The 50 Best Online MPA Programs: Online Master in Public Administration

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Online master’s in public administration (MPA) programs provide a variety of rewarding career options, and an MPA degree allows graduates to make an impact on important issues and problems affecting the general public. Specifically, MPA degrees provide educational foundations for leadership and managerial positions in public and nonprofit sectors. Graduates go on to work in government agencies, public management, nongovernmental organizations, health and human services, and nonprofits.

Students who earn a master’s in public administration online or on campus receive the accepted professional credential for public service professionals seeking to advance into mid-level and upper-level management positions.

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We selected the following MPA online programs based on program quality, including the types of courses offered, faculty, rankings, awards, and reputation. This includes the school’s reputation for effectively providing online degree programs.

The Best Online Master’s in Public Administration Degree Programs

1
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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4

University of South Florida 

Tampa, FL

About this school

USF enrolls 51,000 students, making it the fourth-largest higher education institution in the state. Through its 14 colleges, the university delivers over 200 degree options, including distance education programs like an online master of public administration.

This 42-45-credit program prepares students for advanced research opportunities and management positions in the public and nonprofit sectors. Students can complete all requirements through asynchronous classes delivered by the Canvas learning management system. Alternatively, participants can opt to take some flexible evening and weekend classes at the school’s Tampa campus for a hybrid experience.

The curriculum of this master’s in public administration consists of nine required classes. Topics include public administration theory, policy design and implementation, and political economy for public managers. On top of recruiting and training employees, students learn to retain talent by creating engaging benefit plans and facilitating an inclusive organizational culture. Candidates with less than five years of relevant work experience must also complete an internship.

Through electives, participants can take advanced coursework in a generalist track or pick from several designated sub-areas, like nonprofit administration, budgeting and financial management, and public organizational management. Students may also take electives outside the department, with popular options found in cybersecurity and mass communications. Each candidate rounds out their degree work with an integrative capstone course.

USF admits new learners in the summer, fall, and spring. Admission requirements include a minimum 3.0 GPA and GRE scores, although candidates with a 3.25 GPA or higher can apply for a GRE exemption. Additional application documents include a 1-3-page personal statement and two recommendation letters.

Score
79.59
Graduation Rate
71%
5

American University 

Washington, DC

About this school

Based in Washington, D.C., AU supports more than 13,000 students each year. The institution offers distance learners six graduate certificates and 11 degrees. Options include an online master of public administration and policy. This program bridges the gap between administration and policy, preparing students for leadership roles in various sectors. Graduates can find work related to project management, public finance, nonprofit management, community development, and city governance.

Online courses span eight weeks. Students who pursue their master’s degree in public administration online take 12 classes, totaling 36 credits. Course topics include legal issues in public administration, policy analysis foundations, and public managerial economics. Distance learners delve into the structures of organizations, analyzing common staffing processes and budgetary constraints. They also develop the leadership skills needed to manage human capital and encourage productive work relationships.

Degree candidates synthesize their accumulated knowledge by completing capstone projects. They work with external clients to develop comprehensive policy analyses that consider ethical, legal, and institutional dimensions. Most students graduate in less than two years.

Applicants should hold a regionally accredited bachelor’s degree and adequate GRE scores. The university accepts LSAT and GMAT results on a case-by-case basis. Additional admission materials include a resume, a statement of purpose, and two recommendation letters. Distance learners can apply for merit-based scholarships.

Score
77.86
Graduation Rate
79%
6

California State University – Long Beach 

Long Beach, CA

About this school

CSULB serves about 38,000 students, making it the third-largest campus in the 13-school California State University system. The institution hosts over 80 graduate academic programs, including remote options like an online master of public administration. Through a curriculum that synthesizes web-based instruction and practical experiences, students gain the leadership and analytical skills needed to promote excellence in public service management positions. This program uses a hybrid learning structure that requires students to attend Saturday classes on campus and complete asynchronous coursework online.

Totaling 39 credits, the degree plan consists of seven required classes. Topics include public sector personnel administration, policy issue analysis, and organization theory and behavior. Students examine government finance concepts detailing revenue formats and capital budgeting. They also take a class in public sector research, learning how to design questions, create surveys, and conduct statistical analysis.

Degree candidates fill out their remaining credits with elective classes, such as negotiating workplace dynamics, employee-employer relations, and public works facilities and urban policy. The program culminates with a capstone project. As part of their professional preparation, students research issues or topics relevant to contemporary public policy and administration.

Applicants must hold a minimum 2.0 GPA. They must also demonstrate either two years of public service experience or actionable career goals in nonprofit and government organizations. Distance learners pay per-credit tuition rates based on their residency status.

Score
76.85
Graduation Rate
69%
7

Villanova University 

Villanova, PA

About this school

Founded in 1842 by two Augustinian friars, Villanova enrolls about 11,000 students in a variety of academic programs. The school’s catalog includes several distance education opportunities, such as an online master of public administration. The curriculum of this program highlights strategic management and planning, preparing students to make creative, inclusive, and ethical decisions as public servants and leaders. Graduates can go on to work in education and healthcare. They can also pursue business careers related to data analytics, project management, and information security.

The 36-credit degree plan contains required classes like public administration theory and leadership ethics. Students delve into organizational dynamics and investigate the similarities and differences between complex and formal entities. Distance learners also learn about financial and human capital management.

Students individualize their training by choosing six elective classes. Options include fundraising for nonprofit organizations, strategic planning, and urban politics and government. Participants can also add a certificate in nonprofit management or city management to their diploma. In lieu of a capstone project, candidates must pass a comprehensive exam.

Each candidate must submit three recommendation letters, a resume or CV, and a two-page statement detailing their career objectives. Villanova does not list specific GPA standards or require standardized test results. Online learners can apply for financial assistance, including institutional scholarships.

Score
76.12
Graduation Rate
90%
8

Texas A&M University – College Station 

College Station, TX

About this school

As one of the largest higher education institutions in the United States, Texas A&M serves roughly 70,000 students each year. Learners benefit from a variety of academic opportunities, including distance education options like the school’s online executive master of public service and administration. The flexible curriculum of this degree track supports working professionals, enabling participants to complete coursework while maintaining full-time jobs. Students take asynchronous classes through Blackboard Learn. They also gain hands-on training and networking opportunities through a pair of week-long residencies.

Courses last 15 weeks during the fall and spring semesters and 10 weeks over the summer. The degree plan totals 39 credits and includes required coursework related to economic analysis, public policy formation, and program evaluation in public and nonprofit organizations. Students also learn quantitative analysis methods with an emphasis on social and policy evaluations at the managerial level.

This program lets distance learners align coursework with specific career objectives through specialization options. Participants pick from homeland security, nonprofit management, or public management tracks. All degree candidates round out their training with two capstone seminars, where student teams implement and evaluate a project task that addresses a significant issue in the public policy and administration field.

Applicants need at least five years of work experience, preferably in managerial or supervisory roles. Admission materials include GRE scores, a resume, and a statement of purpose. In addition to institutional aid, online students can apply for scholarships offered through the university’s school of government and public service.

Score
73.53
Graduation Rate
82%
9

Ohio State University 

Columbus, OH

About this school

Founded in 1870, Ohio State currently provides comprehensive academic programming to about 68,000 students. The university offers several remote learning opportunities, including an online master of public administration and leadership. Facilitated through Ohio State’s college of public affairs, this flexible program provides the training that mid-level professionals need for career advancement. Most candidates earn their credentials in two years while continuing to work full time.

The degree plan consists of 11 classes, totaling 33 credits. Students take required courses like managerial leadership in public and nonprofit organizations. They explore ethical decision-making models with an emphasis on identifying and negating logical fallacies and common biases. The curriculum also examines financial management, data analysis, and research design.

This degree track stands apart from some online MPA programs by offering several specializations. Distance learners take advanced classes in one of four areas: public management, public policy, nonprofit management, or criminal justice administration and policy. Each student rounds out their training with a senior seminar in negotiations and a capstone experience. The latter requirement tasks students with applying classroom knowledge to analyze and improve workplace situations. Students can further bolster their skills by earning complementary online graduate certificates.

Each applicant needs at least three years of budgeting, decision-making, and managerial work experience. Applicants with a GPA below 3.0 must also submit GRE scores. Every prospective student should send in three recommendation letters that speak to their abilities to excel in master’s-level academics.

Score
73.16
Graduation Rate
83%
10

Clemson University 

Clemson, SC

About this school

Clemson University enrolls about 25,000 students annually, making it the second-largest higher education institution in South Carolina. The university offers degree options through seven schools, including distance education programs like its online master of public administration. Clemson’s MPA targets working professionals and provides the advanced training needed to assume managerial roles. Graduates can go on to work for nonprofit organizations and government agencies.

The degree plan contains 39-42 credits, depending on a student’s choice of culminating experience. Perfunctory coursework includes public policy process, administrative leadership, and public personnel administration. Candidates train in data analysis for the public and nonprofit sectors. Classes cover information storage, retrieval, and data-supported decision-making methodologies. Students also learn to apply research methods and collect survey data.

Like many of the best MPA programs, this degree track allows students to align coursework with their career goals by offering five specialization options: nonprofit management, emergency management, regional sustainability, local and state government, and homeland defense and security. Distance learners can either complete a capstone project or sit for a comprehensive examination as part of a final assessment.

To apply, candidates submit GRE scores, two recommendation letters, a personal statement, and documentation describing relevant work experiences. Online students benefit from a low per-credit tuition rate and financial assistance. Award opportunities include grants and institutional scholarships. The university operates a generous transfer policy that allows candidates to transfer up to 12 graduate-level credits toward degree completion.

