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The Best Online MPA Programs – Master’s in Public Administration

The Best Online MPA Programs
Updated:
The Best Online MPA Programs – Master’s in Public Administration
Rank School Location
1 University of Southern California Los Angeles, California
2 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, North Carolina
3 Randall University Moore, Oklahoma
4 Texas A & M University-College Station College Station, Texas
5 Florida State University Tallahassee, Florida
6 Georgia College & State University Milledgeville, Georgia
7 American University Washington, District of Columbia
8 Arizona State University-Tempe Tempe, Arizona
9 University of Nebraska at Omaha Omaha, Nebraska
10 Rutgers University-Newark Newark, New Jersey
11 University of Delaware Newark, Delaware
12 Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, Maryland
13 University of North Dakota Grand Forks, North Dakota
14 CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice New York, New York
15 Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus University Park, Pennsylvania
16 University of Baltimore Baltimore, Maryland
17 University of Central Florida Orlando, Florida
18 Northeastern University Boston, Massachusetts
19 DePaul University Chicago, Illinois
20 University of San Francisco San Francisco, California

We have ranked the best online Master’s in Public Administration in the US.

This ranking is designed for online students to make informed college and degree decisions for studying Public Administration online in a master’s program.

This ranking was formulated by our proprietary machine learning algorithm.

An online Master’s in Public Administration degree provides a path to an array of career options in areas such as public management, government, nonprofit organizations, non-governmental organizations, health and human services, public education, and more.

An MPA degree serves as the accepted professional credential for public service professionals desiring to advance to middle and upper-level management jobs. A Master’s degree in Public Administration helps make graduates competitive in various careers which serves the public and promotes the general welfare of communities, neighbors, countries and the world.

Financial Aid Guide for Online College Students

The Best Online MPA Programs: Master’s in Public Administration

Ranking Methodology

This Best Online MPA Degree Programs: Master's in Public Administration ranking was created using Successful Student's ranking algorithm. This algorithm uses the following data points to calculate a school's ranking placement:

Learn more about our methodology.

1.
University of Southern California

Sol Price School of Public Policy

Los Angeles, California

The faculty of the Sol Price School of Public Policy includes internationally recognized research scholars. These include scholars who actively participate in national, state, and local, government affairs. They offer advice to members of congress heading commissions which provide information to the White House and other governing bodies.

The online Master of Public Administration degree provides students a strong foundation in competencies of the field. Students gain valuable experience in leadership, communication, and navigating public policy.

The program incorporates major disciplines related to management and leadership in a socioeconomic and political environment.

The Online Master of Public Administration degree program is updating curriculum with specialty certificates students can earn among these concentrations:

  • Local Government Management
  • Non-Profit Management
  • Political Management and Advocacy
  • Public Policy

Credit requirements: 40-41 credit hours

Selection of core courses:

  • Public Administration and Society
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Economics for Policy, Planning, and Development
  • Public Financial Management

Students must also complete a capstone project.

Learning options: Full-time and part-time

Degree completion time: Full-time – two to three years and part-time – three to five years. All students have up to five years to complete the degree requirements.

Rolling admission with class starts in the fall, spring, or summer.

2.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

UNC School of Government

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

The UNC School of Government is the largest university-based local government training, advisory, and research organization in the U.S.

The School offers approximately 200 courses, webinars, and conferences annually to local and national public officials. The School of Government has specialized centers focused on information technology and environmental finance.

The online Master of Public Administration program covers many subjects. These include management of public, non-profit, and governmental organizations.

The program provides five areas of concentration:

  • International Relations
  • Local Government
  • Non-Profit Management
  • Community & Economic Development
  • Public Health

Students must take a minimum of three electives (out of five offered) in their area of specialization.

Credit requirements: 45 credit hours

Selection of graduate level courses:

  • Organization Theory
  • Public Service Leadership
  • Professional Communications
  • Human Resource Management

Throughout the MPA program students develop a comprehensive portfolio of relevant work experience. Students finish the degree with a hands-on practicum experience. All students must take a three-credit course in American Government and Policy. Students are encouraged to take this course as a pre-requisite before applying to the program.

