Online Master’s In Public Administration Programs 2021

Earning a master's in public administration can lead to increased career opportunities. Here, we list the top programs available.

October 25, 2021

Reviewed by ACO Rankings Team
Online Master’s In Public Administration Programs 2021 is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Public administration professionals work for progressive social change. They perform various management and policy implementation activities for public organizations. A master of public administration (MPA) program often includes coursework in research methods, ethics, leadership, and public policy. Public administration degrees also usually cultivate skills in public sector financial management and budgeting.

Public administration master's degrees can support various related careers. For example, degree-holders can work as administrative services and facilities managers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), these professionals earned a median annual salary of $96,940 in 2019. The BLS projects jobs for these managers to grow 6% between 2019 and 2029.

Common Questions People Ask About Public Administration

true Q. What can you do with a master's in public administration?

This degree can support careers in policy analysis, public relations, compliance, and fundraising. Graduates often work for governmental or nonprofit organizations.

true Q. How long does it take to get a master's in public administration?

Master's programs usually require about two years to complete. However, enrollees' prior coursework, program requirements, and pacing can impact this timeframe.

true Q. What are the major subjects in public administration?

Foundational public administration topics include policy, organizational leadership, personnel management, and ethics.

true Q. What is an MPA degree salary?

PayScale salary data from March 2021 indicates that MPA graduates average $68,599 annually. However, salaries vary widely by position, experience level, employer, and sector. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Find a program that meets your affordability, flexibility, and education needs through an accredited, online school.

Why Get a Degree in Public Administration?

Earning a master's in public administration brings many professional benefits. Graduate-level study affords valuable networking opportunities with other accomplished students, public administration professors, and administrators who oversee student internships at real-world sites. MPA programs also cultivate advanced leadership skills and provide specialized knowledge.

Many working professionals seeking career advancement pursue an MPA to meet minimum degree requirements for upper-level, high-paying administrative roles. For example, public relations and fundraising managers earned a median annual salary of $116,180 in 2019, according to the BLS.

Earning this degree online often allows enrollees to advance their education while continuing their career. See below for more information about an online MPA in financing.

How Much Does a Public Administration Degree Cost?

The cost of earning an MPA varies widely based on institution type and location. The College Board's 2020 Trends in College Pricing report indicates that in-state tuition averages $10,560 annually at public, four-year schools. Averaging $27,020 annually, out-of-state tuition at the same schools costs nearly three times as much. Private nonprofit school tuition averages $37,650. However, high academic merit and financial need sometimes qualify students for large scholarships at these schools.

MPA students typically pay the lowest tuition at public institutions. Enrollees can also save money by pursuing their degree online. Many programs feature discounted tuition rates for online learners, and some schools permit out-of-state students to pay in-state tuition rates. Online students also typically avoid expenses associated with relocating, campus residency, and commuting.

Break down your current financial situation, and receive a college tuition estimate you can afford to pay.

How Much Do Public Administration Majors Make?

Public administration master's graduates usually earn above-average salaries. According to March 2021 PayScale salary data, professionals with an MPA earned an average annual salary of $68,599. Salaries depend heavily on sector, position, credentials, and employer.

Nonprofit careers such as community outreach specialist, public relations specialist, or social and community services manager pay median annual salaries in the $43,000-$67,000 range. However, MPA degrees may also qualify degree-holders for high-level, high-salary careers such as administrative services and facilities manager or public relations and fundraising manager. Median annual salaries for these careers fall into the $96,000-$116,000 range.

Federal or local government jobs often pay quite well. According to PayScale data from March 2021, policy analysts average nearly $60,000 annually and city managers average nearly $92,000 annually. Some MPAs work as training and development managers, who earn an median annual salary of $115,640, according to the BLS.

Courses in Public Administration

Public administration master's degrees usually require 30-45 credits, depending on prior coursework. MPA programs typically include capstone internships and projects that develop advanced research, analysis, writing, and leadership skills.

Core coursework usually includes research methods, public policy, and ethics. Most programs feature various specialized curriculum concentrations or electives in areas such as education, policy analysis, governmental administration, or nonprofit administration. See below for three common public administration courses.

Certifications and Licensure for Public Administration

The MPA meets or exceeds degree requirements for many public administration careers, but some jobs may require additional professional certification. The following three credentials may benefit MPA-holders with corresponding career aspirations.

The National Certified Public Manager Consortium awards this certification to graduates of 300-hour, NCPMC-certified CPM programs. CPM-holders may work in various roles, including public works director, mayor, government works director, and city administrator. School administrators such as principals or superintendents usually need certification from their state board. Requirements vary, but most candidates need professional experience, passing exam results, and a related master's degree. The Government Finance Officers Association grants CPFO certification to candidates who pass seven public finance-related exams within five years. Examination topics include debt management, procurement, risk management, and compensation and benefits. CPFOs often work as finance directors, accounting managers, or financial controllers.