Score
72.13
Graduation Rate
82%
11

University of Miami 

Coral Gables, FL

About this school

UM offers eight distance education programs through Blackboard Learn. Options include an online master of public administration that prepares students to become effective and ethical service leaders. This program operates a flexible course structure where distance learners take one seven-week course at a time and graduate in two years.

While candidates may earn their credentials entirely online through asynchronous classes, the school also offers networking and practical training opportunities on campus. The university’s career center delivers one-on-one job guidance, skill-building workshops, and recruitment events.

Totaling 36 credits, this master’s in public administration online program contains 12 required classes. Topics include organizational dynamics, political analysis, and human resource management in public service. Students conduct a thorough exploration of contemporary public policies related to welfare, health, education, and urban mass transit. Within these frameworks, participants analyze the effectiveness and shortcomings of local, state, and national government actions. Coursework also covers international developments — particularly humanitarian NGO activities.

Each student finishes the program by taking an advanced seminar in contemporary public administration issues. Learners research, discuss, and debate topics like global administrative law, representative bureaucracy, and collaborative governance. UM graduates can pursue work as leadership analysts, cybersecurity advisors, and employee process improvement specialists.

UM uses fall, spring, and summer entry dates. Application materials include two recommendation letters and a personal statement. Candidates who possess 18 or more transfer credits do not need to submit GRE scores. The university offers merit-based scholarships and awards that target veterans and returning students.

Score
72.06
Graduation Rate
84%
12

Florida International University 

Miami, FL

About this school

FIU enrolls approximately 57,000 students each year. The school’s academic catalog comprises nearly 200 programs, with remote options like an online master of public administration. This MPA track prepares students for doctoral research or career advancement. The program uses a rolling admissions process, and students begin classes each fall. Candidates may take 2-4 courses at a time depending on their schedules.

The 42-credit degree plan contains eight core classes. Students engage with topics like quantitative applications, human resource management and policy, and public finance and the budgetary process. They also examine the social, political, and economic contexts of public administration. Distance learners who lack relevant work experience may complete an optional 300-hour public service internship with an organization in their community.

In addition to required coursework, the curriculum includes 18 electives that students use to pursue a specialization. Options include homeland security and emergency management, public management, and comparative and international public administration. With the approval of the department, candidates can also pursue an external specialization. The program concludes with a capstone course in public management practice.

Candidates need a regionally accredited bachelor’s degree and must submit a resume and three recommendation letters. Applicants with a GPA below 3.25 should also send in GRE or GMAT scores.

Score
70.42
Graduation Rate
57%
13

Marist College 

Poughkeepsie, NY

About this school

Marist College is a comprehensive private institution that provides dozens of degree and certificate options to more than 6,500 students every year. The school’s academic catalog also includes some remote programs, such as an online master of public administration with a concentration in public management.

Through a collaborative learning structure, students develop the values, knowledge, and skills needed to lead successful public and nonprofit organizations in a technology-dependent and global society. Candidates may earn their credentials entirely online through asynchronous classes. Alternatively, they can engage in a hybrid experience by taking some in-person courses at the school’s Albany, New York City (Queens), or Poughkeepsie campuses.

The degree plan contains 39-42 credits. Students take required coursework in areas like public budgeting, program planning and evaluation, and organizational theory and change. They also examine administrative law, analyzing the powers, jurisdiction, and processes an agency possesses regarding government institutions. The curriculum covers managerial technologies, training students to implement computer networks that bolster employee effectiveness and strategic decision-making.

Marist requires every student who does not possess relevant work experience to complete an internship. On-site practical experiences allow candidates to apply theories and concepts to solve administrative problems. The program culminates with a capstone seminar centering on innovations in the field; learners engage in extensive research and discussion of public policy.

Application materials include a resume and a personal response essay. Prospective students do not need to submit GRE scores if they hold an advanced college degree, possess a 3.0 undergraduate GPA or higher, or display a 2.75-2.99 GPA and at least 10 years of work experience.

Score
69.04
Graduation Rate
84%
14

Brandman University 

Irvine, CA

About this school

Brandman University is based in Irvine, California, but operates 25 campuses nationwide. The school delivers remote academic programs through Blackboard, including an online master of public administration. Through a 36-credit curriculum, students learn to analyze the public policies and political behaviors that affect program planning in community-based organizations.

The degree plan contains nine core classes in areas like democracy, ethics, and leadership; financial reporting and analysis; and labor relations and collective bargaining. Students examine organizational dynamics, evaluating how individual and group behavior affect a company’s performance. Learners also delve into public policy and data analysis, with an emphasis on applying data to inform the decision-making process.

The remaining credits are dedicated to individual electives or an organizational leadership emphasis. Candidates who choose the latter option take advanced coursework in frontiers of public/nonprofit management and creating dynamic change. All students complete an action learning project as their capstone experience, where they research major challenges facing public administrators, suggest resolution strategies, and discuss tradeoffs and ethical implications.

Each applicant should possess a regionally accredited bachelor’s degree. They also need to satisfy one of four program requirements: a minimum 3.0 GPA, a minimum 2.5 GPA and adequate test results, a completed master’s degree, or a portfolio demonstrating academic and professional competence. Brandman offers one of the lowest tuition rates among online public administration master’s programs. Distance learners can also apply for financial aid, with opportunities for low-interest government loans and private scholarships. They may further reduce program costs by transferring in up to nine applicable credits.

Score
68.75
Graduation Rate
79%
15

The University of Alabama 

Tuscaloosa, AL

About this school

Established in 1820, UA enrolls nearly 39,000 students, making it the oldest and largest higher education institution in the state. The school offers degrees in 117 areas of study, including remote options like its online master of public administration.

This MPA program trains students to manage organizational policy and conduct while maintaining the integrity and ethics of public service. Candidates gain the core competencies needed to work in local, state, and federal government, while also developing advanced leadership skills and preparing to occupy higher-ranking positions.

The degree plan consists of 39 credits and includes seven core classes. Students delve into topics like quantitative methods, public policy analysis, and program evaluation. They also learn to differentiate between public, nonprofit, and private organizations with regards to internal structures and relationships with government agencies.

Distance learners personalize their coursework with two guided and four open electives. They can choose advanced public administration topics, such as political economies and local government administration, or pick complementary classes from another department. UA requires each student who does not possess relevant work experience to complete a 300-hour internship.

Each applicant needs a minimum 3.0 GPA and adequate GRE or GMAT scores. Students should submit a resume, a statement of purpose, and contact information for recommenders. Online students benefit from an affordable per-credit tuition rate and institutional scholarship opportunities.

Score
67.82
Graduation Rate
68%
16

University of Illinois at Springfield 

Springfield, IL

About this school

UIS enrolls more than 5,000 students in 52 academic programs each year. Catalog offerings include an online master of public administration, which educates students through asynchronous classes and digital conferences with peers, instructors, and advisors. By completing a curriculum that synthesizes disciplinary theories and skills, learners gain the training needed to pursue careers as nonprofit public service and government professionals.

Totaling 36 credits, the MPA degree plan requires students to complete seven core classes. Topics include an introduction to the profession, organizational dynamics, and analytical tools. Learners develop budgeting, finance, and human resource skills. They also examine the role of policies in administrative and political decision-making processes, including how these can affect judgment and bargaining.

Candidates complete the remaining credit requirements with electives. The program culminates with a capstone seminar, in which students conduct academic research on a pertinent issue facing public administrators. Course deliverables include a major paper and an oral presentation. For students who want to expand their graduate training, the university also offers a joint degree program that enables students to earn an online MPA and a master of public health.

Students should possess a minimum 2.5 undergraduate GPA. UIS does not require applicants to send in GRE scores, although individuals may submit standardized test results to make up for unsatisfactory GPAs or to enhance their overall application packet. Candidates must also submit a resume, a personal statement, and an explanation of why they’re interested in an online program.

Score
67.68
Graduation Rate
50%
17

University of Delaware 

Newark, DE

About this school

Founded as Newark Academy in 1743, UD now serves roughly 24,000 students. The school operates more than 200 graduate programs, including remote options like an online master of public administration. This degree track trains future community leaders and nonprofit professionals, providing a foundation in public policy and practical management skills.

The interdisciplinary curriculum of this program emphasizes application-based solutions to solve pertinent societal issues. Students take asynchronous classes through Canvas. Courses span seven weeks, and most distance learners graduate in about 30 months.

The 36-credit degree plan contains 12 required classes. Core topics include contemporary issues in a global society, performance management and program evaluation, and information technology for the public and nonprofit sectors. Students examine the economic dimensions of these sectors, focusing on challenges related to healthcare, transportation, housing, and community development.

Additional coursework consists of classes in financial management, human resource management, and values for ethical leadership. Students round out their training by completing a capstone project. Collaborating with partner organizations, learners conduct research, gather data, and analyze services to address organizational challenges or ensure program success. UD graduates can go on to work as community outreach managers, fiscal analysts, regional planners, and legislative specialists.

Each applicant must possess a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA and relevant volunteer or work experience. The university requires students to submit GRE scores. Additional application materials include a current resume, three recommendation letters, and a personal statement.

Score
67.55
Graduation Rate
82%
18

Appalachian State University 

Boone, NC

About this school

Established as a small teacher’s college in 1899, Appalachian State University is now the sixth-largest member of the University of North Carolina System. The institution operates nearly 50 graduate programs, including remote options like an online master of public administration. This 42-credit program provides students with the technical competencies and professional management skills needed to positively impact their communities. Graduates are well-prepared to work as human resource specialists, nonprofit managers, and government agency directors.

Appalachian operates a part-time program structure that allows students to earn their credentials in 2.5 years. Candidates engage in a hybrid learning process that combines online coursework with evening classes on the school’s campus in Boone. The degree plan contains seven required classes in areas like organizational theory and behavior, budgeting and fiscal administration, and public policy analysis and program evaluation.

