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Online MPA Programs

Public administration focuses on the management and operations of public institutions, including government agencies, nonprofits, and healthcare organizations. An online master's in public administration gives students the skills and knowledge to pursue advanced management careers in this field.

All master's in public administration programs require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college. Most do not call for a specific academic background. Once enrolled, learners study topics like public policy, organizational management, and public finance.

Our guide to online master's in public administration degrees includes information on tuition rates, typical classes, and professional specialization options.

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Questions About Public Administration Degrees


How long does it take to get a public administration degree?

Degree-completion times vary among schools and programs. However, full-time learners can typically complete master's degrees in two years.

What is a public administration salary?

Public administration salaries vary widely by industry. For example, social and community services managers earn a median $74,000 annually. Public relations and fundraising managers earn $119,860.

How much does a master's degree increase your salary?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports bachelor's degree-holders earn a median weekly salary of $1,305, while master's degree-holders earn $1,545.

Why Get a Master's Degree in Public Administration?

An online master's in public administration builds advanced knowledge in administrative and management practices. The degree applies to a variety of fields, including government services, healthcare, and nonprofit management. Earning a master's degree can help candidates increase their career options and salary potential.

Public administration graduates can move into many different management roles that feature above-average salaries. For example, administrative services managers at government agencies earn a median $99,290 annually.

Many colleges let students earn their master's in public administration online. These programs cater to working professionals, using flexible formats that make it easier to balance work and school obligations.

Featured Online Public Administration Programs


The Best Online Master's in Public Administration Programs

#1

Northwestern University

School Information
Location Evanston, Illinois
Admission Rate 9%
Graduation Rate 94%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 2% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Located in Evanston, Illinois, Northwestern University enrolls master's students in its top-ranked online public administration program. The master's in public policy and administration program encourages career training throughout its curriculum, preparing graduates for leadership positions. A master's degree can also train candidates for roles in new industries.

The master's curriculum emphasizes both practical and theoretical approaches to public administration. Learners often choose a specialized concentration, which can help them stand out in a competitive job market. Applicants with a background in public administration typically meet the admission requirements.

Online enrollees add to their resume by pursuing internship opportunities at approved locations in their local area. Graduate students also build professional connections by attending networking events.

Northwestern University at a Glance:

Type of School: Private, not-for-profit, four-year

Admission Rate: 9%

Total Online Master's Programs: 4

Program Name: Master's in public policy and administration

Graduate Tuition In State: $56,067

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $56,067

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#2

University of Southern California

School Information
Location Los Angeles, California
Admission Rate 11%
Graduation Rate 92%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 17% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Based in Los Angeles, the University of Southern California hosts a top-rated online master of public administration program. The master's program strengthens industry-specific skills, preparing graduates for leadership responsibilities. After completing a master's degree, candidates often advance in their current field or pursue new opportunities.

The master's curriculum examines theoretical and practical perspectives on public administration. Learners focus the program with electives or a concentration. Applicants without a background in public administration may need to complete prerequisite courses before enrolling in the master's program.

Online enrollees participate in internship programs at approved locations in their local area. The program encourages graduate students to attend networking events to expand their professional connections.

University of Southern California at a Glance:

Type of School: Private, not-for-profit, four-year

Admission Rate: 11%

Total Online Master's Programs: 55

Program Name: Master of public administration

Graduate Tuition In State: $46,272

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $46,272

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#3

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

School Information
Location Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Admission Rate 23%
Graduation Rate 91%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 12% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The online MPA program, offered by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, ranks as a top public administration program. Graduates train for leadership roles in the field while earning their degree from the MPA program. With a master's degree, candidates often advance their current career or more into new career paths.

The master's curriculum examines theoretical and practical perspectives on public administration. Learners take electives and other specialized courses to gain career-specific training. The master's program recommends a background in public administration for those applying to the program.

Online enrollees add to their resume by pursuing internship opportunities at approved locations in their local area. The program encourages graduate students to participate in hands-on experiences and networking events to grow their professional connections.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill at a Glance:

Type of School: Public, four-year

Admission Rate: 23%

Total Online Master's Programs: 14

Program Name: Online MPA

Graduate Tuition In State: $10,552

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $28,278

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#4

University of Central Florida

School Information
Location Orlando, Florida
Admission Rate 44%
Graduation Rate 72%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 59% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Graduate students seeking an online public administration degree can enroll in the master's program at the University of Central Florida, located in Orlando. The master of public administration program builds specialized skills for leadership roles in the public administration field and related industries. A master's degree can also prepare candidates for opportunities in new fields.