Online instruction style: Synchronous, live classes

Degree time to completion: As little as 18 months

3.
Randall University

Moore, Oklahoma

Randall University, a Baptist university, offers the online Master of Public Administration degree. This program is 39 hours, and can be completed in 18 to 24 months.

Courses include:

  • Introduction to Public Administration
  • Executive Leadership
  • Administrative Law
  • Funding a Non-Profit Agency
  • Principles of Economics

Students must have a Bachelor’s degree with minimum GPA of 2.5, and have already taken Intermediate Algebra. Randall University offers the Presidential or the Lincoln scholarship for qualifying students. Students take the the MPA Major Field Test, which is unique among colleges in Oklahoma. Randall accepts transfer credits.

4.
Texas A & M University-College Station

Bush School of Government and Public Policy

College Station, Texas

The Bush School of Government and Public Policy includes 17 faculty members who have endowed chairs or professorships.

The School offers three comprehensive graduate programs and several advanced graduate certificates. The curriculum both challenges and advances student’s leadership and communication skills bringing the school numerous national awards and recognition.

The Executive Master of Public Service and Administration (EMPSA) online degree is designed for working professionals. Especially those who seek to advance in their careers. Focus is put on developing a strong foundation of contemporary theory and practices in public administration, ethics, and management skills.

The online EMPSA degree program provides students three track options for specialization:

  • Homeland Security
  • Public Management
  • Nonprofit Management

Credit requirements: 39 credit hours Selection of core courses:

  • Foundations of Public Service
  • Economic Analysis
  • Public Policy Formation
  • Quantitative Methods in Public Management
  • Program Evaluation in Public and Nonprofit Organizations

Students must complete a capstone project and they must attend two one-week residencies on campus, scheduled during the summer semesters.

Degree time to completion: Two to three years

Start Dates: fall, spring, and summer

5.
Florida State University

College of Social Sciences & Public Policy

Tallahassee, Florida

Florida State University offers the online Master of Public Administration degree through the College of Social Sciences & Public Policy. This program prepares students to enter into public governmental or non-profit roles.

Some career roles include:

  • nonprofit management
  • local government management
  • leadership and strategic management
  • evidence-based governance
  • financial management
  • emergency management

Credits required: 45 semester hours. This includes 24 required credit hours, 18 elective credit hours, and 3 internship credit hours. Each course is 3 credit hours, so the whole program requires:

  • eight required courses
  • six elective courses
  • one internship course 

Courses include:

  • Research Design in Public Administration
  • Policy Development and Administration
  • Public Financial Management
  • Quantitative Analysis in Public Administration

This program has accreditation with the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration.

Florida State University has university accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

6.
Georgia College & State University

College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Government and Sociology

Milledgeville, Georgia

Georgia College and State University offers grad students the online Master of Public Administration degree through the Department of Government and Sociology.

Selection of core courses:

  • Public Administration and Public Service
  • Policy Analysis
  • Research Methods
  • Public Finance and Budgeting

Core courses: 24 semester hours. Students have the option of a 3 semester hour Capstone project or a 6 semester hour Thesis option. The Thesis option might be a good choice for students wanting to pursue further graduate studies.

Selection of Electives:

  • Environmental Policy
  • Bureaucratic Behavior
  • National Security Policy

This program accepts up to 9 hours in graduate transfer credits.

7.
American University

School of Public Affairs – Department of Public Administration and Policy

Washington, District of Columbia

The highly regarded School of Public Affairs houses three comprehensive departments:

  • Department of Government
  • Department of Public Administration and Policy
  • Department of Justice, Law, and Criminology

The School also has ten centers and institutes of research and academic collaboration.

The Master of Public Administration and Policy includes competencies from the Master of Public Administration and Master of Public Policy.

Students learn vital skills applicable to the work field. These skills include organizational management, how to formulate and evaluate public policies, and human resource systems. The MPAP program provides students access to a large alumni network, and faculty and policy experts, all connected with American University.