One of the best online MPA programs, this degree track lets students pursue a five-course concentration. Participants can elect to specialize in public management; nonprofit management; administration of justice; or town, city, and county management. Candidates without relevant work experience can complete an internship, while students currently working in the public service field engage in field research. Degree training ends with a capstone project.

The university prefers applicants with a minimum 3.0 GPA and GRE or GMAT scores in the 25th percentile or better. Prospective students should submit a resume, three references, and a 2-3-page personal statement. Distance learners pay per-credit tuition prices based on their residency status.

Score
67.14
Graduation Rate
73%
19

University of San Francisco 

San Francisco, CA

About this school

The University of San Francisco was founded in 1855 as a small Jesuit academy. Today, the institution operates over 230 academic programs, including an online master of public administration. This renowned program trains students to become effective leaders in public and nonprofit organizations. Distance learners can earn their credentials in under two years by taking asynchronous classes through Canvas.

Totaling 39 credits, the generalist degree plan consists of 13 required classes. Topics include management and organizational theory, policy analysis, and economics and finance for public managers. Students train to enact budgetary planning actions like forecasting and cost-benefit analysis. They also explore emerging web applications and information systems used in project and human resource management. Learners culminate the program with a senior seminar in strategic communication management. This advanced course emphasizes the source, message, and receiver aspects of traditional and mediated channels.

USF is one of the few online MPA programs to offer a concentration in health services administration. Students who pursue this track take classes like health law and ethics, social determinants of health, and health program evaluation. They also take a course on intersectional leadership, which helps build the skills needed to lead collaborative efforts among public, private, and nonprofit organizations.

Application materials include academic transcripts, a resume, and two recommendation letters. Candidates must also submit a 100-word statement detailing their professional goals and how the MPA program aligns with them. The university recommends that applicants submit GRE or GMAT scores.

Score
66.36
Graduation Rate
77%
20

Indiana University 

Bloomington, IN

About this school

Indiana University Bloomington is the flagship institution for the state’s public higher education network and enrolls nearly 44,000 students annually. Considered a ’Public Ivy,’ IU offers exceptional academic programming that includes remote options like the online master of public administration. This versatile program prepares students to work as organizational leaders in public, nonprofit, and government organizations.

Most students take two asynchronous classes each semester while maintaining career and family obligations. With the approval of the program director, students can accelerate degree completion by attending classes over the summer. The 48-credit degree plan breaks down into six core requirements and 10 advanced electives.

Distance learners engage with required topics like public management economics, law and public affairs, and statistical analysis for effective decision-making. As part of their advanced coursework, students must focus on at least one curricular emphasis, such as nonprofit management or policy analysis.

The program requires all learners to complete a practicum in the form of an internship, an independent/group research project, or prior work and volunteer experience. For students who want additional hands-on training, the university facilitates an optional O’Neill Week course that enables them to collaborate with peers and instructors on practical projects.

Distance learners pay affordable per-credit tuition prices based on residency status. The program offers merit and need based fellowship opportunities, which includes institutional scholarships and departmental fellowships. The online master’s in public administration online admission process does not include GPA minimums or require standardized test scores.

Score
66.12
Graduation Rate
77%
21

Golden Gate University 

San Francisco, CA

About this school

Founded in 1901, Golden Gate University is the fourth-oldest private higher education institution in California. The school enrolls 5,500 students in more than 60 graduate academic programs, including an online executive master of public administration. The GGU program targets working professionals who want to maximize their impact on communities by strengthening leadership and technical business skills. Students receive the advanced training to occupy such roles as legislative supervisor, government departmental director, and county or city manager.

MPA candidates can earn their credentials entirely online through asynchronous coursework delivered through Moodle. Alternatively, they may pursue a hybrid learning experience by taking some classes on the San Francisco campus.

The degree plan totals 36 units and includes core classes in research methods and analysis, public policy analysis and program evaluation, and budgeting and financial management. Students learn about personnel management, studying how to train employees and navigate labor relations. They also examine collective bargaining and equal employment opportunity legislation.

As one of the best online MPA programs, GGU’s degree enables students to pursue advanced topics in three concentrations: general track, judicial administration, and law enforcement and security. Candidates can pursue two or more concentrations with the guidance of an academic advisor. To fulfill their capstone requirement, distance learners must complete a research project that entails primary data collection, creative analysis, and policy recommendations.

Applicants typically possess at least five years of relevant work experience. GGU does not require GRE or GMAT scores unless a candidate displays inadequate academic preparation. Most students earn their MPA within 18 months.

Score
65.07
Graduation Rate
56%
22

California State University – San Bernardino 

San Bernardino, CA

About this school

One of the 23 general campuses in the state’s public university system, California State University, San Bernardino serves 21,000 students annually. The academic catalog contains nearly 70 graduate programs, including an online master of public administration. This flexible program prepares students for careers as educators and public service leaders. CSUSB facilitates asynchronous classes through Blackboard. Distance learners may also engage in hybrid learning by taking once-a-week classes on campus.

Totaling 48 units, the curriculum consists of nine required classes, three electives, and a comprehensive exam. Core topics include research methods in administration, public financial management, and administrative regulation. Students examine the theoretical and practical issues related to creating, implementing, and evaluating policies in the public sector. With these frameworks in mind, candidates learn to manage public organizations from an executive standpoint.

The MPA program enables students to pursue one of three concentrations: cybersecurity, leadership, or public financial management. They may also work with their advisor to create an independent elective study plan. CSUSB requires candidates without relevant work experience to complete an internship.

Prospective students need a minimum 3.0 GPA. Candidates who possess a 2.75-2.99 GPA can enroll if they submit adequate GRE scores. Additionally, MPA applicants must demonstrate competency in introductory statistics by completing a prerequisite course at CSUSB or another accredited institution.

Score
64.32
Graduation Rate
54%
23

California State University – Northridge 

Northridge, CA

About this school

California State University, Northridge supports 39,000 students, making it the second-largest institution in the CSU system. The school operates over 130 academic programs, including distance education opportunities like the online master of public administration in public sector management and leadership. Frequently cited as one of the best MPA programs, the degree helps students advance their careers in the public and nonprofit sectors. In addition to offering innovative coursework, the university partners with local and national agencies, providing students with practical training options and networking opportunities.

The 36-credit degree plan contains five core classes, covering topics in public policy process, organization theory and human behavior, and public budgeting and financial administration. Students examine research methodologies related to data collection and content analysis, which prepares them for the capstone project. During the capstone, candidates revise a research paper they produced in a previous class, developing the text into a manuscript appropriate for publication and conference presentation.

As part of the public sector management and leadership concentration, students take advanced coursework in such topics as intergovernmental relations and public sector labor relations. They also confront ethical issues for professionals working in the public trust. CSUN facilitates MPA programs through its Tseng College, which offers distinct academic counseling and career guidance services.

Applicants who possess a minimum 3.0 GPA and successfully complete the Upper Division Writing Proficiency Exam benefit from classified status enrollment. Prospective students with GPAs between 2.5-2.99 can apply for admission if they demonstrate at least two years of relevant work experience. All distance learners enjoy a low per-credit tuition rate.

Score
64.08
Graduation Rate
51%
24

Nova Southeastern University 

Fort Lauderdale, FL

About this school

Based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Nova Southeastern University enrolls 21,600 students in over 150 academic programs. The catalog includes distance education options facilitated by Canvas, with options like the online master of public administration. For 40 years, the NSU program has trained future public servants and community leaders. The integrative curriculum prepares students to strategically manage diverse organizations and gives them an understanding of how public policies and decisions impact a globalized society.

The degree plan totals 39 credits and consists of nine core classes. Students explore public administration in theory and practice. They train in statistical analysis, strategic management, and entrepreneurial governance for the public sector. The curriculum also covers information technology and the application of data to bolster managerial decision-making.

Degree candidates take advanced classes in one of three concentrations: criminal justice, state and local administration, or nonprofit/nongovernmental organizations. Each concentration allows students to personalize their training through guided electives. The NSU program culminates with a capstone requirement during which distance learners can take an integrative senior seminar, complete an internship, or engage in a practicum.

Applicants need a regionally accredited bachelor’s degree with at least a 3.0 GPA. Candidates with GPAs between 2.5-2.99 may enroll in the MPA program if they furnish adequate GRE or GMAT scores. Additional application materials include a resume, two recommendation letters, and a 500-750-word personal statement.

Score
61.53
Graduation Rate
52%
26

DePaul University 

Chicago, IL

About this school

Based in Chicago, DePaul University enrolls 15,500 students every year, making it the largest Catholic higher education institution in the United States. The university delivers remote academic programming through the Desire2Learn platform, with options like an online master of public administration with a specialization in international public management. DePaul operates quarter sessions and flexible asynchronous classes, enabling students to complete the MPA program in just over two years. Students may also pursue a hybrid learning experience by taking evening courses on the Loop campus.

The curriculum contains 13 classes totaling 52 credits. Required topics include cross-sector analysis, government financial administration, and applied statistics for public service. Students develop analytical skills concerning policy design and implementation. They also cultivate personal and professional ethics with respect to global organizations and diverse workplaces.

Candidates take three courses in the international public management specialization, which emphasizes the interconnection between government bodies and nongovernmental organizations. Coursework covers topics in housing and community development, international political economy, and the management of intercultural diversity. Students who achieve a minimum 3.5 GPA culminate the program with a thesis project. Candidates whose GPA falls below the threshold must complete an integrative seminar.

Applicants submit official academic transcripts, a current resume or CV, and a two-page statement explaining relevant experience and past achievements. DePaul does not require standardized test results. The university offers low per-credit tuition that ignores residency status. Online students can benefit from internal and national scholarship opportunities.

