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What do you do in your job in public service?

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- Nonprofit/NGO
- International
- Consulting
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What could I earn if I get an MPA/MPP?
Below is salary data for MPA/MPP recent graduates. This page answers questions such as: Is a Master's degree worth it? How much could my salary increase? How much could I make in the government/nonprofit/business sector?

Included is salary data supplied by several NASPAA member schools, which are great examples but may not be applicable to all MPA/MPP graduates. Note that salaries vary greatly by sector, geography, and work experience, among other factors. Data is also subject to change.

Is a Master’s degree worth it?

According to a 2009-2010 survey report from the U.S. Census Bureau, recipients of master’s degrees make approximately $19,000 more than those with bachelor’s degrees. Source:

How much could my salary increase after obtaining the MPA/MPP?

The Evans School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington found that their MPA graduates reported an average salary increase of 31%, as seen on the graph below. Source: 2011 MPA Employment Report

In addition, the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania reported that its 2011 MPA graduates have an average starting salary of $61,444. Source: UPenn Career Survey

What could be my starting pay working for the 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 the federal government at GS-9, or at GS-11 if they have relevant work experience. In 2012, a GS-9’s annual pay starts at $41,563, while a GS-11’s starts at $50,287. 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, the annual pay of a GS-9 in Washington, DC starts at $51,630, a GS-11 at $62,467. To see the whole table for Washington, DC, click here.

What kind of jobs do MPA/MPP graduates have?

Below is a chart that offers a few examples of positions often obtained by MPA/MPP graduates, starting with entry level positions. Again, note that the salaries for these positions vary greatly due to a number of factors, including but not limited to work experience, location, and sector.

Position Sector Salary
Local Government Analyst State/Local Gov $26,000 - $45,000
Program Coordinator Nonprofit $30,000 - $48,000
Program Assistant/Manager Nonprofit $32,000 - $63,000
Policy Analyst Nonprofit/Government $40,000 - $68,000
Statistician Nonprofit/Government $46,000 - $65,000
Research Associate NP/Gov/Private $50,000 - $60,000
Marketing/PA Specialist NP/Gov/Private $66,000 - $85,000
City Manager/Chief Administrative Officer State/Local Gov $101,000 - $108,000

Sources: Indeed, Payscale, ICMA, University of Pittsburgh GSPIA

What are the salary comparisons by employment sector?
Each of the three sectors offers its own advantages and disadvantages, which you must evaluate for yourself. Because of this, many factors, in addition to salary, should be considered before taking a job. Presented below is a summary of average salary, by sector, of Cornell University’s 2010-2011 MPA graduates.

Median Starting Salaries by Sector, Cornell University:
Sector Class of 2011
Public $51,630
Private $75,500
Nonprofit $40,000

To view the complete document, go here
For charts comparing sector salaries of 2011 MPA graduates from other schools, see any of these 3 reports:
The School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University
The Evan School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington
, or
The Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin

Page Updated June 2012