Review of the Online MPA Program

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Consider a sponsored online MPA program currently accepting applications.

University / School Online Program Admissions
American University
Online MPAP - Master of Public Administration and Policy
Top-ranked school for public affairs. NASPAA-accredited. Online MPA, MPAP, MPP.
NASPAA Accredited
University of Texas Permian Basin
Online Master of Public Administration
Complete in as little as 12 months, six start dates a year, cost-effective tuition.
Ohio University
Online Master of Public Administration
MPA equips you for leadership roles in government, nonprofit organizations, the public sector and emergency and crisis management.
No GRE Required
Syracuse University
Executive Master of Public Administration (Executive MPA)
Earn an MPA for Executives from the #1-ranked Maxwell School. Complete in as few as 15 months.
No GRE Required
Johns Hopkins University AAP
Master of Arts in Public Management
Areas of focus in Public Administration and Leadership and Public Policy Evaluation.
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Click to view all online MPA programs (and related) that are taking applications now for 2024.

Online MPA Degree Programs

Starting in the mid 2010's, universities started bringing their campus based MPA program online. Nearly every university uses their campus-based MPA curriculum as the foundation for online, and use a learning management system to deliver the lectures, coursework, and assessments.

Highly regarded colleges have online MPA programs. Employers are confident that an online MPA program can equip you for management in numerous in local, state, and federal government as well as qualify you for similar careers in the private sector in the same way a campus-based program would.

Online MPA Programs

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Consider a sponsored online MPA program currently accepting applications.

University / School Online Program Admissions
American University
Online MPAP - Master of Public Administration and Policy
Top-ranked school for public affairs. NASPAA-accredited. Online MPA, MPAP, MPP.
NASPAA Accredited
University of Texas Permian Basin
Online Master of Public Administration
Complete in as little as 12 months, six start dates a year, cost-effective tuition.
Ohio University
Online Master of Public Administration
MPA equips you for leadership roles in government, nonprofit organizations, the public sector and emergency and crisis management.
No GRE Required
sponsored

Click for online MPA programs that are currently taking applications.

Why Consider Studying Entirely Online?

An online master's program offers flexibility for students who might also be working professionals and/or have a family, allowing the coursework to fit into your schedule. This web-based convenience is also great for self-starters. Review some of the best online MPA programs or view MPA programs by state.

Online Degrees Can Save You Time

There is a lesser need to worry about traveling to campus, saving both time and money, and the curriculum is likely to be as strict as physically attending on a campus, including the time to earn your masters, usually two to three years and typically requiring between 36 and 42 credits.

Online Universities with MPA Programs

The number of accredited online colleges and universities has been consistently increasing. The accreditation means the educational delivery approach does not make much difference to most employers, especially with the online and physical classroom setting mirroring one another. Accreditation also affects course credit transfer-ability, and student eligibility for federal financial aid.

Consider a Featured Online MPA Program

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University / School Online Program Admissions
Syracuse University
Executive Master of Public Administration (Executive MPA)
Earn an MPA for Executives from the #1-ranked Maxwell School. Complete in as few as 15 months.
No GRE Required
Johns Hopkins University AAP
Master of Arts in Public Management
Areas of focus in Public Administration and Leadership and Public Policy Evaluation.
Johns Hopkins University AAP
Master of Arts in Government
100% online, part time option.
Aurora University
Online MPA (one year)
100% online, affordable tuition.
Drake University
Online MPA
Complete your degree in just 2 years.
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Online NASPAA Accredited MPA Programs

The most effective method of verifying a degree program's quality is through program accreditation. Program accreditation is a thorough review of the curriculum and requirements that are set forth for the targeted degree program. There are numerous agencies across the country that provide accreditation for different degree programs, depending on their discipline.

For MPA programs, the primary organization to seek out for a list of accredited schools is the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA).

MPA programs were created in hopes that more effective leaders could be molded during the collegiate experience. Learning the laws and expectations of service providing agencies is part of the educational process, which can contribute to more effective professionalism while working in the field. Using leadership theories, diversity training, and ethical and developmental properties of policy implementation, students in these programs can become qualified leadership professionals that may be suitable for positions in government, business, or non-profit organizations.

If you are an upcoming student and may be interested in pursuing the MPA degree, you have many options for education. In both traditional and online settings, MPA programs are prominent. As with any specialization, it is vital to consider the quality of degree programs prior to enrolling. Accredited degree programs are the best option for students that want a good quality degree program that is reviewed periodically for relevance. In terms of NASPAA accredited programs throughout the United States, students currently have 173 accredited programs to choose from at universities across the country. These programs in Public Administration, Public Policy, and Public Affairs can be found in many different states, adding to the convenience of these programs.

NASPAA Accreditation

The NASPAA is the leading source of accreditation for programs that focus on public administration, public affairs, and public policy. This organization works hard to ensure that universities offering these programs have well-rounded programs that teach required courses within the right sequence. If you notice the NASPAA seal on a degree's webpage, you can rest assured that the education you receive through this program is reputable and heavily reviewed. The accreditation process is continued throughout the length of degree program availability to ensure that the programs are always in compliance with the national standard.

