An online master’s in public administration degree prepares graduates for careers in all sectors of public service and leadership. Professionals trained in public administration are qualified to help shape and implement policy in a variety of organizations.
As part of their curriculum, most schools introduce students to a variety of software programs and information systems used to manage records, maintain policy updates and perform online research. Students enrolled in an online public administration degree can also become familiar with several other programs and services through supplemental certificates and workshops. These will broaden your skill set and further prepare you for positions in the field.
Below, we’ve ranked the top 25 online master’s in public administration (MPA) programs. As part of our ranking, we’ve also provided a detailed overview of each school’s program highlights and online learning environment. With nationally renowned faculty members and well-rounded curriculums, these schools prepare graduates for successful careers in a variety of public arenas. If you’re a prospective student considering an online MPA program, begin your research by reviewing our list of top colleges.
|Rank||School Name||School Logo||City||Cost||Address & Contact Info||School Links||Acclaim for Online Programs||School Description|
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
|Chapel Hill||103 South Bldg Cb 9100|
Chapel Hill, NC 27599
North Carolina's online public administration masters degree is a full-time cohort program for students aspiring to a career in city management or other public administration positions. Coursework explores management, public policy analysis and project evaluation. Students can graduate in just 18 months and are prepared for careers as public service leaders in government, nonprofit agencies and civic organizations.
Distance learners must complete a practicum in professional study as well as a capstone project to graduate. Online courses are delivered through ConnectCarolina, and distance students can also access several additional digital resources. These include the ITS help desk, an interactive course schedule and the mobile CarolinaGO app.
CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice
|New York||524 W 59th St|
New York, NY 10019
John Jay offers an online MPA with an emphasis in inspection and oversight. The program provides students with a general education in basic concepts of public administration, including applied research methods and public service. The curriculum helps students build the skills they need for a career within inspection and oversight organizations in the field. The school offers several specialization options, including:
An advanced certificate in forensic accounting is also available.
Online assignments are completed through Blackboard. Here, students can find a variety of online support tools for distance learners, including virtual library access, online workshop opportunities and a help desk for IT assistance. Additional resources are available for Blackboard-specific support, including supplemental software options and plug-in recommendations.
California State University - Long Beach
|Long Beach||1250 Bellflower Blvd|
Long Beach, CA 90840-0115
Long Beach State offers an online public administration masters degree that prepares students for positions in community-based and nonprofit public administration bodies. The school uses a cohort model, meaning distance learners take courses on a linear progression with the same set of classmates. Online students may complete the required coursework in leadership and management topics in as little as 22 months.
Students must complete 39 credits to graduate. All online lectures and auxiliary course materials are available in Blackboard. The platform also hosts other digital resources for distance learners, including academic advising, tutoring services, fully integrated tech support and more.
University of Colorado - Denver
|Denver||1380 Lawrence Street, Lawrence Street Center, Suite 1400|
Denver, CO 80217-3364
UC Denver's online MPA provides advanced courses in organizational management, law and public policy, local government politics and related topics. Coursework comprises 36 semester hours in a combination of core and elective topics, as well as a required internship and capstone project. Students can also pursue an optional concentration in nonprofit organizations.
Assignments are available through Canvas. Here, students can find a variety of online resources, including advising, tutoring, career planning and professional training options. Tech support and live communication features are also available on each student's UCD portal.
Indiana University - Bloomington
|Bloomington||107 South Indiana Ave.|
Bloomington, IN 47405-7000
Indiana's online public administration masters degree provides students with a comprehensive education in a combination of public administration and public policy fundamentals. Coursework in the 48-hour program explores management, policy analysis, economics, communications and more through a variety of core classes and optional electives. Graduates are prepared for careers in public management, nonprofit management and policy analysis and other opportunities.
Online courses are delivered through Canvas, alongside a variety of student services provided exclusively for distance learners. Resources include live chat with the student support center, virtual library services and online tutoring options.
|Chicago||1 E Jackson Blvd|
Chicago, IL 60604
DePaul offers an online MS in both public service management and public administration. The MPA program features several optional specializations, including international public management, public management and metropolitan planning and urban affairs. Each program provides unique training for its respective area of expertise in public administration. The core curriculum is similar in every specialization of the program, and includes required coursework in governmental financial administration, ethical leadership, policy design and analysis, research methods and more.