Score
61.47
Graduation Rate
71%
27

University of Missouri 

Columbia, MO

About this school

The University of Missouri was established in 1839 as the first higher education institution west of the Mississippi River. Today, MU enrolls 31,000 students in over 300 academic programs, including distance education options like the online master of public affairs. Through a curriculum that highlights collaboration among public, private, and nonprofit organizations, candidates gain the skills to work as social services coordinators, government administrators, policy experts, and public health specialists.

Online classes span nine weeks. Students who take one class per term can graduate in two years. The degree plan consists of core classes like collaborative governance, organizational dynamics and leadership, and public service and democracy. Because the MU program targets mid-career professionals, coursework centers on advanced research design concepts and economic analysis models.

The remaining credits funnel into guided electives, such as local government management, grant writing, and group dynamics and conflict negotiation. Students may complete this 33-credit program through fully remote classes facilitated by Canvas.

MU operates five entry dates each year. Applicants need a regionally accredited bachelor’s degree earned with at least a 3.0 GPA. They must also demonstrate three or more years of relevant work experience. The university does not require GRE scores. All distance learners qualify for the affordable in-state tuition price. Over 75% of MU graduate students receive financial aid, such as low-interest loans, government grants, and scholarships like the Mizzou Online Military Tuition Award.

Score
60.98
Graduation Rate
68%
28

Georgia College and State University 

Milledgeville, GA

About this school

Established as an industrial school in 1889, Georgia College and State University now offers comprehensive academic offerings to 7,000 students each year. The catalog contains traditional and distance education programs, including an online master of public administration. Frequently regarded as one of the best MPA programs, the degree provides the leadership training and technical skills students need to pursue public service careers. Graduates succeed as managers in such diverse industries as international development, healthcare, youth and human services, and housing and community development.

Totaling 36 credits, the degree plan contains eight required classes. Topics include public personnel management, leadership and organizational behavior, and policy analysis. Students delve into the methods and scope of research in the public sector. They train in applied systematic analysis, using quantitative techniques to define public administrative problems, test hypotheses, and develop actionable recommendations.

The curriculum also includes guided electives. Students pick from such options as environmental policy, urban and regional planning, intergovernmental relations, independent research, and an internship experience. The program culminates with either a capstone project or thesis research and defense.

Minimum admission requirements include a 2.75 GPA and adequate GRE or MAT or GMAT scores. Candidates with a 3.0 GPA or higher do not need to submit standardized test results. Distance learners benefit from affordable per-credit tuition rates and financial support. They can further reduce program costs by earning up to nine transfer credits.

Score
60.86
Graduation Rate
66%
29

East Carolina University 

Greenville, NC

About this school

Located in Greenville, North Carolina, East Carolina University was founded in 1907 as a teacher training school. ECU now provides diverse academic programs, including an online master of public administration. Through a curriculum that highlights local government policies and actions, students gain the skills to work for judicial, legislative, and executive agencies. The ECU program also emphasizes broad leadership skills that enable candidates to pursue careers in healthcare, nonprofit administration, and information technology.

The degree plan totals 45 semester hours and comprises nine core classes. Students examine politics and management in public organizations. They develop key managerial skills related to quantitative analysis, finance and budgeting, and human resources. The ECU program focuses on policy development and implementation with respect to community needs and the relationships between nonprofit organizations and government bodies.

Students can personalize their curriculum with four electives. The program requires distance learners to complete a 300-hour internship unless they possess relevant work experience. To round out their graduate training, candidates write and defend a professional paper that develops a problem-resolution strategy to a pertinent challenge in the field.

Admission standards include a minimum 2.7 GPA and GRE scores in the 30th percentile. Candidates submit official academic transcripts, a statement of purpose, and three recommendation letters. The university bases its per-credit tuition rates on residency status. Financial aid is available and includes internal and external scholarships.

Score
60.04
Graduation Rate
62%
30

University of La Verne 

La Verne, CA

About this school

The University of La Verne is a private higher education institution in California that serves 6,000 students every year. The school provides nearly 90 academic programs through its four colleges and eight regional campuses. Offerings include an online master of public administration that focuses on the theoretical foundations necessary for socially responsible management in public and nonprofit organizations.

Unlike many online public administration master’s programs, the La Verne degree operates a flexible hybrid learning structure that caters to the busy schedules of working professionals. Students take a combination of asynchronous coursework through Blackboard and evening classes on campus. The university facilitates courses year round.

Totaling 39 semester hours, the degree plan comprises required coursework like policy formation, budgeting and fiscal management, and organizational theory and development. Students delve into ethical concerns that administrators face, including how public values affect organizational decision-making and governance. The university requires MPA candidates without relevant work experience to complete an internship.

Distance learners complete the remaining credits with advanced classes in one of four concentrations: public health, gerontology, nonprofit, or urban management and affairs. The program ends with an integrative, research-focused senior seminar.

La Verne operates rolling admissions. Candidates need a minimum 2.7 GPA and demonstrable interest in the public service field. Depending on their application’s strength, prospective students may need to submit GRE scores and undergo a personal interview. On top of affordable tuition, distance learners benefit from the MPA Scholarship Initiative, which grants an award equal to 15% of the current program tuition.

Score
59.92
Graduation Rate
66%
31

Hamline University 

Saint Paul, MN

About this school

Based in Saint Paul, Minnesota, Hamline University dedicates its mission to promoting experiential learning, civic and community service, and social justice. The institution delivers 17 graduate programs, including distance education options like the online master of public administration. The curriculum uses a theory-to-practice model that enables students to immediately apply learned skills and knowledge to solve public sector challenges and enrich their communities.

The online public administration master’s program uses a hybrid cohort learning structure. In addition to remote coursework, students take once-a-week classes on campus. They engage in residencies every eight weeks, collaborating with peers and learning from industry experts.

The 36-credit degree plan contains required classes like leading in organizations, professional ethics, and human resource management for government agencies. Students explore the foundations of public administration, learning to analyze policy, enact data-supported decision-making practices, and navigate administrative law. Candidates without relevant work experience must complete an internship.

Distance learners take advanced electives based on the decisions of their cohort. Possible topics include project management, housing and economic development, and municipal and county government. Students complete the degree with an integrative capstone seminar or a master’s thesis project. HU pairs each degree candidate with a career counselor who helps them chart an individual plan for career entry or advancement.

Online students begin classes in January. Application materials include a resume, official transcripts, two recommendation forms, and a three-page response essay. Distance learners enjoy a low per-credit tuition price and institutional award opportunities.

Score
59.89
Graduation Rate
67%
32

Seton Hall University 

South Orange, NJ

About this school

A Catholic institution located in South Orange, New Jersey, Seton Hall University serves 10,500 students annually through its 11 colleges and schools. The academic catalog contains 16 remote graduate degrees and certificates, including an online master of public administration in nonprofit management. The Seton Hall program emphasizes cross-sector training that gives students an in-depth understanding of nonprofit and public service leadership. Graduates are prepared to occupy such high-ranking positions as nongovernmental organization program directors, city managers, financial analysts, and fundraising specialists.

Totaling 42 credits, the curriculum aligns with standards established by the Nonprofit Academic Centers Council. Required coursework includes public service ethics, research methods and statistical analysis, and the economic environment of public service management. Students develop a framework for collaborative governance, which enables them to work effectively across sector boundaries.

Distance learners take seven credits in the nonprofit management concentration. These advanced topics include nonprofit public policy; HR and volunteer management; and fundraising, development, and grant writing. The program culminates with a capstone experience. Pre-service candidates complete an internship, while other students pick from a group consulting project or research seminar.

Prospective students need a bachelor’s degree earned with a minimum 3.0 GPA. They also submit a statement of purpose, a resume, and three recommendation letters. Seton Hall does not require GRE scores. The university offers affordable tuition, graduate assistantships, and internal scholarships.

Score
59.76
Graduation Rate
67%
33

University of South Dakota 

Vermillion, SD

About this school

The University of South Dakota was founded in 1862, making it the oldest higher education institution in the state. The school provides more than 75 graduate programs, including an online executive master of public administration. The USD program targets working professionals who want to develop advanced competencies to lead organizations and engage in public policy process to improve communities. Distance learners can earn their credentials through asynchronous classes through the Desire2Learn platform.

The degree plan totals 30 credits, which most students complete in under two years. Classes include facilitation and conflict management, administrative thought and ethics, and organization and management. Students train in public personnel management, studying hiring best practices, classification models, and how to support pay equity and affirmative action. They also examine public budgetary and fiscal management, particularly how related policies define an organization’s mission and affect its overall growth.

Standard to most online public administration master’s programs, the USD degree teaches students how to conduct research for the nonprofit and public sectors. These courses scaffold into the capstone requirement, in which degree candidates conduct research on a general public service issue. Alternatively, they may focus their capstone project on health services administration.

Applicants must demonstrate at least five years of relevant work experience on their resume. They also need a minimum 3.0 GPA. Additional admission documents include a statement of purpose and three recommendation letters. USD offers one of the lowest tuition rates for programs of this kind.

Score
59.06
Graduation Rate
55%
34

The University of Texas at Arlington 

Arlington, TX

About this school

Enrolling 42,000 students every year, the University of Texas at Arlington is the largest higher education institution in North Texas and the fourth-largest in the state. UTA delivers 25 distance education programs through Blackboard, including an online master of public administration. This 39-credit program focuses on the challenges that public service leaders face in urban areas. Most students graduate in under two years and pursue managerial careers in government, the nonprofit sector, and private enterprises like consulting firms.

Distance learners take required coursework in nonprofit institutions, intergovernmental relations, and foundations of urban research and analysis. They examine how local, state, and federal governments acquire and spend money within U.S. democratic and capitalist frameworks. The curriculum also teaches students to manage the financial operations of nonprofit and public organizations.

