Public affairs acts as the bridge between companies and public service workers. Their goal is to provide the perspective of a business when it comes to public policy, working directly with those that create policy and legislation.

They have an ability to influence what is drawn up, providing factual and evidence-based information on how certain policies and restrictions can impact the business. While similar to public relations, a key difference is they do not share a responsibility to promote the business.

Online MPAff Programs

Online MPA programs can typically be completed within a few years, though some universities will allow for an extended period of time for working professionals that have a very limited amount of time to take classes.

Depending on the university, course lectures will be offered in a live, synchronous format that may require student interaction, or an asynchronous format that can be viewed at anytime.

Typically, coursework can be done on a student's own schedule, but they must show progression. Especially for accelerated programs, there will be weekly assignment deadlines and quizzes or exams that are taken throughout the course.

Some universities offer a full Master of Public Affairs program, or provides a specialization and/or electives within the field. Much of the curriculum will deal with foundational content, processes, research methods, and ethics.

A major goal for those working in public affairs is to protect the company brand and reputation among those groups, and those skills can be gained when pursuing a Master's degree.

Universities with Online Public Affairs Programs

Consider a Featured Online MPA Program

School and Program Information Online Program? GRE Requirements Course Information
University of Southern California
Master of Public Administration Online
Ranked #3 for public affairs
check_circle Online Ask representative. Bachelor’s required. Learn to design and run new public systems and programs; evaluate, develop and implement new policy; and track, allocate and raise public funds. Graduate in as few as 24 months.
Norwich University
Online MPA
NECHE Accredited
check_circle Online No GMAT or GRE Required Graduate in as few as 18 months. Eight concentrations to choose from: Criminal Justice & Public Safety, Fiscal Management, International, Municipal, Nonprofit Management, Policy Analysis, Public Administration Leadership & Crisis Management, Public Works and Sustainability.
University of North Carolina
Online Master of Public Administration (MPA)
MPA @ UNC
check_circle Online GRE Waivers available Complete in as little as 18 months, includes a Practical Work Experience practicum at a public service organization.
George Washington University
MSCHE Accredited
check_circle Online Ask representative. 100% online MS in Political Management program, no entrance exam for those that qualify. Earn a GW degree in as few as 18 months.
American University
Online Master of Public Administration and Policy (MPAP)
Master's in Public Policy (MPP)
NASPAA Accredited
check_circle Online Ask representative. Graduate with your MPAP in 24 months
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Indiana University-Bloomington

The O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs offers a Mater of Public Affairs is a 48-credit hour program that takes two years to complete online. Along with the core curriculum, there are a number of concentrations to choose from, including Community and Economic Development, Environmental Policy and Natural Resource Management, Information Systems, Policy Analysis, Local Government Management, and more. There is also an opportunity to earn a dual degree in either a Master of Arts in Arts Administration (with a concentration in Nonprofit Management) or a Master of Science in Environmental Science, both adding just another semester to the program.

The experiential segment of the MPA curriculum requires an approved internship, research project, or credit for prior professional experience. A maximum of 12 credits can be earned for professional experience, based on meeting the criteria of the position being above entry level, full-time employment, being with the organization over two years, and receiving the experience in the past five years. Those that do not meet these requirements can complete an internship for three to six credits or partake in either an independent or group research project.

University of Missouri-Columbia

The Harry S. Truman School of Public Affairs has a 100 percent online program for the Master of Public Affairs that requires 33 credit hours to complete with an estimated cost of under $15,000 as of the 2019-20 academic year. There are no campus visits required throughout and part-time students can expect to finish the program within two years, taking one nine-week course at a time. Topics covered within the curriculum are ethical leadership, collaborative governance, financial management, and more.

With a flexible schedule, students can be administered into the program five times each year. Requirements to get into the program are three years of experience in public affairs and a Bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA over the last 60 hours of education. Prerequisite courses needed before pursuing the program are microeconomic principles and introductory statistics. GRE scores are not required to submit.

University of North Carolina-Greensboro

While this program does not feature a fully online curriculum, the Department of Political Science at UNCG provides a number of online courses for those pursuing the Master of Public Affairs. Examples of web-based courses include Strategic Planning, Ethics in Public Policy, Diversity and Culture, and Volunteer Management. To further aid those that are working full-time, classes are typically held in the evenings and on Saturdays.