Graduates from both the public service and MPA programs are well-versed in general public administration topics are and prepared for leadership roles in their respective areas of interest. Courses are delivered through Desire2Learn and Blackboard. Distance learners can also access a variety of additional student support resources, including CampusConnect, grad student advising, an online writing center and virtual library databases.
|Boston||360 Huntington Ave|
Boston, MA 02115-5005
Northeastern's online MPA comprises 42 total credit hours of combined core and elective courses. Students receive instruction in subjects like quantitative techniques, institutional leadership, organizational theory and more. The program culminates in a capstone project.
Graduates are prepared for leadership roles in state and nonprofit sectors of public administration. Online students complete assignments through Blackboard, where they'll find all course materials. Additional support services are available through each student's MyNEU portal, including online learning and tech support, academic advising services, video tutorials and more.
University of Illinois at Springfield
|Springfield||One University Plaza|
Springfield, IL 62703-5407
UIS offers an online MPA that provides comprehensive training in core concepts in public administration. Courses in the 40-hour program are divided equally between core and elective offerings, including a capstone at the end of the curriculum. Core topics explore the five major areas of public administration: an introduction to the profession, budget and finance, human resource management, organization dynamics and analytical tools.
Graduates are prepared for employment in governmental and nonprofit organizations. Online assignments are delivered through Blackboard, where students can also find additional support services. Other digital resources include tech support, plug-in and online app recommendations, virtual library access, video tutorials and more.
|Miami||11300 NE 2nd Ave|
Miami, FL 33161-6695
The online MPA at Barry emphasizes ethical responsibility and solution-oriented policy. The program combines required and elective courses exploring human resource administration, values and ethics, applied organizational concepts and administrative strategies, among others. A capstone project tests students ability to integrate material learned from class in a practical application. As part of the capstone, students work directly with faculty members and professionals in the field.
Graduates from Barry’s online MPA are prepared for top leadership positions in nonprofit management and other arenas of public administration. Online assignments are completed in Canvas, Barry's online learning management platform. Canvas also hosts a variety of supplemental programs and software to support online learning, including WebAdvisor, WebLaw and PACE Online. Additional online support services include virtual library access, an interactive calendar, online tutoring and personal counseling services.
University of San Francisco
|San Francisco||2130 Fulton St|
San Francisco, CA 94117-1080
The curriculum in USF's 39-credit program explores public policy analysis and implementation, quantitative methods, management practice, organizational behavior, human resources and more. Students may pursue an optional emphasis in health services administration. They can also select from electives in leading across sectors and strategic communications.
Applicants are not required to submit a GRE for admission and may complete the accelerated program in just 13 courses. Online assignments are available in Canvas via MyUSF.edu. Canvas also hosts several other online student support tools, including an interactive calendar, course registration, a mobile learning app and more.
California State University - Northridge
|Northridge||18111 Nordhoff St|
Northridge, CA 91330
California State Northridge offers an online MPA with several concentrations. These include health administration, nonprofit sector management and public sector management and leadership. The curriculum combines foundational theoretical concepts with practical skills in public administration. Coursework comprises 36 credit hours and includes required courses in organization theory and human behavior, research methods, strategic management, public sector labor and more. Students must also take electives within their concentration and pass a comprehensive final exam to graduate.
Online materials are available on Moodle. The platform also hosts several additional support services for distance learners, including technical support, academic advising and career counseling. Other assistance is available in each student's myNorthridge portal.
University of Baltimore
|Baltimore||Charles at Mount Royal|
Baltimore, MD 21201-5720
The University of Baltimore offers an online MPA with concentrations in public and nonprofit management. The 42-credit, two-year program provides training in basic concepts needed for leadership positions in public management and administration. The curriculum combines core classes in public management, public policy, information resource management, statistical applications and more. Electives include material in budgeting and fiscal administration, negotiations and conflict management, and global affairs and human security. Students must also complete an internship to graduate.
Distance students access assignments through Sakai and watch lectures and streaming content through Blackboard. Student support services are available through the UB online learning portal, including tech support, academic advising, online tutoring opportunities, social media accounts and more.
University of South Florida
|Tampa||4202 East Fowler Ave|
Tampa, FL 33620-9951
USF's online master's in public administration is designed for professionals with experience in the field. The curriculum emphasizes public and nonprofit managerial skills and includes internship and capstone requirements. The program’s online format also helps students develop their communication, collaboration, research and technology skills.
