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MPP vs MPA is there really a difference?


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I wonder what the difference is as a lot of the programs seem very similar. LBJ´s MPAff, is very much alike SPEA´s MPA and Ford´s MPP. Even when comparing Ivy´s HKS´s MPP is more similar to WW's MPA while Harvard´s MPA is closer to WW´s MPP. I knwo taht in theory MPP´s are more academic and have a higher quant background and MPA´s are more professional and more managment based but in practice are they very different? Or is it just a name thing and it depends on each program? Any help will be gladly appreciated.

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One thing to keep in mind: Princeton and Texas offer Master's of Public Affairs degrees, while schools like Syracuse offer Master's of Public Administration. From my understanding, the latter is the more professional, management-based curriculum to which you refer, while the former is simply a somewhat archaic way of referring to what we now call the MPP. That said, Princeton's MPP degree does seem to be equivalent to what many schools call a mid-career MPA.


In the end, I imagine that all of these degrees look similar to employers, unless you are gunning for a very analytical "numbers man" position, in which case the more rigorous quantitative training in the MPP curriculum could be a boon.

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I'd agree with ridofme insofar as "public affairs" being a dated title for the master's degree. But I wouldn't say that a "public administration" degree is more professional. Historically, public admin focused on management while public affairs/policy focused on analysis. But these days, public admin programs require policy analysis coursework and public affairs/policy programs require management coursework. The lines have blurred quite a bit. Moreoever, all of the top schools prefer if not out right require prior professional experience in candidates. I think any of the top schools/programs will give you what you're looking for. As far as degree names go, I know the LBJ School had to settle on MPAff as opposed to MPA (like WWS and SPEA) because UT has a 100 year old Master of Public Accounting program that preceeded the LBJ School. With regard to affairs vs. admin vs. policy, President Johnson was quite involved in the school's development and initial charter and favored "affairs" to "policy."     

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