Choosing between MPA vs MBA does not have to be hard.

Choosing to pursue further studies while you are working is not an easy decision. Though it comes with its fair share of advantages, it also means that you are dividing precious resources like time and finances. There are means and ways around these challenges, like taking your postgraduate degree online. However, even those that are prepared to commit these resources online or offline are faced with a difficult choice of their own. Choosing the right master’s program to take may be a tricky decision, but it is one that pays off in the long run. For many professionals, MPA and MBA degrees are some of the best choices largely due to their versatility and potential for advancing careers. But the differences between MBA and MPA lie in the subject matter, career opportunities, and even the salaries available to graduates of these masteral courses. If you are a professional debating pursuing an MPA vs MBA degree, then this guide is the perfect read for you!

woman typing on her laptop

Which Is Better, An MBA or an MPA?

Good question! Objectively, neither is necessarily better than the other. But it’s all about how suited your choice is to your field, and how you see it contributing to your career moving forward. As an overview, MBAs, or Master’s in Business Administration graduates are more suited towards professional and administrative roles within corporate entities. On the other hand, professionals taking an MPA, or a Master’s degree in Public Administration, are more likely to succeed in roles of public service such as government offices, non-profit organizations, and NGOs. MPA graduates do not have to worry about limiting their horizons with their chosen postgrad degree since there are also a number of private sector positions that would benefit from your MPA knowledge. Positions in organizational management and training, and even roles in Human Resources would be a welcome proving ground for your newfound expertise.

Between an MPA vs an MBA, How Do I Know Which One to Take?

Like any other post graduate pursuit, it is best to approach this decision knowing what you want out of it. Here are a few questions you can reflect on in order to guide your decision.

  1. Ask yourself what you see yourself doing, 5, 10, even 20 years down the line. Do you foresee any major changes, like a career shift or promotion?
  2. Is there a specific career path you wish to follow? If so, which of the two seems to be better suited for equipping you with the skill set for it?
  3. Is there a salary range that you wish to aim for? Is that range achievable through a career shift, or a promotion? Between an MBA vs an MPA, which of the two degrees will put you in a better position to earn those numbers?
  4. Are you happy in your industry? Do you see yourself staying in it and growing as a professional?

These questions are only a few of the many things you can use to weigh your decisions. But to make a more informed decision, let’s take a deep dive into the difference between MBA and MPA.

What is an MBA?

An MBA (Master’s in Business Administration), is a postgraduate course dedicated to giving you an edge in both business and corporate settings. MBA is a great asset both on and off paper because it lets potential employers and higher ups know that you have an understanding of how a business works. This means that they can count on you to make critical, well-informed decisions about the business and its direction, and makes you more credible in the eyes of your colleagues as well as the competition.

Upon enrolling in an MBA, you can expect to learn valuable skills like corporate communications, critical thinking, business ethics, and financial management subjects like accounting and sales. All of these will prove to be assets to you, as a professional and to your team when you put these skills into practice. Some institutions in the Philippines even provide a non-thesis Master’s degree in Business Administration, making it all the more feasible to juggle your rigorous postgrad studies and day to day tasks at work.

Why Take Non-Thesis Master’s?

A non-thesis Master’s degree isn’t any less valid than a version with a thesis as your major requirement. One reason why taking non-thesis Master’s online is efficient and beneficial is it opens up your schedule in case time management may prove to be a hurdle over the course of your postgraduate studies. It also grants you more flexibility, as in its place is usually a comprehensive exam. Versus a semester or year-long dissertation, you require much less time for preparation.

What is an MPA?

An MPA (Master’s in Public Administration) is a postgraduate program that is more geared towards a profession in public service. Usually applied best in government positions or a role in non-profit organisations and NGOs, an MPA graduate learns subjects like budget and finance management, public financing, administrative law, as well as urban and community planning. Nevertheless, MPA graduates can still shine amid corporate colleagues, but usually only in positions that require corporate communication, training, and human resource.

MPA graduates are trained to master public speaking and people-first planning, with a mindset that focuses on bettering the communities they are put in charge of. Versus an MBA, MPA graduates are better suited for getting into politics and reaching out to the common folk and studying their needs. Roles that are perfect for MPA graduates include local and national government positions, as well as managers and heads of NGOs and non-profit organizations that serve our community and make the world a better place.

three people talking about a business proposal

What is the Difference Between MBA and MPA Graduate Salaries?

When comparing an MBA salary versus an MPA salary, unfortunately there is a reality between their disparity. MBA graduates are a bit more likely to earn higher pay due to the largely corporate nature of their industry. The familiarity of employers with MBA as a program may also contribute to this reality.

On the other hand, MPA graduates may have slightly lower salaries than their MBA counterparts—but this is nothing that your grit and determination cannot bridge in due time. The disparity in wages may have a lot to do with the nature of the industries these post grad programs operate in. With MPAs being largely rooted in serving their communities and planning for society, the returns do not come so much in the form of monetary compensation but in the form of a legacy you can give to your constituents.

So, What Should I Take?

At the end of the day, the choice is yours. Your decision highly depends on your own priorities, beliefs, and backgrounds! While many would undoubtedly thrive in a corporate setting after taking their MBA, there are also those who will find fulfillment in public service by taking their Master’s in Public Administration. Think hard about what you want to do and enroll in a postgraduate program that will let you be the kind of professional you can be proud of!

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