Top Master of Public Administration Degrees

Working your way toward a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree will open doors to careers in several sectors of public service, including nonprofit management, public policy, healthcare policy, education policy, criminal justice, public personnel management, and more. Below, we have ranked the top accredited universities that offer online MPA degrees.

Kaplan University
Master of Public Administration
Kaplan University › Kaplan University's Master of Public Administration program prepares graduates to succeed in the public service sector. Students study the evaluation and implementation of public policy while incorporating training in ethics, budgeting, strategic planning, and research. Graduates succeed in a variety of fields, from government to non-profit.
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University of Southern California
Master of Public Administration
University of Southern California › While University of Southern California boasts a beautiful campus, its online programs are accessible to anyone across the country – right from their home computer. Its online Masters in Public Administration program can be completed in under two years and does not require special software in order to work on and turn in assignments, making it fast, convenient, and most importantly affordable.
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Ashford University
Master of Public Administration
MBA in Public Administration
MA/OM - Public Administration
MBA in Public Admin
Ashford University › Ashford University offers many degree options for completing the Master in Public Administration: Students can get receive MBA in Public Administration, a general MPA, a MA in Organizational Management in Public Administration, or an MA in Education & Public Policy. Ashford U is accredited by WASC Senior College and University Commission, 985 Atlantic Ave, Ste 100, Alameda, California 94501, (510) 748-9001, wascsenior.org.
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Northcentral University
DBA in Public Admin
Northcentral University › The MBA degree in public administration from Northcentral University program is structured to present managerial types with the conceptual overview of modern theory and practice in each of the key areas of managerial responsibility as they pertain to areas of public policy and public administration. Students are encouraged to combine and apply formal academic learning with business related experiential learning.
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George Washington University
Master of Political Management
George Washington University › George Washington University offers a Masters of Political Management for students who want a practical approach to their education with classes they can apply to their careers immediately upon graduation. Positions that are obtainable with an MPM remain in demand despite the current economical climate and students can complete this degree in under two years.
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Walden University
Master of Public Administration
MPA - Law & Public Policy
MPA - Nonprofit Management
MPA - Health Policy
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Walden University › At Walden University's MPA program, students have the option of specializing in Law & Public Policy, Homeland Security Policy, Policy Analysis, Local Government Management, Interdisciplinary Policy Studies, Nonprofit Management, or Health Policy. Graduates not only are prepared to transform public policies into effective programs through research and practical coursework, they also understand the basics of good management and leadership metrics to prepare them for organizing teams and nurturing talent.
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Capella University
Master of Public Administration
Capella University › The MPA program at Capella University features a global network of experienced faculty and professional peers that work cohesively together in the study of public administration practices. Students also gain insights from professionals in related fields like public safety and health care.
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Definition of Master of Public Administration

Over the past 50 years the Master of Public Administration (MPA) has emerged as an important professional degree in the public service field. Many policymakers, managers, and leaders in the United States and Internationally have helped launch their successful careers through earning an MPA. A Master of Public Administration enables you to make a difference in the world. Through an MPA you can work in all levels of government, in the non-profit sector, in NGOs, in public sector consulting, and in social entrepreneurship. Both domestic and International issues are covered through MPA degree holders and include: education, environment, healthcare, housing, transportation, defense, homeland security, and more. There are many career options for an MPA student including administrators, policy analysts, budget analysts, program managers, and others.

MPA students are usually people who are looking for a stimulating and challenging career. They lead, manage, and run organizations. They’re able to job hop between non-profits, government organizations, and International organizations because the MPA degree provides a set of analytical and management skills that are often transferable across sectors and across issue areas. They can work in different career sectors such as environmental policy or homeland security. An MPA is a degree with diverse applications that helps you develop crosscutting skills in professional management abilities, and allows you to explore what professional public service path is right for you.

What is the coursework for a Master of Public Administration?

There are required core courses for MPA students, and then concentration or specialization coursework, depending on what you would like to focus your MPA degree on. Broadly speaking there are three categories of classes within an MPA degree. These are:

  • Policy analysis: Gathering and processing information to inform efforts to solve new policy problems is the definition of policy analysis. If you seek a career in policy analysis then you most likely enjoy working with quantitative and qualitative information to develop and assess alternatives for solving these problems.
  • Management: Using scarce resources to achieve policy and management objectives are what management in public administration is about. Management careers entail building the solutions to problems using raw materials such as financial and human resources.
  • Leadership: Taking individual responsibility for the top-level decisions about which policy and management problems an organization should address is good leadership. If you want a career in leadership than you should enjoy being held accountable for decisions in return for the authority to choose problems and select alternative solutions.

