The Best Online MPA Programs

Public administration is an interdisciplinary academic field focused on the development, implementation, and evaluation of government policies and programs. Students who earn a master of public administration (MPA) degree online or on campus typically find positions in municipal, state or federal government offices, or in private companies and nonprofit organizations.

The BLS reports that candidates with a master’s degree stand to earn roughly 18% more than employees with a bachelor’s and 68% more than those with an associate degree.

Common jobs for MPA-holders include work as city planners, budget directors, and human resources managers. A 2014 survey by Poets & Quants found that public administration is the fourth most popular master’s degree in the United States behind business, education, and health professions; approximately 5.5% of graduating graduate students earned an MPA degree during the 2012-13 academic year.

In recent years, online MPA programs have become a popular alternative to traditional degrees. Web-based learning is especially convenient for students who want to balance their schoolwork with other commitments, such as employment or childcare. The curriculum in most online MPA programs draws from a range of subjects, including economics, political science, communications, sociology, and anthropology. Many MPA degrees culminate in a thesis or capstone project designed to showcase the knowledge and skills students have gained during their master’s program. Others require students to complete supervised internships, where they receive hands-on training from established professionals. Professors and other faculty members work with students as they develop their thesis and capstone, or while they complete an internship.

WILL AN ONLINE MPA PROGRAM PROVIDE ME WITH THE SKILLS I NEED TO ADVANCE MY CAREER?

MPA students learn how to manage all aspects of an executive organization. Coursework covers key administrative areas like finance, budgeting, project management, policy, leadership, and ethics. Beyond mastering these concepts, students may choose to specialize in a disciplinary subfield, such as emergency management, health and human services, information technology, or nonprofit management. This well-rounded education provides graduates with a variety of potential of job options to pursue upon graduation.

WILL AN ONLINE MPA PROGRAM WORK WITH MY SCHEDULE?

Online MPA programs are designed with your convenience and flexibility in mind. Students can download course readings and lectures, submit assignments, take exams, and communicate with their professors from the comfort of their computer. Distance learners study away from home using a laptop, tablet, smartphone, or any other device with Wi-Fi accessibility. Students can also schedule virtual consultations with academic advisors about strategies for completing their capstone project or locating internship opportunities close to home.

WHAT JOBS CAN I GET WITH MY MPA?

The MPA is considered a terminal degree in the field of public administration, meaning that master’s graduates will likely be the most qualified candidates for most public administration jobs. MPA-holders will be eligible for most entry-level positions, as well as managerial titles and other roles normally reserved for candidates with a graduate degree. Students can further boost their career standing by earning a degree specialization or completing an internship related to their desired field.

WHAT ARE THE BEST ONLINE MPA PROGRAMS?

Choosing a program is an incredibly personal decision, and only you can properly evaluate whether a target school’s strengths match your educational needs and professional goals. The following ranked list of schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best online MPA programs in the United States. Our ranking is based on the courses schools offer, available specializations, student outcomes, career support services, and other criteria used to determine academic excellence. If you are considering obtaining an online master of public administration degree, be sure to take a look at these top schools.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Enrolled Online Location Description
1

Northwestern University

80.684/57%IL

campus_university_of_north_carolina_chapel_hill

Northwestern’s part-time MPA degree online program encompases both the analytical and administrative aspects of public policy, with an emphasis on global and interconnected policy changes. Graduates are prepared for careers in health and financial organizations, nonprofits, government, foreign affairs, and many other environments. Specializations are available in public administration, public policy, global policy, or global health; the global health concentration is only available to distance learners. Online classes are delivered through the Canvas LMS. Scheduled information sessions for online degree programs are available through the SPS website. Students must complete 13 classes to graduate, including nine core courses, three electives, and a capstone or thesis. Northwestern’s esteemed faculty includes Greg Wass. Wass is a senior advisor in the Illinois governor’s office and he has been widely recognized as a top contributor to public sector innovation.

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2

University of Southern California

78.854/513%Los Angeles, CA

campus_university_of_southern_california

USC is home to more than 25,000 graduate and professional students and hosts more Pell-eligible students than any other private university in the nation. USC offers an online MPA that integrates management with sociology, the economy, and political science. Students are prepared to work across industries in public, private, or nonprofit sectors, with an emphasis on governmental organizations. Online learning is delivered through a range of interactive tools, including VoiceThread, a multimedia discussion board; Pathbrite, a digital portfolio tool; and Adobe Connect software. In the program, distance learners can pursue one of three concentrations: nonprofit management, local government, and public management. The 41-credit program can be completed in 10 semesters; students can take courses in the summer and graduate in less than four years. Distance learners take classes part-time.

