An online public administration degree prepares graduates to serve as executive managers in government agencies and nonprofit, public service organizations. It involves the systematic study of key aspects in administrative law, public policy management, executive-legislative relations, and professional ethics.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that administrators earned a median salary of $96,940 in 2019, much higher than the median salary of $39,810 for all occupations. The BLS projects a 6% growth rate for jobs in this sector from 2019-2029, higher than the national average. Graduates of an accredited onsite or online public administration master's program qualify for diverse jobs such as city manager, public policy analyst, and fiscal administrator. Overall, a master's in public administration opens up avenues of professional advancement for individuals interested in pursuing a career in public service.
AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org 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.
Top Online Programs
Explore programs of your interests with the high-quality standards and flexibility you need to take your career to the next level.
What can you do with a master's in public administration?
A master's in public administration qualifies degree-holders for leadership and top managerial positions in government, public policy agencies, advocacy groups, and nonprofit organizations.
Which is better, an MPA or MBA?
Both degrees give students the chance to develop their leadership qualities. An MBA focuses on business management and increasing profitability, while an MPA focuses on public service management, as well as crafting and implementing public policies.
How long does it take to earn a master's in public administration?
A master's in public administration typically comprises 36-42 credits and takes 2-3 years of full-time enrollment to complete. An online public administration master's program may take a shorter time to complete due to multiple starting dates, accelerated schedules, and asynchronous coursework.
Is a master's in public administration hard?
Yes, a master's in public administration can be a challenging academic endeavor. Students need the ability to synthesize and apply the relevant aspects of varying fields into a unified framework.
Best Online Master's in Public Administration 2021
University of Central FloridaLocation
A public university in Orlando, UCF offers an online master of public administration. The 42-credit program occurs solely online without residency requirements.
The curriculum includes core requirements such as public administration in the policy process, public administrators in the governance process, and strategic planning and management. Learners then take 12 credits of electives, including nonprofit management and emergency management. The capstone project allows students to demonstrate skills mastery.
Applicants must hold an undergraduate degree in any field with a minimum 3.0 GPA to qualify for admission. The school does not require students to submit standardized test scores.
UCF is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel HillLocation
Chapel Hill, NCTuition
A research university located in Chapel Hill, UNC-Chapel Hill offers an online master of public administration. Learners complete 45 credits and can choose from one of five concentrations: local government, public management, nonprofit management, public health, and international relations.
Students begin with 27 credits of core requirements, such as public administration institutions and values, organizational theory, and law for public administration. Learners then choose 15 credits of electives, including government and nonprofit accounting and reporting, productivity improvement in local government, and technology and communication engagement. The program culminates in a 400-hour practicum with a portfolio, allowing students to receive mentoring and demonstrate skills mastery.
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree to qualify for admission. Students must also submit GRE or GMAT scores to begin the application process. UNC-Chapel Hill is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of College and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Florida International UniversityLocation
Located in Miami, FIU offers an online master of public administration. The 42-credit program occurs solely online with no residency requirements.
Students take core courses such as human resources management and policy, public finance and budgetary process, and the practice of public management. Students choose electives in one of several specializations, including human resource management, homeland security, or urban policy innovations. Participants with less than three years of work experience complete a 300-hour public service internship to gain hands-on experience before entering the work field.
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree in any field with a minimum GPA of 3.0 to qualify for admission. Students with undergraduate GPAs of 3.25 or higher may apply to waive the standardized test requirement.
FIU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The program is accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration.
Texas A&M UniversityLocation
College Station, TXTuition
Located in College Station, Texas A&M offers an executive master of public service and administration. Students complete 39 credits online with a one-week residency required per program year. Students can complete the program in 2-3 years, depending on transfer credits.
Students take required core courses such as public policy formation, economic analysis, and program evaluation in public and nonprofit organizations. From there, students take 18 credits in a specific concentration. Students can choose from one of three focus areas: homeland security, nonprofit management, and public management. In a capstone experience, students complete a public service project with an approved nonprofit or government agency.
Applicants must hold an undergraduate degree in any field to qualify for admission. The program does not specify a minimum GPA but strongly encourages GMAT, LSAT, or GMAT scores for students with less than a 3.2 GPA.
Texas A&M is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
San Diego State UniversityLocation
San Diego, CATuition
Based in San Diego, California, SDSU offers an online master of public administration. Students can complete the 36-credit course requirements in as few as 16 months.
