and non-profit sectors, and a strong, connected network of alumni in the Boston metro—the world’s academic hub.

The MPA is the management and leadership degree for those seeking to serve the public good. The program equips its students with skills in policy analysis, program evaluation, research methods, and written and verbal communications. Students also develop competencies in budgeting and human resources, organizational management and leadership, and the interplay between ethics and accountability in a diverse society.

Throughout the degree program, students gain career-oriented experience through internships, small group projects, and other interactions with professionals in the field. These experiences are designed to enable the Northeastern MPA graduate to move into an array of public and non-profit sector positions at the local, state, national and international levels.

In the video, view one student’s experience in the MPA program at Northeastern. MPA student David Halbert talks about his studies at Northeastern University's School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs.

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