Performancing Metrics

20 Best Online Master of Public Administration

master's in public administration

Are you looking for the best schools for masters in public administration degrees? You’ve come to the right place. We can help with your school search for online MPA programs.

As a public administration graduate, you’ll be well-versed in both the holistic and humanistic approaches to administration—as well as those that are more technical and practical in nature. You’ll take classes in liberal arts disciplines like sociology and anthropology as well as those in more hands-on fields like urban planning and public policy.

This unique blend of theoretical and hands-on training will provide you with the skills you need for a successful career in the public sector. A professional degree is best suited for individuals who want to develop their leadership and management skills while still having a wide variety of careers available for them to choose from. 

If you’re not sure what the benefit of earning a public administration graduate degree is, just look around you! The evidence of this degree’s value is everywhere.

From the traffic signals at your town’s busiest intersection to the fire hydrants that dot the sidewalks, the work of a public administration graduate can be seen just about anywhere. From residential to commercial construction, utility work to road projects, there is a lot that happens behind the scenes to maintain necessary facilities and services. 

That’s where you come in. 

If you’re interested in contributing to these inner workings, whether it’s at the local, state, or federal level, or even if you’re just passionate about helping a cause in the community, a career in public administration is a good fit for your passions. You could work in a variety of roles, including as a city manager, recreation manager, urban and regional planner, in public and nonprofit sectors, human resource management or even a policy analyst. 

Your background in public administration—combined with a few years of leadership experience—could even land you a role in public office or a job teaching at the college level!

There’s truly no disadvantage to earning a master of public administration, and with the now-widespread availability of online degree programs, there’s no reason to continue procrastinating on earning a degree. 

You can earn a degree from anywhere in the world, including from your very own couch (or hey—you can work on classes while you’re lying in bed. We won’t judge you!). Online degrees are often more affordable than their on-campus counterparts and they add a great deal of value to your already-impressive resume. There are many online MPA programs, so let us help with your school search.

Plus, you’ll be able to schedule your classes around your personal and professional obligations. We get that you’re busy and have other commitments—with an online master, you no longer have to choose between advancing your education and living the rest of your life. You truly can have your cake and eat it too! Students complete these MPA online programs and go onto leadership positions in a variety of careers. You may be interested in community development, government agencies, nonprofit management- consider an online education that will move your career forward.

By now, you likely realize the benefit of earning a degree in public administration. But do you know what to look for? Finding the right master’s degree can be tough, but fortunately, we’re here to help you on your journey toward finding the perfect fit. 

So without further ado, here are some masters in public administration best schools to consider in your search! You can find an online MPA program that will work best for you.

See Also: Most Popular Online Master’s Degrees 50 Most Popular Online Master’s Degrees 2020

What Are the Best Online Master of Public Administration Degrees?

We know that you have educational goals that you’re itching to pursue, but you may not know where to start when looking for a master’s in public administration. The editors of Master’s Programs Guide utilize a unique ranking methodology based on the following five aspects:

25% Overall Degree Affordability: Average cost of undergraduate and graduate tuition per school

25% Graduation Rate: Number of students who start at the university and actually finish there

20% Earnings Potential: Average mid-career salary of school alumni

20% Selectivity: The number of students who apply versus the number who actually get accepted

10% Online Graduate Offerings: The number of programs offered online in each department

At Master’s Programs Guide, we strive to do our best to guide you and your family toward a fruitful academic career. The pursuit of knowledge is a noble one, and we want to help you reach your goals.

Public Administration Online

#1. Texas A & M University, College Station

Texas A&M

Executive Master of Public Service & Administration

As the only school in Texas to hold simultaneous designations as a space, land, and sea grant institution, it’s easy to see why Texas A&M University, College Station tops our list of the best online master’s in public administration. 

The online degree in public administration from Texas A&M University, College Station is offered by the Bush School of Government & Public Service. It has only one week of residency per year, meaning just two weeks of seat-time on campus total during the entirety of this two-year program. 

It comes with multiple options for tracks, making it possible for you to tailor the degree toward your unique career goals. You can choose from concentrations in nonprofit management, public management, or even homeland security. All courses for all of these selections are available entirely online. You’ll complete 18 hours in your selected track area to give you a more customized approach to public service and administration. 

In total, you’ll complete around 39 graduate credit hours of study. You can graduate in just two to three years depending on your schedule and how quickly you’d like to move through your coursework. Courses start in the fall, spring, and summer semesters for maximum convenience.

