Last Reviewed: March 23, 2021
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University / School Online Program Admissions
Aurora University
Online MPA (one year) Website

MPA Programs That Are One Year (or so)

While most MPA programs can take at least two years to complete, some programs allow students to finish their degree in as little as 12 months. This section will explain what a one-year MPA is and what students can expect if they choose to enroll in these programs. It will also highlight six online MPA programs that students can complete in 15 months or less.

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The One Year MPA

Many schools offer MPA programs in-person or online that take about two years to complete. However, some schools are now offering MPA programs that students can complete in just one calendar year. One-year programs have some similarities to traditional MPA programs, but also some important differences students should consider.

Audience

Some one-year programs are open to all types of students, as are many traditional MPA programs. Others are for mid-career professionals with at least 3-5 years of experience working in the non-profit or public sector. The idea is that these professionals already have knowledge and experiences to apply to their MPA studies, which reduces the number of courses they need to take.

Credit Hours

Of the 14 programs reviewed, one-year MPAs require an average of 33 credit hours to complete. Typically, students in these programs must take courses in the fall, spring, and summer, whereas traditional MPA programs may not require a summer semester.

Most one-year programs also require students to complete a capstone project to work with a state, local, or non-profit organization on a real-world problem. Students are often required to complete a capstone project or a master's thesis in traditional MPA programs as well.

Coursework

Most one-year programs focus on offering students courses in the fundamentals of public administration. While each program has different requirements and varying course descriptions, below is a general overview and description of the types of courses students can expect from one-year MPA programs:

  • Foundations of Public Administration: An introductory course that can include current topics in the field, common problems facing public administrators, and public administration theories.
  • Economics: Typically, a microeconomics course focused on public administrators' skills and knowledge to solve problems.
  • Quantitative Analysis/Statistics: Teaches students when and how to apply quantitative analyses such as descriptive statistics, t-tests, and multivariate regression.
  • Public Ethics: Explains the ethical issues that can arise in public administration and tools to help students make ethical decisions.
  • Public Policy Analysis: Teaches students theories of policy that can help them define policy problems, implement solutions, and evaluate outcomes.
  • Public Finance and Budgeting: Teaches students how to develop and manage finances for public institutions.
  • Management and Leadership: Teaches students key characteristics and attributes of effective leaders.

Some schools also require courses on human resources, public law, and program evaluation, though they are less common. Always check the school's website to confirm the core coursework.

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Electives and Specializations

Students who enroll in one-year MPA programs may take fewer electives than students in a traditional program. One-year programs typically require students to take 4-5 electives to graduate, while in-person or hybrid programs may require 5-8 electives. There are also fewer opportunities to specialize in specific policy areas in one-year programs. Fewer electives may work well for mid-career professionals who already have expertise in their fields. However, students who are new to the field may want to consider programs with more electives to build up their public administration expertise.

100% Online 12-Month MPA Programs

A handful of programs allow students to complete their coursework 100% online and finish in one calendar year. Students should expect to take their courses in the fall, spring, and summer semesters.

The University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley (UTRVG)

UTRGV offers an accelerated online MPA program to anyone interested in a public service career. The program blends public administration theories with real-world practice to equip students to make a difference in their communities. Students attend classes in the fall, spring, and summer semesters. The Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA) has not accredited this program.

Coursework

UTRGV MPA students take six core courses and five electives for a total of 36 credit hours. Students take their required courses in the fall semester and their electives in spring. The core courses are:

  • Graduate Seminar in Public Administration
  • Scope and Methods
  • Policy Implementation and Program Evaluation
  • Political Leadership: Decision-Making and Management in Public Organizations
  • Public Personnel Administration

Students can then choose five out of the following eight elective courses:

  • Public Service Ethics
  • Intergovernmental Relations
  • State and Local Government
  • Formulation of Public Policy
  • Management of Governmental Information Systems
  • Grant Writing and Fund Development
  • Public Finance Administration
  • Introduction to Urban Planning

Finally, all students must complete the capstone before graduating, though UTRGV has a different take on capstones than other programs. Instead of working with real-world clients on a project, the capstone is a seminar course that looks at the history of public administration, current issues in public administration, and the field's future. Students learn about the history of public administration in the fall semester, its present in the spring semester, and its future in the summer semester. Finally, this program does not require an internship for graduation.

Admissions

UTRGV requires that incoming students have an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0. Prospective students should also submit: The application fee

  • Official transcripts from all universities that they have attended
  • A personal statement describing their professional goals, why they want an MPA, and their previous work experience
  • Three names of individuals that would be willing to give a reference
  • Students do not have to submit letters of recommendation or GRE scores. International students must submit TOEFL or IELTS scores and a certified English translation of their academic records. Students must score at least a 6.5 on IELTS or any of the following scores for the TOEFL:

    • 550 on the paper-based exam
    • 213 on the computer-based exam
    • 79 on the internet-based exam

    The university accepts applications on a rolling basis.