Accreditation means more than just being approved for delivery for MPA programs. Accreditation is a seal of approval by the accrediting agency, which indicates that the degree program has met all of the course recommendations, learning topics, and reviews set forth by national regulations. Accreditation can be found at both the regional and program level. For MPA programs, you should ensure that your chosen program is specifically accredited rather than just the university having regional accreditation.

Why a Master's of Public Administration?

A Master's in Public Administration is the gateway to the next level as a public servant. It equips you with the necessary skills and knowledge to play an important role in the daily operations of government. Upon completion, you would have an understanding on not only management but also how certain public institutions function and can meaningfully impact a community.

Consider Specific Program Areas

However, Master’s in Public Administration also extends beyond the public sector. Leadership skills and the problem-solving learned also apply to the private and nonprofit sector. Many online MPA programs allow you to zero-in on a certain subject, leading to a proficiency in budgeting, public health, policy-making, and criminal justice.

Typical Online Coursework & Format for the Online MPA

Like any masters program, there are required classes. Ethics, law, and management are common classes that are required at many institutions, but it does vary from one to another. The number of required classes usually is six. The most common is an introductory class to an MPA program that would teach the fundamentals of public administration and management.

Public and Non Profit

Others vary on the type of MPA program. Many of those that cater toward public sector and nonprofit professions lean in on community building, while those that have several tracts or are for professionals aspiring for federal or international work likely include budgeting and data analysis.

Typical Setups

In coursework, the setups can vary, but generally, you would regularly log in to a learning portal where you can access the syllabus, contact professors and classmates, track classroom progress, and access course materials. Depending on the class setup, lectures can be online for viewing when you are available.

However, just because the classes are online, don’t think the workload is lighter. Spending 15 to 20 hours a week doing classwork is typical. Over time, you would likely study and research real world problems and solutions catered toward your specific tract.

Accelerated MPA Options

For a program that is fast-tracked for completion in under two years, expect accelerated courses (or modules) that are two at a time with a final research course for you to develop a project. Some schools require the final presentation to a panel of professionals and faculty to be in person.

Getting to know your professors and classmates might be more of a challenge since the communication is largely digital. Online forums and social media are frequent ways that you would converse with classmates on studies and projects, but it would likely take a proactive approach to meet your professors.

What Areas of Specialization Are There For An Online MPA?

An MPA program covers many facets of government, so several offer specific focuses designed for those who know what they want to do after graduation. Some of these specializations can appear on your degree while others are only catered tracks to one’s goals. The titles vary from one program to another, but there are topics that are found consistently.

Management and Public Policy

In management and policy topics in government, a public management specialization prepares you to serve as an administrator in local, state, or federal government. A public policy specialization hones in on decision- and policy-making and public policy solutions. International relations equips you for diplomacy.

Health MPA

Health specialization can help you identify and deliver services to the population as well as policy approaches to public health. This is an area that could apply to non-governmental careers, too. Specializations in finance and budgeting, human resources and organizational analysis, and data analytics are also specializations that can apply to the private sector. Some programs even offer specific tracts for nonprofits and the private sector.

The scope of many specializations can vary by program. Some extend to studying on a global scale while others are catered for a local and/or national level, so pay attention when searching for the right program for you.

Several Schools with an Online MPA

If you currently have a job, a family, or just do not have the extra time to consider a full-time college experience, there are options for you to pursue a higher degree in public administration. 100% online MPA programs can be found at many universities, which can be a life-changing factor for individuals that fall in some of the above-mentioned categories. Online degree programs consist of the same coursework, instructors, and topics as traditional programs, without the added inconvenience of having to attend classes in person.

Northeastern University

Located in Boston, Mass., Northeastern University’s MPA program, is the longest-running program of its kind in New England. Accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration, the premier accrediting in public service education, the university offers its wide network of alumni, employers, and experts and boasts faculty such Michael Dukakis, former governor of Massachusetts and the 1988 Democratic nominee for president of the United States. The program prides itself on the experience of topics such as policy analysis and program evaluation. You can also add a graduate certificate at no additional cost, in one of five areas: Nonprofit Sector, Philanthropy and Social Change, Data Analytics and Urban Analytics, Policy Analysis, and Urban Studies.

University of Southern California Price

Located in Los Angeles, the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy was ranked third for best public affairs schools by U.S. News & World Report for 2020, and its MPA program is accredited by NASPAA. You have the option to choose a certificate in City/County Management or Public Policy to increase your knowledge and skills in your desired field, and the program boasts its students will be ready to develop strategies to act locally and impact global change and evaluate, develop, and implement local, state, or federal policy upon graduating, which can be achieved in as few as 24 months. A bachelor’s degree is required. Coursework readings and assignments can be read and completed from anywhere with the school’s online platform.