Before you graduate, you’ll be able to apply what you’ve learned to your final project in a culminating applied capstone experience. In this experience, you’ll work 1:1 with a nonprofit or government profit, putting your new skills to work in a real-world setting. 

Graduate from this program and you’ll automatically become a part of the Aggie Network. This network connects more than 527,000 proud former students around the world. There’s a strong sense of community in this degree, 

This kind of practical experience is just one reason why this program is ranked as one of the best programs in public affairs by the U.S. News & World Report. It’s also named a “Best Value” in Online Executive MPA Programs by Value Colleges and is accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration. If you want to work in nonprofit organizations or public service you should consider this public administration program.

#2. Liberty University


Master of Public Administration

Another top MPA university is Liberty University. Here, you’ll be able to truly maximize your potential as a future leader by earning a master’s degree in public administration. The master’s in public administration is delivered 100% online and broken down into 8-week courses. You can transfer up to 50% of the total degree requirements, too—a beneficial feature if you’ve already started earning credits at another institution.

In this online master’s, you’ll gain the skills and knowledge you need to work as a civic leader at the county, state, national, or global level. Whether you’re interested in working in government, the private sector, or for a nonprofit organization, this online master’s is the right choice for you. Public and nonprofit organizations will both be good career options for you.

The curriculum for this online master’s is incredibly diverse and varied, taking you on a journey of self-exploration and a broader understanding of public administration as you earn credits. You’ll complete 36 credit hours of study as you delve deep into topics like community economic development and the art of public policy analysis. This will help you learn how to develop a sense of community while also helping an existing organization adapt to new policies. 

You can complete all of your requirements for this program in less than two years. It comes with optional specializations in things like:

  • urban planning
  • public and nonprofit management
  • law and public policy
  • fire administration
  • healthcare
  • disaster management
  • business and government

There is also a general track if you don’t have any interest in a specialization. 

This online master’s, offered by the Helms School of Government, takes a highly practical approach to public administration. The school is ranked by as one of the top 5 online schools in America—and it’s also one of the most affordable. While most schools have increased their tuition dramatically in recent years (even if just to keep up with the pace of inflation) Liberty has not. Tuition has not increased in six years! When looking at online MPA programs, consider this one from Liberty University.

#3. California State University-Northridge

Master of Public Administration

A public university in Los Angeles, CA, California State University-Northridge has had a major influence on the local and state economy. If you decide to pursue the Master of Public Administration degree here, you, too, can learn how to best impact and improve local communities.

The Master MPA at California State University-Northridge is another one of the best in the country. In fact, it is California’s leading provider of MPA degrees and the third-largest in the country (ranked just behind Harvard and Columbia). You can choose to complete this degree either fully online or in-person, depending on your needs and preferences.

With more off-campus locations than any other provider, California State makes it easy for any student to earn a degree in public administration. The school partners closely with 10 Los Angeles County Agencies as well as two counties and eight cities outside of LA. This close connection with the public sector ensures that all graduates can become effective agents of change in their local communities as well. 

The online master’s is perfect for administrations and staff who are currently employed in the private, public, or nonprofit sectors and wish to enhance their skills in those areas. You’ll build a strong working relationship with countless public sector administrators as you go about your courses, something that will help you both personally and professionally.

Not only that, but you can choose between multiple concentrations in high-growth areas of the public sector. These include:

  • Public Sector Management and Leadership
  • Nonprofit Sector Management
  • Health Administration 

As a result, this online master’s is one of the highest-ranked degrees in public administration in the entire country. In addition to the many attributes and accolades listed above, California State is also ranked second in Wall Street Journal’s listing of the schools with the most diverse learning environments. Not too shabby!

#4. Texas Tech University

Texas Tech

Master of Public Administration

Originally known as Texas Technological College, Texas Tech University has degrees in more than 150 courses of study. 

The Master of Public Administration at Texas Tech University is fully accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration. Through your courses, you’ll gain a professional skills-based education that will support you as you work as a manager, policy analyst, or public leader. 

It is offered entirely online as well as on campus in Lubbock, Waco, Sherman, and Dallas/Fort Worth. There are multiple specializations available including:

  • health care administration
  • public management
  • environmental policy and administration
  • nonprofit management

Regardless of the concentration you choose, you’ll enter the workforce equipped with the skills in general public management that you need to be a successful leader. Class sizes are small for this public administration degree, with all capped at 15 students and some having as few as just five students. 

