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
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.
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.
Q. What are the major subjects in public administration?
Foundational public administration topics include policy, organizational leadership, personnel management, and ethics.
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.
Featured Online Programs
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.
Calculating the Cost of a College Degree
Our online college financing overview includes a college affordability calculator tool that approximates tuition costs. Prospective students can enter financial details such as current income, living expenses, financial aid awards, and estimated fees.
College Affordability Calculator
Break down your current financial situation, and receive a college tuition estimate you can afford to pay.
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.
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.
This core course helps learners develop skills in quantitative analysis, statistics, and data analysis. Students learn about various ways that public organizations use data. This course often serves as a prerequisite for advanced courses, senior seminars, and capstone research projects.
This required course covers strategies and techniques for creating and supporting diverse leadership in public organizations. Enrollees study the professional advancement barriers that women and minorities often encounter in the workplace. The course also cultivates cultural awareness; sensitivity; and competency in working with people of diverse races, sexual orientations, ages, and abilities.
During their second year, master’s in public administration students typically complete an internship with a relevant local organization. Interns receive mentorship from public service leaders and apply their coursework knowledge and skills in real-world contexts. This internship may include a capstone project or thesis component.
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.
Foundation for Community Association Byron Hanke Fellowship
Who Can Apply: 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.
Who Can Apply: 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.
Who Can Apply: 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There is a range of career opportunities for graduates of Troy University'sMaster of Public Administration program. Alumni enter into positions of grant writing, research, policy analysis and health care administration. Coursework, which is implemented in both hybrid and online formats, involves 36 credits of core and elective curriculum exploring professional ethics, government budgeting and organizational behavior. You can specialize in international administration, public management, health administration, nonprofit management, public human resources or national security affairs. A 3.0 GPA must be maintained in order to graduate and students without prior professional experience will also need to complete an internship. Supports such as the Writing Center and Career Services are available on campus and online. You can stay updated on program news by subscribing to the school's MPA newsletter, which introduces incoming students and showcases networking opportunities. Admissions eligibility is dependent on undergraduate GPA, work history and test scores.
Sam Houston State University's fully online Master of Public Administration emphasizes disaster and emergency management. The degree calls for 36 credit hours in curriculum such as Organizational Theory and Behavior, Disaster Resilience and Decision Making in Public Administration. Students without prior work experience will be required to complete an internship. Applications must include transcripts, a resume, writing sample, statement of purpose and 2 letters of reference. If your undergraduate grade average is lower than a 3.0, you must also submit GRE scores. Classes are delivered through the learning platform Blackboard Learn and you can utilize 24/7 technical support on the weekdays. Additionally, online learners have access to free tutoring, a writing center and peer mentors. Career Services will walk you through mock interviews, career inventories and networking opportunities as you prepare to enter or advance in the workforce. Graduates take on leadership positions at service and government agencies.
Working professionals looking to advance into managerial or leadership roles can work through 36 credits of online coursework to receive a Master of Public Administration at Stephen F. Austin State University. Prospective applicants must possess an overall undergraduate GPA of 2.5, as well as a 2.8 average in their most recent 60 credit hours. Applications need to include GRE scores, a resume, 2 letters of recommendation and a personal essay. Students will become competent in public administration methods, law and procedure, professional ethics and financial management. If you do not have field-related work experience, you will also have an opportunity to complete an internship. Curriculum is delivered through the learning platform Brightspace and the web conferencing tool ZOOM. You can access tutorials and technical support to help in navigating the virtual classroom. Student Services links online learners to a variety of supports including information on proctoring centers, academic advising, tutoring services and career guidance.
Students interested in earning a Master of Public Administration can do so in a fully online format at Arkansas State University. Over the course of 18-24 months, you will fulfill 36 credit hours in classes such as Public Budgeting and Finance, Human Resources Management and Techniques of Research. Additionally, graduation requires the completion of 300 internship hours and the passing of a comprehensive exam. In order to participate in these 2 items students must hold a 3.0 GPA. This grade average is also necessary for program admissions. Applicants will submit 3 letters of recommendation and a statement of purpose. Once accepted, online learners access coursework through the web platform Blackboard Learn. All students are connected with a teaching assistant who is qualified to assist in field-related questions and concerns. You can also utilize the library, which includes the option to chat with a librarian 24/7. Residents and non-residents pay the same tuition rates.