    University of New Hampshire Carsey School of Public Policy (UNH)

    Located in Durham, NH, UNH offers an online Executive MPA program for mid-career professionals that students can complete in 12 months. The goals of the program are to help professionals strengthen their skills and advance their careers. Prospective students with less than five years of relevant work experience cannot apply for this program. However, they can apply for UNH's other online MPA program, which takes 12-16 months to complete. Neither of these programs has NASPAA accreditation.

    Coursework

    Executive MPA students must take four core curriculum courses, three advanced core curriculum courses, and three electives for a total of 30 credit hours. The core courses are:

    • Foundations and Theories of Public Administration
    • Introduction to Statistical Analysis
    • Organization and Management in Public and Non-Profit Sectors
    • Capstone in Public Administration

    Students can choose three of the following advanced core courses:

    • Grant-writing for Public and Non-profit Sectors
    • Policy and Program Evaluation
    • Administrative Law
    • Leadership Theory and Practice
    • Human Resource Management in Public and Non-profit Sectors
    • Art of Negotiation
    • Public Management Techniques
    • Legal and Policy-Making Environment on Public and Non-profit Sectors
    • Non-profit Management

    Finally, Executive MPA students can choose three elective courses offered within the Public Affairs department at the 800/900 level.

    Admissions

    Prospective students must fill out the online application form and pay the admissions fee. Also, students should send one official transcript from each university attended when applying for the Executive MPA. Students can do this electronically or by mailing hard copies to UNH. Students should also submit three letters of recommendation from professional colleagues. Letters from relatives or friends are not permitted.
    UNH also requires students to write a personal statement that explains why they want to obtain an MPA and what their professional interests are. While resumes are not necessary, UNH recommends including them in the application package. Finally, students seeking a graduate assistantship or tuition assistance must include this information in the personal statement and submit their GRE scores. Only students asking for help are required to submit GRE scores.

    UNH cannot admit international students who require an F1 visa. International students who do not need an F1 visa must submit their TOEFL or IELTS scores unless their native language is English. UNH recommends that international students contact the admissions office before applying.

    Murray University

    Murray University, located in Murray, Kentucky, offers an online MPA General degree program. The program is available to seasoned professionals and students who are new to the field. Murray University’s elective offerings give students the skills to thrive in the government, non-profit, and private sectors. Like the other one-year programs, NASPAA has not accredited the Murray University program.

    Coursework

    Like the University of Texas program, Murray MPA students must complete seven core courses and five electives. The core courses are:

    • Foundations of Public Administration
    • Research Methods
    • Public Policy Analysis
    • Public Budgeting and Finance
    • Public Organizations
    • Public Sector Human Resources Management
    • Public Administration Capstone

    The capstone course requires students to integrate what they have learned in the program to address a public sector problem.

    Murray University offers 25 elective options, which is the highest of the three one-year online programs. Students can choose to specialize in four different subject areas: Economic Development, Healthcare Administration, Public and Community Health, and Public Management.

    Some examples of the economic development courses are:

      Introduction to Economic Development

    • Economic Development Methods
    • Cost-Benefit Analysis
    • Economic Development Finance

    The elective courses for the Healthcare Administration concentration are:

    • Overview of the Healthcare Delivery System
    • Health Administration and Management
    • Healthcare Planning
    • Financial Aspects of Health Services Organizations
    • Healthcare Quality Management/Health Policy

    Students specializaing in Public and Community Health can choose from the following:

    • Health Behavior
    • Biostatistics in Public Health
    • Epidemiology
    • Health Policy
    • Environmental Health: A Public Health Perspective
    • Health Assessment and Evaluation

    Finally, students in the Public Management concentration can choose from this list:

    • Local Government Administration
    • State and Regional Government, Politics, and Administration
    • Public Sector Leadership
    • Intergovernmental Relations
    • Ethics in Public Administration
    • Public Sector Labor Relations
    • Comparative Public Administration
    • Public Planning and Evaluation
    • Law and Public Administration

    Admissions

    Prospective students must apply using the online admissions form. Students must have a Bachelor’s degree from an institution in the United States and maintained at least a 2.5 GPA. Students should also submit official transcripts from any university they have attended. Murray University does not require GRE scores, letters of recommendation, or a personal statement.

    100% Online 12-15 Month MPA Programs

    Syracuse University Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs

    Syracuse University’s MPA is one of the top-ranked programs in the country. The curriculum focuses on building students’ data analysis skills, administration, and management to become future public administration leaders. Syracuse offers an online Executive MPA program that students can complete in 12-15 months. NASPAA has accredited the Syracuse University MPA program.

