Choosing Between an MPA or MPP Degree

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  • Great analysis! I have applied for LSE MPA and waiting for selection decision.
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Choosing Between an MPA or MPP Degree

  1. 1. CHOOSING BETWEEN AN MPA OR MPP DEGREE Jonathon Fleg g j.c.fleg g@nus.edu.sgA lot of people thinking of doing a public sector on what the main differences are.Master degree get quite confused by the decision todo either do it in Public Administration or PublicPolicy. It feels like a critical decision at the time but- believe me - it’s not. Both courses are broadlysimilar and there are no employers that differentiatebetween the nuances of the two (at most theyusually only specify a “post graduate qualification inpublic policy”). … MPA courses tend to be more focused towards individuals with a career focus within government bureaucracy… Firstly, MPA courses tend to be more focusedHowever, where they do differ is in the content of towards individuals with a career focus withinthe course and so it worth thinking about which one government bureaucracy, while an MPP is ayou are more suited to before applying. Seeing as broader education and could be more useful toI’ve graduated from both degrees now (MPA those seeking jobs in the non-government sector.from LSE and MPP from LKYSPP), here is my take This difference is reflected in the gap in graduateJonathon Flegg holds an MPA from the London School of Economics and an MPP from the Lee Kuan YewSchool of Public Policy in Singapore. He is a former energy policy adviser at NSW Parliament in Sydney,Australia and an aid programme coordinator for Thailand’s Department of Public Health. His clients haveincluded Britain’s Office of Prime Minister and Cabinet and Asian Development Bank in Manila. He is aregular blogger and has contributed to the book The Big Society: The Anatomy of the New Politics. He ispassionate about economic development in South East Asia and the Pacific and about politics in his nativeAustralia.
  2. 2. salaries, with MPP graduates earning US$11,000 MPA courses are designed more for futureless on average than those leaving with MPAs1. administrators who seek to successfully evaluate aBoth are viewed similarly by the private sector. range of policy options, while MPPs are more for policy practitioners who hope to design good policy proposals.The nature of student body might also lean towardsa slightly older crowd for MPAs (often bureaucratsbeing sponsored for a year to “tool up”) while MPPs … there are tonnes of public policy jobs out thereare often younger and still without a set career where you will never have to run a regression –path. On average MPA courses tend to be shorter. ever – so it’s up to you to decide if you think that isAt LKYSPP the MPA is a one year intensive, while a necessary part of your training.the MPP is a more laid back two year course, whichgives you the chance to dabble in a number ofdifferent policy areas. I’ve enjoyed studying both immensely and was lucky enough to do a dual degree where I could doSecondly, MPA courses tend to be more rigorous in both. If you’re looking for a truly internationalterms of the economic and econometric skills you’ll experience check out the dual degreebe learning. The LSE MPA in particular is extremely arrangements between LSE (London), SIPA (Newrigorous in econometrics. You come out of it feeling York), Sciences Po (Paris), LKYSPP (Singapore)like you’ve learned a very robust economic “toolkit” and Hertie (Berlin).that you could apply to all manner of policyproblems. For instance, I felt like I would have no I’m naturally attracted to economic policy and feltproblem applying for trade or financial analyst econometrics was a real “value added” skill that Ipositions after my MPA from LSE. However to be could take-away so probably enjoyed the MPAhonest there are tonnes of public policy jobs out more, but to be honest that’s just me. Lots ofthere where you will never have to run a regression students at LSE disliked the course for the same– ever – so it’s up to you to decide if you think that reason I really enjoyed it. They felt that it was toois a necessary part of your training. light on teaching the kind of management skills that you will be using to solve real world policyOn the other hand, MPP courses tend to be a little problems. For those considering LSE as a possiblelighter on the economics but probably give you destination, bear in mind the School is attempting tomore scope to concentrate on specific areas of compete with Kennedy School’s “practical” MPA bypublic policy – health, education, infrastructure, etc. providing a more “theoretical” alternative. It youClasses will focus more on real world case studies don’t like brain-twisting quantitative work thenrather than on economics literature and textbooks. LSE’s MPA might not be the place to start.Alternatively if you want to get a broad cross-section of policy areas that is usually possible too inan MPP degree. 1 Carnevale, A.P, Strohl J. and Melton, M. 2011. “What’s it worth: the economic value of college majors”. Retrieved from:My final generalisation might be at risk of being a http://cew.georgetown.edu/whatsitworth/.bridge too far, but I think it’s worth saying anyway.

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