Unless degree candidates demonstrate at least one year of professional work experience, they must complete an urban management and planning internship. Departmental advisors help students identify placement sites and create a plan for goals and outcomes. The program culminates with an integrative research capstone, in which learners analyze a pertinent challenge in the public service sector and formulate data-supported recommendations. They publish their findings in an academic paper and defend their work before faculty and peers.

MPA applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA. Candidates with a 3.25 GPA or higher can apply for a GRE waiver. Prospective students also submit three recommendation letters and a 250-word personal essay.

Score
58.54
Graduation Rate
50%
35

CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice 

New York, NY

About this school

CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice was founded in 1964 as the first liberal arts school centered on criminology and forensic science. Today, the institution operates more than 60 academic programs, including an online master of public administration in policy and administration.

The curriculum highlights scholarly analysis, applied research, and community engagement, preparing students for leadership positions in independent organizations and government agencies. Students can earn their credentials entirely through asynchronous classes facilitated by Blackboard. Alternatively, they can engage in hybrid learning by taking weekend courses at one of the university’s campuses.

Totaling 42 credits, the degree plan includes required classes like human resources management, economics for public administrators, and organization theory. Students examine public policies regarding political climate and the role played by the mass media. They also learn to make strategic decisions based on data analytics and executive budget considerations.

John Jay is one of few online master’s in public policy and administration programs to offer degree specializations. Students pick from seven options, including court administration, emergency management, urban affairs, and criminal justice policy and administration. They round out graduate training with a semester-long capstone project.

The college expects applicants to possess a minimum 3.0 GPA. Prospective students with GPAs below this threshold need to submit GRE scores. Additional admission documents include three recommendation letters and a 300-word personal statement. Distance learners pay affordable per-credit tuition prices based on residency status. They benefit from financial support, which includes merit-based and need-based scholarships.

Score
57.64
Graduation Rate
47%
36

Central Michigan University 

Mount Pleasant, MI

About this school

As one of the largest higher education institutions in the state, Central Michigan University enrolls 21,000 students at its Mount Pleasant campus and 7,000 learners in distance education programming. The academic catalog includes over 75 graduate degrees, including an online master of public administration. Through a curriculum that emphasizes practitioner-based learning, students gain the policy knowledge and hands-on leadership skills needed to succeed in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. On top of a fully remote curriculum, CMU enables students to mix in traditional coursework for a hybrid learning experience.

The degree plan totals 39 credits and includes nine core classes. Core topics include public policy process, program analysis and evaluation, and administration and ethics in public service. Students examine the administrative design structures found in complex organizations that concern managerial planning and decision-making. They also develop key business skills relevant to personnel management and budgeting.

Unless degree candidates have adequate work experience, they need to complete an internship. The remaining credits funnel into guided electives, such as strategic leadership and grant writing. The MPA program ends with an applied research seminar. CMU provides on-campus networking opportunities through its national partners, including Pi Alpha Alpha, the public affairs and administration global honor society.

Admission criteria include a minimum 2.8 GPA and prerequisites in economics, statistics, and research methods. Candidates with GPAs below the threshold may apply for conditional enrollment. Application materials include a current resume, three recommendation letters, and a personal statement 2-3 pages in length.

Score
57.56
Graduation Rate
58%
37

Norwich University 

Northfield, VT

About this school

Norwich University is in Northfield, Vermont and serves 3,500 students every year. The institution delivers 12 graduate programs, including an online master of public administration. The Norwich curriculum offers flexible coursework and external training opportunities, preparing students to succeed as public servants and mission-oriented business leaders. Online classes span 11 weeks, and most candidates earn the MPA in 18 months. The university caps classroom sizes at 15 students.

The 39-credit curriculum allows students to customize the degree. On top of core classes in public policy foundations, research methods, and organizational resources and processes, students take coursework in one of nine concentrations. Concentrations include fiscal management, municipal governance, nonprofit management, public works and sustainability, and policy analysis and analytics.

Norwich is one of the only online MPA programs to operate a procurement and government contract management degree concentration. Distance learners in this track study the scope, processes, and implications of cross-sector partnerships at all levels of governance. Students finish graduate training by completing a written thesis and exit portfolio. The university requires candidates to complete a campus residency toward the end of the program. Graduates succeed in roles such as public works director, senior budget analyst, town manager, and litigation manager specialist.

Applicants need a minimum 2.75 GPA and must submit official transcripts, a resume, and a letter of intent. Norwich does not require GRE or GMAT scores. The university provides low tuition that ignores residency status.

Score
57.54
Graduation Rate
59%
38

Concordia University – Wisconsin 

Mequon, WI

About this school

Based in Mequon, Concordia University – Wisconsin enrolls 16,000 students in more than 100 academic programs. The catalog includes distance education opportunities like the online master of business administration in public administration. Through a comprehensive curriculum that suits seasoned public servants and new professionals, the CUW program empowers students to accomplish community initiatives. Graduates occupy such diverse positions as operations manager, health educator, education administrator, and public relation specialist.

Online classes span eight weeks, and candidates typically earn the MPA in under two years. Totaling 39 credits, the degree plan includes required coursework like managerial economics, applied statistic methods, and human resource management issues. Students also delve into management science and analytics, learning to enact data-supported program planning and project controls.

Distance learners take five classes in the public administration concentration, including project management, intergovernmental relations, and public program evaluation. Students also examine the roles of administrative agencies within the frameworks of the American government. The online MPA program offers week-long study abroad trips to Austria and China for candidates seeking hands-on experience with global NGOs.

To apply, prospective students need a minimum 3.0 GPA. Application materials include a current resume, a one-page personal essay, and two recommendation letters. CUW does not require standardized test scores. The university accepts up to six transfer credits from prior graduate-level coursework. Students can earn internship credits if they currently work in public service. In addition to affordable tuition rates, students benefit from ample scholarship opportunities.

Score
56.34
Graduation Rate
53%
39

Texas A & M International University 

Laredo, TX

About this school

Based in Laredo, Texas A&M International University supports more than 7,000 students. The academic catalog includes 75 traditional and distance education programs, including an online master of public administration. This 42-credit program helps mid-career professionals develop the advanced leadership and policy analysis skills needed to occupy managerial positions in the public and nonprofit sectors. Due to its location near the South Texas border, the school emphasizes cross-cultural perspectives, enabling candidates to lead diverse teams in an increasingly globalized society.

Degree candidates take 11 required courses, including program evaluation, administrative law, organization theory, and communication for public administrators. Students examine the role of ethics in government and how to use ethical models in strategic decision-making processes. They also train in public policy development and implement agendas, budgets, evaluation programs, and termination decisions.

The MPA consists of three electives, which students can use to pursue their academic interests. Alternatively, they may apply these credits toward a nonprofit leadership and management certificate. The program requires students with at least two years of public sector experience to complete a capstone project. Learners who do not possess adequate work experience complete an internship as their culminating requirement.

Prospective students need a minimum 3.0 GPA. TAIMU does not require GRE or GMAT scores. Applicants submit official transcripts, a resume, and a 300-word statement detailing career goals and a timetable for graduate studies.

Score
56.25
Graduation Rate
44%
40

Saint Mary's University of Minnesota 

Winona, MN

About this school

Founded as a men’s college in 1912, Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota now provides co-educational programming to 6,000 students every year. The institution operates 16 distance education programs powered by Blackboard, including an online master of arts in public administration. Through a broad-based curriculum, students develop the competencies needed to become dynamic nonprofit and public sector leaders. Distance learners may complete their training entirely online through asynchronous classes and graduate in under two years.

The degree plan totals 33 credits and focuses on the intersection between government agencies and nonprofits. Required classes include leading with effective communication, community engagement and partnerships, and critical and design thinking. In a strategic leadership course, students learn to analyze organizational culture and direct team activity toward designated goals. They also take an inquiry and data analysis course, developing the skills to conduct program evaluation and outcome-based approaches.

MPA candidates take advanced coursework with a government or nonprofit focus. They round out graduate training with a capstone project, synthesizing accumulated skills and knowledge to evaluate a topic associated with nonprofit and public administration.

The university offers flexible start dates every spring, summer, and fall. Unlike many online public administration master’s programs, Saint Mary’s does not require candidates to possess work experience. Entry requirements include a regionally accredited bachelor’s degree with a minimum 2.75 GPA. Candidates with GPAs below this threshold may apply for provisional admission. The university offers a low per-credit tuition price no matter where incoming students live.

Score
55.30
Graduation Rate
58%
41

Arkansas State University 

Jonesboro, AR

About this school

As the second-largest institution in the eponymous higher education system, Arkansas State University serves 22,000 students every year. The school delivers nearly 50 remote degree and certificate opportunities, including an online master of public administration, public management track. The A-State curriculum emphasizes a practitioner model of learning that prepares students to occupy high-ranking positions in law enforcement and other public sectors.

Totaling 36 credits, the degree plan consists of nine core classes, including public budgeting and finance, grant writing and administration, and human resource management. Students take a strategic leadership course, learning how to overcome challenges faced by first-time managers when dealing with employees, politicians, and citizens. They also delve into administrative ethics, covering the concepts and tools needed to make appropriate managerial decisions.

Distance learners complete five guided electives during the public management track, such as administrative behavior and public information management. A-State strongly encourages pre-service students to complete an internship. Training culminates with a capstone experience in which students complete a professional portfolio that showcases the knowledge and skills they gained throughout the program. Graduate students typically earn their credentials in 18 months.

MPA applicants need at least a 3.0 GPA. They submit official academic transcripts, three recommendation letters, and a statement of purpose. A-State accepts up to nine transfer credits and offers low, per-credit tuition and institutional aid.

