Becoming a Leader in Public Safety: The Difference between MBA, MPA, MA and MPS

various public safety leaders, including firefighters and paramedics, shown from the knees down
various public safety leaders, including firefighters and paramedics, shown from the knees down

The results are in — higher education in Canada can expand your career possibilities, carve out pathways for promotion, and increase your earning potential. Master’s degree holders make an average of 40 to 47% more than their undergraduate counterparts.

For those who already have their bachelor’s, pursuing a master’s degree may be the best investment you could make in yourself, your career and the organizations you will serve. Whether you’re already in the public safety field or you’re interested in a career change, a master-level program can equip you with the skills you need to take the next step in your professional life. Public safety professionals often consider the following four master’s degrees:

  • Master of Business Administration (MBA)
  • Master of Public Administration (MPA)
  • Master of Arts in Police Studies
  • Master of Public Safety (MPS)

Each of these degrees facilitate critical thinking and analytical reasoning skills, as well as communication strategies and leadership techniques. They also have differences, specifically when it comes to desired competencies and career fields or industries.

Finding the right program is critically important when it comes to the financial investment of education and the future of your career. It’s important to consider the differences, similarities, advantages and disadvantages of each degree program, so that you can make the best decision for you. By taking a look at the learning outcomes for each program, the industries they feed into and the job outlook for graduates, you can gain the perspective you need to make a positive, long-term choice. 

Master of Business Administration (MBA)

The Master of Business Administration is a notable postgraduate degree that has been available in Canada for over 70 years. MBA programs help students grow their perspectives and understanding of large topics like business ethics, organizational behavior and management. MBA graduates often aspire to management and leadership roles. These positions are often in financial organizations, but also in healthcare, nonprofits and technology corporations. Many MBAs also enter into consulting roles. 

The average salary for a Master of Business Administration graduate in Canada is $83,351. Some of the specific MBA positions and correlated salaries include the following positions, all of which have fair to good job outlooks:

  • Business management consultant: $75,005 
  • Business development officer: $75,005 
  • Human resources manager: $99,195

Master of Public Administration (MPA)

A Master of Public Administration degree focuses on various aspects of government and leadership. MPA students learn about the development, management and implementation of policy. MPA graduates often go on to work in policy analysis, as nonprofit directors or in management consulting.

MPA graduates earn an average of $63,198 per year in Canada. Several policy analysis professions enjoy a fair to good job outlook:

  • Executive director, non-profit: $67,145 
  • Education policy researcher: $75,005 
  • Immigration consultant: $74,672 

Master of Arts in Police Studies

The Master of Arts in Police studies is a rather rare degree program. It, as you might predict, directly applies to police officers, rendering it a very specific degree as opposed to programs that are focused on more broadly applicable topics such as leadership or safety. In a Master of Arts in Police Studies degree program, students learn about crime, forensics and social justice.

Police officers in Canada may have a fair to good job outlook in most provinces. Possible positions and salaries include:

public safety leader consulting with firefighter

Master of Public Safety (MPS)

The Master of Public Safety brings together the best qualities of the Master of Business Administration, Master of Public Administration and Master of Arts in Police Studies. Combining areas of expertise like leadership skills, policy analysis and crime reduction, the MPS equips professionals for high-ranking careers in fields of public safety that align with the pillars identified by Public Safety Canada. Those pillars are countering crime, emergency management, border strategies and national security.

The average salary for a master’s degree graduate in Canada is $75,065. Let’s take a look at some of the more specific salaries relevant to MPS graduates according to the Public Safety Canada pillars. Click on each pillar title below for a more detailed look into what a career would entail.

Countering crime

Emergency management

Border strategies

National Security

The MPS is an ideal degree for those who want to advance from a uniformed position to a policy leadership role in public safety — a field that has a projected growth rate of 37% from 2020 to 2025.

Which Degree is Right For You?

When considering the differences between these programs, it’s helpful to envision what type of career you are seeking. 

  • If you are primarily interested in business management and leadership roles, a Master of Business Administration may be the best choice for you.
  • Want to influence and make policy and legislation? A Master of Public Administration can help you get there. 
  • If you want to spend your career within a police force, the Master of Arts in Police Studies will provide you with specific, relevant training and skills. 
  • And if you have your sights set on a long-term, steadily advancing career within one of the four pillars of Public Safety Canada, you can’t make a better choice than the Master of Public Safety.

Advance Your Career with Wilfrid Laurier University’s Online Master of Public Safety Degree

For over a century, Wilfrid Laurier University has been a beacon of academic excellence. Accredited and consistently top-ranked, our online Master of Public Safety is the only public safety leadership master’s degree that aligns with the initiatives of Public Safety Canada.

As the first program of its kind in Canada, Laurier’s MPS offers students a one-of-a-kind experience that is 100% online and designed for working professionals. Students learn about a range of issues inherent to a career in public safety — including ethics, history, politics and social implications — and receive customized support from Success Advisors.

The program is offered fully online, which empowers professionals to continue on in their career paths while completing their master’s program in as few as 30 months. With coursework designed by public safety professionals and academics with years of experience in the field, students can practically apply what they are learning in the classroom to their workplace.

It’s a great time to take the next step. Are you ready to elevate your career and become a leader in public safety? Schedule a call with an advisor to get started at Wilfrid Laurier University.