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5 Great Concentrations for MPA Programs

MPA concentrations provide exclusive training in specialized topics. For example, those who want to become an environmental specialist may choose a concentration in environmental science and policy. These programs focus on political perspectives, ethical considerations, sustainability planning and environmental laws.

Justice Administration

A justice administration concentration provides students with a comprehensive overview of justice processes, organizations and institutions. Students learn about justice program planning, implementation and evaluation. Students will expand their knowledge of justice programs and develop the management skills necessary for effective and equitable justice decisions and initiatives. These programs may offer classes in justice leadership, security organizations, democratic policing and conflict analysis and resolution. Other classes may cover office administration, program assessments, corrections systems, juvenile delinquency, information technology management and the psychology of punishment.

Human Resource Management

An HR management concentration focuses on the complex laws, policies and systems through which individuals are hired, trained, evaluated and managed. This concentration provides students with the skills and knowledge needed to be effective human resource managers in the public sector. Students may take classes in managing government contracting, nonprofit change leadership, public employee labor relations and public management issues. Other classes may include industrial/organizational psychology, HR administration processes, group behavior, employee dynamics, performance measurement and public personnel testing and evaluation.

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Public Management

A public management specialization examines nonprofit organizations and their vast range of public causes, interests and activities. Students will learn about their contemporary role in society and their unique advantages to civic, social and government interests. The coursework will cover governance structures, donor fundraising, group advocacy, legislative lobbying and marketing activities. Classes may cover administrative law, government contracting, social entrepreneurship and public program planning. Other coursework may cover public accounting systems, public finance practices, budget oversight systems, intergovernmental relations and managing information resources.

Policy Studies

A policy studies concentration provides students with an in-depth understanding of the dynamics of policy making, analyzing and changing. Students learn to evaluate and develop solutions to policy problems within the public, private and political public arenas. These programs may offer classes in program planning, nonprofit enterprises, social entrepreneurship, federal relationships and public, local and state budgeting systems. Other courses may cover communication, such as legal and technical writing, as well as qualitative and quantitative policy research.

Public Finance

This concentration provides attendees with a working knowledge of government financial analytical techniques, budgeting tools and management standards. Students learn about local, state and federal financial regulations and expectations. These programs may offer classes in public accounting audits, processes, standard and institutions. Students will learn common issues in public financial management, such as accountability tools and anti-corruption programs. Classes may teach students about interdepartmental budgeting, internal control reviews and accounting information systems.

When it comes to MPA concentrations, students should note that an MPA degree focuses on program governance, management and implementation, but an MPP degree places greater focus on policy analysis, theory and formation. Some students even choose to pursue a dual degree program that offers both an MBA and MPA.

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