Core course titles in an MPA program include consulting, budgeting and financial processes, information systems, policy and program formulation, implementation and evaluation, decision-making and problem solving, political and legal institutions and processes, economic and social institutions and processes, research methods and analysis, organization and management concepts and theory, and ethics. Other specialization courses may include microeconomics, statistics, managerial accounting, leadership concepts, planning and geographic information systems (GIS), and others.

Before beginning your coursework you should know the specialized interest you would like to be in, and therefore select a program that offers that specialization or concentration. These types of specializations include nonprofit management, health care management, environmental management, criminal justice, and urban affairs, as well as such diverse topics as election administration, aviation security, and philanthropic development.

After completing an MPA degree program, you will have a broad-based training in subjects such economics, policy analysis, management (including financial management) and professional communications, the flexibility to take courses from other schools and departments, joint degree programs with other professional online schools, and opportunities for substantial internships.

Admissions Criteria for Master of Public Administration Programs?

Online Master of Public Administration programs have their own unique admissions process and requirements. There are some generalizations though that can help you in the application process. GPA and test scores matter, depending on the school’s regulations, but overall MPA programs are looking for unique applicants—your experience, interests and personal story are all part of the application process. You also should show what your future goals, desires, and dreams for the world are, and how you’re going to make those things happen.

GRE test scores are almost always a requirement. GRE test scores shouldn’t intimidate you—although they’re looked at, it’s not necessarily the determining factor in choosing students.

Salaries for Public Health Workers with MPAs

A person who changes their BA degree to a master’s degree is likely to increase their salary by an average $14,000 per year. According to the U.S. Bureau of Census, in 2004 for people 25 years and over, the median income was $53,581 for a Bachelor’s Degree and $67,361 for a Master’s.

The median salaries for an MPA degree by job type are:

  • Executive Director (NPO): $60,000
  • Human Resources Director: $88,000
  • Management Analyst: $51,000
  • Policy Analyst: $45,000
  • Consultant (business): $60,000
  • Director of Program Management (Human Services): $60,000
  • Purchasing Manager: $52,500
  • Entry-level Federal Position: $53,000
  • Mid-Career Federal Position: $75,000

For additional resources offering salary information:

  • Career Journal from The Wall Street Journal: This is a database for salary data by job title. You can also review salary and hiring trends by industry or job title.
  • Occupational Outlook Handbook: This is a nationally recognized source of career information published by the The Bureau of Labor Statistics. It’s designed to provide valuable information and assistance to people making decisions about their future careers. Revised every two years, the handbook describes recent working conditions, training and education requirements, and earnings and expected job prospects for the future.

Advantages of Obtaining a Master of Public Administration Online

To decide if online college Master in Public Administration is for you or not, you can ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do you enjoy working on computers and being on the Internet? A key distinction between online and traditional colleges is the Internet-based curriculum. Distance education will require a lot of time on the computer. All your quizzes and assignments, as well as classroom discussions will be online. If you don’t like sitting down at your computer for hours, then online college may not be the best route for you.
  2. Are you self-motivated, independent, and enjoy working alone? If so, an online Master of Public Administration could be a great fit for you. There are many people who really dislike group projects—online education rarely has group projects, and when they do there is no face-to-face interaction. The majority of work will be on your own, and you have to be able to push yourself to do the assignments. You also must be able to keep track of your tests and assignment due dates, as you won’t have someone constantly reminding you in a classroom setting.

Some tips for successful and effective distance learning include:

  1. Set goals and reward yourself after completing them.
  2. Establish a regular study/learning schedule within your daily routine.
  3. Talk about challenges or questions that you have.
  4. Join a study group or get a mentor or counselor to assist you. There are also chat groups on the Internet about distance learning and your coursework.
  5. Know your learning style and use it.
  6. Celebrate your successes and be proud of what you’re accomplishing.

Although flexible, time efficient, and educational, an online MPA degree will not provide you the face-to-face interaction with professors and peers that a traditional campus program would. But if you’re self motivated, a good communicator, and you’ve already got a lot on your plate, online education could meet your needs without destabilizing other parts of your life.


Find your public administration degree program today...

Fill out this brief form to find your degree today!