Before you graduate from this online master’s, you will also complete an internship in the surrounding community. Texas Tech has partnerships with dozens of nearby organizations but you can also self-select a partnering organization in your community to suit your needs. This will help give you valuable hands-on experience with a public service organization before you even graduate. 

An affordable program, it costs less than $30,187 for most students. There are numerous scholarships and assistantships to help lower these costs even more, with about 70% of all full-time students here receiving financial support of some form. 

Most courses for this online MPA program are offered in an asynchronous fashion to offer you the flexibility you need to complete your degree. The program has a 90% job placement rate within six months of graduation, a figure that shows a promising and solid return on investment. 

#5. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Executive Master of Public Administration Online

Another one of the best masters of public administration programs can be found at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Offered by the School of Government, this program is top-ranked for public affairs by the U.S. News & World Report. It has an impressive 96% job placement rate within six months, an impressive figure that is due in part to the program’s broad alumni network of more than 1500 proud graduates all around the country.

When you decide to enroll in this online master’s, you’ll be making a smart choice. The UNC School of Government has provided quality education in programs like public administration for more than eight decades. You’ll benefit from the same top-ranked MPA program that is offered on-campus and still be able to work closely with classmates and faculty all around the world. 

The degree is accredited by the Network of School of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration. A 45-credit hour program, it is designed to fit your unique career interests. To that end, a number of concentrations are available for this online MPA program including:

  • public health
  • public management
  • local government
  • international relations
  • nonprofit management

There are multiple immersion experiences you can participate in, such as on-campus meet and greets and presentations. You can even take cross-university electives to allow you to diversify your degree even more. 

Throughout every step of the way, you’ll benefit from close interactions with expert faculty. You will receive one-on-one mentoring and enjoy class sizes that are small and close-knit. You’ll take classes in things like:

  • Public Administration Analysis and Evaluation
  • Public Financial Management
  • Law for Public Administration

A highly affordable program, this degree has multiple options for available scholarships. Online students can apply for funding via merit-based scholarships, local and state government employee tuition matching, and other more specific awards, like the Young Professionals in Foreign Policy Scholarship. 

#6. Villanova University

Master of Public Administration

Villanova University

A private Catholic research university, Villanova University is located, as you might guess, in Villanova, PA. Founded by the Augustinians in 1842, it has a commitment to public service and to the improvement of local communities. 

It is here where you will find another one of the best master’s programs. The public administration degree program offers the same curriculum, faculty, and degree options as the on-campus program of the same name. In fact, the two are totally identical—with the exception, of course, being that online students get the added convenience of a 100% flexible course format.

You can complete your courses in as little as two years, if you choose, or take up to six to complete your course requirements. You’ll benefit from a vibrant alumni network, a proud student body, and plenty of community partnerships to boot. 

You can choose to complete the degree by itself or in combination with one of three different public administration graduate certificates such as:

  • City Management
  • Nonprofit Management
  • Public Administration

Classes start every eight weeks, making it easy to jump in when you feel ready to begin your studies.

This school is ranked as one of the top 50 National Universities for 2020 by U.S. News & World Report. The MPA program itself is accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Public Affairs, and Administration—a hallmark of its excellence and affordability. 

#7. University of Central Florida


Master of Public Administration

The University of Central Florida is home to another one of the best schools for public administration degrees. It takes just two years to complete and is designed for future leaders who want to make a serious impact.

Recognized as one of the top public affairs programs in the country by U.S. News & World Report, the degree will provide you with training in a variety of fields, including strategic planning, organizational management, public policy, and financial management. 

Core courses include topics such as:

  • Strategic Planning and Management
  • Advanced Concepts and Applications in Public Administration
  • Public Administrators in the Governance Process

One more feature to note? This program has affordable tuition that starts at just $369.65 per credit hour. You can’t beat that kind of affordability! This master’s in public administration can help you continue a career in public sector organizations, community development or government and nonprofit agencies.

#8. San Diego State University

San Diego State University 

Master of Public Administration

Another one of the best masters of public administration schools is San Diego State University. 

It requires no GRE for admission and takes just 16 months to complete.

You’ll pay a total of less than $20,000 for your entire program, making this one of the most affordable degrees around. A total of 36 credit hours are required, with all courses taught in six two-month modules for maximum convenience. 