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3

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

77.783/511%Chapel Hill, NC

campus_university_of_north_carolina_chapel_hill

Founded in 1795, UNC was the nation’s first public university. The school remains a top public institution, and now offers a variety of its renowned programs online. UNC’s online MPA degree, offered through the School of Government, is ranked 5th in the nation by U.S. News & World Report and provides a broad study of government, public law, public finance, and public administration. This program is designed for working professionals who need a flexible schedule, allowing distance learners to balance school with work responsibilities and family obligations. Several program alumni members have served in federal administrative roles, including for the Environmental Protection Agency and the Government Accountability Office. Qualifying online students may be eligible for one of a few available graduate fellowships. Online students have access to a dedicated student services team upon admission, along with several library and career resources. The program is accredited by the Network Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA).

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4

Johns Hopkins University

74.204/528%Baltimore, MD

Students wanting to pursue their MPA online will find a rigorous program at Johns Hopkins (the Masters in Public Management). JHU’s renowned faculty covers government and nonprofit management and policy. This 12-course program can be taken part-time or full-time and includes a capstone project that allows students to apply analytical and project-management skills to tackle a specific, real-world issue. Part-time students can complete the degree in two years. A recorded online open-house session for the program is available at any time, and live chat agents are available to answer any technical questions you may have. Courses are taught asynchronously and delivered through a variety of multimedia channels, including text, video, and discussions. Students may schedule live meetings with faculty and interact with peers through Skype and other methods. Johns Hopkins is based in Baltimore (although this program is headquartered in Washington, DC) and maintains multiple campus locations on every continent, serving students from more than 120 countries. Twenty percent of the student body is from outside of the United States. The program is a member of the Network Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA).

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5

Texas A&M University

72.063/55%College Station, TX

campus_Texas_A&M_University

Texas A&M University is located 90 miles northwest of Houston and is home to almost 7,000 graduate students, more than 2,000 of whom live outside the United States. The school offers one of the top NASPAA-accredited MPA programs online, an executive-style public policy program that allows students to pick an emphasis in homeland security, nonprofit management, or public management. Students must complete a two-week on-campus residency during July, along with a capstone project with a university industry or governmental partner. Admission is competitive, and applicants must have a minimum of five years professional experience. Online courses are taught asynchronously and may include discussion boards, group assignments, and live online events. Applicants are admitted before all three semesters; distance learners must complete 39 credits to graduate.

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6

University of Central Florida

67.953/551%Orlando, FL

A rising national research institution, UCF is one of 25 public universities recognized by the Carnegie Foundation for its community engagement and research; the school has also been recognized as an America’s Partnership University. UCF offers a master's in public administration online, a unique, dual degree program that combines public administration with criminal justice. Students can pursue the collaborative online dual degree or choose to complete the MPA online by itself. Students are provided with the background to work in criminal justice or public administration organizations. Core classes include the nature of crime, public organization management, and the administration of justice. Independent learning is a hallmark of UCF’s program, and all distance learners must contribute original research, write papers, and complete a capstone project. High-performing students may be eligible for a UCF Graduate Fellowship. UCF’s online programs have been ranked as best values by Kiplinger's, The Princeton Review, and Forbes.

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7

University of Illinois at Springfield

67.103/563%Springfield, IL

UIS is a leader in online education, offering a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs, and providing students with small class sizes and engaging professors. The school’s online public administration master's degree is intended for the nontraditional learner, who will enjoy the curriculum’s flexible schedule and asynchronous classes. Applicants must have at least a 2.5 undergraduate GPA; those short of that threshold are required to submit GMAT scores. Graduates leave school prepared for administrative and executive roles in public and nonprofit sectors, and most are able to complete the program in just over two years. Student service personnel, including librarians, financial aid officers, and other support staff are specifically trained to meet the needs of online learners. Several alumni members from UIS have gone on to work in a variety of organizations in government at the local, state, and national level, as well as for domestic nonprofits.