Scholarships for Public Administration

Many college students qualify for scholarships based on academic merit, identity, field, and financial need. Public administration graduate students may qualify for opportunities like the three below. These awards do not require repayment, although some entail a public service commitment.

Scholarships for Public Administration
Scholarship Amount Who Can Apply

Foundation for Community Association Byron Hanke Fellowship

$3,000-$5,000 This scholarship supports graduate students attending accredited U.S. or Canadian schools and researching common interest communities or associations. Applicants submit a detailed research proposal, and recipients eventually submit their research project for publication by the FCA.

Robert R. Robinson Scholarship

Up to $1,000 This Michigan Townships Association scholarship serves public administration program enrollees at Michigan colleges or universities. Eligible applicants plan on local government careers and submit recommendation letters and essays.

ASPA Founders' Fellows Program

Varies Members of the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) may apply. Launched in 2006, this fellowship program is open to graduate students and professionals who graduated within three years of applying. Applicants must submit a resume, personal statement, recommendation letter from an ASPA member in good standing, and an essay.

Online Master's In Public Administration Programs 2021

  1. Belhaven University

    Jackson, MS



    With over 30 online degree offerings, Belhaven University has an online Master Public Administration program that requires 36 credit hours for graduation. This Christian liberal arts institution boasts a comprehensive MPA program that prepares graduates for work in both the public and private sectors. Belhaven offers a general track and a concentration in Human Resources, both of which are available online. Distance learners take required courses such as Public and Administrative Law, Economics and Public Policy, Organizational Behavior and Ethics and Society. Master's students must also complete a Capstone project. For admission, students should have a baccalaureate degree with a 2.5 cumulative GPA. Incoming students can transfer a maximum of 6 credit hours of accredited graduate coursework toward their MPA degree, provided the courses have a "B" grade or higher. Those who do not meet the standard admission requirements can receive admission on a conditional basis. Online students can take advantage of Belhaven's Center for Career and Calling, which helps learners practice their faith while in school, find internships and explore future career options through workshops and career fairs.

  2. Indiana University-Bloomington

    Bloomington, IN



    Offered through Indiana University's School of Public and Environmental Affairs, the Master of Public Administration degree is a 48-credit hour online program consisting of core courses, advanced electives and an "experiential component." The experiential component is typically an internship but may be waived for students with prior professional work experience. IU offers specialty areas in Public Management, Nonprofit Management, Financial Management, Policy Analysis or Public Budgeting. Master's students choose a specialty area to help determine their elective courses. Online students also work with the faculty director to configure a degree program, using at least 6 electives, that best fits their professional goals. Popular electives for online students include Seminar in Revenue Theory and Administration, Public Program Management and Contracting, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector, Benefit-Cost Analysis and Public Policy Process. Applicants submit a personal statement, professional resume and contact information for 3 recommenders. The department also requires interested students to submit two essays answering questions on the department admissions website. GRE or GMAT scores are optional and not required for admission to IU.

  3. St. Joseph's College-New York

    Brooklyn, NY



    Established in 1916, St Joseph's College New York is a liberal arts institution with approximately 4,700 students. Online students at SJC can pursue a Master of Science in Human Services Leadership. The degree consists of 30 credit hours, or 10 courses, and teaches students the essential historical, political and financial components of the modern Human Services industry. Incoming students may be eligible to transfer up to 6 credits from another accredited graduate program pending approval of the department chair. Prospective students for this program must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Competitive applicants have documented, full-time work experience in the field that displays specialized training and reflects their ability to handle important responsibilities. Applications should include a current resume with descriptions of previous and current employment and a list of one's responsibilities in those roles. Additionally, interested students should submit their official transcripts and letters of recommendation from both an academic source and a professional source. SJC also requires that all prospective students participate in an interview as part of the admissions process.

  4. Park University

    Parkville, MO



    Accredited by the Council for Business Schools and Programs, Park University is host to an online program to complete a Master of Public Administration. The degree requires 36 credit hours in classes such as Research and Analysis, Public Affairs Methodology and Ethical Foundations of Authority and Responsibility. Students will select concentrations in disaster and emergency management, global governance, management information systems, project management, public management or criminal justice. You must pass all coursework with a minimum 3.0 grade average. Those with work experience are eligible to waive the requirement for an internship. Online learners can access the Academic Support Center, which connects students to citation tools, peer mentors, tutoring services and resources for stress management. In order to qualify for this option you must possess an undergraduate 2.75 grade average, as well as submit a resume. Graduates enter roles as city managers, police commissioners, urban planners or elected officials.