Score
55.13
Graduation Rate
48%
42

University of Colorado Denver 

Denver, CO

About this school

Established in 1912, the University of Colorado Denver is one of the premier academic and research institutions in the state. Over 19,000 students enroll in comprehensive academic programs every year, including remote options like the online master of public administration. The CU Denver program grounds its mission in collaborative research and community engagement. Students gain the organizational leadership and policy development skills to succeed in government, nonprofit, and private sector careers.

The flexible MPA curriculum totals 36 credits. Students generally earn their credentials in two years, but they can take up to six. The degree plan includes seven core classes, including evidence-based decision-making, public budgeting and finance, and local government politics and policy.

Distance learners can align advanced coursework with their academic interests and career goals through diverse concentrations. They choose from six options, including emergency management and homeland security; environmental policy, management, and law; and nonprofit organizations. CU Denver also offers a gender-based violence concentration. Candidates round out their training with a client-based capstone project or thesis research and defense.

MPA applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA and GRE/GMAT/LSAT scores in the top 50th percentile. Admission materials comprise a personal essay, an up-to-date resume, and three recommendation letters. Online students benefit from affordable per-credit tuition rates and financial support.

Score
54.94
Graduation Rate
45%
43

Regent University 

Virginia Beach, VA

About this school

Regent University is based in Virginia Beach and enrolls more than 9,500 students in career-relevant academic programming. As a leader in distance education, Regent offers comprehensive certificate and degree options that include an online master of public administration with a concentration in general public administration. Through a 37- to 38-credit curriculum, the Regent program gives students the executive management skills needed to work as servant leaders who promote public interests.

Full-time students earn their MPA in two years by completing nine credits per semester. Distance learners who enroll part time take two courses each semester and graduate in three years. Online classes span eight weeks and operate an asynchronous structure facilitated by Blackboard.

The degree plan includes such required courses as economic principles, research methods, and public policy initiatives. Standard with most MPA programs, the program covers human resource and financial management practices. Students also examine the organizational structure of public and government organizations and how it influences political economy and personnel dynamics.

Unless they demonstrate relevant work history, candidates must complete an internship. The program ends with a capstone experience consisting of a comprehensive examination and portfolio assessment. In lieu of the generalist MPA, students can pursue one of two specialized degree tracks: public leadership and management or nonprofit and faith-based organizations. The admission process does not require GPA minimums or GRE/GMAT scores.

Score
53.97
Graduation Rate
61%
44

Sam Houston State University 

Huntsville, TX

About this school

Located in Huntsville, Texas, Sam Houston State University was founded in 1879, making it the third-oldest higher education institution in the state. Distance learners can pick from over 100 certificate and degree options, including an online master of public administration with a concentration in disaster and emergency management.

The 36-credit MPH prepares students for careers as city managers, nonprofit directors, and homeland security specialists. SHSU operates three entry dates each year. Distance learners may complete the entire program through asynchronous classes powered by Blackboard. They can also engage in hybrid learning by taking flexible courses on campus.

SHSU caps class sizes at 20 students to promote academic collaboration and relationship building within the cohort. The degree plan comprises required classes like public administration dynamics, program evaluation, and organizational theory and behavior. Learners examine public budgetary processes and related financial management practices. They also study public sector management with respect to political contexts, networking, employee performance, and public participation.

As part of the disaster and emergency management concentration, students take advanced coursework in global disaster politics and disaster resilience. They delve into emergency management policy, learning how resource allocation and intergovernmental relations affect

decision-making. With the director’s approval, candidates may pursue another online MPA program concentration.

Admission criteria include a bachelor’s degree earned with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants with unsatisfactory GPAs must submit GRE/GMAT scores. Applicants submit a statement of interest, two recommendation letters, a resume or CV, and a scholarly writing sample.

Score
53.95
Graduation Rate
51%
45

Marywood University 

Scranton, PA

About this school

Based in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Marywood University was founded in 1915 as a women’s academy. Today, the institution provides diverse co-educational programming, including an online master of public administration. With a curriculum that aligns with standards established by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration, the Marywood program prepares students to succeed in the complex public affairs field. Distance learners may enroll part time or full time, taking fully asynchronous classes through Moodle.

Marywood University, located in Northeast Pennsylvania on the border of the Pocono Mountains, is a comprehensive, independent, private institution that was founded in 1915. The institution provides diverse co-educational programming, including an  online master of public administration . With a curriculum that aligns with standards established by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration, the Marywood program prepares students to succeed in the complex public affairs field. Distance learners may enroll part-time or full-time and take fully asynchronous classes through Moodle.

The degree plan totals 30 credits and divides into core coursework, guided electives, and a capstone project. Required classes consist of public policy analysis, human resource management, and public budgeting and finance. Through a research methods course, students learn to design experiments, interpret case studies, and conduct specialized data collection procedures.

The remaining credits funnel into guided electives. In lieu of a general course of study, learners who pursue their master’s degree in public administration online can opt for a specialization. Specializations include nonprofit management and homeland security/emergency management. Training ends with a capstone project in which students research a pertinent public affairs challenge and recommend possible solutions. Although MPA candidates do not need to complete internships, they can seek guidance and placement assistance with the department.

The university operates a free and open application process that does not require students to hold a minimum GPA or submit standardized test scores. Admission materials include a 500-word personal statement, a resume or CV, and two recommendation letters. All distance learners enjoy an affordable tuition rate and financial aid opportunities.

Score
53.69
Graduation Rate
69%
46

California Baptist University 

Riverside, CA

About this school

California Baptist University enrolled its first class of 150 students in 1950. Today, the institution supports more than 10,500 learners and provides distance education programs through Blackboard. Academic offerings include an online master of public administration that trains future public servants and nonprofit professionals to address complex societal needs. The degree plan totals 36 credits, which distance learners typically complete in 16 months.

In addition to a foundation in public policy and political processes, the online MPA program helps students develop leadership and team-building skills. Core classes include public finance and budgeting, which teaches candidates resource allocation strategies for controlling operations and facilitating growth. Students also examine the ethical and legal issues facing public administrators and how to navigate these challenges using data-supported best practices.

Additional classes consist of organizational theory and conflict resolution/labor negotiations. Degree candidates pick from three capstone options depending on their goals. Students who want to enroll in a doctoral program can complete thesis research and defense. Mid-career public sector professionals may opt for an applied capstone project, gaining the opportunity for managerial experience and networking opportunities. MPA students can also sit for a comprehensive exam as their culminating experience.

CBU requires applicants to possess a minimum 2.5 GPA. Prospective students with a 2.75 GPA or higher may apply for unconditional admission. While the university does not maintain prerequisite requirements, MPA candidates should demonstrate adequate baccalaureate preparation and five years of relevant work experience. All distance learners pay the same affordable tuition rate regardless of residency.

Score
53.63
Graduation Rate
59%
47

The University of Texas at Tyler 

Tyler, TX

About this school

The University of Texas at Tyler was established in 1971 as a component institution of the UT System. The school operates over 90 academic programs, which include remote options like the online master of public administration. Through a curriculum that emphasizes theoretical, analytical, and practical competencies, students train to become responsible public leaders. Distance learners can earn their credentials in two years by taking Blackboard-powered classes.

The 36-credit degree plan includes required classes in administrative ethics, strategic human resources management, and information systems in public administration. Students also study public budgeting and finance, learning to garner and allocate limited public resources through contemporary evaluation methods. The course emphasizes the manager’s responsibilities to control organizational budgets and maintain fiscal accountability.

As one of the best online MPA programs, UT Tyler offers five concentrations: general administration, criminal justice, urban and regional planning, research and evaluation, and healthcare administration. The healthcare administration track includes such advanced coursework as program evaluation and public health administration. Working healthcare professionals may opt for the executive degree plan, which offers more specialized coursework and a hybrid cohort program structure.

Application requirements include a minimum 3.0 GPA and at least three years of full-time work experience in a public, nonprofit, or health services position. Prospective students submit a resume, a 300-word letter of interest, and three recommendation letters. Healthcare administration candidates undergo an on-campus interview with faculty and the program director. The university offers affordable tuition rates based on residency status.

Score
53.42
Graduation Rate
42%
48

University of North Dakota 

Grand Forks, ND

About this school

Founded in 1886, the University of North Dakota is the oldest higher education institution in the state. The academic catalog includes more than 220 fields of study, including remote graduate programs like the online master of public administration. The UND MPA trains students to tackle complex policy and management issues in the public sector. Distance learners may earn their credentials entirely through asynchronous classes powered by Blackboard. The university also facilitates a hybrid learning structure that combines online learning with flexible classes at the Grand Forks campus.

Totaling 34-36 credits, the curriculum includes such core classes as research methods, public administration foundations, and political and public policy analysis. The degree plan also includes an internship requirement. Distance learners with at least one year of relevant administrative experience may apply for an internship exemption. Degree candidates can align graduate training with career objectives through guided electives and concentrations. They can choose from general, health administration, and social entrepreneurship tracks.

To apply, prospective students need at last a 2.75 GPA and adequate standardized test scores. The program director may waive the GRE/GMAT requirements based on a candidate’s academic and professional history. On top of a low per-credit tuition rate, online students enjoy financial support, such as need-based grants, departmental scholarships, graduate assistantships, and active-military and veterans benefits.

Score
53.33
Graduation Rate
54%
49

San Francisco State University 

San Francisco, CA

About this school

San Francisco State University enrolls approximately 30,000 students in 200 academic programs annually. In addition to traditional degrees and certificates, the school delivers distance education opportunities that include an online master of public administration. Through a 39- to 42-credit curriculum, students learn to engage with complex policy processes and lead diverse workforces in public governance. The SF State program targets working professionals, delivering a part-time schedule and hybrid learning structure that allows students to earn their credentials in seven semesters.