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8

California State University – Long Beach

66.353/511%Long Beach, CA

The online public administration master's degree from CSULB is offered in partnership with the College of Continuing and Professional Education. Courses are delivered in a hybrid format, with core coursework completed online through the Blackboard LMS. Students must also meet in one in-person Saturday class and one weekly synchronous lecture and discussion. Accelerated courses are offered every six weeks in sequential order. The program is designed for professionals in the public sector who are looking to advance into managerial positions or to become public officials. Distance learners are placed into a cohort upon admission. Graduates join a network of more than 1,700 MPA alumni nationwide. CSULB has been recognized as top university in the West by U.S. News & World Report, and as a top 10 degree-bearer to Hispanic students.

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9

Villanova University

65.144/515%Villanova, PA

Villanova offers an online master's in public administration program with specializations in nonprofit management and city management. Courses, which are taught entirely online, cover the fundamentals of leadership in public administration, including financial management of government and nonprofits, leadership ethics and decision-making techniques, and effective management practices for city and nonprofit leaders. Lectures are streamed online, and students also have access to the material in MP3 and MP4 audio formats for offline study. Peer and instructor interactions take place in online message boards, live chat services, and email. Applicants should have at least three years of relevant professional experience. In addition to an MPA, distance learners can also pursue a variety of online certificates in the field. Villanova has been recognized as one of the nation’s best value schools by The Economist and Kiplinger.

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10

Northeastern University

64.894/58%Boston, MA

Headquartered in Boston, Northeastern University also maintains graduate campuses in Charlotte, Seattle, Silicon Valley, and Toronto. Northeastern’s online MPA program emphasizes the importance of serving the public with a curriculum that integrates both research and hands-on practice. The program was designed with working professionals in mind and prepares graduates for leadership and management positions in public and nonprofit organizations. Faculty members come from range of backgrounds, from nonprofit management to state and local government representation, and are focused on helping online students succeed in securing internships, jobs, or to otherwise advance their careers. An internship in regional and urban policy is required for students with no previous public administration experience. Coursework is taught asynchronously, though students can connect with instructors during open virtual office hours.

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11

San Diego State University

63.963/518%San Diego, CA

SDSU offers one of the country’s top-ranked MPA online programs. The 16-month program is open to management-level professionals currently working in government and nonprofit agencies, though consideration may be given to others with relevant experience. At SDSU, students complete two accelerated, six-month modules, along with two on-campus experiences at the beginning and end of the program with their assigned peer cohort. To graduate, students must complete a capstone research project that they present during their final on-campus experience. SDSU’s alumni includes a Federal Trade Commission chairperson and a series of San Diego County Supervisors. Courses are taught asynchronously, and online activities may include discussion board conversations, group projects, or reading-based responses. SDSU is the only CSU school to receive the Carnegie Research Intensive University designation.

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12

Indiana University – Bloomington

63.483/59%Bloomington, IN

Students interested in earning their MPA degree online may be interested in the range of opportunities available at IU. The program offers a public affairs focus, which covers public administration and policy as it affects the government, businesses, and nonprofit organizations. Students without prior professional experience must complete an internship experience in addition to the final research project in order to graduate. Distance learners work with the faculty director to choose electives that align with their professional objectives in public management, policy analysis, public financial administration, or nonprofit management. The MPA program has been ranked as the top public affairs graduate program by U.S. News & World Report. Online courses are delivered through the Canvas LMS, and students have access to a variety of online resources, including IUanyWare, a suite of software programs that includes Microsoft Office and Adobe Create Cloud applications.

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13

Nova Southeastern University

62.694/554%Fort Lauderdale, FL

Nova Southeastern is the largest, non-profit, private research university in Florida. The school’s online public administration master's degree prepares students to serve in governmental organizations or to work in the nonprofit sector. Each student will leave school with excellent analytical skills and a thorough understanding of statistics and American government. Reputable faculty members include Professor Jack Pinkowski, PhD, who was recognized as the 2013 Public Administration Educator of the Year by the American Society for Public Administration. Students can pursue specializations in state and local administration, non-profit/non-governmental organizations, criminal justice, or disaster and emergency management. Full-time students can graduate in less than two years. Based on a 2016 survey, 89% of respondents from the program were employed six months after graduation. Students currently working for a non-profit organization may be eligible for a per credit scholarship stipend.

