If you are curious whether earning a master's in public administration online degree could help you transform your organization, advance your career, or qualify for a new job, this guide may help. Below, you can learn more about online MPA programs, application and degree requirements, and available courses and degree concentrations. Additionally, you can learn more about the careers graduates may qualify for with an online MPA.

What Are the Best Public Administration Programs of 2020? Here Are Our Top 10:

Rank School Location
1 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC
2 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA
3 Northwestern University Evanston, IL
4 Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD
5 University of Central Florida Orlando, FL
6 Florida International University Miami, FL
7 California State University - Long Beach Long Beach, CA
8 Texas A&M University - College Station College Station, TX
9 Villanova University Villanova, PA
10 American University Washington, DC

A master's in public administration can help you advance your public service career by qualifying you for a leadership or management position. For instance, an MPA degree-holder can become a city planner, government analyst or program manager, or nonprofit administrator. These professionals work at the local, state, and federal levels of government; for nonprofit organizations; and in industries such as healthcare and emergency management. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, urban and regional planners earn a median annual salary of $73,050. These positions are expected to experience 11% growth from 2018-2028.

How We Rank Schools

At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you can make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering school rankings that are transparent, inclusive, and relevant for online students. Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read more about our ranking methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.

2020 Best Accredited Online Master's in Public Administration Programs

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Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 89%

UNC Online offers a 45-credit master’s in public administration focused on community needs at the state and local level. The program requires nine core courses, five electives, and a practicum and portfolio course. Students may specialize in local government, public management, nonprofit management, public health, or international relations.

Core courses explore topics such as organizational theory, program evaluation, the politics of budgeting, and legal challenges. Electives enable students to learn more about federal policies, nonprofit management, grant writing, and city and county management.

To fulfill culminating practicum and portfolio requirements, students complete and write a paper on a 400-hour service experience and compile a portfolio assessment of their skills. MPA students may also attend an optional on-campus immersion experience.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Public Administration
School Status: Public
Available Concentrations: Local government; public management; nonprofit management; public health; international relations
Tuition: $1,209/credit
Credit Requirements: 45 credits
Program Length: 18 months or more

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements

Standardized Tests: GRE, LSAT, GMAT, or an approved waiver

Contact

Phone: (855) 862-4672
Email: OnlineMPA@unc.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

2

University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 92%

USC Online’s 40-unit master of public administration allows students to earn a graduate certificate in public policy or city and county management. The program requires a professional residency and a capstone residency. Each 2-3 day residency takes place on campus in Los Angeles. Courses follow a 15-week semester schedule.

USC's MPA includes core courses in organizational behavior and analytical skills. Students may select from electives in policy formation and analysis, nonprofit organizations, and local government. During the capstone course, students work in teams of 3-4 to produce a project report and communications briefing for a client.

Students entering the program with fewer than two years of relevant full-time experience must complete a 300-hour internship and seminar course.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Public Administration
School Status: Private
Available Concentrations: Public policy; city and county management
Tuition: $1,928/unit
Credit Requirements: 40 units
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery

Format: Hybrid (online/on campus)

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE or GMAT for those with less than 5 years experience

Contact

Phone: (855) 637-1999
Email: admissions@uscpriceonline.usc.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

3

Northwestern University

Evanston, IL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 95%

Northwestern’s School of Professional Studies offers a master’s in public policy and administration that students can complete entirely online. Learners may enroll in either a part-time track or a one-year accelerated, full-time option that includes on-campus courses. The full-time program accepts students as part of a cohort. Part-time students may apply anytime and begin any quarter.

The MPPA at Northwestern requires nine core courses, three electives in an area of specialization, and a capstone class or independent thesis. Part-time students may specialize in public policy, public administration, global health, global policy, or data analytics. Core course topics include budgeting, microeconomics, and program evaluation.