Online assignments and other digital resources are delivered through Canvas. These include counseling services, career assistance, technical support and more. Additionally, distance learners can explore a wealth of online software and other programs available on the USF.edu site, including searchable databases and filesharing tools.
University of Missouri
|Columbia||105 Jesse Hall|
Columbia, MO 65211
Missouri offers an online master of public affairs, a program designed for experienced professionals hoping to advance into an administrative position. The program suits professionals in any branch of public administration, including public, nonprofit, government and nongovernment sectors. The 33-credit program features nine-week classes. Key courses include collaborative governance, organizational dynamics and leadership, research methods and economic analysis.
Assignments are available online through Blackboard, though the school also uses Moodle, Canvas and Sakai for some distance learning activities. Academic support services include student advising, video orientation and tutorial options, virtual library resources and tech support.
University of Nebraska at Omaha
|Omaha||6001 Dodge St|
Omaha, NE 68182-0225
Nebraska at Omaha offers a master's of public administration online with a variety of available concentrations. These include:
Specializations are also available in criminology and criminal justice. The degree comprises a total of 39 credit hours in a combination of core, concentration, specialization and elective courses. General education coursework explores the foundations of public service, organization theory and behavior, planning and evaluation and more. Students must also complete a capstone project to graduate.
Assignments are delivered through Blackboard. Additional student support services for distance learners, including an interactive calendar, virtual library access, student advising and more, are offered through the Service Learning Academy.
The University of Texas in Arlington
|Arlington||701 S. Nedderman Dr.|
Arlington, TX 76013
UTRGV offers a master's of public administration online. The program provides foundational background information in public services and emphasizes professional urban area planning. The two-year, 39-credit program explores general education, MPA-specific and elective topics in public administration, ethics in public service, evaluation research and more. To graduate, students must also complete an internship and a capstone project.
Online assignments are delivered through Blackboard, which also hosts supplemental online support for distance learners. Other resources include technology support, virtual library services and a variety of active social media accounts hosted by UTRGV student groups.
|Saint Charles||209 S Kingshighway|
Saint Charles, MO 63301-1695
Lindenwood offers an online MPA with an emphasis in public administration. The curriculum in the 36-credit program draws from topics in budgeting and financial management, public policy, digital communication, public relations, business administration and human services. Graduates are prepared for careers as systems analysts, public safety directors, city managers and positions in similar offices.
Courses are delivered through each distance learner's student portal. Lindenwood offers technical support, student advising and career counseling to each student. The school has posted a helpful video for prospective students, introducing them to the online platform and preparing them for life in the MPA program.
California State University - San Bernardino
|San Bernardino||5500 University Pky|
San Bernardino, CA 92407-2397
California State San Bernardino's master's of public administration online offers students plenty of flexibility in determining their course of study. Distance learners may pursue a generalist track or study one of several available concentrations, including cybersecurity, leadership or public financial management. Each concentration combines core classes with topics specific to the concentration, completed as electives of the student’s choice. In all tracks, students take courses in program evaluation, management of local economic development and public sector labor relations.
Courses are completed online through Blackboard. Here, they'll find all lectures, course materials, discussion forums and their grades. Additional digital resources include an interactive course schedule, student advising and career services.
|Villanova||800 Lancaster Avenue|
Villanova, PA 19085-1699
Villanova's online MPA programs emphasize leadership, ethics and creativity in public service. Coursework comprises core topics in public administration theory and history, organizational theory and design, and statistical analysis and research models. Students have the flexibility to choose several elective courses in an area of interest; they must also complete a three-credit internship and a comprehensive exam to graduate. Graduates leave school with the ethical and practical training for a career in public leadership.
Courses are delivered through Blackboard, where students find auxiliary class materials and discussion forums. On their student portal, students can also access additional resources designed specifically for distance learners. These include tech support, virtual library databases and student discounts for computer software and programs.
The University of Texas - Rio Grande Valley
|Edinburg||1201 W University Dr|
Edinburg, TX 78539-2999
This brand new school offers an MPA that provides training in contemporary public administration issues in an engaging online environment. The accelerated 36-credit program can be completed in one to two years, and incorporates a graduate seminar in public administration. Students take classes in policy and policy evaluation, decision-making and management, and ethics in public service. Graduates are prepared for careers as public policy analysts, grant writers, non profit policy administrators and more.