Credit requirements: 36 credit hours or 12 three-credit courses

Selection of core courses:

  • Legal Issues in Public Administration
  • Public Managerial Economics
  • Foundations of Policy Analysis
  • Budgeting and Financial Management

Students complete the degree participating in a capstone project. Each course runs for eight weeks in duration.

Learning enrollment options: Full-time, or nine credit hours per semester

Degree time to completion: Students can complete the program in 24 months, including one summer term.

Start dates: The University accepts students on a rolling admissions basis until the program reaches capacity.

8.
Arizona State University-Tempe

School of Public Affairs – ASU Online

Tempe, Arizona

The School of Public Affairs’ teaching and research focuses on the future of governance and public policy. The School provides hands-on experience in problem-solving in the classroom, capstones, and internships.

The School of Public Affairs and the McCain Institute for International Leadership collaborated in the online Executive Master of Public Administration. The School and the institute designed the program for students with five to seven years’ leadership experience in work.

Students in the program learn advanced skills, theories, and practices of managing public and private sector organizations. ASU’s online executive MPA program provides the opportunity for all the students to significantly expand their professional network.

Credit requirements: 30 total credit hours or 10 classes

Selection of core courses:

  • Organization Behavior
  • Negotiating in a Global Context
  • Strategic Planning for Public Sector Leaders
  • Federal Budgeting and Tax Policy
  • Leadership in Public Organizations
  • Diversity, Ethics, Public Change

The program requires three-day face-to-face executive sessions in Washington, D.C. and Phoenix. Each course runs for 7.5 weeks during the fall and spring semesters, and 6 weeks during the summer semesters.

Online instruction style: Mostly Asynchronous learning cohort, one course at a time.

Students can complete the degree program in 19 months.

Annual January start date.

9.
University of Nebraska at Omaha

College of Public Affairs and Community Service – School of Public Administration

Omaha, Nebraska

The School of Public Administration has a mission to provide strong leaders to a diverse society. The school provides graduate and undergraduate degrees through the Nebraska Municipal Clerk School and Academy, and the Certified Public Manager programs. The faculty includes nationally recognized leaders in the field. The same professors who teach on-campus courses also teach online courses.

The School designed the Master of Public Administration online program for working professionals seeking to advance their career. The program provides a solid foundation in academic theory, applied research, and experiential learning. The program also includes internships.

The program provides six concentration options:

  • Healthcare Administration
  • Local Government
  • Nonprofit Management
  • Public Management
  • Public Policy
  • Emergency Management

The online Master’s degree in Public Administration provides two specializations: Criminology and Criminal Justice Information and Technology Management

The school provides two dual degree options: Master of Social Work and MPA/Master of Managing Information Systems.

Credit requirements: 39 credit hours

Selection of core courses:

  • Foundations of Public Service
  • Seminar in Organization Theory & Behavior
  • Analysis & Decision Making
  • Advanced Management & Leadership for Public & Nonprofit Professionals

Students must complete a capstone project before graduation. New online students must attend a one-day orientation on campus at the beginning of their coursework.

Online instruction style: Asynchronous Learning enrollment options: One to two classes per semester

Degree time to completion: Approximately two years

10.
Rutgers University-Newark

School of Public Affairs and Administration – Rutgers Online

Newark, New Jersey

The School of Public Affairs and Administration maintains a diverse student body including international students who represent more than 30 countries. The distinguished and nationally recognized faculty includes four members who are also members of the congressionally chartered National Academy of Public Administration.

The SPAA faculty includes members who served as presidents of the major organizations in the public administration field, including the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA), the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA), the Public Management Research Association (PMRA), and the Association for Budgeting and Financial Management (ABFM).

The online Master of Public Administration degree program, designed for working professionals and students seeking to enter the field, covers subjects such as public policy, ethics and accountability, theoretical and practical knowledge of public administration, and more. Throughout the courses, students learn to define public problems, develop and implement creative solutions, and communicate effectively, among other skills.

The comprehensive online Master’s degree in Public Administration offers four concentrations:

  • Budgeting and Financial Management
  • Healthcare Administration
  • Nonprofit Management
  • Public and Nonprofit Performance Management

Credit requirements: 42 credit hours or 14 courses

Selection of core courses:

  • Introduction to Public Administration
  • Technology and Public Administration
  • Administrative Ethics
  • Applied Research Design
  • Managing Public Organizations
  • The Public Policy Process

Students must complete a capstone project.