Northwestern’s program provides hands-on opportunities for collaboration. Students in the capstone course may work on projects individually or in small groups, and the Global Policy Lab at Northwestern provides MPPA students with real-world opportunities to work on an international project.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master's in Public Policy and Administration
School Status: Private
Available Concentrations: Public policy; public administration; global policy; global health; data analytics
Tuition: $3,520/course
Credit Requirements: 13 courses
Program Length: 1 year accelerated; 2-5 years part-time

Delivery

Format: 100% online or hybrid (on campus/online)

Contact

Phone: (312) 503-2579
Email: studysps@northwestern.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

4

Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, MD Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 93%

Johns Hopkins offers a NASPAA-accredited master of arts in public management from its Washington, D.C. center. While students may take required core courses online, all public management courses are offered in the evenings on campus in Dupont Circle.

This degree requires five core courses, six electives, and a capstone project, and typically takes two years or less to complete. Core courses include economics, research methods, and financial management. Students may select from numerous electives, including tax policy, climate change economics, and healthcare reform.

Applicants must submit a 2-5 page policy-oriented writing sample. The university accepts applications year-round, and students may enroll during any term. Learners may attend classes part time or full time.


Program Overview

Program Name: MA in Public Management
School Status: Private
Tuition: $4,111/course
Credit Requirements: 12 courses
Program Length: 16-24 months

Delivery

Format: Hybrid (online/on campus)

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact

Phone: (844) 417-0874
Email: aapadmissions@jhu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

5

University of Central Florida

Orlando, FL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 73%

UCF Online offers a 42-credit, NASPAA-accredited master of public administration that prepares graduates for employment or career advancement. The program includes real-world experiences and service-learning in some courses. Students may opt for a dual degree in criminal justice or nonprofit management.

UCF’s MPA requires nine core courses, a capstone experience with portfolio, and four electives that emphasize state and local government. Core courses include budgeting, financial management, and strategic planning. All MPA courses incorporate group projects to promote teamwork skills.

UCF encourages students without relevant experience to complete an internship as an elective. Completing the MPA completely online qualifies students for a reduction in fees.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Public Administration
School Status: Public
Available Concentrations: Criminal justice; nonprofit management
Tuition: $327/credit in-state; $1,152/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 42 credits

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact

Phone: (855) 903-8576
Email: gradadmissions@ucf.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

6

Florida International University

Miami, FL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 58%

FIU’s 42-credit online master of public administration holds NASPAA accreditation. Enrolled students may access FIU’s career services department. About 96% of graduates recommend this program, and 99% are employed in the field.

Students may take 1-4 courses per term. The program’s eight required courses include policy analysis, public finance, and applied research methods. Specializations include human resource management, nonprofit and community development, and comparative administration.

Although FIU uses rolling admissions, the MPA program only enrolls students in the fall semester. Students without three years of public sector experience can complete a 300-hour internship as an elective. Enrolled students must maintain a 3.0 GPA and earn at least a "C" in each course.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Public Administration
School Status: Public
Available Concentrations: Human resources management; public management; homeland security and emergency management; nonprofit and community development; comparative and international public administration
Tuition: $380/credit in-state; $520/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 42 credits

Admission Requirements

Standardized Tests: GRE or GMAT (for those with an undergraduate GPA below 3.25)

Contact

Phone: (305) 348-5890
Email: scheng@fiu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

7

California State University - Long Beach

Long Beach, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 69%

CSULB offers an accelerated, 39-credit master of public administration that uses a cohort model. Students progress together through six-week classes, one at a time. The program’s weekly synchronous and on-campus course elements allow for real-time interaction among working professionals, while asynchronous components provide flexibility for learners with busy schedules.

CSULB’s MPA requires 24 credits in public policy and administration. The curriculum explores topics such as budgeting, organizational theory, and research methods. The program also requires 15 credits of electives and a learning portfolio. Electives include urban policy, negotiating strategies, and employee relations.

