Employment Salary Trends
Where do they work?
This page addresses whether a Master’s degree is worth the expense, and the salary and employment trends for recent MPA/MPP graduates. You’ll find that earning a MPA or MPP definitely pays off in terms of increased skills and knowledge, as well as salary and career opportunities.
The salary data presented here serve as great examples, but may not be applicable to all MPA/MPP graduates. Salaries vary greatly by sector, geography, and work experience, among other factors. Data is also subject to change.
Is a Master’s degree worth the cost?
According to the U.S. Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2012 recipients of master’s degrees earned $12,220 more than those with only a bachelor’s degree, and the unemployment rate was a full point lower. Source: US BLS.
Given current tuition rates, recent MPA/MPP graduates can expect to recoup the costs of their degree within a few years, especially if they attend a public university in-state.
How much could my salary increase after completing an MPA or MPP?
The Evans School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington reports that their 2012 MPA alumni increased their salaries, on average, $18,464 by completing the degree. Source: Evans School.
The Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania reported that its 2012 MPA graduates had an average starting salary of $70,305. Source: Penn Career Survey
What could be my starting pay working for the US federal government?
The federal government has a General Schedule (GS) pay scale that is based upon “grades” and “steps.” The links below show how much an individual earns at each grade and step. MPA/MPP graduates usually enter at the GS-9 level, or at GS-11 if they have relevant work experience. In 2014, a GS-9’s annual pay starts at $41,979, while a GS-11’s starts at $50,790. Federal workers are usually promoted within their grade in 1-2 steps per year.
You can view the whole table by clicking here. Pay is also based on cost of living (geographic area) and experience. For example, GS-9 salaries in the Washington, DC area start at $52,146, with GS-11 at $63,091. To see the whole table for the DC region, click here.
Where do MPA/MPP graduates work?
MPA/MPP graduates are found in a wide variety of workplaces, but are especially attracted to the public and nonprofit sectors. Data submitted by NASPAA-accredited programs shows that almost half of 2011 graduates were working in government six months after graduating. Of those, there is a roughly even split between federal, state, and local levels.
MPA graduates were more likely than MPP alumni to be working in government or nonprofit, while a higher percentage of MPP grads were in the private sector. Of those in the private sector, 64% were conducting research or consulting.
What kind of jobs do MPA/MPP graduates have?
Here are a few examples of positions often obtained by MPA/MPP graduates, starting with entry level positions. Note that salaries for these positions vary greatly due to a number of factors, including but not limited to work experience, location, and sector.