Students take courses in convenient eight-week formats. Notable core courses include the scope of public administration, public personnel administration, public financial management, and administration and public policy management. Learners take electives from each of the core areas and a capstone course, allowing them to demonstrate skills mastery.
Applicants must hold an undergraduate degree in any field with a minimum GPA of 2.85 to qualify for admission. The school prefers students to possess a minimum GPA of 3.0 on the last 60 credits of undergraduate work. Students do not need to submit standardized tests as part of the application process.
SDSU is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission.
Students interested in pursuing a career in public administration can major in the field at all collegiate levels. Doctoral students can opt for a research-focused doctor of philosophy degree or a practice-oriented doctor of public administration program.
Attesting to the increasing popularity of public administration as a professional field, colleges and universities offer a variety of specializations within these programs. Specializations include public management, criminal justice administration, nonprofit management, and healthcare administration.
Why Get a Public Administration Degree?
Pursuing a master's in public administration requires a serious investment of time and money. However, a public administration master's degree often yields several professional and personal strongenefits. The list strongelow includes several reasons to get an online public administration degree.
- Ethical Professional Practice
- Because public administration involves a measure of public trust, a well-crafted curriculum includes foundational courses in the type of ethical strongehavior required of public administrators and similar positions.
- Build a Network of Peers
- Much of a public administrator's work involves coordination and cooperation. Completing a master's in public administration gives graduates a network of peers for collastrongoration and mentorship opportunities.
- Career Advancement
- Employers know master's degree-holders have in-depth knowledge and extensive training in their field of study, which is why they usually reserve top managerial and leadership jostrongs for applicants with a relevant postgraduate degree.
- Higher Salary
- Because master's degree-holders qualify for senior-level administrative positions, they also enjoy the higher salaries and comprehensive strongenefits that often come with such jostrongs.
- Professional Credistrongility
- A master's in public administration presents the holder as a knowledgeastrongle and committed professional who is fully invested in delivering timely and appropriate services to the public.
What Are the Requirements for a Public Administration Degree?
Admission requirements for an online public administration master's program typically include a bachelor's degree in public administration or related social science degree. Most schools require applicants to submit GRE or GMAT scores, a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA, and relevant professional experience.
Bachelor's level public administration enrollees typically complete a summer internship. Graduation requirements at the master's level can vary among schools, with many requiring candidates to write a thesis. Alternative culminating activities can include passing a comprehensive exam or completing a capstone project.
Professional Organizations for Public Administration Students
Public Administration draws from several professional arenas including economics, finance, psychology, and business. Practitioners need to constantly update their field knowledge to organize and manage the amount of information that impacts their work. Professional organizations give public administrators the tools to accomplish this goal through peer support, publications, and regional and national conferences.
American Society for Public AdministrationASPA's membership roster includes elected and appointed officials, city managers, civil servants, and nonprofit administrators. ASPA offers a summit for students and young professionals during the annual conference where they can explore job options, access career development resources, and take advantage of mentorship opportunities.
Association for Public Policy Analysis & ManagementAPPAM brings together members invested in advancing public policy and management through research and education. It boasts approximately 2,500 individual members and more than 100 institutional members. The organization maintains an extensive job board, produces podcasts and webinars on current and emerging issues, and publishes a digital directory of individual and institutional members to foster collaboration among members.
Public Management Research AssociationThis organization seeks to improve public governance by supporting high-quality interdisciplinary research on public management. PMRA helps members explore professional and academic opportunities through its journals and newsletters, and it provides networking opportunities during its regional and national conferences. The organization welcomes student members pursuing a degree in the field.
Students who pursue an online public administration master's degree often continue working while taking classes. However, many enrollees still need assistance with tuition and fees. The scholarships listed below represent only a small sample of financial assistance programs available to students enrolled in an on-campus or online public administration master's program.
National Forum for Black Public Administrators Scholarships
Who Can Apply: The organization administers several funding opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in an accredited public administration program. NFBPA gives preference to students enrolled in a historically black college or university. Students pursuing a degree in a related field such as political science or urban studies can also apply.
Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship
Who Can Apply: The program welcomes applications from seniors and graduate students committed to pursuing a career in foreign service. Acceptable fields of study include public administration, political science, and international affairs. Applicants need a minimum 3.2 GPA. Recipients must agree to a five-year service commitment with the U.S. Department of State.
Walter W. Mode Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Administered by the ASPA, the program accepts applications from students pursuing an accredited master's degree in public administration. Applicants must show a strong history and commitment to public administration and be an active ASPS member in good standing. Admission requirements include a personal statement, official transcript, current resume, and letters of recommendation.