In as little as 18 months, students at Tarleton State University can receive a Master of Public Administration via fully online studies. The degree, which is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, includes 36 credit hours in curriculum covering human resource management, public policy, budgeting and government relations. You must maintain a 3.0 grade average in all coursework, which is accessed through the learning platform Blackboard Learn. Academic advisers guide online learners through registration and financial aid options by means of phone appointments. As you near graduation, Career Services can connect you to career events, as well as assist in professional dress, resume writing and interview skill development. Program eligibility calls for a 2.5 GPA in prior academics and submission of a 600-word essay outlining your educational goals. There are a number of scholarship opportunities specific to graduate students to help cut down on costs.
Students pursuing advanced positions as logistics managers, public relations specialists, survey researchers or urban planners can enroll in the University of Idaho's online program for earning a Master of Public Administration. In order to qualify you must demonstrate a 3.0 grade average in undergraduate coursework, as well as submit 3 letters of recommendation and GRE scores. This GPA is to be maintained throughout graduate studies. Students will explore topics such as budgeting, research methods and government law while fulfilling the 36 credit hours needed for graduation. If you don't already have professional public administration experience, you will also be expected to complete an internship. Career Services are available to assist online learners in exploring interests, preparing a resume and finding networking opportunities. The program is housed in the school's College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences, which awards over a million dollars in scholarships to its students every year.
Wayland Baptist University is a Christian-based learning institution spanning 14 campuses, as well as providing opportunities for online studies. Students who work, serve in the military or seek more flexibility in their schedules can opt for distance education to earn a Master of Public Administration. You will select a specialization in home security and emergency management, alternative dispute resolution, government administration or justice administration. All tracks, which can be completed in 18 months, include 18 credits of emphasis-specific coursework and 18 credits of core classes. Curriculum is implemented through Blackboard Learn and explores public finance, professional ethics and research methods. There are tutorials to assist online learners in navigating the virtual classroom. You will also have access to library databases. Applicants holding a 3.0 grade average for their last 60 credit hours of undergraduate studies are guaranteed admission, while those with a 2.7-2.9 GPA must provide a writing sample to be considered.
At California State University in Dominguez Hills, students can finish a master's degree in public administration through fully online studies. Concentrations in criminal justice policy, health care policy and nonprofit management are delivered in 8-week classes, while an emphasis in public management is offered in a 12-week format. All pathways take about 2 years to satisfy 36 credits in coursework such as Public Budgeting, Foundations of Ethical Administration and Quantitative Methods in Public Administration. A 3.0 grade point average is required for both admissions and graduation. Prospective students will also submit a resume and personal statement. Upon enrollment, you will receive an orientation and ongoing technical support for navigating your virtual classroom on the web platform Blackboard Learn. It is also suggested that learners join the Graduate Society of Public Administration for peer support and networking opportunities. Graduates advance into managerial and leadership positions within the public, nonprofit and government sectors, or continue on to pursue a doctoral degree.
The online option to work toward a Master of Public Administration at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill allows students to specialize in international relations, local government, nonprofit management, public management or public health. Over the span of 18 months, you will attend live classes through the web platform 2U and access additional coursework at your own convenience. Degree completion entails the passing of 45 credits in core and elective curriculum. Students will also participate in a field experience and create an MPA portfolio. From beginning to end, there are teams in place to support learners in enrollment, advising, career exploration and job placement. Additionally, your tuition includes a WeWork membership, which grants you access to amenity-filled workspaces throughout the world. Applications need to include evidence of a 3.0 GPA in undergraduate work, 3 letters of recommendation, a resume, a statement of purpose and GRE, LSAT or GMAT scores.