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14

University of Colorado – Denver

62.533/522%Denver, CO

Colorado’s online MPA degree is the only accredited program of its kind in the state of Colorado. Students leave school prepared to work in nonprofit organizations or to serve in government at all levels. Online students may pursue a focus in nonprofit management or homeland defense. Distance learners without any previous professional experience are required to complete an internship, in addition to a capstone project or optional thesis. In the capstone, students build on what they learned throughout their time at CU, contributing oral research to the field in a topic of their choosing. Just prior to graduation, all distance learners will be asked to defend their capstone or thesis in front of a committee of faculty members and professionals in the field. Online students may approximately $600 less per term than their counterparts on-campus.

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15

Marist College

62.484/524%Poughkeepsie, NY

Marist College’s online public administration master's degree offers students the opportunity to pursue concentrations in ethical leadership, healthcare administration, or public management. The core curriculum covers a variety of competencies in the field, including research-based decision making, technology in leadership, managing public organizations, and more. Students can sign up for a virtual information session about the program and sample an online class at anytime. The program is designed to accommodate students from a variety of undergraduate degree backgrounds. Courses are taught asynchronously, though all students are expected to participate in class discussions online. Marist was founded in 1929 along the Hudson River, midway between New York City and Albany, and was recently recognized by Forbes as one of the 25 Most Connected Campuses in America. Online students are invited to all school networking events for MPA students throughout the year.

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16

American University

62.435/55%Washington, DC

Located in the heart of Washington D.C., American University is widely recognized as a top school for public affairs, and the university was ranked fifth in 2015 on U.S. News & World Report’s list of best public administration/management programs. The MPA online is an interdisciplinary degree that combines material from public administration and policy into one NASPAA-accredited program. American’s School of Public Affairs boasts a 94% employment or continuing education rate six months after graduation. Many faculty members are Washington policy experts who have held senior leadership positions at the American Society of Public Administration or National Academy of Public Administration, and all instructors hold advanced degrees in public affairs. Students are not required to hold an undergraduate degree in public policy or administration to apply. American also offers an Online Merit Scholarship for top-performing students.

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17

California State University – Northridge

61.253/523%Northridge, CA

CSUN awards the third most MPA degrees in the country, behind only Harvard and Columbia. The school maintains unique partnerships with 10 Los Angeles County agencies at the city and county levels, which offers students in the online mpa degree the opportunity to pursue a variety of local internships. The program is designed for both professionals looking to advance their careers in the public, private, or nonprofit sectors, as well as those who want to transition into the field. Students can pursue an emphasis in either health administration, nonprofit sector management, or public sector management and leadership. CSUN assigns a member of its eLearning team to work with each faculty member when they design a course; these offerings are updated regularly to meet new trends and student needs. New students receive a two-week orientation in online learning, and have guaranteed access to required classes.

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18

Pennsylvania State University

60.604/5100%University Park, PA

In 1998, Penn State launched its World Campus and became one of the first accredited college in the United States to offer online learning. The school now offers dozens of programs in a distance format, including a master's in public administration online. The program prepares students for public service leadership in both governmental and nongovernmental organizations. Courses are taught asynchronously and include a mix of independent and collaborative work with peers through chat services, social media, and other communication platforms. Distance learners have access to the ninth largest research library in North America, and to student advisors, exam proctors, tutors, and other services. Penn State’s MPA graduates often obtain jobs as grant writers, transportation managers, and policy analysts in the field. Students must complete 36 credits to graduate; online graduate certificates in public administration are also available.

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19

University of San Francisco

59.814/55%San Francisco, CA

USF was founded in 1855 as a Jesuit institution and the school is now home to nearly 11,000 students. The school’s interdisciplinary MPA degree online provides distance learners with the skills and knowledge necessary for a career in public administration. Students learn the fundamentals of leadership and management, as well as how to advocate and articulate the needs of diverse populations, assess public service based on citizen feedback, effectively communicate with elected officials, and much more. Full-time students can graduate in two years. Coursework is taught asynchronously; students take one course at a time to help them dedicate full attention to particular topics while balancing school with work, family, and other commitments.