Cohorts start every spring semester. Applicants with public sector experience or a goal of working for a government agency or nonprofit organization should apply. CSULB boasts a network of 1,700 MPA graduates.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Public Administration
School Status: Public
Tuition: $500/credit
Credit Requirements: 39 credits
Program Length: 22 months

Delivery

Format: Hybrid (online/on campus)
Instruction Style: Asynchronous and synchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum
Work Experience: 2 years

Contact

Phone: (562) 985-4179
Email: Jenny.Sok@csulb.edu.
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

8

Texas A&M University - College Station

College Station, TX Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 82%

The Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M offers a 39-credit, non-thesis executive master of public service and administration. This NASPAA-accredited program provides all courses 100% online, but requires two one-week residencies on campus each year. Students may select from 18-credit tracks in homeland security, nonprofit management, or public management.

Required core courses include public policy formation, economic analysis, and program evaluation. EMPSA students must also complete three required courses, three electives for their selected track, and a final capstone project conducted with a government agency or nonprofit.

Professionals with five years of full-time public service experience may apply. Accepted students may transfer up to 12 credits and complete the program in 2-3 years.


Program Overview

Program Name: Executive Master of Public Service and Administration
School Status: Public
Available Concentrations: Homeland security; nonprofit management; public management
Credit Requirements: 39 credits
Program Length: 2-3 years

Delivery

Format: Hybrid (online/on-campus)

Admission Requirements

Standardized Tests: GRE or GMAT
Work Experience: 5 years

Contact

Phone: (866) 988-2874
Email: bushschoolonline@tamu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

9

Villanova University

Villanova, PA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 91%

Located outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Villanova offers a 100% online, NASPAA-accredited master of public administration degree. Classes in this two-year program begin every eight weeks and cover topics such as ethics, budgeting, human resource management, and strategic planning.

Villanova’s MPA requires six core courses, six electives, and a comprehensive exam. Students must successfully answer two of three essay questions on the comprehensive exam to graduate. Enrolled students may pursue a graduate certificate in public administration, nonprofit management, or city management as a specialization.

Ideal candidates possess at least three years of relevant experience. Applicants must submit a resume, a statement of goals, an essay, and three letters of recommendation. Military-affiliated students may receive a tuition discount.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Public Administration
School Status: Private
Available Concentrations: Public administration; nonprofit management; city management
Tuition: $925/credit
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

Work Experience: 3 years

Contact

Phone: (855) 300-1473
Email: Info@VillanovaU.com
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

10

American University

Washington, DC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 80%

Located in Washington, D.C., American University’s School of Public Affairs offers a two-year, 36-credit online master of public administration and policy with eight available concentrations. Six months after graduation, 96% of AU MPAP graduates report being employed, in graduate school, or both.

AU’s NASPAA-accredited program requires 11 core courses and a capstone policy practicum. Course topics include policy analysis, project management, budgeting, law, human resources, and research methods. The culminating public policy practicum requires students to apply their skills to a real-world policy analysis project.

MPAP students must maintain a 3.0 GPA to remain in good standing. Graduate admissions operate on a rolling basis. AU values applicants with professional experience and waives the GRE requirement for those with five or more years of relevant experience.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Public Administration and Policy
School Status: Private
Tuition: $1,759/credit
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

Standardized Tests: GRE, GMAT, or LSAT

Contact

Phone: (855) 725-7614
Email: admissions@programs.online.american.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

11

Rutgers University

Newark, NJ Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 64%

Rutgers offers a fully online NASPAA-accredited masters in public administration. The 42-credit program requires 11 core courses that cover foundational topics, research methods, management, budgeting, and real-world applications. Foundational course topics include technology, ethics, and economics. The program culminates in an applied research capstone project.

Students must take three electives to complete a concentration in budgeting and financial management, healthcare administration, nonprofit management, or performance management. The performance concentration includes courses in performance measurement and reporting, strategic management, and evidence-based public management.