The master's curriculum emphasizes research methods and analytical skills. Learners choose electives or a specialization to stand out in a competitive job market. The master's program recommends a background in public administration or a related field when applying.

Online enrollees gain hands-on experience during professional internships in their local area. Graduate students expand their professional connections by attending virtual networking events.

University of Central Florida at a Glance:

Type of School: Public, four-year

Admission Rate: 44%

Total Online Master's Programs: 26

Program Name: Online master of public administration

Graduate Tuition In State: $6,916

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $25,759

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#5

Texas A&M University

School Information
Location College Station, Texas
Admission Rate 58%
Graduation Rate 82%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 14% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Texas A&M University, located in College Station, offers a flexible online master's in public administration. The online executive master of public service and administration program strengthens specialized skills, preparing graduates for leadership roles with a higher earning potential. After earning a master's degree, candidates also pursue careers in new industries.

The master's curriculum explores advanced methodologies and research in public administration. Learners focus their training by choosing electives based on their interests and career goals. The master's program recommends that applicants bring a background in public administration or a related field.

Online enrollees work with the program to identify internship opportunities at approved sites in their local communities. Graduate students also build professional connections by attending networking events.

Texas A&M University at a Glance:

Type of School: Public, four-year

Admission Rate: 58%

Total Online Master's Programs: 38

Program Name: Online executive master of public service and administration

Graduate Tuition In State: $6,677

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $18,700

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#6

University of Miami

School Information
Location Coral Gables, Florida
Admission Rate 27%
Graduation Rate 83%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 22% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Located in Coral Gables, Florida, the University of Miami enrolls master's students in its top-ranked online public administration program. The master of public administration program helps graduates increase their salary potential and take on more professional responsibilities. A master's degree can also prepare candidates for opportunities in new fields.

The master's curriculum explores theoretical and practical perspectives in the public administration field. Learners prepare for focused career paths by choosing electives and concentrations. Applicants without a degree in public administration or a related field may need to meet prerequisite requirements to enroll in the program.

Online enrollees work with the program to arrange professional internships at approved locations in their local area. Graduate students expand their professional network through internships and online events.

University of Miami at a Glance:

Type of School: Private, not-for-profit, four-year

Admission Rate: 27%

Total Online Master's Programs: 11

Program Name: Master of Public Administration

Graduate Tuition In State: $37,800

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $37,800

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#7

Florida International University

School Information
Location Miami, Florida
Admission Rate 58%
Graduation Rate 63%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 68% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Florida International University, located in Miami, enrolls master's students in its online public administration program. The online master of public administration program draws on a rigorous curriculum that prepares graduates for leadership responsibilities. After earning a master's degree, candidates can also pursue careers in new industries.

The master's curriculum emphasizes research methods and analytical skills. Learners individualize the course of study by selecting electives and concentrations. The program recommends that applicants bring a background in public administration or a related field.

Online enrollees work with the program to identify internship opportunities at approved sites in their local communities. Internships and other practicum activities build both hands-on experience and professional connections.

Florida International University at a Glance:

Type of School: Public, four-year

Admission Rate: 58%

Total Online Master's Programs: 31

Program Name: Online master of public administration

Graduate Tuition In State: $8,912

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $21,393

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#8

San Diego State University

School Information
Location San Diego, California
Admission Rate 34%
Graduation Rate 73%
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 50% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

From its campus in California, San Diego State University offers an online master of public administration. Graduates train for leadership roles in the field while earning their degree from the public administration program. After earning a master's degree, candidates may also pursue careers in new industries.

The master's curriculum covers theoretical and practical approaches to public administration. Learners often choose a specialized concentration, which can help them stand out in a competitive job market. The master's program recommends a background in public administration or a related field when applying.

Online enrollees gain real-world experience through internships offered in their local area. The program encourages professional development activities, including networking events, so graduate students can expand their professional connections.

San Diego State University at a Glance:

Type of School: Public, four-year

Admission Rate: 34%

Total Online Master's Programs: 6

Program Name: Master of public administration online

Graduate Tuition In State: $7,176

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $16,680

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#9

University of the Southwest

School Information
Location Hobbs, New Mexico
Admission Rate 45%
Graduation Rate 32%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 100% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The MBA in public administration from the University of the Southwest, located in Hobbs, uses a flexible distance learning format. Graduates train for leadership roles in the field while earning their degree from the public administration program. With a master's degree, candidates can pursue new career opportunities.

