A master’s degree in public administration (MPA) is a versatile and valuable credential for anyone who wants to pursue a career in public service. Whether you aspire to work in government, nonprofit, or private sector organizations, an MPA can equip you with the skills and knowledge you need to make a positive impact on society.
But how do you choose the best online MPA program for your goals and needs? With so many options available, it can be hard to compare and evaluate different programs. That’s why we have created this guide to help you find the best online master’s in public administration programs based on various factors, such as accreditation, curriculum, cost, flexibility, and reputation.
What is an Online Master’s in Public Administration?
An online master’s in public administration is a graduate degree that can be completed entirely or mostly through distance learning. Online MPA programs typically follow the same rigorous curriculum as on-campus programs, but offer more convenience and flexibility for students who have other commitments, such as work or family.
Online MPA programs teach students the core principles and practices of public administration, such as policy analysis, organizational management, budgeting, ethics, leadership, and strategic planning. Students also learn how to apply these skills to various sectors and contexts, such as health care, education, environment, social justice, and international development.
Online MPA programs usually require between 36 and 42 credits to graduate, which can take two to three years to complete on a full-time basis. Some programs may offer accelerated or part-time options that can shorten or extend the duration of the program. Online MPA programs may also require an internship, a capstone project, or a thesis to demonstrate the student’s mastery of the field.
Why Choose an Online Master’s in Public Administration?
There are many reasons why you might want to choose an online master’s in public administration over a traditional on-campus program. Here are some of the main benefits of online MPA programs:
- Flexibility: Online MPA programs allow you to study at your own pace and schedule, without having to relocate or commute to campus. You can access your coursework anytime and anywhere, as long as you have a reliable internet connection. You can also balance your studies with your personal and professional obligations more easily.
- Affordability: Online MPA programs tend to be more affordable than on-campus programs, as they often charge lower tuition fees and eliminate other costs associated with campus-based education, such as transportation, housing, and textbooks. You may also qualify for financial aid or scholarships to help cover your expenses.
- Diversity: Online MPA programs expose you to a diverse and global network of faculty and peers who share your passion for public service. You can interact with them through online platforms, such as discussion boards, video conferencing, and social media. You can also benefit from their different perspectives and experiences in various fields and regions.
- Quality: Online MPA programs are held to the same high standards as on-campus programs in terms of accreditation, curriculum, faculty qualifications, and student outcomes. Many online MPA programs are accredited by reputable agencies, such as the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA), which ensures that they meet the criteria for academic excellence and professional relevance.
How to Choose the Best Online Master’s in Public Administration Programs?
Choosing the best online master’s in public administration programs depends on several factors that may vary depending on your preferences and circumstances. Here are some of the most important factors to consider when comparing different online MPA programs:
- Accreditation: Accreditation is a process that evaluates the quality and credibility of educational institutions and programs. It ensures that they meet certain standards of academic rigor and professional relevance. Accreditation also affects your eligibility for financial aid, transfer credits, licensure, and employment opportunities. You should look for online MPA programs that are accredited by recognized agencies, such as NASPAA or the Commission on Accreditation of Public Administration Education (COPRA).
- Curriculum: Curriculum refers to the courses and topics that make up an online MPA program. It reflects the program’s goals, objectives, and outcomes. You should look for online MPA programs that offer a comprehensive and relevant curriculum that covers the core competencies of public administration, such as policy analysis, organizational management, budgeting, ethics, leadership, and strategic planning. You should also look for online MPA programs that offer electives or concentrations that align with your interests and career aspirations.
- Cost: Cost refers to the amount of money you need to pay to enroll in and complete an online MPA program. It includes tuition fees, technology fees, application fees, and other expenses. You should look for online MPA programs that offer affordable and transparent pricing, as well as financial aid or scholarships to help you fund your education. You should also compare the return on investment (ROI) of different online MPA programs, which measures the benefits you can expect to gain from your degree in terms of income, career advancement, and social impact.
- Flexibility: Flexibility refers to the degree of convenience and adaptability that an online MPA program offers to its students. It includes factors such as the length and format of the program, the delivery and assessment methods, the availability and accessibility of faculty and support services, and the opportunities for interaction and collaboration. You should look for online MPA programs that offer flexibility that suits your learning style, schedule, and goals. You should also consider the level of commitment and self-discipline required to succeed in an online MPA program.
- Reputation: Reputation refers to the recognition and esteem that an online MPA program enjoys among its stakeholders, such as students, alumni, employers, peers, and accrediting agencies. It reflects the program’s quality, performance, and impact. You should look for online MPA programs that have a good reputation in terms of academic excellence, student satisfaction, alumni outcomes, employer feedback, peer reviews, and accreditation status.
What are Some of the Best Online Master’s in Public Administration Programs?
Based on the factors mentioned above, here are some examples of some of the best online master’s in public administration programs available:
- Indiana Wesleyan University: This online MPA program offers a public management concentration that prepares students for leadership roles in various public service organizations. The program consists of 36 credits that can be completed in 18 months on a full-time basis or longer on a part-time basis. The program is accredited by NASPAA and costs $11,941 per year.
- SOAS University of London: This online MSc program in public financial management focuses on the theory and practice of public finance, budgeting, auditing, and compliance. The program consists of 180 credits that can be completed in two years on a part-time basis. The program is accredited by COPRA and costs $6,350 per year.
- Kennesaw State University: This dual degree program allows students to earn both an MBA and an MPA in three years on a part-time basis. The program consists of 63 credits that cover topics such as business administration, public administration, finance, accounting, management, and strategic planning. The program is accredited by NASPAA and costs $17,078 per year.
- Brussels School of Governance: This postgraduate certificate program in public procurement provides students with specialized knowledge and skills in the field of European public procurement law and policy. The program consists of 20 to 30 credits that can be completed in one year on a full-time or part-time basis. The program is accredited by COPRA and costs $4,550 per year.
Here are some frequently asked questions about online master’s in public
What can I do with an online master’s in public administration?
An online master’s in public administration can open up many career opportunities in various sectors and fields related to public service. Some common job titles for MPA graduates include city administrator, policy analyst, community services manager, fundraising manager, human resources manager, program director, consultant, lobbyist, researcher, and educator.
How much can I earn with an online master’s in public administration?
The salary potential for MPA graduates depends on several factors, such as the sector, location, level of experience, and type of organization they extend the duration of the program.
How can I find the best online master’s in public administration programs for me?
Finding the best online master’s in public administration programs for you requires some research and evaluation. You should start by identifying your goals, interests, and needs, and then look for online MPA programs that match your criteria. You can use various sources of information, such as websites, brochures, rankings, reviews, testimonials, and alumni networks, to learn more about different online MPA programs. You can also contact the admission offices or faculty members of the programs you are interested in to ask questions and request more details. Finally, you should compare and contrast the pros and cons of each program and make an informed decision based on your preferences and circumstances.