Online instruction style: Asynchronous

Learning enrollment options: Full-time or part-time

Degree time to completion: Two to three years

Start dates: fall, spring, and summer

11.
University of Delaware

College of Arts & Sciences – School of Public Policy & Administration – UDOnline

Newark, Delaware

The School of Public Policy and Administration maintains affiliation with several notable research centers and public service centers including the Biden Institute. Internship programs, such as the Legislative Fellows Program, provide hands-on experience with real-world issues. The majority of graduate students participate in an internship program before graduation.

The School of Public Policy and Administration offers undergraduate and graduate studies. The school provides five graduate degree programs, each with a variety of specialized concentrations.

The online Master of Public Administration degree places an emphasis on theoretical and practical knowledge, experiential learning, commitment to public interest, and students developing working relationships with practitioners in the field. Students can gain valuable analytic and problem-solving skills, in addition to leadership and communication in diverse environments.

Credit requirements: 36 credit hours

Selected core courses:

  • Contemporary Issues in a Global Society
  • Performance Management and Program Evaluation
  • Information Technology and Management in Public and Nonprofit Sectors
  • Quantitative Analysis in Public and Nonprofit Sectors
  • Economics in Public and Nonprofit Sectors
  • Human Resources in Public and Nonprofit Sectors
  • Values and Ethics for Leadership and Management

Students in the online MPA program must complete a capstone project.

Online instruction style: Asynchronous

Degree time to completion: Students can complete the MPA program in 30 months.

Start dates: fall, spring, and summer

12.
Johns Hopkins University

Krieger School of Arts & Sciences

Baltimore, Maryland

The Krieger School of Arts and Sciences has a dedication to discovery which creates new knowledge and solutions which better the world. The faculty teach and participate in interdisciplinary and collaborative scholarship across the arts and humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences.

The University designed the Master of Arts in Public Management online degree program for working professionals in the government and nonprofit sector. The program covers the fundamentals of public management. The program reviews a variety of relevant topics including financial management, policy analysis and evaluation, and public policy and administration.

Credit requirements: 42 credits

Sample core courses:

  • Public Policy Evaluation and the Policy Process
  • Fundamentals of Quantitative Methods
  • Economics for Public Decision Making
  • Financial Management and Analysis in the Public Sector, or
  • Financial Management and Analysis in Nonprofits
  • Proseminar: Essentials of Public and Private Management, or
  • Fundamentals of Nonprofits and Nonprofit Management

Students in the online Master in Public Management degree program must complete a capstone project.

Online instruction style: Asynchronous

Learning enrollment options: Full-time or part-time

Degree time to completion: Students can complete the program in approximately two years. Students have up to five years to complete all the degree requirements.

13.
University of North Dakota

College of Business and Public Administration -Department of Political Science and Public Administration – UND Online

Grand Forks, North Dakota

The Department of Political Science and Public Administration offers a curriculum to prepare students for graduate studies or careers in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. The Bureau of Governmental Affairs serves as the research department.

The Master of Public Administration online degree program provides students extensive leadership and administrative training. The program provides a strong foundation in public policy, fiscal management, and ethics.

Students enrolled in the online Master of Public Administration degree have three tracks from which to choose: General Track, Health Track, and Social Entrepreneurship Track.

Credit hours: 36 credit hours

Selection of core courses:

  • Research Methods
  • Political and Public Policy Analysis
  • Seminar: Public Administration
  • Foundations of Public Administration
  • Public Policy

Students must complete an internship, a capstone project, and an independent study project. Students with at least one year of administrative experience may apply for an internship waiver.

Online instruction style: Semester based courses with one weekly live web class held in the evening

Learning enrollment options: Part-time only

Degree time to completion: Two years or more

Start dates: fall, spring, and summer start dates

14.
CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Department of Public Management – John Jay Online

New York, New York

The Department of Public Management prepares students for careers in public service in government agencies, especially in the uniformed and protective services, international and military organizations, justice organizations and inspection and oversight agencies.

