When going to school for a Masters in Public Administration (MPA), you have two main options: campus colleges or online colleges. While some students thrive in a more traditional campus setting, online MPS programs offer a level of flexibility that you just can’t find elsewhere. This is definitely an option you should at least consider, and you can start by checking out the top online MPA schools.
But which schools are best? That depends on you specific educational needs. While there are clear characteristics that every student should want in a school, such as research opportunities and student resources, there are also factors that will vary in importance from student to student. Finding the best online MPA degree programs can be tricky, as no one ranking list can determine the school that is best for every single student.
The first step in research the best school in any field of study is to find out which programs are accredited. In the United States, the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration is the main accrediting association for MPA programs, and on the NASPAA website, you can search for accredited schools, as well as find answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about education in the public health field. The accreditation process ensures that the program you attend has a high standard for education, so you’re prepared to work in this field. Many grants, fellowships, and other forms of financial aid are only open to students attending accredited schools, so this is relevant from a financial aspect as well.
The best schools in the MPA field are competitive, with high standards for students. Check with each school’s admissions department to learn about their criteria for acceptance. Strive to get into schools that look for high Graduate Record Examination (GRE), high undergraduate GPAs, work or internship experience, and more. Of course, you should only apply to schools if you qualify (otherwise, you’re only wasting time), but if you only apply to schools with low standards for students, you risk not be challenged by your peers. Just because a college is online doesn’t mean that acceptance standards can’t be high.
While college ranking lists should not completely determine which program you attend, they can help you learn about certain characteristics, such as research opportunity availability, college reputation in the educational world, and professor standards. the most widely-recognized college ranking list in the United States is that which is compiled by U.S. News and World Report, though rankings by other sources should not be discounted.
The best MPA programs can help you learn about career paths in your administrative field of interest, such as public health careers or educational administrative careers, through their student career counseling programs. The top programs also have alumni networks for you to stay connected after you graduate, job placement programs to help you find work in your area, and help applying to doctorate degree programs if you want to continue with your public administration education. Online programs should additionally provide technical help for students, since your education relies on your ability to access course material on the Internet.