    Coursework

    The Syracuse Executive MPA (EMPA) requires students to complete 30 credits of coursework. There are only three core courses for EMPA students:

    • Fundamentals of Policy Analysis
    • Managerial Leadership
    • Master’s Project Course

    The Master’s Project Course is a final research project that addresses an existing policy or organization problem. Students will share the results of their study with faculty members and public affairs professionals.

    Students must also take seven electives. The electives available within the policy school are:

    • Public Administration and Democracy
    • Public Policy Process
    • Ethics and Morality in Public Affairs
    • Public Budgeting
    • Collaborative and Participatory Governance
    • Data-Driven Government
    • Human Resources Management for the Public Sector

    Students may also take online courses offered by the Newhouse School of Public Communications or the Whitman School of Management.

    Admissions

    To apply to the online EMPA program, students must have a bachelor’s degree, proof of English fluency, and at least five years of work experience. To meet the work experience requirement, prospective students should have managerial experience in the public sector or non-profit sector or related experience in policy analysis. Also, students must provide proof of proficiency in algebraic and geometric principles to enroll in specific courses
    Syracuse provides a diagnostic test so students can assess their skills, and a review course for those who need it.

    Interested students should submit:

    • The online application for and the application fee
    • Two letters of recommendation, with at least one speaking to the students’ managerial experience
    • A personal essay that includes background information, career goals, and why they want an MPA
    • Official transcripts
    • Resume or CV

    The EMPA program does not require GRE or GMAT scores.

    Barry University

    Based in Miami Shores, FL, Barry University offers an online MPA program students can complete in 14 months. While the program is open to all students, Barry University specializes in transitioning students from military or active field roles to careers in the public and non-profit sectors.

    Coursework

    Students are required to take ten core courses and two electives for 36 credit hours. The core courses are:

    • Theories, Principles, and Practices of Public Administration
    • Research Methodologies
    • Values and Ethics in Administration
    • Public Policy Analysis and Evaluation
    • Seminar in Public Finance Administration
    • Seminar in Public Human Resources Administration
    • Leadership in Public Purpose Organizations
    • Public Law and Administration
    • Public Planning and Growth Management
    • Capstone Applied Project

    The electives are:

    • Nonprofit Administration
    • Productivity Improvement in the Public Sector

    Admissions

    To apply for the MPA program, students must have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution with a minimum GPA of 2.5. Also, students should submit a resume with two references, and official transcripts from all universities attended.

    Troy University

    Based in Troy, AL, students can complete the Troy University MPA program in 15 months. The program is open to public sector and non-profit professionals and students who are new to the field. NASPAA has not accredited this MPA program.

    Coursework

    Troy University requires MPA students to complete 36 credit hours. Students are required to take these eight core courses:

    • Research Methods in Public Administration
    • Foundations of Public Administration
    • Theory of Organization or Organizational Behavior or Leadership in Public Administration
    • Public Policy
    • Public Human Resources Management
    • Governmental Budgeting and Financial Management
    • Ethics in Public Administration
    • Capstone in Public Administration

    Students can also choose one of six specialization areas: International Public Administration, Non-profit Management, National Security Affairs, Public Health Administration, Public Human Resource Management, or Public Management. The lists below show some of the elective options for each concentration. Students who choose a specialization must complete four courses in their subject area.

    International Public Administration:

    • Comparative Government
    • Intercultural Relations
    • Comparative Public Administration
    • Global Challenges in Leadership and Management

    Non-Profit Management:

    • Strategic Planning
    • Program Evaluation
    • Foundations of Non-Profit Organizations
    • Executive Leadership in Non-Profit Organizations

    National Security Affairs:

    • Contemporary American Foreign Policy
    • International Law
    • Military Strategy and International Relations
    • National Security Policy

    Public Health Administration:

    • Global Health Administration
    • Public Health Services Administration and Policy
    • Legal and Social Issues in Public Health Administration
    • Public Health Preparedness and Emergency Response

    Public Human Resource Management:

    • Workforce Planning and Staffing
    • Training and Development
    • Issues in Managing the Public Workforce
    • Advanced Public Human Resources Management

    Public Management:

    • Performance Measurement and Management for Public and Non-Profit Organizations
    • Managing Government Contracts
    • Leadership in Public Administration
    • e-Governance

    Admissions

    To apply for the Troy University online MPA program, students must submit the online application form and fee, official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended, GRE scores, and one letter of recommendation. International students must submit TOEFL or IELTS scores. The minimum TOEFL score is 70, and the minimum IELTS score IS 6.0 bands overall.