All online assignments are accessible through Blackboard. Distance learners can find additional support tools, including a live chat option, academic advising and other services, through their student portal.
Nova Southeastern University
|Fort Lauderdale||3301 College Ave|
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33314-7796
NSE's online MPA programs prepare students for local, state and nonprofit governance in public service. The curriculum provides public administration skills and also the soft skills needed to pursue employment in the industry. Course topics include public administration theory and analysis, managing information and technology, and administrative law and ethics. Accountability, integrity and ethical decision-making are themes throughout the program.
Online assignments are accessible on Blackboard, which also offers other support services for online learning. These include access to the virtual library and campus bookstore, as well as counseling services and a full-service help desk.
|Poughkeepsie||3399 North Rd|
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
Marist offers an online MPA with three available concentrations: public management, ethical leadership and healthcare administration. Students encounter core issues in all concentrations, including politics and policy, statistics for public managers, human resource management and more. Democratic governing principles, integrity and fairness are overarching themes throughout Marist's classes.
Online students complete assignments through the Marist student portal. As part of the program, they'll also have access to additional online resources. These include career services, technical support and elearning tutorials. Other services are available through the college's general Academic Resources page.
Florida Gulf Coast University
|Fort Myers||10501 Fgcu Blvd S|
Fort Myers, FL 33965-6565
FGCU offers online MPA programs in two concentrations: public leadership and management or environmental policy and planning. The program builds student competencies in state and local governance, as well as leadership, communication and critical-thinking skills. Students are provided with a combination of core training, scholarship and service-learning opportunities to master theoretical and practical applications of public administration concepts.
Online assignments are delivered through Canvas, and distance learners find a variety of student support resources available through their student portal. Additional resources include video conferencing opportunities, virtual library services and community service outreach options through social media and FGCU.edu.
Texas Southern University
|Houston||3100 Cleburne St|
Houston, TX 77004
Texas Southern offers an executive MPA, designed for prospective administrators in urban planning and development. The 36-credit program explores several topics, including public administration theory and practice, research methods and intergovernmental relations. The program combines foundational and elective courses and culminates in a capstone experience.
Courses are delivered through Blackboard and incorporate virtual lectures, collaborative seminars and multimedia projects. The variety of presentation methods keeps students engaged and helps them develop the soft skills needed for successful leadership. Distance learning is supported by a range of additional services for online students, including online scheduling and registration, tech support and social media tools.
Pennsylvania State University - Penn State Harrisburg
|Middletown||777 West Harrisburg Pike|
Middletown, PA 17057
Penn State Harrisburg's MPA blends conceptual study and field experience, helping students develop a broad skill set applicable in a variety of public service careers. The 36-hour program combines core and elective courses in subjects ranging from public organization and management to research methods and fiscal decision making. The curriculum also requires a 300-hour internship experience. Students with at least two years of relevant work experience may be eligible to forego the internship requirement.
Online assignments are delivered through ANGEL, where students can also access discussion forums and other class materials. Additional support resources for distance learners includes online advising, technical support and instant messaging software.
Graduates from top MPA programs can pursue several career opportunities. Though master-level training exceeds the minimum requirement for many social and community service managers, advanced certification is useful on the job market and can help you find work soon after graduation. Though most students with an MPA want to work in public administration, many are also finding positions as political scientists. According to the BLS, jobs in the field are expected to grow by 21% by the year 2022, and the experience MPA holders get in school provides adequate preparation for most fieldwork.
Though an online MPA can lead to several career paths, employers in any field will want to see documented work experience accompanying your formal education. Those pursuing a career in public policy should consider taking an internship to build strong communication and other soft skills. Similarly, students interested in research-based occupations may want to develop their communication skills through a writing intensive or detailed study of computer management systems. Generally, employers hiring public administration professionals at all levels prefer candidates with significant field experience and professional training.
Though specific requirements vary job to job, certain positions within public administration may require additional certification. As an example, emergency management directors trained in public administration are also typically required to have years of work experience in their field of choice. Institutions with minimum work requirements, including most fire departments and crisis management agencies, often provide inclusive training programs for new hires to meet specific qualifications while on-the-job.
Ultimately, an MPA degree can prepare you for a range of positions in public administration and policy making. If you’re interested in working in the field, consider earning your MPA online. The online format allows you to pursue a rewarding and challenging career without disrupting your current professional or at-home obligations and can provide you with the training to jump into the job you’ve always wanted.