Villanova University

Located in Villanova, Penn., the online MPA program at Villanova University offers the same curriculum, faculty and degree as the on-campus program. Accredited by NASPAA, the program prides itself on its students developing a firm foundation of core competencies with a focus on strategic planning and management, readying students to lead at all levels of government and in the nonprofit sector. MPA students have the option to pursue a graduate certificate as a specialization within their degree or as a standalone credential in Public Administration, City Management, or Nonprofit Management.

Hybrid MPA Programs

MPA programs can allow students to delve deep into the properties of effective leadership, project development, and ethical practice. With this being said, some universities have decided that there are some topics that are better delivered in an in-person environment rather than offering all courses in an online setting. In order to accommodate for the busy lifestyles of dedicated students, programs have been developed that provide a subtle blend of both online and traditional coursework. These types of programs can benefit students that still desire the traditional in-person setting but also need the convenience of some online courses.

Hybrid programs may consist of courses that can be taken online and courses that must be attended on campus. These programs are best suited for individuals that benefit more from contact learning rather than relying completely on independent studies. As you move forward into your research on suitable colleges, you may find that more and more universities are offering both online and traditional coursework options to their students. If you are confident that there are some courses you would rather take in-person, hybrid offerings may be your best bet for a good quality education.

In terms of completion time, hybrid programs are similar to both online and traditional degree programs. Hybrid programs can allow students to take a majority of their courses online while still appearing for those that should be taken in person. This can allow for full or part time scheduling, depending on what each student requires. Take a look at some NASPAA-accredited programs that offer courses in both traditional and online format below.

Full Time vs. Part Time Programs

In the current day and age, it is unrealistic to assume that all students have the financial ability to go to college full-time without having a steady source of income throughout their experience. In addition to this fact, more adults than ever are going back to college to obtain a college degree. These factors make financial readiness a huge component to consider in this important life decision. When you are planning to advance your degree to the MPA level, you have different options for attending courses. Full and part-time programs are available depending on what you require as a working professional.

Full time degree programs are those that consist of at least 12 credit hours per semester. For most programs, this is around 4 courses per semester. Often referred to as the “full load”, this type of scheduling requires direct course involvement as well as out-of-class study times. The full time option is a great option for students that have the opportunity to attend school full time or for those that are coming directly from bachelor’s level program. Most students choose the full time route since it has the fastest completion time. On average, most full time MPA programs can be completed in around 1 1/2 to 2 years.

Part time degree programs can provide the most flexibility for busy college students. Students that are holding full-time jobs or just keeping a career part time may benefit from part time programs due to their already demanding schedules. Some students choose to take 6 to 9 credit hours per semester, which lightens their load and allows for a subtle split between working and studying. The completion time of part time MPA programs can range from 2 to 4 years, depending on the amount of credit hours a student chooses to take each semester.

Depending on where you stand in your personal and professional life, each of these paths may have benefits that are more suitable for what you require. For a lot of students, the rate that they complete a degree program is not the most important priority. Having the option to take courses at a full time rate or at a much more manageable part time rate adds to the attractiveness of obtaining a higher degree in public administration.

Types of Pubic Administration Degrees

Public administration specialists can be found in varying sectors of society. At the government level, you may have more of an interest in policy development or leadership for educational programs, healthcare development, or even legislation. For non-profit interests, you could pursue concentrations that are more focused on the leadership components of administration or even finance. Public administration is a field that includes all of the components that are pertinent to society.

Specializations in a degree program can provide you with more expertise within a field that you plan to pursue a career in after graduation. While public administration on its own is an excellent choice for a degree program, most students want to have something more to accommodate their need for focus throughout their degree program. When applying for jobs after graduation, it can be helpful to have a designation on your degree to communicate your knowledge and experience to your intended employer.

Choosing this degree program can set you on track for working in the private and public domains, which is a wide range of possibilities in terms of job availability. Depending on what your interests are, there are multiple specializations available for this degree program for you to choose from. Some of the most popular concentrations for the MPA degree are listed below for you to browse.

  • Public Policy and Management
  • Non Profit and Community Leadership
  • Emergency Management
  • Healthcare Policy
  • Education Policy

What Can You Do With a MPA Degree?

A Master’s in Public Administration is a portal to not only working in government at a local, state, or federal level but also in the private sector. Specific roles vary depending on what the focus of your degree is, so it is important to have a career path in mind.

In the public sector, an MPA opens doors to leadership roles in most branches of government, including city managers, planning, education, health, parks and recreation, and law enforcement. You can manage a team and work toward change and improving the quality of life.

In the private sector, companies need the skills you acquire while earning an MPA, especially those that contract or consult with government agencies. Like the public sector, private sector businesses need people who can properly manage their operations and meet goals. A public relations focus would help an entity effectively communicate with a community and possibly collaborate with others.

In nonprofits, there is a need for those who can most efficiently raise money and run their organization. Effective outreach, managing volunteers, and developing programs are some of the important skills needed. Other roles in the private sector include news reporters for newsrooms that want people who understand the inner workings of government and can best analyze it.

A masters degree also can allow you to enter doctorate level programs in public administration, which opens the highest levels of a career trajectory.