The online Master of Public Administration: Public Policy and Administration program prepares students for specialized careers in government and non-profit organizations. The program prepares students for careers in public and independent organizations as managers, analysts and leaders. The program provides a strong foundation in theoretical and practical knowledge, administrative practices, and policy management. The program prepares students for careers in public and independent organizations as managers, analysts and leaders.

The online degree offers four areas of specialization:

  • Criminal Justice Policy and Administration
  • Human Resources Management
  • Emergency Management
  • Management and Operations

Credit requirements: 42 credit hours

Selected core courses:

  • Public Administration
  • Human Resources Management
  • Economics Principles for Public Administration
  • Organization Theory and Management
  • Policy Analysis
  • Public Sector Financial Management
  • Research Methods and Quantitative Skills
  • Research Methods in Public Administration
  • Qualitative Methods

Students choose one of the following:

  • Program Development and Evaluation
  • Cases and Techniques in Quantitative Policy Analysis

Students in the online MPA program must complete a capstone seminar.

John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY also offers an online Master of Public Administration: Inspection and Oversight program. The program offers highly specialized training in the growing field of inspection and oversight. Developed in close collaboration with the Association of Inspectors General, the program is unique, it prepares public administration students for positions in organizations that investigate the performance of other organizations.

The online degree offers three areas of specialization:

  • Investigation and Operational inspection
  • Organizational Assessment and Monitoring
  • Health Care Services Inspection and Oversight (also available as a certificate, students can earn it separately)

15.
Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus

School of Public Affairs at Penn State Harrisburg and Penn State World Campus

University Park, Pennsylvania

A partnership between the Harrisburg School of Public Affairs and Penn State World Campus provides the online Master in Public Administration degree. The program, designed for working professionals as well as students seeking to enter the field, brings together theoretical and applied concepts to provide students with real-world experience.

The program covers subjects including human resources, organizational governance, management, and finance. Students looking for mid to upper management career positions are able to hone leadership skills and foster network connections.

Credit requirements: 36 credit hours

Core courses:

  • Public Organization and Management
  • Research Methods
  • Governmental Fiscal Decision Making
  • Human Resources in the Public and Nonprofit Sectors
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Introduction to Policy Analysis

Learning enrollment options: Students can attend the program full-time or part-time. The majority of students take three to four courses per year.

Degree time to completion: Two to five years

16.
University of Baltimore

College of Public Affairs – School of Public and International Affairs

Baltimore, Maryland

Faculty members of the College of Public Affairs include a Fulbright Scholar and a group of fellows of the National Academy of Public Administration. The College manages two centers of excellence: The Center for Drug Policy and Enforcement and the Schaefer Center for Public Policy.

The College offers a diverse selection of undergraduate and graduate degrees through three Schools:

  • The School of Criminal Justice
  • School of Health and Human Services
  • School of Public and International Affairs

The online Master of Public Administration degree program, with a specialization in Public and Nonprofit Management, provides practical and theoretical knowledge for public administration, such as how to evaluate and navigate public policy and bureaucracy when dealing with political systems. The program prepares students for jobs in public administration, they learn to work with and manage public sector and nonprofit organizations.

The online Master’s in Public Administration degree offers a specialization in Public and Nonprofit Management. On-campus students have additional specializations.

Credit requirements: 42 credit hours

Core courses:

  • Public Management
  • Public Policy
  • Public Personnel and Human Resource Management
  • Public Budgeting and Fiscal Administration
  • Bureaucracy and the Political Process
  • Information Resource Management

Students in the online MPA program must also complete an internship, but depending on relevant professional experience, some students may forgo an internship.

Start Dates: Fall admission occurs on a rolling basis. The University also offers spring and summer start dates. The University only offers core courses online during the summer session.

17.
University of Central Florida

College of Health and Public Affairs – School of Public Administration – UCF Online

Orlando, Florida

The College of Health and Public Affairs, a nationally recognized institution, manages a number of multidisciplinary research centers that strive to have a real-world impact and positive economic development. The College offers undergraduate and graduate programs.

