Think about a public issue that means something to you and that you’d like to have a role in solving.

For example, alleviating the high rate of homelessness in a city.

With an advanced degree in public administration, there are several career paths you might choose to effectively achieve your end goal. Two such paths are nonprofit management and leadership and public policy and governance.

Both specializations allow you to address community problems, but each comes at these problems from a different angle.

  • If you enjoy running an organization, fundraising, and people and program management, the nonprofit track might be for you. Continuing with the above example, you might run a nonprofit that raises funds to build homeless shelters or one that provides job counseling for this population.
  • If working in research, public service, and government affairs is your interest, you might want to take a look at the public policy route. In regards to the above example, you might research and analyze the homelessness problem, lobby lawmakers, or work on a budget for affordable housing legislation.


Here is an at-a-glance guide to show the differences between these fields as well as potential career paths for each.



Capella University offers both a Master of Public Administration in Nonprofit Management and Leadership and Master of Public Administration in Public Policy and Governance.


The curriculum is designed around the Network of Schools of Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA standards), the recognized organization of advanced education programs in public policy, public affairs, public administration, and public and nonprofit management, as well as around Nonprofit Academic Centers Council (NACC) standards.
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