Best Online MPA Programs

Reese LopezAlison PlautTBS Rankings Team
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Updated October 24, 2023
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To find the best online MPA programs, consider your schedule, budget, desired career, and salary. Explore MPA programs and specialities here.

Are you ready to discover your college program?

Pursuing a master of public administration (MPA) degree can launch your career in public administration and prepare you for leadership or administrative roles. It can also give you the tools and understanding to positively impact society.

If you’re passionate about social services, nonprofit administration, urban development, healthcare, or government — an MPA can be a career launchpad.

Our methodology uses a ranking system with multiple data indicators, like affordability and academic quality, to help you select the best public administration degrees objectively.

Featured Online MPA Programs

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Best Online Master’s in Public Administration Programs

Note: The school and/or program descriptions below were drafted using natural language generation technology and have been edited for clarity and accuracy. The data is primarily sourced from government databases such as IPEDS – see sources section for more details.

#1 Best Online MPA Programs

Sul Ross State University

  • Location-markerAlpine, TX
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$6,547
  • Out-of-state$18,817
  • Retention Rate52%
  • Acceptance Rate81%
  • Students Enrolled2,345
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment74%
  • AccreditationYes
#2 Best Online MPA Programs

Purdue University Global

  • Location-markerWest Lafayette, IN
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$10,080
  • Out-of-state$13,356
  • Retention Rate33%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled43,927
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment100%
  • AccreditationYes
#3 Best Online MPA Programs

Rutgers University-Newark

  • Location-markerNewark, NJ
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$12,230
  • Out-of-state$29,012
  • Retention Rate87%
  • Acceptance Rate74%
  • Students Enrolled13,231
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment23%
  • AccreditationYes
#4 Best Online MPA Programs

American Public University

  • Location-markerCharles Town, WV
  • 4 year
  • Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$6,840
  • Out-of-state$6,840
  • Retention Rate98%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled50,047
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment0%
  • AccreditationYes
#5 Best Online MPA Programs

Walden University

  • Location-markerMinneapolis, MN
  • 4 year
  • Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$10,139
  • Out-of-state$10,139
  • Retention Rate33%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled49,695
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment0%
  • AccreditationYes

Why Get an MPA Degree Online?

  • MPA students build advanced knowledge in administrative and management practices.
  • Online college is often a more affordable option than in-person master’s degree programs.
  • An MPA applies to a variety of fields like government services, healthcare, and nonprofit management.
  • A master’s degree can expand your career options and raise your salary potential.
  • Online programs offer flexible formats that make balancing work, life, and school easier.

How Much Do MPA Grads Make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), all public policy and social services professionals earned a median salary of $50,000.

With an MPA degree, you could qualify for advanced administrative and management careers. Median salaries for these careers range from $74,000 to $126,230, depending on the career path and your level of experience.

7 Popular Public Administration Jobs
JobMedian Annual SalaryJob Growth Rate (2022-2032)
Administrative Services and Facilities Managers$101,8705%
Human Resources Managers$130,0005%
Medical and Health Services Managers$104,83028%
Postsecondary Education Administrators$99,9404%
Social and Community Service Managers$74,2409%
Top Executives$98,9806%
Urban and Regional Planners$79,5404%
Source: BLS

Courses in Online MPA Programs

An online MPA program builds specialized knowledge in the operation and management of public institutions and organizations. You’ll study topics like organizational behavior, public policy, and finance.

Here are some sample classes you might take in an online MPA program.

Fundamentals of Public Administration

In an introductory public administration class, you’ll be introduced to the fundamental practices and theories. You’ll receive a broad overview of the field, including its relationship to legal and political structures.

This class also covers frameworks for understanding public institutes and their relationships with communities and individuals.

Organizational Theory and Behavior

Public administration centers on the operation of large, complex institutions. This class examines the organizational dynamics at play in various forms of bureaucracy.

You’ll explore topics like organizational behavior styles and managerial processes. The class may also highlight the factors that affect interpersonal and group behavior.

Public Financial Management

This class focuses on the role of finance and budgeting in public organizations. You’ll explore financial practices in government agencies and nonprofits, including how budgets determine organizational priorities and affect public policy.

Other common class topics may include tax administration, cost-benefit analysis, and debt financing.

Online MPA Specializations

Online MPA programs usually offer specializations to help you build advanced knowledge in a specific area of public administration.

Also known as concentrations or tracks, specializations help you customize your education to fit your professional interests and career goals.

Nonprofit Management

This concentration explores the history and development of the nonprofit sector and its economic, social, and legislative impact. Other common course topics include philanthropy, fundraising, and the effects of public policy on nonprofit organizations.

Public Policy

Candidates specializing in public policy focus on the role of policy and legislation in shaping public life and institutions. Classes may focus on topics like the legislative process, administrative law, and environmental and climate policy.

Global Health

This specialization highlights the application of public policy to global and public healthcare systems, working toward more equitable outcomes for global populations. Common classes may include global health initiatives, demography and global health, and grant writing and fundraising.

How to Choose an Online MPA Program: 4 Tips

If you’re ready to advance with an online MPA program, consider the following tips to choose the best program for your career goals.

  1. 1

    Define Your Goals

    To pick the right program, you’ll need to know what you want to do with your degree. For example, if you want to pursue a career in nonprofit management, you’ll want to look for an MPA program that offers that specialization.

    If you’re not sure what you’d like to do after graduation, research possible career paths, talk to other professionals, or take an internship to clarify your career goals.

  2. 2

    Choose Your Specialty

    Not all public administration programs offer the same specialties. You’ll want to select a college that offers your target specialization.

    While many specializations could be applied to similar careers, choosing the right specialization that blends your interests, strengths, and future career goals can help set you up for success.

  3. 3

    Determine Your Budget

    Student loans can be a huge burden after graduation, especially if you’re already paying off your undergraduate education.

    A college with high tuition doesn’t equate to a better job after graduation. Instead, choose a program that meets your budget or provides scholarship opportunities. Online MPA programs are a great choice as they’re often more affordable.

  4. 4

    Compare Online Programs

    When choosing an online MPA, consider course offerings, alumni networks, graduation rates, professor reviews, and your affinity for the college.

    You should also consider whether you prefer a synchronous or asynchronous program and whether you’d like to attend some classes in a hybrid format or prefer fully online programs.

Frequently Asked Questions About Online MPA Programs

Featured Online MPA Programs

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