The master's curriculum covers methodological and research perspectives. Learners choose electives or a specialization to stand out in a competitive job market. The program encourages applicants to gain experience in public administration before applying.

Online enrollees meet any in-person requirements, such as internships, at approved sites in their local area. The MBA program encourages graduate students to participate in hands-on experiences and networking events to grow their professional connections.

University of the Southwest at a Glance:

Type of School: Private, not-for-profit, four-year

Admission Rate: 45%

Total Online Master's Programs: 19

Program Name: MBA in public administration

Graduate Tuition In State: $22,500

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $22,500

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#10

Villanova University

School Information
Location Villanova, Pennsylvania
Admission Rate 28%
Graduation Rate 90%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 23% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Located in Pennsylvania, Villanova University enrolls master's students in its top-ranked online public administration program. Graduates prepare for advanced roles in the field during the rigorous master of public administration program. A master's degree helps candidates advance in their current field or pursue a new career path.

The master's curriculum covers theoretical and practical approaches to public administration. Learners choose electives or a specialization to gain focused career training. The program encourages applicants to gain experience in public administration before applying.

Online enrollees work with the program to identify internship opportunities at approved sites in their local communities. The program encourages graduate students to expand their professional connections through internships and networking events.

Villanova University at a Glance:

Type of School: Private, not-for-profit, four-year

Admission Rate: 28%

Total Online Master's Programs: 17

Program Name: Master of public administration

Graduate Tuition In State: $20,506

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $20,506

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How Much Does a Master's in Public Administration Cost?

Master's degrees cost an average of $66,340, according to EducationData.org. However, tuition rates for online master's in public administration programs vary by factors like enrollment format, program length, and school type. Public colleges generally charge lower tuition than private colleges. Accelerated programs may cost less overall since they require fewer semesters to complete.

Learners who enroll in online master's in public administration programs do not pay for campus housing or meal plans. An online format also lets them choose the most affordable program in any location.

Additional Online Student Fees

Online learners should budget for additional fees that cover technology costs, tech support, and other online resources. They may also need to pay for standard education expenses, like books, class supplies, and graduation fees.

Some master's in public administration online programs use a hybrid format that combines campus and online classes. In these programs, students typically cover transportation and lodging costs. Graduates may need to pay fees to obtain professional licenses or certifications.

How Much Do Public Administration Majors Make?

Earning a public administration master's degree online prepares graduates for many careers with high salary potential. Many graduates pursue administrative and management positions in government agencies and nonprofits. Some public administration graduates work as urban and regional planners. These professionals earn a median $78,500 annually.

While some careers in public administration only require a bachelor's degree, earning a master's can help candidates pursue higher-paying careers. Public administrators can also increase their career options and salary potential by earning specialized professional certifications.

Courses in Public Administration

An online master's in public administration program builds specialized knowledge in the operation and management of public institutions and organizations. Degree-seekers study topics like organizational behavior, public policy, and finance. Many programs emphasize the role of research in shaping public policy and administration.

The following list features three classes commonly found in public administration programs. Keep in mind that not every school offers every class listed here. Specific content and class titles vary among programs. However, this list offers a general idea of what to expect when pursuing a public administration master's degree online.

Specializations for Public Administration

Public administration intersects with many types of public organizations. Accordingly, programs commonly offer specializations that build advanced knowledge in specific areas of public administration. Also known as concentrations or tracks, specializations help students customize their education to fit their professional interests and career goals.

Programs with specialization options usually offer a core curriculum along with a selection of specialization classes. If programs do not offer specific concentrations, students can often choose elective classes that relate to their field of interest.

This list highlights three specialization options commonly found in online master's in public administration programs.

How to Become an Administrative Manager

Most careers in public administration and administrative management require at least a bachelor's degree. More advanced positions may require a master's degree, particularly for jobs with significant management responsibilities.

Professionals in this field typically hold degrees in business or public administration. At the master's level, candidates often perform specialized internships or practicum experiences that build hands-on skills.

Typical duties for administrative managers vary among industries. In general, these professionals oversee operations for organizations of all types. Their common daily responsibilities may include supervising other staff members and assessing organizational policies and procedures. They may also set departmental goals and deadlines.

Featured image credit: Sam Edwards, Getty Images

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