Rutgers MPA students may transfer up to 12 credits. Applicants must submit a resume, personal statement, and three letters of recommendation. Online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Public Administration
School Status: Public
Available Concentrations: Budgeting and financial management; healthcare administration; nonprofit management; public and nonprofit performance management
Tuition: $986/credit
Credit Requirements: 42 credits
Program Length: 2-3 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online

Admission Requirements

Standardized Tests: GRE

Contact

Email: spaa@newark.rutgers.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

12

University of Illinois at Springfield

Springfield, IL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 51%

UIS offers a 36-credit, NASPAA-accredited master of public administration, as well as graduate certificates in nonprofit management, public procurement, and community planning. Learners may also pursue a joint MPA/MPH degree. All options are available online.

The UIS MPA requires five core courses, electives, and a capstone seminar that consists of a major paper and oral presentation. Graduate students may select from a wide variety of public administration courses on topics such as administrative law, environmental planning, and child advocacy. Course offerings related to nonprofit management include fundraising, marketing, and human resources. Additional course topics include grant writing, social entrepreneurship, and strategic planning.

Students may transfer up to 12 credits. UIS encourages students without public sector or nonprofit experience to complete an internship as an elective. Many students participate in paid internships.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Public Administration
School Status: Public
Available Concentrations: Community planning; nonprofit management; public procurement; labor relations.
Tuition: $362/credit
Credit Requirements: 36 credits

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.5 minimum

Contact

Phone: (217) 206-6310
Email: mpa@uis.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

13

Indiana University - Bloomington

Bloomington, IN Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 78%

IU's O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs offers a 48-credit NASPAA-accredited master of public affairs. Twelve credits focus on professional development in the form of an internship, independent project, or credit for professional experience. Students may also attend a week-long residency at the Bloomington, Indiana campus in August as an elective.

The program’s six required core courses include statistical analysis, law and public affairs, and a capstone in public and environmental affairs. Students also select 6-10 advanced electives according to their professional goals. These electives can meet the requirements for a concentration in public management, nonprofit management, policy analysis, or public financial administration.

Peace Corps volunteers receive six credits toward an MPA. O'Neill Online also offers 15-credit certificates in public affairs that students may apply toward an MPA.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Public Administration
School Status: Public
Available Concentrations: Public management; nonprofit management; policy analysis; public financial administration
Tuition: $619/credit in-state and military; $1,269/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 48 credits
Program Length: 2-3 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Contact

Phone: (800) 765-7755
Email: oneillgd@indiana.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

14

California State University - Northridge

Northridge, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 54%

CSUN partners with county agencies, cities, and counties in the Los Angeles area to help mid-career master of public administration students build professional relationships with public sector administrators. The school’s two-year cohort MPA program offers concentrations in health administration, nonprofit sector management, and public sector management. Students can access the program online, on campus, or off campus.

Students typically take two eight-week classes per term — one at a time — for a total of 12 courses. CSUN guarantees admitted students enrollment in required courses. The six core MPA courses include seminars in public administration, organizational theory, and public policy.

CSUN’s cohort MPA programs boast on-time program completion rates of 90% or above. The school provides support services tailored for working professionals, including program coordination.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Public Administration
School Status: Public
Available Concentrations: Health administration; nonprofit sector management; public sector management and leadership
Tuition: $738/credit
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online or hybrid (online/on campus)
Instruction Style: Asynchronous and synchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact

Phone: (866) 873-6439
Email: exl@csun.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

15

San Diego State University

San Diego, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 74%

SDSU offers an accelerated online master of public administration using a cohort model. Students progress together through six two-month modules in 16 months, completing two courses during each module. The program includes two on-campus residencies at the beginning and at the end of the program.

The program requires seven core courses, four electives, and a capstone project on a workplace challenge. Core course topics include quantitative approaches, policy development, and financial management. Electives focus on the interests of each cohort; prior topics have included urban government administration and nonprofit relations.