Students can select one of the following concentrations to customize the program: Community and Economic Development, Nonprofit Management, and Local Government Management. There has been a 90 percent job placement for graduates over the lifespan of the program (or pursuing further education) with the majority of those going into nonprofit domestic-oriented opportunities. Admission is granted in the fall and spring, with requirements being the submission of transcripts, three letters of recommendation, and GRE or GMAT scores unless students have acquired at least a 3.5 cumulative undergraduate GPA.

Programs That May Be Currently Accepting Applicants

Earn your MPA online from USC Price and learn to design and run new public systems and programs; evaluate, develop and implement new policy; and track, allocate and raise public funds. Graduate in as few as 24 months. Bachelor’s required.
Click for admissions information.

Earn a top-ranked Master of Public Administration online from UNC-Chapel Hill without relocating. MPA @ UNC can be completed in as few as 18 months and no public service experience is required to apply. Advanced degree GRE waivers are available to those who qualify.
Click for admissions information at OnlineMPA.UNC.edu

The Master of Public Administration program at Norwich University can equip you with the skills necessary to become a more effective leader and make a positive difference. Graduate in as few as 18 months with 100% online coursework and no GRE or GMAT required. Choose from one of eight concentrations which include Criminal Justice and Public Safety, Policy Analysis and Analytics, Nonprofit Management and Public Works and Sustainability.

Earn a master’s degree from a top-ranked school for public affairs. American University brings DC to you with the online Master of Public Administration and Policy (MPAP), combining our nationally recognized and NASPAA-accredited Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) and Master’s in Public Policy (MPP) degree programs into one foundational, highly marketable credential. Click here for more program information.

Course Examples

Policy Development

The study of creating public policy and dealing with the many obstacles behind the scenes. Students will develop the skills needed to factor in various community needs such as education, land use, healthcare, and the economy. Classes that provide more of a foundational perspective will look at trends and what policies have and have not worked in the past, and what policies work best at different levels of government.

Public Financial Management

Allocating funds for the needs of public services within any level of government. Emergency services like medical care and firefighters, and the maintenance and improvement of city infrastructure are some examples of what is publicly financed. Students will learn how to analyze what needs more or less funding, and decide what needs to happen faster, based on their level of government. They can also look toward other sources of revenue, such as raising or implementing taxes on various services.

Ethics in Public Policy

Provides an exploration into ethical practices when developing public policy, specifically looking into the connection between regulation and human behavior. Typically, this course will dive into foundational theories and look at many issues from a series of perspectives, such as social justice, religion, and moral principles. Students will also learn the ability to analyze and adjust policy while comparing interests from different parties.

Social Media Policy

With the rise of social media, more courses are diving into topics involving social media, especially for those getting into a career in public affairs or public relations. Specifically, this course can help set up a list of rules and regulations for a business in terms of how to engage in social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Economics

Public affairs programs will typically explore some form of economic studies, such as microeconomics. This focuses on the supply and demand of individuals, or specific companies or organizations. There is some overlap with macroeconomics, such as how inflation can impact living expenses and the cost of goods. Other special topics that can be covered in these courses are market failures and how policy can impact the stability of a local economy.

NASPAA Accreditation

The Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA) has a peer-reviewed accreditation process that ensures the curriculum of a graduate program at a particular institution meets high standards in public service. Over 300 universities around the world have been given accreditation, meaning students will receive the education and resources needed to advance in their career. All universities are required to review their curriculum and teaching capabilities on an annual basis, and NASPAA publishes employment information in all the various sectors, be it public, private, or nonprofit.

Career Opportunities

Political Scientist

This position looks into the impact of developed policies and laws have among the community, establishments, and the policymakers themselves. They research political party interests, voting behavior, and they typically can predict what kind of an impact can happen based on their data. Roles that can be taken as a political scientist include running a political campaign, consulting campaign managers, or market research. According to PayScale, the average wage of a political scientist across the United States is $52,910 annually.

Public Health Manager

Oversees the operations of a hospital or any kind of medical facility. Their goals are to balance finances, observing medical procedures, and implementing new policies with the focus on public health services. Typically, this includes common sicknesses and prevention methods. This position often requires a Master’s degree in the healthcare field, and average compensation is around $65,300 on an annual basis according to Salary.com.

News Reporter

Certain news journalists fall into the public affairs spectrum if they cover government and public policy stories and discuss the impact of them in the location they cover. Duties involve gathering information from government officials, and the companies and community members involved. They must discover trends and develop reliable sources, and report as frequently as the outlet needs. Holding a degree or experience within journalism and communication is highly recommended.