What's right for me? MPA, MPP or MBA?

Become a Different Kind of Leader with a Villanova MPA

The call to public service involves making some important decisions about the trajectory your career will take, what sector (nonprofit, government or for-profit) that trajectory will involve, and whether you wish to pursue further education to advance or career goals.

Three different graduate degrees, a Master of Public Policy (MPP), a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or a Master of Public Administration (MPA), are often considered by those interested in a career in public service.

Venn diagram showing the differences and similarities among the MPA, MPP and MBA

What is an MBA Degree?

U.S. News and World Report, explains that a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree “is a popular stepping stone to C-suite jobs at large corporations, and it is also an asset for budding entrepreneurs. Business school professors say MBA programs help students develop the skills required to excel as business executives, such as the ability to quickly and accurately analyze large amounts of information and the ability to develop smart solutions to business problems.” 

Students who pursue an MBA gain management and business analytics skills in financial management, human resources management and organizational processes, as well as strategic planning to find solutions that will maximize profit and impact in private sector companies. 

What is an MPP Degree?

The Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration (NASPAA), which provides accreditation and education standards for Master of Public Policy, Master of Public Affairs and Master of Public Administration Programs, defines the Master of Public Policy (MPP) degree as “the professional degree for analyzing, evaluating and solving all aspects of policy.”

The MPP degree teaches students to conduct a cost-benefit analysis to evaluate policy problems and to develop metrics to assess the level of effectiveness of the solutions in response to these problems. NASPAA continues, “As analysts and managers, MPP graduates work with quantitative and qualitative data to develop, assess and evaluate alternative approaches to current and emerging issues.”

MPP students gain skills in the decision-making process, policy analysis, public finance, and implementation and evaluation in order to make informed policy recommendations in the field of public service.

What is an MPA Degree?

NASPAA defines a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree as “the professional degree for students seeking a career in public service or nonprofit management.” Students of MPA programs learn the values and skills to manage resources and people and become effective administrators in the field of public service.

"MPA programs develop the skills and techniques used by managers to implement policies, project, and programs that resolve important problems within their organization and in society," NASPAA explains.

MPA students gain skills in financial management, human capital management, strategic planning and policy implementation in order to be able to lead and manage in government and nonprofit organizations. 

Become a Different Kind of Leader with a Villanova MPA

The Villanova University Master of Public Administration (MPA) program prepares graduates to become a different kind of leader – an ethical, intelligent, inclusive and creative leader – and encourages students to develop skills from both the MPP and the MBA degrees. 

Our graduates are actively engaged in making a difference in public service and have used the skills gained from the Villanova MPA to be this different kind of leader in their roles in the government, nonprofit and private sectors.

  • In her role as the Director of Planning and Community Development for the City of Florence, Alabama, Melissa Bailey ’20 MPA created “Florence First,” a relief grant that offers special economic assistance to small businesses due to COVID-19. Melissa shares, “I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Villanova with regard to this program. Why? Because the development of this program required abundant amounts of courage, faith, perseverance, collaboration, strategic planning, communication, leadership, complex decision making, and the application of sound public administration values and ethical obligations."

  • Serving as the Chief of Staff at North10 Philadelphia, a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving the community of Hunting Park-East Tioga, Latesha Sims Beasley ’14 MPA and her organization are developing new affordable housing units to provide “community services such as a market, health-care facility or recreation center, in addition to the residential units.” On the value of hiring someone with a Villanova MPA degree to serve these communities, Latesha comments, “You will be hiring someone with the tools and resources needed to handle anything that comes their way. Also, you are not just hiring that person, but you are hiring a deep bench of wealth and knowledge that will support your goals and initiatives.”

  • Working 20 years at Pfizer and counting, Ansa Yiadom ’14 MPA, Villanova MPA Advisory Board member, has served in a variety of roles (he now serves as the Vice President, Enterprise Services for Global Business Services), such as recruiting participants for clinical trials for research and development and serving as the strategy lead for the vaccine division. When looking at graduate programs, Ansa considered an MBA and the Villanova MPA: “Most folks in my line of work would go and get their MBA, and it was something that I seriously considered. Based on the nature of our work, we are dealing with all of the conflicts that you would learn in business school every day. There is something about the public and private sectors and optimizing how they interact, and I wanted to study more about that. It was a privilege to become a student at Villanova in the MPA program, and it was a way for me to learn about a different line of work, but one that I felt more strongly connected to the line of work that I do.”  

Our graduates, and faculty demonstrate that a Villanova MPA is distinctive in that it helps graduates gain the knowledge of values, roles, skills and practices that will help them become competent professionals capable of ethical, intelligent, inclusive, and creative leadership in public service. Not only is Leadership Ethics a required course in the Villanova MPA curriculum, but also ethical decision-making is a thread that runs throughout the entire curriculum. Our students and graduates are leaders in government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and in the private sector and continue to use the values and skills gained from the Villanova MPA program to advance St. Augustine’s understanding of the common good: “the degree to which you are concerned for the common good rather than for your own, is the criterion by which you can judge how much progress you have made.” 


Ready for the Next Step?

Department of Public Administration
Villanova University
800 Lancaster Avenue
St. Augustine Center, Suite 205
Villanova, PA 19085




FEBRUARY 1: For admission with funding consideration for the fall

AUGUST 1: For admission without funding for the fall

DECEMBER 1: For admission without funding for the spring

MAY 1: For admission without funding for the summer

ONLINE: Rolling with courses beginning every eight weeks

Please contact Dr. Catherine Wilson with questions related to admissions.

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NASPAA Accredited

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