The application requires two letters of recommendation and a resume. Full-time professionals can request that SDSU waive the internship requirement. This program holds NASPAA accreditation.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Public Administration
School Status: Public
Tuition: $509/credit
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 16 months

Delivery

Format: Hybrid (online/on campus)
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.85 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE

Contact

Phone: (619) 594-3946.
Email: mpa.ces@sdsu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

16

Clemson University

Clemson, SC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 83%

Clemson's online master of public administration features a flexible curriculum and real-time interaction. In 2019, 99% of surveyed students rated the program’s synchronous platform as an effective way to communicate.

Clemson’s MPA requires seven core courses, one government course, five electives, and either a comprehensive exam or additional capstone course. Core courses explore topics such as public data analysis, administrative leadership, and financial management. Students may take electives to fulfill one of five available concentrations or create a hybrid, personalized specialization.

Clemson encourages incoming students with fewer than five years of professional experience to intern in an area related to public administration or nonprofit management. Clemson charges all MPA students a flat rate — regardless of their residency status — and accepts up to 12 transfer credits.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Public Administration
School Status: Public
Available Concentrations: Emergency management, government; homeland defense and security; non-profit administration; regional sustainability
Tuition: $770/credit
Credit Requirements: 39-42 credits

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Synchronous

Admission Requirements

Standardized Tests: GRE

Contact

Phone: (864) 656-3400
Email: kemmons@clemson.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

17

University of Miami

Coral Gables, FL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 82%

UM offers a 36-credit two-year master of public administration completely online with optional on-campus networking opportunities. Students typically take one seven-week class at a time for a total of 12 courses.

Course topics include political ethics, organizational dynamics, digital governance, and human resource management. Other courses tackle contemporary issues such as productivity and global governance. Coursework prepares students to manage planning, budgeting, personnel administration, and policy analysis in the public sector.

The online application process requires contact information for two professional references, and the school does not accept transfer credits. UM holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Public Administration
School Status: Private
Tuition: $2,100/credit
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

Standardized Tests: GRE

Contact

Phone: (800) 411-2290
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

18

California State University - San Bernardino

San Bernardino, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 57%

CSUSB’s online master of public administration accepts students for fall, winter, and spring enrollment. The school offers all core classes every quarter, but alternates each quarter between online and on-campus availability.

The MPA requires nine core courses, a three-class concentration, and an on-campus comprehensive exam. Available course topics include nonprofit management, planning principles, labor relations, managing diversity, public budgeting, and accounting. Students may select from concentrations in cybersecurity, leadership, and public financial management when they apply.

Applicants must submit their employment history and a statement of purpose. The application does not require letters of recommendation. CSUSB’s MPA program holds NASPAA accreditation.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Public Administration
School Status: Public
Available Concentrations: Cybersecurity; leadership; public financial management; nonprofit management
Tuition: $233/credit in-state; $497/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 48 quarter credits
Program Length: 2.5 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online and hybrid (on campus/online)
Instruction Style: Asynchronous and synchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.75 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE

Contact

Phone: (909) 537-5758
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

19

University of Colorado Denver

Denver, CO Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 48%

UC Denver’s School of Public Affairs offers a 36-credit online master of public administration that requires seven core courses, four electives, and a capstone. The cumulative capstone consists of a hands-on, organization-based cumulative project or a two-semester thesis.

Courses last 15 weeks, cover public administration and public policy topics, and introduce evidence-based decision-making strategies. Students may take courses on a full-time or part-time basis. Learners select from concentrations in emergency management, environmental policy, nonprofits, and state and local government.

Applicants without public administration work experience must complete an internship. The school accepts MPA applications on a rolling basis and offers tuition discounts for non-resident online students. CU Denver holds NASPAA accreditation.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Public Administration
School Status: Public
Available Concentrations: Disasters, hazards, and emergency management; emergency management and homeland security; environmental policy; management and law; nonprofit organizations; state and local government
Tuition: $526/credit in-state; $631/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 2.5 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Contact

Phone: (303) 315-3000
Email: cuonline@ucdenver.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

20

Georgia College & State University

Milledgeville, GA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 64%

GCSU, located in Milledgeville, Georgia, offers a 36-credit online public administration MPA. Full-time students can complete the program in four semesters. Nearly three-quarters of the program’s graduates work in federal, state, and local government.