The online Master of Public Administration degree program provides a comprehensive education in the skills and knowledge for public administration positions. Students in the program enhance their ability to serve as effective leaders in public and non-profit organizations.

In addition to the standard online MPA, the College of Health and Public Affairs in partnership with the Department of Criminal Justice offers two dual degrees; the MPA and Master of Science in Criminal Justice, and the MPA and Master of Non-Profit Management.

Credit requirements: 42 credit hours

Selection of core courses:

  • Public Administration in the Policy Process
  • Public Organization Management
  • Public Administrators in the Governance Process
  • Public Financial Management
  • Public Budgeting
  • Strategic Planning and Management
  • Human Resource Management

Students in the online MPA program must also complete a capstone project.

Learning enrollment options: Full-time or part-time

Degree time to completion: Two to five years

18.
Northeastern University

College of Social Sciences and Humanities – School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs

Boston, Massachusetts

The School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs participates in research and outreach via the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy, the Boston Area Research Initiative, the Global Resilience Institute, the Resilient Cities Lab, the Social Impact Lab at Northeastern University, and the Consortium on Food Systems Sustainability, Health, and Equity.

The Master of Public Administration online degree program, provides a career-oriented curriculum. Students practice organizational management and leadership skills in group projects, internships, co-ops, capstone projects and other networking experiences with professionals. The program helps students develop the analytical, conceptual, and practical competencies to work effectively in the public administration field.

Credit requirements: 40 credit hours

Required core courses:

  • Principles of Public Administration
  • Economic Institutions and Analysis
  • Techniques of Policy Analysis
  • Public Budgeting and Financial Management
  • Institutional Leadership and the Public Manager
  • Capstone in Public Policy and Urban Affairs

Students must complete an internship, but depending on prior, relevant experience, some students may waive the internship requirement.

Learning enrollment options: Full-time or part-time

Degree time to completion: 18 months (4 semesters) for full-time students, two to seven years for part-time students

Start dates: Rolling admission

19.
DePaul University

College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences – School of Public Service

Chicago, Illinois

The School of Public Service is a leader in research, service and education in the fields of public and nonprofit leadership, administration and policy analysis. The School of Public Service faculty members have experience in areas such as community health, housing, crime, sustainable development, and more. After graduation, students have an expansive alumni network to connect with.

The Master of Public Administration online degree program focuses on creating a foundation of knowledge in ethics, and policy analysis, and administrative theory and practice. Students in the program enhance their ability to serve as effective agents of positive change to best serve their communities. The MPA online degree program offers the following specializations:

  • Public Management
  • International Public Management
  • Metropolitan Planning and Urban Affairs

Credit requirements: 52 credit hours

Selection of core courses:

  • Introduction to Public Service Management
  • Applied Statistic for Public Service
  • Fundamentals of Human Resource Management
  • Cross-Sector Analysis
  • Government Financial Administration
  • Research Methods for Public Service
  • Economic Foundations of Public Service
  • Policy Design and Analysis
  • Ethical Leadership in Public Service
  • Integrative Seminar

Students must complete an internship, however, if students already have one year of relevant work experience they may forgo an internship.

Online learning style: Mix of synchronous and asynchronous. The program uses a cohort model, in which students proceed through a fixed sequence of courses alongside a learning team of other like-minded students.

Degree time to completion: Students can choose to complete the program on two, three, or four-year timelines.

Start dates: The on-line students must start in the fall

20.
University of San Francisco

School of Management – Department of Public and Nonprofit Administration

San Francisco, California

The University established the School of Management at the University of San Francisco, in 2009 with the merger of the College of Professional Studies and the School of Business and Management. The curriculum throughout the School encourages service learning, community involvement, entrepreneurship, and innovation.

The School provides a diverse range of undergraduate and graduate educational opportunities. The School has a growing alumni network which currently represent a large number of industries.

The Master of Public Administration online degree program, designed for mid-career professionals and aspiring professionals, helps students enhance their ability to effectively lead and manage programs and to mediate between private and public sectors.