The degree plan includes core classes like applied data analysis, policy process and civic engagement, and research design and consumption. Learners gain fundamental business skills in managing human capital and organizational design. They also train in program and service delivery, covering contractor perspectives and managerial responsibilities.

SF State offers seven concentrations, including public policy, public service management, urban administration, gerontological administration, and criminal justice administration. Students can also opt for an environmentalist track, taking advanced coursework in land-use planning and geography of water resources. The MPA program includes an internship requirement, which distance learners may fulfill through prior or current work experience.

Applicants submit a current resume, two recommendation letters, and a four-page statement of purpose detailing professional interests and goals. The university offers low tuition rates based on residency status. All students can apply for financial aid.

Score
53.28
Graduation Rate
54%
50

Lindenwood University 

St. Charles, MO

About this school

Based in St. Charles, Missouri, Lindenwood University is one of the fastest-growing higher education institutions in the Midwest. The school enrolls nearly 9,000 students in comprehensive academic programming. Programs include an online master of public administration that prepares students to strengthen their communities as leaders and organizers. Graduates pursue careers in government agencies, nonprofit organizations, policy think tanks, and international NGOs.

The curriculum totals 36 credits. Distance learners may graduate in 16 months by taking two courses per semester. Required coursework consists of program implementation and evaluation, public finance and taxation, and governmental budgeting. Students examine the relationship between businesses and government bodies, emphasizing regulatory and economic development principles.

Candidates can personalize their degree with diverse electives, such as policy and budgetary forecasting, international business operations, and marketing principles and issues. Students can pursue a nonprofit administration emphasis by taking classes in grant writing, organizational evaluation, and human resource management. Standard to most online MPA programs, the Lindenwood degree ends with a capstone course during which learners use advanced research and information technology methods to research a major issue in the public and nonprofit sectors.

Although Lindenwood does not establish concrete enrollment standards, an applicant’s academic history, professional experience, and GRE/GMAT performance affect admission decisions. Prospective students submit official transcripts, an up-to-date resume, and a personal statement explaining why they want to pursue a public administration degree. The university supports distance learners with low tuition rates and ample award opportunities.

Score
53.24
Graduation Rate
50%
85

Pennsylvania State University – World Campus 

University Park, PA

About this school

Penn State World Campus, the distance education wing of Pennsylvania State University, enrolls over 14,000 students in a full array of totally online undergraduate and graduate degrees. The university’s offerings included an online MPA for students seeking to advance administrative jobs in the public sector.

The master’s in public administration online curriculum consists of 36 credit hours, including 18 credits of core courses, 15 credits of electives, and a three-credit master’s project. The program blends practical and theoretical approaches to the field, with online college courses in topics such as governmental fiscal decision–making, public organizations and management, policy analysis, and human resources. Elective courses cover topics such as homeland security, financial management, and state–local government and administration.

Additionally, students who do not already have two years of relevant professional experience must complete a three-credit (300 hour) internship, gaining valuable field experience. Graduates of the online MPA program emerge prepared for public administration jobs such as criminal justice administrator, political campaign worker, nonprofit administrator, and auditor.

Applicants to the MPA degree online program must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution, or a postsecondary degree that is deemed comparable. Applicants must submit official transcripts, references, a resume and personal statement, and GRE or GMAT scores if their GPA is under 3.0.

Score
41.58
Graduation Rate
28%
👏

End of list, bravo!

What is an MPA Degree?

An MPA degree prepares students to assume leadership positions and help serve public interests. In addition to finances, MPA programs emphasize the importance of ethics and values. Professionals at government agencies and nonprofits look at potential plans in terms of advancing equality, fairness, and democracy and improving lives.

An MPA – an interdisciplinary degree – borrows from several fields outside of the business area. Online MPA programs focus on how government and nonprofits operate, including how agencies deal with public policy and proposed budgets. The degree track teaches participants leadership, management, and analytical skills and prepares students to handle issues that affect all levels of the public.

MPA programs can vary widely between schools. However, online public administration master’s programs typically combine business administration courses in finance, human resources, strategy, and management education with public policy courses covering government or nonprofit organization issues and public policy issues. Online master’s in public policy and administration programs also cover public administration, political and legal processes, budgeting and finance, managerial economics, quantitative methods, and ethics.

MPA students learn how to create budgets; obtain public funding; evaluate program effectiveness; perform research and statistical analysis; and formulate, implement, and evaluate policy. Some programs also cover citizen rights and administrative constitutional law.

Many public administration master’s degree programs allow students to specialize in areas and tailor their degrees to match their professional interests. Additionally, executive MPA programs often award credits based on work experience. Students can complete a typical MPA program in two years, although some of the best MPA degrees take less time.

Online Master’s in Public Administration Programs

A master’s degree in public administration prepares students for management or policy positions within the nonprofit or public sector. Choosing to study online versus on campus often boils down to cost and convenience. Online programs are generally more affordable, and students can avoid costs related to commuting to campus, room and board, and facility use fees. Online learning also provides working professionals more flexibility to study and complete assignments around their work schedules.

Two main types of delivery methods for online programs exist: synchronous and asynchronous. Both formats allow students to study remotely, but synchronous programs require participants to login to virtual classrooms at a designated time. In asynchronous programs, teachers post required readings and assignments that learners must complete within a given timeframe (usually within about a week). Additionally, no matter which format they choose, students may need to complete lab hours or sit for proctored exams.

Self-directed and organized students achieve often find success in distance programs. While learning online offers increased convenience, students still need to complete several hours of coursework each week and strong time management skills are crucial.

Choosing an Online Public Administration Graduate Degree Program

Given the variety of online programs available, you may feel overwhelmed when trying to pick the right one. Key factors to consider may include cost, program length, on-campus requirements, school location, and whether the school is private or public. For instance, in-state, public schools tend to be less expensive than out-of-state or private schools. The program you choose can have a significant impact on your future career, so give yourself ample time to make this important decision.

Program Cost:
Education is an investment, so it is important to ensure that your chosen program provides the foundation you need to achieve your career goals. Many factors can impact a program’s overall cost, such as the number of required credits and your enrollment status.
Transfer Policies:
Students with previously earned, applicable credits should explore programs with generous transfer policies. By transferring credits into a master’s program, you can potentially skip some courses and reduce your tuition costs. Transferring credits may also allow you to graduate sooner.
School Size and Type:
Students interested in online programs may not consider class size an especially important factor. However, whether a school is public or private may be important; this can significantly affect tuition. In general, public schools are less expensive than private schools.
Program Length:
Since many online programs charge per credit, the number of credits required to graduate impacts your total tuition cost. When researching program length, consider whether you plan to attend full time or part time. The number of credits you plan to take per term impacts how long it will take you to graduate.
On-Campus Requirements:
Even if you plan to take all courses online, some programs feature on-campus requirements, such as mandatory seminars or proctored exams. Online students sometimes face difficulty meeting these requirements, especially if their campus is far away. Before enrolling, speak with a program advisor to come up with a plan for meeting a program’s requirements.
Thesis, Fellowship, and Work Requirements:
These requirements add to your course load and can impact your graduation date. Also, as an online student, you may not enjoy as many direct resources or as much faculty help while completing these requirements. Work with your program advisor early in your program to come up with a strategy to carry out these requirements.

Accreditation for Online Public Administration Master’s Degrees

The Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA) — a nonprofit that sets the global standard in public service education — works to ensure excellence in education and training for the field. The organization also promotes the ideals of public service.

NASPAA’s Commission on Peer Review and Accreditation serves as a specialized accrediting organization for master’s degree programs in public affairs, administration, and policy. The Council on Higher Education recognizes the organization as a global accreditor.

NASPAA accreditation is a voluntary review process where a program undergoes a rigorous assessment, which determines that it holds a long-term commitment to providing students with the best public service education. NASPAA accreditation verifies that a degree meets the standards of the public service education field. Employers may prefer to hire candidates who hold a degree from an NASPAA-accredited program.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Master’s Degree in Public Administration?

The average master’s in public administration program requires students to complete 45 credits and takes about two years to complete. Program length can depend on how many credits you complete per term, whether you can transfer previously earned credits, and whether your program awards credit based on previous work and life experiences. Determining whether you can reduce the number of credits you need to earn is important because many online programs charge by the credit.

Whether a program requires work experience or an internship can also impact your graduation timeline. If you have many non-academic responsibilities, it may take longer to complete field experiences. Be sure to verify all program requirements before you enroll and stay in touch with your academic advisor remain on track.

Public Administration Concentrations

Students who earn a master’s degree in public administration online build important leadership and planning skills, and they can add to these proficiencies by choosing a concentration. A variety of concentrations exist, depending on the program, including city management, nonprofit management, and international relations. The concentration a learner chooses should support their career aspirations. The table below details a few common concentrations in this field.