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20

Old Dominion University

59.493/535%Norfolk, VA

Located along the Elizabeth River in Norfolk, Virginia, Old Dominion was founded as an extension of the College of William and Mary. Today, the school is offers a variety of programs on campuses throughout the country and online. Old Dominion’s online public administration master's focuses on five key areas: public management processes; organizational design and behavior; political, ethical ,and legal concepts in public administration; qualitative and quantitative analysis; and policy and program evaluation. Students must pass seven core classes and six electives. Courses are accessible through the Blackboard learning management system. Students have access to 24/7 online tutoring services, an online writing center, and full library services. Distance learners may also pursue a related certificate program in public procurement and contract management.

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21

Georgia College & State University

59.353/523%Milledgeville, GA

Georgia College and State is a liberal arts school in Milledgeville, a two-hour drive from Atlanta. Offering one of the best online MPA programs in the nation, Georgia College has educated many students who have gone to work at the federal, state, and municipal levels of government, as well as in nonprofits and the private sector. The curriculum is designed for working professionals and full-time students can graduate after just four semesters. The program includes a final capstone project that allows students to apply their skills in solving and existing management or policy issues. Students access content through the GeorgiaVIEW LMS, with WebEx video conferencing technology available for real-time interaction. Distance learners will enjoy small class sizes of between 10 and 15 students. Internship opportunities are available as well.

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22

University of Missouri – Columbia

59.123/529%Columbia, MO

MU was founded in 1839, and was the first public university located west of the Mississippi River. Missouri offers an MPA online, and the program is designed for professionals with three to five years of experience in public affairs. The curriculum prepares distance learners to work in collaborative governance, social entrepreneurship, public policy strategy, and more. Courses are taught by the same faculty members who teach on campus, and online students pay in-state tuition regardless of their location. Courses are delivered through the Blackboard LMS and students have access to a range of services and products, including Software Anywhere, which features the Adobe Creative Suite. This program — technically called a master of public affairs — requires distance learners to complete 33 credits to graduate. Students may also pursue a variety of related professional certificates, including offerings in nonprofit management, public management, organizational change, and grantsmanship.

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23

Troy University

58.493/554%Troy, AL

Troy’s online public administration master's degree helps students prepare for careers as policy analysts, grant writers, researchers, healthcare administrators, and related positions. The program can be completed in about one-and-a-half years with full-time study; students who enter the program without one year of public administration experience are required to complete an internship. Students can choose from seven focus areas, including public management, justice administration, national security affairs, and nonprofit management. Students will enjoy small class sizes, which allows each distance learner to have real-time online access to instructors during scheduled hours. Courses are taught asynchronously, and students can consume archived lectures at any time. Students must pass nine core courses and three electives to graduate; many distance learners are able to complete all requirements in just 15 months. Students may also take classes in a hybrid format.

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24

CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice

58.222/517%New York, NY

John Jay College of Criminal Justice was founded in 1964 as an extension of The City University of New York, and the school is the most diverse of CUNY’s senior colleges. The NASPAA-accredited MPA degree online is the most popular graduate program at John Jay. The program prepares students for service roles in government and nonprofit organizations. Students can pursue specializations in criminal policy and administration, emergency management, human resources management, and management and operations. Distance learners must pass an MPA qualifying examination and complete a capstone project to graduate. Courses are taught asynchronously, and students can access all coursework through the Blackboard LMS. Each student is required to regularly participate in class discussion forums and social media interactions. John Jay’s faculty members include two Pulitzer Prize winners, seven Distinguished Professors, and three Presidential Scholars.

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25

Central Michigan University

57.903/525%Mount Pleasant, MI

CMU serves 7,000 students online and across the university’s 40 locations in North America. Professionals looking to transition into upper-level management can complete an online public administration master's degree through CMU’s Global Campus. This interdisciplinary program provides graduates with a foundation of skills and knowledge in public policy, strategic management, and leadership needed for any administrative setting. Students can choose from nine tailored concentrations, including acquisitions administration, health services administration, information resource management, and international administration. Students can register for a webinar overview of the online program and may sample an online course at any time. Classes are taught in an accelerated format and full-time students can graduate in two years. Distance learners are also allowed to transfer in any relevant credits they previously earned at other institutions.They can also connect with an online student ally, a successful online student who can help newcomers with tasks like scheduling assignments, developing good study habits, and managing a balanced schedule.