Credit requirements: 39 credit hours

Selection of required courses:

  • Public Administration as a Field and Practice in Contemporary Society
  • Leadership Ethics
  • Management and Organization Theory
  • Human Resource Planning and Management
  • Emerging Technologies for Public Managers
  • Policy Analysis
  • Economics and Finance for Public Managers
  • Public Sector Budgeting

Online learning style: An asynchronous style. The program utilizes a fixed sequence of coursework.

Degree time to completion: Approximately 21 months

Start dates: Rolling admission with fall, spring, or summer start dates for online classes

What can you expect to learn from an MPA degree program?

Master’s in Public Administration degree programs combine elements of an MBA with subjects such as organizational theory, ethics and strategic management. The programs emphasize leadership and operations management. The programs cover subjects such as project and program management, public financial management, professional communications, political and legal processes, policy implementation and human resources.

Students learn to use leadership skills in public services. Students enhance their leadership skills via courses in ethics, accountability and decision making. Students learn how to create, implement and evaluate public policy.

Students also learn how to manage people and resources to solve problems and meet organizational objectives. How long does it take to complete an online Master’s in Public Administration degree program? Typically, students can complete the online degree program in two years or less (such as 15 months).

How Much Money Do Public Administrators Earn? Salary Information

Beginning salaries vary significantly based on sector, geography, work experience and other factors. Individuals with an MPA typically enter the federal government at GS-9 or at GS-11 if they have obtained relevant work experience. GS-9 annual pay in begins at $43,251 and a GS-11 begins at $52,329. The federal government also utilizes cost of living (geographical area) to determine the salary.

MPA CareersMedian Salary
Executive Director$72,924
Program Manager, Non-Profit Organization$52,262
Director of Development, Non-Profit Organization$66,840
Source: PayScale

Public Administration Professional Organizations

American Society for Public Administration (ASPA)

The ASPA, the biggest and most prominent broadly based professional association in American public administration, represents all forums in the public service area. The ASPA has four core values: Professionalism, accountability and performance, social equity, and ethics.

The ASPA has approximately 8,000 members including practitioners, academicians and students. ASPA serves as the major arena for connecting theory and practice within the public administration field. The American Society for Public Administration provides individuals who care about public service values, networking and professional development opportunities.

Association for Public Policy Analysis & Management (APPAM)

APPAM has a dedication to improving public policy and management through fostering excellence in education, research, and analysis. APPAM hosts a multidisciplinary yearly research conference which attracts research on a wide array of important policy and management issues. APPAM provides a peer-reviewed multidisciplinary journal which publishes research on public policy and management.

Alliance for Nonprofit Management

The Alliance for Nonprofit Management includes nonprofit consultants, academics, funders, and other professionals. The Alliance for Nonprofit Management has a mission to increase the effectiveness of the individuals, groups and organizations which help nonprofits and communities achieve positive social change. The organization amplifies research in the field and promotes its implications for effective practice.

International City/County Management Association

The International City/County Management Association has a mission to provide leadership and professional development for public administrators in the areas of financial and human resources, developing performance metrics, service delivery, and strategic planning.

Membership provides numerous benefits, such as professional and career support through its Members in Transition program and career network, a formal mentoring program, voluntary credentialing program, ICMA University professional development programs, webinars, and conferences as well as exclusive fellowship and scholarship opportunities. The Association’s annual conference has international recognition as a major resource for public administrators.

National Academy of Public Administration

The National Academy of Public Administration, a congressionally chartered, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, assists government leaders in creating more efficient, effective, transparent and accountable organizations. The Academy analyzes emerging trends in governance and public administration. A large group of peer-elected fellows directs the Academy’s studies.

Pi Alpha Alpha (PAA)

Pi Alpha Alpha (PAA), The Global Honor Society for Public Affairs & Administration, has over 160 chapters at NASPAA member schools located throughout the world. NASPAA operates Pi Alpha Alpha. PAA membership identifies individuals with the highest performance levels in educational programs preparing them for careers in public service. Pi Alpha Alpha encourages and recognizes outstanding scholarship and accomplishment in public affairs and administration.

