MBA or MPA: What is the Difference?

Often, nonprofit professionals are faced with the decision to pursue either a Master of Public Administration (MPA) or a Master of Business Administration (MBA). The differences between these two degrees are important, yet little understood. MPA@UNC, the online mpa program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill recently published an infographic to help others determine which degree is right for them to advance their careers. You take a look at what these degree options entail, and what outcomes they can produce.

What is an MPA?

The Master of Public Administration program prepares students to take on leadership and management roles in the public and nonprofit sectors. MPA students often pursue careers in government at the local, state, or federal level, however many also look to advance their careers in non-governmental or nonprofit organizations. Additionally, many MPA graduates pursue careers in the private sector where an ability to navigate boundaries between private and public interests is in demand. The curriculum focuses on areas such as leadership and management, finance and budgeting, policy implementation, and professional ethics.

MPA programs are accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA).

What is an MBA?

A Master of Business Administration program develops professionals with the skills and knowledge to lead private sector organizations and drive growth within businesses through the generation of profit. MBA graduates can pursue careers in a range of fields including marketing, financial or human resource management, consulting, or entrepreneurship. Much like an MPA degree, MBA curriculum focuses on leadership and management, however, an MBA places more emphasis on such areas as communications, operations management, economics, and accounting, rather than legal, political, and public policy expertise.

MBA programs are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

For more about the MPA vs MBA infographic, please visit the MPA@UNC website.

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