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How Long Is an MPA Program?
2 to 3 years
Program Costs
$20,000 to $40,000 for full tuition
Concentrations
Public Management, International Public Management, Ethics/Ethical Leadership, Health Administration, Environmental Privacy, Management and Law, City Planning and Urban Affairs, Public Sector Management, Nonprofit Management, Human Resources
Accreditation
Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs & Administration (NASPAA)

Job Placement: MPA vs Bachelor of Public Administration

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the unemployment rate for employees who have earned a master’s degree in any subject is 2.4%. By comparison, those who complete their education with a bachelor’s face an unemployment rate of 2.8%. Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce estimates a much higher unemployment rate for college graduates with a bachelor’s in public administration — 6.1%, according to a 2015 survey.

The BLS also notes that career pathways for MPA-holders are expected to grow significantly over the next decade — in some cases, much faster than the estimated growth rate for all industries. Using BLS data, the table below features growth projections for some of the most popular professions in public administrations. In the years to come, MPA-holders will fill a significant number of these occupational roles.

Occupation Projected Growth Rate for Industry (2014-24) Projected Increase in Number of Jobs
Social and Community Service Managers 10% 13,200
Emergency Management Directors 6% 700
Urban and Regional Planners 6% 2400
Management Analysts 14% 103,400
Human Resources Managers 9% 10,800
Public Relations and Fundraising Managers 7% 4,700
Training and Development Managers 7% 2,300

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Earning a Living

In addition to more favorable employment rates and more job opportunities, graduates who leave school with an MPA also enjoy higher earning potential than their counterparts with associate or bachelor’s degrees. The BLS reports that candidates with a master’s degree stand to earn a median weekly salary of $1,341 — roughly 18% more than employees with a bachelor’s and 68% more than those with an associate degree. The next table looks at expected salaries in the public administration sector for employees with associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees.

Degree Earned Median Annual Salary for Early Career Employees (0-5 years) Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (10+ years) Salary Premium for Master’s Degree-Holders
Associate Degree in Administration $29,800 $42,400 58% at Early Career mark; 48% at Mid-Career mark
Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration $40,600 $62,700 16% at Early Career mark; 23% at Mid-Career mark
Master’s Degree in Public Administration (MPA) $47,100 $77,100  

Source: 2015-16 PayScale College Salary Report

However, the salary expectations for an MPA-holder at different career stages will depend on their employee specific professional field. The table below highlights the median salaries for different MPA occupations at four key career benchmarks.

Profession Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years) Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 years) Median Annual Salary for Experienced Employees (10-20 Years) Median Annual Salary for Late Career Employees (20+ years)
Emergency Management Specialist $50,000 $59,000 $65,000 $70,000
City Manager $71,134 $81,704 $93,386 $105,193
Urban Planner $48,326 $58,039 $68,301 $82,874
Management Analyst $56,556 $67,123 $78,117 $80,273
Human Resources Manager $51,565 $62,068 $67,345 $69,298

Source: PayScale

Among the five professions listed on the table, city managers earned the highest salary at all four career stages. However, urban planners saw the highest career salary growth between the entry-level and late-career marks, at 71%.

Career Opportunities

Graduates from online master’s in public administration programs have plenty of opportunities awaiting them after they finish school. The skills students develop in MPA programs – such as leadership, critical thinking, and communication – prepare degree-holders for a variety of careers. Below, we’ve reviewed some of the most popular career pathways for MPA earners.

Urban or Regional Planner: Urban and regional planners build local communities through land-use plans, development proposals, and other projects designed to stimulate population growth and economic activity. They may work in small towns, mid-level cities, or metropolitan areas; others work at the county or regional level.

Emergency Management Directors: Emergency management directors lead teams that develop and implement contingency plans for natural disasters and other catastrophic events. They are also called to oversee evacuations when emergencies take place and supervise rebuilding efforts in affected areas. These directors work at the local, county, state, and federal levels.

Social and Community Service Manager: Social and community service managers supervise organizations and their attendant staff. They interact with stakeholders and human interest groups to identify and develop programs for the community. Managers may also act as public advocates for the programs and services they provide to a particular demographic or cultural group.

Management Analysts: Also known as management consultants, management analysts work with company leaders to improve efficiency and limit costs. They analyze financial data, make workplace evaluations, and interview employees in order to develop realistic, sustainable spending plans.