City Management
This concentration teaches students the skills needed to serve as a successful liaison between city governments and the public. Careers related to this concentration often involve implementing community policies and gathering public feedback. Professionals often streamline processes to help governments operate more efficiently.
This concentration prepares you for these careers:
  • City Manager
  • Office Manager
  • Community Development Director
  • Operations Manager
Nonprofit Management
The nonprofit sector is one of the country’s largest workforce segment. Students who want to use their MPA to make a difference in the community or for a charitable cause typically explore this sector. Nonprofits present different challenges, including unreliable funds and increased scrutiny about spending funds obtained from donors and governing agencies. This concentration prepares students to consider these issues while making key financial and organizational decisions.
This concentration prepares you for these careers:
  • Social and Community Service Manager
  • Fundraising Manager
  • Health Services Manager
Policy Analysis
This concentration is the most popular choice for students interested in shaping and improving public policy. Courses in this concentration emphasize economics, government regulations, and management. The goal is to teach students the skills needed to analyze current policies, budgets, and processes in order to develop plans and determine necessary changes.
This concentration prepares you for these careers:
  • Program analyst
  • Policy Analyst
  • Data Analyst
  • Business Analyst
International Relations
This concentration builds on the core framework of an MPA by applying ideas to a global stage. Courses in this concentration teach intercultural communication skills, national security, principles of diplomacy, and project management. Students learn to work respectfully with members of other nations on issues such as human rights, trade, security, and globalization.
This concentration prepares you for these careers:
  • Diplomat
  • Foreign Service Officer
  • Economist
  • CIA Agent
  • Foreign Affairs Specialist
Public Finance Administration
This concentration teaches students about the integral role the economy and finance play in policy decisions. Courses in this concentration focus on research and theories in areas including economics, public budgeting, and finance and capital budgeting. In general, participants learn how to analyze financial concerns from a public policy perspective and make strategic decisions.
This concentration prepares you for these careers:
  • Economist
  • Financial Manager
  • County Executive
  • Accountant
  • Financial Analyst

Courses in an Online Master’s in Public Administration Program

Organizational Leadership:
This course offers a comprehensive overview of leadership theories, teaching students the skills they need to lead teams and organizations. Learners delve into topics such as emotional intelligence and the Machiavelli scale. These tools help participants better understand and develop their own leadership skills and identify key traits in workers to build efficient teams.
Nonprofit Management and Finance:
This course builds on basic accounting skills and examines trends and best practices in the nonprofit sector. Nonprofits face distinct challenges related to regulations and uncertain funding, which often increases the complexity of budgetary decisions. Students also learn how to keep an organization’s values and policy commitments in mind while making key management and financial decisions.
Economics:
This class covers the principles of microeconomics and macroeconomics. Students gain a foundational knowledge of how a city or nation’s economy works. Coursework also teaches students how to identify economic trends and how they can apply their management knowledge to navigate a variety of economic situations.
Public Financial Management:
This course teaches the basic skills required to read and manage a budget. Students also learn the role a government’s values play in the budget process. This is important because financial decisions in a public administration role can have direct political or societal implications. Faculty teach learners how to analyze the impact their decisions may have and make strategic decisions that do not compromise values or policies.
International Politics:
This class provides a comprehensive overview of the history and theories of international politics. Coursework emphasizes the importance of understanding different models of government and examines the global economy. Students also learn how to navigate the differences in cultures and laws that arise in international politics.

MPA vs. MPP

Both MPA and MPP (Master’s in Public Policy) programs teach students about global concepts from economic, social, and political perspectives. However, there are some differences between these types of programs.

The best online MPA programs often require more coursework in administration, leadership, and management, while MPP programs typically feature more classes related to statistics, economics, and policy research and analysis. MPA programs focus on managing and motivating groups and organizations and implementation techniques, whereas MPP programs focus on policy research and evaluation. In some cases, courses and specializations in MPA and MPP programs overlap.

MPP programs prepare students to work as policy analysts who evaluate problems, interpret data, and take action. Students learn about statistical analysis, data management, research methods, statistical and economic cost-benefit analyses, and financial modeling. These programs also emphasize analyzing and solving policy-related issues. Graduates of these programs often find jobs related to advocacy, consulting, health policy, and environmental policy.

In contrast, MPA programs prepare learners to manage people, projects, and money in an array of organizations, including government organizations, nonprofits, NGOs, and social enterprises. Students in MPA programs learn to improve managerial processes in the public sector; create and implement effective public policy; manage people, resources, and public finances; and deal with ethics and accountability. They also go over various organizational, human resource, and budgetary challenges.

If a master’s in public policy seems a better fit for you, visit our Online MPP programs ranking.

Public Service Leaders: MBA vs. MPA

Aspiring public service leaders often need to decide whether to follow an MPA or MBA pathway. Both MPA and MBA programs emphasize operations management, organizational management, and leadership. Both degrees also promote effectiveness, efficiency, and improving operations, and students engage in coursework related to human resource management, leadership, and policy analysis.

However, individuals with a passion for public service often discover their goals and values align more with an MPA program due to the focus on the public and nonprofit sectors. An MPA degree track may better prepare professionals to apply for and receive nonprofit funding. In contrast, an MBA program better prepares individuals for middle- to upper-management positions in the private sector.

Unlike MBA programs, MPA programs focus on how government and nonprofits operate, teaching students how to work with proposed budgets, write public policy, and obtain public funding for programs and initiatives. MPA programs may also include coursework related to creating grants and public policy documents.

Unlike MBA programs, MPA programs are often located outside of a college’s business school or business department. Instead, these programs may be associated with a political science department, a public policy department, or a law school.

MBA programs provide a strong foundation in basic management skills and include core business courses in areas such as marketing, finance, economics, and human resources management. MBA students can often specialize in a specific area. Courses teach vital business principles and practices and focus on skills such as strategic thinking, business expertise, financial analysis, and consumers. MPA programs cover subjects such as management, community development, budget processing, urban planning, public policy, sociology, government, administrative law, and public financing.

Students with more of an interest in earning an MBA can read about the best online MBA programs.

The Advantages of a Master’s Degree in Public Administration

A bachelor’s degree in public administration qualifies you for entry-level positions, such as public relations specialists, who earned a median salary of $59,300 in 2017. However, many jobs in public administration prefer or require a master’s degree and 2-3 years of experience. Consider continuing your education to boost your eligibility for advancement.

With a master’s degree you can work in a variety of positions, including city planner, nonprofit manager, and public health consultant. Graduates can also work as budget analysts, who earned a median salary of $75,240 in 2017. These positions often work with the public and government officials to analyze and modify policies or processes.

Finally, if you hold an interest in research or teaching public administration, consider pursuing a doctorate. Each degree level offers a variety of career opportunities and earning potentials. Carefully look into all your options to determine which degree puts you in the best position to achieve your goals.

Average Salary by Degree Level

Degree Level Average Salary
Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration $61,000
Master’s Degree in Public Administration $65,000

Source: PayScale

Master’s Degree in Public Administration Salary Information

The most common careers for graduates with a master’s in public administration can be found in the public and nonprofit sectors. These jobs typically require workers to coordinate information between the public and government officials, making interpersonal skills and patience important characteristics. To achieve success, professionals should also possess strong organizational skills and know how to find creative solutions to solve complex problems. Most importantly, individuals should possess a passion for working with the public to make meaningful societal changes.

Urban Planner
These professionals work with city officials, developers, and the public to develop projects and policies for land use. Urban planners also ensure projects comply with zoning rules and environmental regulations. A master’s degree is typically required for this position. Many individuals also have an academic background in economics, geography, environmental design, or political science.
Salary based on experience:
  • Entry Level: $50,439
  • Mid-Career: $61,272
  • Experienced: $71,549
  • Late Career: $83,123
Political Scientist
These individuals research national politics, international relations, comparative politics, and political theories. They also use data to forecast political, economic, and social trends to develop theories and anticipate the effects of policies on people and businesses. A master’s degree is required for this position, but many professionals also hold a doctorate.
Salary based on experience:
  • Entry Level: $58,000
  • Mid-Career: $65,000
  • Experienced: $71,000
  • Late Career: $80,000
City Manager
A city manager oversees the department heads and administrative staff of a municipal government. They serve as a liaison between elected officials and the public. They attend council meetings to share information on policies and gather public feedback. This position requires at least a bachelor’s degree, although many city managers possess a master’s and several years of experience.
Salary based on experience:
  • Entry Level: $71,842
  • Mid-Career: $84,814
  • Experienced: $99,709
  • Late Career: $128,953
Top Executive
This role includes job titles such as chief executive officer, marketing director, and other high-level management positions. These professionals maintain an organization’s profitability through strategic financial and budgetary decisions. A bachelor’s degree is the minimum education requirement, but some positions may require a master’s degree in public administration, business, or law.
Salary based on experience:
  • Entry Level: $111,651
  • Mid-Career: $136,860
  • Experienced: $164,436
  • Late Career: $191,028
Training and Development Manager
These managers develop and implement training programs for organizational workforces. The theories and practices of training change over time so managers must also evaluate programs for continued effectiveness and relevance. Many positions in this area only require a bachelor’s degree, but some positions require a master’s degree.
Salary based on experience:
  • Entry Level: $62,331
  • Mid-Career: $73,638
  • Experienced: $83,496
  • Late Career: $84,313

Source: PayScale

Public Administrator Membership Associations

Professional organizations allow industry professionals and students to network and stay current on the latest trends. Some organizations also play a role in programmatic accreditation, helping make sure schools offer students an education based on industry standards. Obtaining membership in an industry-related association can help you further your education and advance your career.

American Political Science Association
Founded in 1903, APSA serves more than 12,000 members who work in various specialties within political science. This organization strives to create a better understanding of politics, democracy, and citizenship. APSA offers educational and networking opportunities for members and advocates for the profession’s growth.
National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration
An association of universities, NASPAA is the top accrediting agency for the public administration sector. The association promotes public service and ensures quality training and education for public service students. The group connects educational leaders through conferences and meetings and publishes a newsletter with industry news.
American Society for Public Administration
ASPA started in 1939 with a mission to advocate for the public administration sector. The organization also ensures that its members adhere to certain values related to accountability, professionalism, ethics, and social equity. Through a publication and annual conference, ASPA members gain access to valuable networking opportunities and the latest industry information.
Association for Public Policy Analysis & Management
Since 1978, APPAM has worked to improve public policy and management through research and education. The group shares research findings in its publication and hosts an annual research conference where members can collaborate and exchange ideas.
American Public Works Association
Open to all professionals in the public works industry, APWA offers members continuing education classes and certification. The association also holds two major conferences where members can network and learn about current research, trends, and challenges facing the industry.

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