You will take courses such as:

  • Public Financial Management
  • Public Personnel Administration
  • Research Methods in Public Administration

You’ll be able to complete a capstone course addressing a challenge in a local community organization (or in your own place of employment, if you choose). If financial management, public affairs, or public management is interesting to you, this could be the public administration online program for you.

The degree is ranked as one of the top five public administration programs in California, according to the U.S. News & World Report

#9. University of Colorado Denver, Anschutz Medical Campus

Master of Public Administration

At the University of Colorado Denver, Anschutz Medical Campus, you’ll find another one of the best public administration programs. This degree is ranked within the top 15% of MPA programs around the country. In Colorado, this is the only accredited program of its kind. 

You will take a total of 36 credit hours of study in this program, taking a unique blend of public policy and public administration courses. You’ll study topics such as organizational management, human resources, leadership, budgeting, and more. 

You’ll also take a deep dive into the ways policy affects public administration, how to write effective policies, and how to critically analyze policies of all kinds. It is an immersive program that will improve your ability to make evidence-based management decisions to improve policy.

It comes with multiple options for concentration, including those in:

  • Disasters
  • Hazards and Emergency Management
  • Education Policy
  • Emergency Management and Homeland Security
  • Nonprofit Management
  • Environmental Policy and Management

If you’re looking for a public administration program that offers a quality education paired with affordability, this is the one you need to consider. Tuition starts at just $526 per credit hour. 

#10. Florida International University

Florida International University

Master of Public Administration

Florida International also has one of the best masters in public administration. The degree is ranked as the ninth best in the country by U.S. News & World Report and makes it easy for you to earn your credentials on your own time. 

Classes are offered exclusively online on an annual rotation, allowing you to take one to four graduate courses at once. The program has rolling admissions for maximum flexibility and is taught by an MPA faculty body that is the largest in all of South Florida.

You will complete a total of 42 credit hours of study. There’s an option to complete a public service internship, but if you already have extensive hands-on experience, you may be able to waive this requirement. 

You’ll also take courses in things like Human Resources Management and Policy, Smart Governance, and Policy Analysis and Program Planning, just to name a few. You can choose to specialize in other areas like:

  • Homeland Security and Emergency Management
  • Comparative and International Public Administration
  • Urban Policy Innovations

The program is accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration. You’ll gain access to one of the largest alumni networks in the region, with over 3,500 MPA graduates represented all over the country.

In addition to that extensive alumni network that is in place and ready to start helping you network immediately, you’ll also be able to tap into the resources offered by the extensive Career Services Department at FIU. 


#11. Rutgers University

Location: New Brunswick, NJ

Degree: Master of Public Administration

Net Price: $19,401


#12. DePaul University

Location: Chicago, IL

Degree: Master of Public Administration

Net Price: $19,422


#13. Marist College

Location: Poughkeepsie, NY

Degree: Master of Public Administration

Net Price: $14,500


#14. University of Southern California

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Degree: Master of Public Administration

Net Price: $45,561


#15. Texas A & M International University

Location: Laredo, TX

Degree: Master of Public Administration

Net Price: $6,045


#16. Georgia College & State University

Location: Milledgeville, GA

Degree: Master of Public Administration

Net Price: $7,206


#17. Arkansas State University

Location: Jonesboro, AR

Degree: Masters of Public Administration in Public Management

Net Price: $6,210


#18. University of West Georgia

Location: Carrollton, GA

Degree: Master of Public Administration

Net Price: $6,110


#19. University of Missouri, Columbia

Location: Columbia, MO

Degree: Master of Public Administration

Net Price: $10,017


#20. Kent State University

Location: Kent, OH

Degree: Master of Public Administration

Net Price: $11,536



What is a public administration master’s degree?

You can easily take a look at the master of public administration rankings we gave you in this post to get an idea of which schools are the best fit, but without understanding what a public administration master’s degree actually is, that’s not a lot of help.

A master of public administration is a master’s degree specializing in public affairs. It prepares graduates to serve in state, municipal, federal, and nongovernmental roles. As a graduate of one of these programs, you’ll understand the specific challenges faced by those in public administration, working toward developing and managing policies, managing and implementing public programs and setting up infrastructure and development plans. 

Essentially, an MPA is the equivalent of an MBA, but in the public sector rather than the business world. It’s the perfect fit for candidates who want to work at the global scale and prepares graduates for upper level management positions. 

What is the best online MPA, no GRE required?

The GRE, or the Graduate Records Examination, is a core requirement for many master’s programs around the country. Most MPAs require this test for admission, too.