Core courses include public finance and policy analysis. Electives allow for specialization in areas such as environmental policy and urban planning. Students may also opt to complete a three-credit capstone project or six-credit thesis. Both options require advanced planning with the program coordinator.

Georgia College allows MPA students to transfer up to nine hours of graduate work. The school does not require applicants with an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or above to submit test scores. The MPA program holds NASPAA accreditation.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Public Administration
School Status: Public
Tuition: $338/credit
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.75 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE, GMAT, or MAT

Contact

Phone: (800) 342-0471
Email: admissions@gcsu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

21

University of Missouri

Columbia, MO Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 69%

Located in Columbia, Missouri, Mizzou's Truman School offers a fully online, 33-credit master of public affairs. Students may complete the program in two years by taking one class each nine-week session.

The program requires students to complete seven core classes, two specialization courses, and two electives. Some students may also need to take prerequisites in microeconomics and statistics. Required core courses cover topics such as collaborative governance, public policy strategy, and organizational dynamics. Electives include grant writing and organizational change.

Mizzou's online students qualify for in-state tuition, regardless of residency status. The university offers five start dates per year. The Truman School holds NASPAA accreditation.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Public Affairs
School Status: Public
Tuition: $386/credit
Credit Requirements: 33 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum
Work Experience: 3 years

Contact

Phone: (573) 882-2491
Email: mizzouonline@missouri.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

22

University of Mary

Bismarck, ND Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 55%

Based in Bismarck, North Dakota, Mary offers a master of public administration program that reflects the school’s Catholic values. Students may complete the program online, on site, or in a blended format.

Mary’s MPA degree prepares graduates for public sector leadership with courses such as public sector management, ethics, and nonprofit management. The program culminates in a capstone project. Enrolled students may customize their program based on their interests, and learners select from concentrations in energy management, project management, healthcare, executive, human resources, and healthcare informatics.

Mary serves about 1,200 students and tailors online and evening programs to meet the needs of adult learners. The school holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Public Administration
School Status: Private
Available Concentrations: Energy management; project management; healthcare; executive; human resources; healthcare informatics

Delivery

Format: 100% online and hybrid (online/on campus)
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Contact

Phone: (800) 288-6279
Email: enroll@umary.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

23

Marist College

Poughkeepsie, NY Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 83%

From its main campus in Poughkeepsie, New York, Marist offers a private liberal arts education to more than 6,000 students, including 1,400 adult and graduate students. The school’s fully online or hybrid master of public administration takes two years of full-time enrollment to complete.

Enrolled students can select from concentrations in nonprofit management, public management, ethical leadership, analytics, and healthcare administration. Part-time students take one eight-week class at a time (two per semester), while full-time students may take more. The MPA program requires foundational, core, and elective courses totaling 39 credits.

Marist may require a pre-service internship or waive foundational courses, depending on each applicant’s background and work experience. The Marist MPA program holds NASPAA accreditation.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Public Administration
School Status: Private
Available Concentrations: Ethical leadership; public management; healthcare administration; nonprofit management; analytics
Tuition: $850/credit
Credit Requirements: 39-42 credits
Program Length: 2-3 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online and hybrid (online/on-campus)
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

Standardized Tests: GRE

Contact

Phone: (845) 575-3800
Email: graduate@marist.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

24

University of Delaware

Newark, DE Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 81%

Located in Newark, the Biden School of Public Policy and Administration at UD offers a 36-credit online master of public administration that students can complete in as few as 30 months. The program boasts several notable alumni and offers career services.

Courses in UD’s fully online MPA last seven weeks and include training in areas such as program evaluation, information technology, financial management, and human resources. In a final capstone course, graduating students apply theory to practice by completing a research project for a government agency or nonprofit.