Profession Median Annual Salary
Urban or Regional Planner $68,220
Emergency Management Directors $67,330
Social and Community Service Manager $63,530
Management Analysts $81,320

Professional Organizations

Making professional connections and learning more about the field is crucial to your success. Professional organizations offer a great entry point for students who want to learn more about their chosen career path. Below you’ll find three of the country’s most prominent public administration organizations. These organizations host networking events, provide online trainings, maintain active job boards, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates. Resources like these often prove invaluable as you complete your degree requirements and prepare to enter the job market.

  • American Planning Association: With the motto “Making Great Communities Happen,” the APA is a global organization representing more than 38,000 members in over 100 countries and 47 U.S. chapters. Members can choose to earn the American Institute of Certified Planners credential. Other member perks include access to a vast online resource library and links to job openings.
  • National Emergency Management Association: Founded in 1972, NEMA oversees emergency plan development and implementation across the United States. The association currently represents emergency directors from all 50 states, eight territories, and the District of Columbia.
  • Society for Human Resource Management: Considered the world’s largest HR-oriented professional organization, the SHRM boasts 285,000 members in 165 different countries. The website features a vast online resource library, along with links to continuing education opportunities and an events calendar.
Despite the relative affordability of online MPA programs, most students still need financial assistance. Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to learn more about loans, grants, and other opportunities offered through the U.S. government. Additionally, private grants and scholarships are widely available through nonprofit organizations, companies, and other sources. Check out our collection of resources below to learn more about your financial aid options.

AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID

Approximately two-thirds of today’s college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce costs.

UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process of filling out the FAFSA, along with answers to several frequently asked questions.

FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE COLLEGE STUDENTS

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you’ll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn’t always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR WOMEN

Online programs can provide an affordable and flexible option for women trying to balance the demands of work, family, and school. We’ve curated a list of valuable scholarships specifically for women.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS

Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family’s financial future. We’ve compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.

FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY

Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.

SCHOLARSHIPS AND FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE STUDENTS

Students who pursue online degrees will be eligible for scholarships, grants, and other financial aid that is unavailable to their brick-and-mortar counterparts. Here, you can learn more about these financial opportunities.

Best Online MPA Degrees of 2016
Rank School Location
1 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC
2 Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD
3 University of Illinois at Springfield Springfield, IL
4 Indiana University - Bloomington Bloomington, IN
5 Northeastern University Boston, MA
6 California State University - Long Beach Long Beach, CA
7 Villanova University Villanova, PA
8 University of Colorado - Denver Denver, CO
9 Marist College Poughkeepsie, NY
10 DePaul University Chicago, IL
11 California State University - Northridge Northridge, CA
12 University of San Francisco San Francisco, CA
13 Nova Southeastern University Fort Lauderdale, FL
14 California State University - San Bernardino San Bernardino, CA
15 University of Missouri - Columbia Columbia, MO
16 CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice New York, NY
17 University of North Dakota Grand Forks, ND
18 University of Nebraska at Omaha Omaha, NE
19 Concordia University - Wisconsin Mequon, WI
20 Belhaven University Jackson, MS
21 Troy University Troy, AL
22 University of Baltimore Baltimore, MD
23 Sam Houston State University Huntsville, TX
24 Barry University Miami, FL
25 University of Texas - Pan American Edinburg, TX

Best Online MPA Degrees of 2015
Rank Name Location
1 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC
2 Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD
3 Marist College Poughkeepsie, NY
4 Clemson University Clemson, SC
5 Northeastern University Boston, MA
6 Villanova University Villanova, PA
7 University of South Florida Tampa, FL
8 California State University – Long Beach Long Beach, CA
9 Indiana University – Bloomington Bloomington, IN
10 CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice New York, NY
11 California State University – San Bernardino San Bernardino, CA
12 University of North Dakota Grand Forks, ND
13 University of Missouri – Columbia Columbia, MO
14 California State University – Northridge Northridge, CA
15 University of Illinois at Springfield Springfield, IL
16 University of Texas – Pan American Edinburg, TX
17 DePaul University Chicago, IL
18 Lindenwood University Saint Charles, MO
19 Valdosta State University Valdosta, GA
20 University of Nebraska at Omaha Omaha, NE
21 Florida Gulf Coast University Fort Myers, FL
22 University of San Francisco San Francisco, CA
23 California Baptist University Riverside, CA
24 Pennsylvania State University – Harrisburg Middletown, PA
25 Murray State University Murray, KY