However, there are plenty of schools that do not. Some online programs that waive this requirement include:

  • Temple University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Purdue University
  • Northcentral University

There are other programs, like the University of Nebraska MAP, that require the GRE but offer multiple opportunities through which you can receive a GRE waiver. Do your research if you’re concerned about taking this exam! You have options, to say the least. 

Besides the GRE, other admissions requirements for MPA programs vary between different schools. In general, you’ll be expected to have a baccalaureate degree from an accredited university or college usually with an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. 

Most colleges do not require a bachelor’s degree in public administration in order to fulfill this undergraduate education requirement—any major will do. However, it’s important to touch base with your school of choice before you complete your application so you know exactly what will be expected of you. 

In addition to the GRE (sometimes) and your undergraduate transcripts, there are a few other documents you should plan on submitting. Again, these requirements vary between schools. Most of the time, you’ll need to submit things like letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and a resume. In some cases, work experience is another core requirement. 

What jobs can you get with a public administration (MPA)?

When you graduate with an MPA, your job opportunities will be incredibly varied. You’ll be primed for just about any leadership role in the public, private, or nonprofit sector. You could work in:

  • business
  • policy
  • finance
  • law
  • management

You can work as an analyst, grant writer, research, or program manager. You can work in local government, in strategic planning, public affairs, nonprofit organizations, public management, or human resource management.

Just about every industry requires MPAs, from charitable organizations to schools, human rights groups to public media. These jobs can be highly competitive, however, which is why it is so important to get a quality education from one of the best schools around. 

Three of the most common job titles for people who have earned MPAs are budget analysts, fundraising managers, and an urban and regional planner.

As a budget analyst, your job will be to help public and private organizations plan out their finances. Although a bachelor’s degree and a few courses in things like accounting and statistics are usually the basic requirements for admission to this program, keep in mind that earning a graduate degree will make you that much more competitive. 

You could also work as a public relations and fundraising manager. You’ll be in charge of creating materials that will improve the public image of your client or employer and coordinate campaigns to help bring in donations for your organization. 

Finally, you could also work as an urban or regional planner. A master’s degree is a basic requirement for this job, particularly one that’s offered by an accredited planning program. You’ll work with communities and municipalities to develop programs and plans that revolutionize facilities, accommodate population growth, and create and support 

What kinds of public administration course requirements are there?

When you enroll in a public administration degree, you’ll take interdisciplinary courses that cover topics like:

  • sociology
  • economics
  • economic analysis
  • anthropology
  • law
  • political science

Most students will take around two years to complete their degrees, although there are some executive MPA programs that can be completed in just one year, provided that you have some experience in your industry. 

Aside from the broad liberal arts requirements, you’ll likely take more specialized courses in things like:

  • international affairs
  • law
  • urban planning
  • political theory
  • public service leadership

Many MPA programs provide students with the opportunity to intern or complete other hands-on work in the discipline. 

Not only that, but another benefit of earning a master’s in public administration is that you will be able to expand your professional network. You’ll be working in a public sector role that will afford you access to a large network of professionals with varying levels of experience. That’s great news when it comes to building a network for finding a job later on.

Last but not least, a master’s of public administration may enable you to find additional job opportunities around the world. Many of these programs have an international focus, examining the ways in which other global governments and economies respond to public issues. 

Is a public administration master’s worth it?

If you’re curious about whether it’s worth the effort to earn a public administration master’s degree, the short and sweet answer to that question is this—absolutely. 

As a budget analyst, you could earn up to $78,970 per year. The top earners in 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, were those who worked for the federal government and in professional, scientific, and technical services, though wages were comparatively high across all sectors. 

If you choose to work as a fundraising manager, your job prospects will be even better. This job is expected to grow at a rate of more than 13% which is much faster than average. Again, all you need is a bachelor’s degree to qualify for one of these jobs, but if you choose to pursue a master’s, you could earn an annual salary in excess of $118,430 per year. The highest 10% earned more than $208,000!

Last but not least, consider the potential salary you might receive if you work as an urban and regional planner. These jobs are also in high demand, expected to grow at a rate of about 7% by 2030, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Demand for these positions can be found all over the country, with many employers even allowing remote work in some cases.

Although the salary isn’t quite as lofty as what you might expect from a job as a fundraising manager, it’s still impressive. You could bring in an average salary of around $75,950 per year, with the top 10% of workers earning $102,390!



Michael Templeton
Managing Editor

Kacey Reynolds Schedler
Contributing Editor