UD’s online MPA requires no professional experience, and new students may enroll at the beginning of any term. The Biden School holds NASPAA accreditation.


Program Overview

Program Name: Online Master of Public Administration
School Status: Public
Tuition: $1,042/credit
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 30 months

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE

Contact

Phone: (302) 831-1687
Email: bidenschool@udel.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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University of Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, PA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 83%

Pitt offers a part-time online master of public policy and management designed for mid-career professionals with at least five years of experience beyond the entry level. Students can complete the 30-credit program in 20 months by taking two courses per term.

The MPPM degree requires four core courses: microeconomics, public affairs administration, program evaluation, and a policy seminar. Elective topics include financial management, strategic management, and fundraising.

Applicants must demonstrate competence in program management, budgeting and finance, human resource management, and policy formulation or implementation. All MPPM online students pay in-state tuition. Students receive a faculty advisor and enrollment counselor.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Public Policy and Management
School Status: Public
Tuition: $23,530/year
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 20 months

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

Work Experience: 5 years

Contact

Phone: (412) 624-4141
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

Online Master's in Public Administration Program Overview

Earning a master's in public administration online prepares graduates for careers in federal, state, and local government or at nonprofit organizations. Some programs qualify graduates to enter public service, while others help experienced professionals advance their careers. A master's degree in this field enables graduates to hold a leadership position or land a job in a specialized area, such as budgeting, fundraising, procurement, or human resources.

Online MPA programs cover leadership and management challenges relevant to the public sector. Course topics include budgeting and financial strategies, ethical issues, law, and public policy formulation and implementation. Most programs aim to equip graduates with the skills needed to manage and evaluate government or nonprofit programs, employees, and budgets.

Graduates of online MPA programs can serve as leaders in private or nonprofit organizations and as government officials. Some pursue a management specialization, such as healthcare, finance, information technology, or human resources.

Common Master's in Public Administration Degree Courses

Fundamentals of Public Administration

This course traces the evolution of public administration as a profession and introduces the basic skills that public administrators, nonprofit leaders, and public policy analysts require in their positions. Students explore theories, practices, and methods of modern public administration. They also examine ways public administrators confront contemporary issues and challenges.

Budgeting and Financial Management

This course examines budgeting processes at the local, state, and local levels and how expenditures define governmental priorities. Topics include evaluation of revenue streams, budgeting tools, and budget creation. Students may also learn about nonprofit financial management, government procurement processes, tax regulations, debt financing, and financial valuation.

Human Resources Management

Students learn about critical human resource functions, such as recruitment and hiring, employee compensation and benefits, workforce development, retention, and discipline as they apply to the public sector or a nonprofit organization. This course explores current trends and issues, such as motivation, diversity, and legal constraints.

Organizational Theory

To prepare for organizational leadership roles, students analyze the characteristics of effective organizations and the personal, interpersonal, and group factors that impact organizational behavior. Topics include decision-making structures, managing conflict, and motivational strategies.

Public Policy

This course introduces the policymaking process and explores the fundamentals of policy formulation, implementation, and analysis. Students analyze current policy debates and issues, learn about the role of public administrators in policy implementation, and explore tools and strategies for policy analysis.

Related Master's in Public Administration Degree Concentrations

Nonprofit Management

This concentration prepares students for leadership roles at nonprofit organizations and public service agencies. Students gain skills in areas such as board development, human resources, budgeting and financial management, fundraising, marketing and communication, volunteer management, and strategic planning.

Public Policy

This specialization prepares public administrators to analyze policy needs and create innovative policy solutions to meet those needs. Courses explore factors that impact policymaking and teach the analytical, leadership, and practical skills needed to design, implement, evaluate, and modify public policy.

Human Resources Management

Students wishing to specialize in human resources develop advanced expertise in areas such as workforce development, compensation strategies, recruitment and retention, and human resource planning. Courses in this specialization explore relevant laws, policies, and regulations, as well as the impact of market factors and labor relations.