  5. University of Illinois at Springfield

    Springfield, IL



    In order to receive a Master of Public Administration at the University of Illinois in Springfield, students must fulfill 36 credit hours with a grade B or higher. While exploring subjects such as human resources, public policy and organization dynamics you will become equipped to enter managerial roles within the fields of social services, administrative law and public financial management. Classes are executed in an online format through the web platform Blackboard Learn. Prospective students must hold a minimum 2.5 GPA and be able to navigate computer spreadsheet applications. Applications will also include GRE scores, a resume and a statement of goals demonstrating competent writing skills. Once admitted, you will be connected with an academic adviser to assist in creating your plan of study. The Department of Public Administration encourages learners to connect with the Career Development Center or join the American Society for Public Administration for networking and employment opportunities.

  6. Northern Michigan University

    Marquette, MI



    Students can specialize in criminal justice, human resources, government or public management at Northern Michigan University's fully online program to complete a Master of Public Administration. Depending on academic and professional history, you will satisfy 34-36 credit hours with a minimum 3.0 grade average, along with fulfillment of a capstone project, in order to graduate. Those with 1 or more years of field-related work experience aren't required to complete an internship. Core and elective curriculum familiarizes enrollees with grant writing, municipal management, nonprofit agency evaluation and the politics of higher education. Applications must include evidence of a 3.0 GPA in undergraduate work, transcripts and a resume or cover letter. Once registered, online learners can post their resumes and search for jobs through Cat Career Tracks/Handshake. You can also receive academic assistance by making an appointment at the Virtual Advising Center or submitting assignments to online tutoring services for feedback.

  7. Lindenwood University

    St. Charles, MO



    Lindenwood University is host to a 100% online Master of Public Administration. The program, which is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and approved by the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements, delivers online courses through the learning platform Canvas. In order to graduate, students must maintain a 3.0 grade average while satisfying 36 credits hours in core curriculum covering public finance and economic analysis, as well as elective classes including management information systems and leadership theory. While enrolled you can take advantage of resources such as Career Services to assist in job exploration and resume writing as you enter into managerial roles at government entities or international organizations. Enrollees also have access to the online Writing Center and tutoring services through the web application Smarthinking. Prospective students will include a resume and letter of intent in their application. There are school-funded scholarships and grants to help cut down on costs.

  8. Central Michigan University

    Mount Pleasant, MI



    The hybrid program for earning a Master of Public Administration at Central Michigan University offers students opportunities that extend beyond the classroom. For example, you can participate in management simulations through the Transnational Initiative on Governance Research and Education Network, which is a project sponsored by the Seoul Metropolitan Government in South Korea. Program admissions calls for a minimum 2.8 GPA in undergraduate studies, 3 reference letters, a resume, personal essay and satisfaction of a statistics or research methods class. Once enrolled, you must maintain a 3.0 grade average while working through 37 credits in Strategic Leadership, Grant Writing and Management, Public Service Competencies and Public Policy Process. Online classes are accessed through the web platform Blackboard Learn and the Online Resource Center provides a number of resources to assist in navigating the virtual classroom. Additionally, online learners can utilize academic advising, career guidance, the library and counseling services.

  9. Texas A & M University-College Station

    College Station, TX



    Students pursuing concentrations in homeland security, nonprofit management or public management can apply to Texas A&M University to pursue an Executive Master of Public Service and Administration degree. Accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration, the program lasts for around 2-3 years and includes 39 credit hours in core and elective topics such as economic analysis, policy design and quantitative methods. All coursework is available in an online format. However, students are expected to engage in 2 weeklong campus visits during the summer semesters. You will also need to pass a capstone class by working with a government or nonprofit agency to complete a public administration project. Prospective students will submit transcripts, a resume, a statement of purpose and GRE or GMAT scores. The Bush School of Government & Public Services works with online learners to place jobs and create networking opportunities. Alumni have found positions within the U.S. Department of State, Central Intelligence Agency and American Heart Association.

  10. University of Nebraska at Omaha

    Omaha, NE



    Campus faculty at the University of Nebraska Omaha also instruct online courses for students interested in completing a Master of Public Administration through distance education. Over the span of 2 years, you will satisfy 39 total credit hours by taking just 2 classes per semester. Core curriculum looks into decision-making, policy implementation and nonprofit budgeting. Electives are based off of concentrations such as emergency management, criminology, aviation or local government. In order to qualify for the program, as well as complete the graduate degree, you must possess a 3.0 grade average. Non-resident online learners are eligible for the Advantage Scholarship, which is funded by a collaboration between the School of Public Administration and the College of Public Affairs Community Service. Additional supports include access to academic advising, career resources and library services. Prospective students will submit work experience, a statement of purpose, 2 references, transcripts, a resume and GRE scores.

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