Professionals with management experience in urban planning, criminal justice or administrative roles are eligible for admission to San Diego State University'sMaster of Public Administration program. Curriculum is implemented through online coursework in an accelerated 16-month format but students are required to visit campus twice. Graduation requires the passing of 36 credits with a 3.0 GPA, as well as completion of an applied research project, which is presented to professionals and faculty in the final academic term. Classes familiarize learners with administrative theory, financial management and policy development. The School of Public Affairs will work with all enrollees to assist in networking, job placement and professional growth. Applications must include evidence of a 3.0 grade average in undergraduate work, GRE scores, 2 reference letters, a resume and a statement of purpose. Once registered you can utilize academic advising, the library and the learning platform Blackboard Learn.
Prospective applicants wishing to enroll in Texas A&M International University's online program for a master's degree in public administration must meet 3 out of 4 admissions criteria. These include a 3.0 GPA in undergraduate studies, minimum 3 years of managerial experience, demonstration of competency through a statement of purpose or adequate completion of the interview process. Over the course of 2 years, admitted students will satisfy 42 credit hours of core and elective curriculum in topics of ethics, organizational theory and administrative law. Depending on work history, learners will also be required to complete a field experience or a summer project. In order to graduate, you must satisfy all coursework with a 3.0 GPA, as well as pass comprehensive examinations. The Writing Center, Career Services and tutoring supports are available to assist online learners throughout their studies. The MPA degree is accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration.
National University's online option to complete a Master of Public Administration allows students to specialize in human resource management or organizational leadership. Regardless of pathway, you will work through 36 quarter units in classes covering Urban Planning and Redevelopment, Ethics and Public Personnel Policy. An additional 18 quarter units will look into concentration-specific topics such as employee benefits, outsourcing and power dynamics. Students can access curriculum at any time of day through the web platform Blackboard Learn. In order to qualify for the program you must possess a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.5 GPA. The veteran-founded learning institution grants military members and their families a tuition discount. Also provided are a number of supports including library access, math tutoring services, writing assistance, career guidance and technical help for navigating online courses. Graduates will be equipped to handle grant writing, budgeting and community relations within nonprofit organizations and government entities.
The online Master of Public Administration at Georgia College involves the completion of 36 credit hours in classes exploring finance and budgeting, research methods and professional ethics. Students will also select an emphasis from offerings such as Political Geography, Managerial Economics and Communications Theory in Management. All work, including a Capstone Project, must be satisfied with a 3.0 GPA. An applicant possessing this grade point average in undergraduate studies is not required to submit GRE, GMAT or MAT scores. Courses, which are spread out over 4 semesters, are implemented in a real-time format through the learning platforms WebEx and Desire-2-Learn. As students near the end of their degree, they can utilize Career Connection and InterviewStream, 2 online tools to assist in networking and interview preparation. Alumni of the program have entered the workforce as county managers, directors of social service agencies, city police chiefs and health care administrators.
Students interested in pursuing positions as city planners, program analysts or directors of education can enroll in the University of Central Florida's hybrid or online Master of Public Administration program. The degree is accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration and entails 42 credit hours of core, elective and capstone coursework. Curriculum includes classes such as Analytical Techniques for Public Administration and Strategic Planning and Management, which must be passed with an 80% or higher. Prospective students will need to submit proof of a 3.0 GPA in undergraduate work, 3 reference letters, a resume and a personal goal statement. To support your academic journey, the school provides a number of online resources including career services, peer tutoring, a writing center and academic advising. Knights Online acquaints learners with distance education and those enrolling in 100% online coursework receive waivers for a number of campus fees.
Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, Bellevue University offers a fully online option to receive a Master of Public Administration. The program is offered in an accelerated cohort model, allowing a group of students to move through 4 terms of coursework together. During this time, you will need to complete 36 credit hours with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Curriculum covers topics such as communication, organizational effectiveness, policy development and leadership. In order to graduate, you will also need to complete a funding project. Interested students must possess a 2.5 grade average in the most recent 60 credits applied toward their undergraduate degree. Once enrolled, you can take advantage of free online tutoring services, which are offered through Skype or Adobe Connect. There is 24/7 technical assistance for navigating the virtual classroom, as well as library access. Career Services assists in networking and interview tools for entering or advancing positions at government or nonprofit agencies.