Healthcare Administration

Students prepare for leadership positions as healthcare administrators. They learn to manage the fiscal and administrative challenges facing the public and private healthcare organizations. Graduates gain expertise in areas such as budgeting, human resources, and strategic planning for healthcare organizations.

City Management

Students in this specialization learn public administration theories, methods, and skills that are specifically relevant to urban planning and management. This specialization prepares graduates to work as urban planners and administrators, oversee service delivery systems, and coordinate services with other levels of government.

Online Master's in Public Administration Admission Requirements

  • Bachelor's Degree

    All MPA programs require applicants to hold an undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution, although most do not require a specific major. Some programs expect students to demonstrate successful completion of specific undergraduate prerequisites, such as economics, government, and/or statistics classes.

  • Minimum GPA

    Applicants must submit transcripts, and some programs require a specific minimum GPA — typically 3.0. GPA requirements vary by program, and many institutions waive GPA requirements for experienced professionals or for individuals with other qualifications, such as high test scores.

  • Work Experience

    Programs geared toward working professionals typically require several years of government or nonprofit work experience. Not all programs require work experience, and some that do may waive this requirement for students who complete a relevant internship. Most MPA program applications require submission of a resume.

  • Letters of Recommendation

    Many online MPA programs require individuals to submit two or three letters of recommendation from persons familiar with the applicant's work. Be sure to check application guidelines to see if your program requires recommendations and whether they must come from academic or professional references (or both).

  • Standardized Tests

    Many online MPA programs require applicants to submit GRE scores, although this requirement varies by program. Schools frequently waive GRE scores for applicants with relevant work experience and/or high GPAs. In some cases, applicants may submit GMAT or LSAT scores in place of GRE scores.


Online Master's in Public Administration Career Paths

MPA graduates typically pursue public service or nonprofit careers, working as program managers, agency administrators, policy analysts, budget analysts, nonprofit administrators, and healthcare administrators. These positions usually do not require licensure. MPA degree-holders often qualify for career advancement at their current place of employment. Alternatively, this degree can also help you change careers and/or get your first job in a government agency or nonprofit organization.

Master's in public administration programs emphasize leadership and management skills. As a result, graduates often qualify for senior-level positions. However, to pursue an executive-level position, conduct research, or teach at the college level, it may be necessary to earn a doctorate.

Related Careers

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I do with a master's in public administration?

MPA programs teach students the leadership, administrative, and analytical skills needed to drive positive change at the organizational, local, state, or federal level. Students develop skills in financial management, human resource management, and strategic planning. They also practice applying these skills to practical situations. This degree can prepare you to change jobs or advance your career.

What jobs can I get with an MPA?

With an MPA, you can qualify for a job in the public, private, or nonprofit sector. Graduates work as policy analysts, program managers, and budget analysts. They can also hold positions as leaders at all levels of government, in private companies, and in nonprofit organizations. Degree-holders serve as city managers, state agency heads, and nonprofit administrators, for example.

What is an MPA good for?

This degree hones your management, communication, and analytical skills. It can qualify you for positions with greater responsibility and input. Most MPA programs require students to apply their skills through research or client-based capstone projects. Such requirements can help you demonstrate your skills and abilities to employers.

Which is better: an MPA or an MBA?

MBA and MPA degrees require similar coursework and teach many of the same skills. Both degrees prepare graduates for leadership positions. If you plan to work in the private sector for a business or for-profit corporation, an MBA may be the better choice. However, an MPA provides better preparation for individuals planning to pursue a career in government, social services, or the nonprofit sector.

Why get a master's in public administration?

Effective leadership and management skills are essential in organizations of all types. An MPA can help you tackle the challenges faced by your organization by equipping you with fundamental public administration skills, such as competencies related to financial management, human resource management, and policy analysis. If you enjoy finding ways to make programs work better for people, an MPA can help.

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Additional Reading and Resources

Want more? We have additional resources to help you in every stage of your educational journey.