Pi Alpha Alpha provides members major benefits such as acknowledgement of academic achievement, public service volunteer opportunities to practice what they learned in the classroom in the field, and job-searching and networking benefits.

Members can include their membership on their resume and highlight activities they participated in as a member of PAA. Graduate students desiring to join Pi Alpha Alpha need to have and maintain a 3.7/4.0 GPA and have completed 50 percent of their public administration, public policy or sub-degree coursework. Alumni can join Pi Alpha Alpha as an alumni member if the alma mater has a PAA chapter and they graduated with a 3.7/4.0 GPA or higher.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What can you do with a Master’s in Public Administration Degree?

A Master’s degree in Public administration prepares graduates for numerous roles within large business organizations, nonprofits, and government agencies. A position may involve long-term project planning, budget analysis, marketing, fundraising, curriculum development and training, public relations, and other elements. Nonprofit organizations, increasingly seek professionals with a good understanding of budgeting, law, management, and legal processes to take leadership roles.

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What are some MPA jobs?

Graduates of MPA degree programs have a broad skill set applicable to various employment areas. Individuals with an MPA degree have a variety of career paths to choose from: Advocacy Director, Agency Director, County Manager, Community Affairs Manager, Community Development Director, Compliance Program Director, Corporate Social Responsibility Director, Foundation Director, International Activities Director, Law Enforcement Department Manager, Government Administrator, Government Relations Director, Grants Development Director, Nonprofit Fundraising Director, Nonprofit Manager, Operations Manager, Planning Director, Public Affairs and Communications Manager, Public Housing Manager, Urban Planning Manager, Utilities Manager, and Volunteer Coordination and Development Manager.

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Where do Master of Public Administrators Graduates Work?

Graduates with an MPA degree can seek jobs in array of settings: Nursing Homes, Local, State and Federal Government Agencies, Outpatient Clinics, Public Works, Fiscal Planning, Hospitals, National Security, Public Relations Offices, Law Enforcement, Human Resources Management, Utilities, Nonprofits, Parks and Recreation, Transportation, Public Education and Administration, and Urban Planning and Development.

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What are the MPA Degree Concentrations?

MPA concentrations provide training in specialized subjects: Applied Politics, Aviation, Budgeting and Financial Management, Criminal Justice, Education Policy, Environmental Policy and Administration, Ethical Leadership, Federal Policy, Politics and Management, General Public Administration, Global Affairs, Government Information Strategy and Management, Healthcare Administration, Human Resources, International and National Security Policy, International Management, Leadership of Public Organizations, Local and State Government Financial Analysis and Management, Nonprofit Management, Organizational Behavior and Theory, Planning and Economic Development, Policy Analysis, Policy and Management, Public and Nonprofit Management, Public Economics and Financial Management, Public Finance, Public Health, Public Management, Social Policy, State and Local Government Policy and Administration, Technology and Information Management, and Urban Government and Management.

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What is the difference between getting an MBA vs an MPA?

The MPA and MBA degree programs strongly emphasize operations management, leadership and organizational management. Both programs typically cover human resource management, leadership and policy analysis. The MBA and MPA programs promote improving operations, effectiveness, and efficiency. Individuals seeking a public service career typically discover their values and goals are more similar to an MPA program, which focuses on the public and nonprofit sectors. Also, typically an MPA program better prepares individuals to obtain funding for nonprofits. An MBA program basically prepares professional for positions in middle-to-upper management in the private sector. Unlike MBA programs, MPA programs have a focus on how government and nonprofits operate including working with proposed budgets, acquiring public funding for programs and initiatives, and public policy. A college’s business school or business department often provides MBA programs, whereas MPA programs are sometimes associated with a political science department, a public policy department or a law school. MPA program coursework emphasis: The programs review subjects including community development, government, urban planning, public financing, management, budget processing, public policy, administrative law, and sociology. MBA program coursework emphasis: The programs provides a solid foundation in basic management skills. The programs also provide core business courses including marketing, economics, human resources management, and finance. The MBA classes cover the important business principles and practices. MBA degrees also emphasize skills such as financial analysis, strategic thinking, and communications. Students in MBA programs often specialize in an area.

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