2019 Best Master's in Public Administration Online Programs

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These 23 schools offer online MPAs with high ROIs. American University comes in first with an annual tuition of $30,744 and a median salary of $118,100 for graduates. The most affordable option on this list is Valdosta State University, ranked third, with an annual tuition of only $5,274. Prospective students looking for MPA specialization options should check out California State University-Northridge, which offers concentrations in Health Administration, Nonprofit Sector Management, and Public Sector Management and Leadership.

Alumni salaries were provided by PayScale. View our methodology for more details or learn more about SR Education Group.

Find an Online Degree:
Rank School Annual Tuition Median Salary
#1 #1 American University $30,744 $118,100
#2 #2 Webster University $14,040 $104,300
#3 #3 Valdosta State University $5,274 $102,200
#4 #4 University of Nebraska at Omaha $11,660 $102,900
#5 #5 University of San Francisco $23,400 $101,800
#6 #6 University of Southern California $49,680 $103,000
#7 #7 Marist College $16,800 $97,600
#8 #8 Troy University $17,784 $95,000
#9 #9 University of Colorado Denver $11,358 $93,600
#10 #10 California State University-San Bernardino $15,672 $89,300
#11 #11 Golden Gate University $14,310 $89,000
#12 #12 Ohio University-Main Campus $14,688 $86,700
#13 #13 DePaul University $16,800 $86,800
#14 #14 Central Michigan University $10,728 $85,900
#15 #15 San Diego State University $14,850 $86,200
#16 #16 Florida International University $20,965 $86,100
#17 #17 National University $12,900 $78,700
#18 #18 Bellevue University $10,350 $75,800
#19 #19 Columbus State University $5,418 $74,400
#20 #20 University of Baltimore $25,305 $76,700
#21 #21 University of Illinois at Springfield $8,154 $71,800
#22 #22 University of Central Florida $9,572 $71,400
#23 #23 Nova Southeastern University $21,576 $70,300
Salary data provided by Payscale Logo. Updated 2018.
  • Annual Tuition: $30,744
  • Median Salary: $118,100
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: MSCHE
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American University offers an online Master of Public Administration and Policy (MPAP) program through their highly regarded School of Public Affairs. The 36 credit program can be completed in two years, with 12 courses each lasting eight weeks. Graduation requires a practicum. Admission is rolling and requires a bachelor's degree, and either the GRE, LSAT or GMAT. Relevant work experience is a plus. The focus is on developing expertise in evaluating, developing and implementing policy. Courses offered include Organizational Analysis, Managing Human Capital Assets, and Foundations of Program Evaluation. The school's location in Washington, D.C. leads to relationships with government and other agencies that enhance the school's educational abilities. Tuition is $1,708 per credit and American University is a military friendly college.

Online Master's Degrees (1)

  • Annual Tuition: $14,040
  • Median Salary: $104,300
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: HLC
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Webster University offers an online Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree The program is 36 credits and may be completed in two years. Admission is rolling and requires a bachelor's degree with a 2.5 GPA. The program is designed for leaders in public service to enhance their professional skills. The emphasis is on theory, policy analysis, and practical solutions. Courses offered in the program include Administrative Law and Processes, Public Personnel Management, and Budgetary Theory and Analysis. Webster's home campus is in St. Louis, Missouri but the school has campuses in 18 states and seven foreign countries. Online graduate tuition is $780 per credit and in line with their reputation as being military friendly, they offer a significant tuition discount for military members.

Online Master's Degrees (1)

  • Annual Tuition: $5,274
  • Median Salary: $102,200
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
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Valdosta State University offers an online Master of Public Administration program with concentrations in Public Policy and Public Sector Management. The 36 credit program does not require a thesis but does have a capstone project. Admission requires a bachelor's degree and either the GRE or GMAT. Applicants must be employed in government (including military), by an NGO, or have relevant work experience. The programs require a 300-hour internship as a participant-observer in government, NGO, or non-profit, which may be arranged with current employers. Courses include Budgetary Theory and Analysis, Public Personnel Management and Organizational Behavior. Online graduate tuition is a $780 per hour. The school is located in Valdosta, Georgia.

  • Annual Tuition: $11,660
  • Median Salary: $102,900
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: HLC
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The University of Nebraska at Omaha features an online Master of Public Administration degree with six concentrations, including one in Local Government. They also offer online graduate certificates in Public Management and Nonprofit Management. The MPA program is 39 credits, and admission requires a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA and GRE scores. New online students have a mandatory one-day on-campus orientation. The Local Government concentration has an MPA core class requirement and three classes for the concentration: Public Human Resource Management, Municipal Administration, and Administrative Ethics and Leadership. UNO's program was the first online MPA program in the country to be accredited by the NASPAA.

  • Annual Tuition: $23,400
  • Median Salary: $101,800
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: WASC WSCUC
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The University of San Francisco offers an online Master of Public Administration degree. The program requires 13 courses for a total of 39 credits and can be finished in 24 months. There is a comprehensive exam and a capstone project. Admission requires a bachelor's degree and the GRE is recommended. Applicants must have at least two years of full-time post-bachelor's work experience. The program is tailored for mid-career professionals and others who want to obtain enhanced managerial skills. The focus is on effective management of public organizations, and efficient cooperation among government, profit, and nonprofit sectors. Courses include Leadership Ethics, Policy Analysis, and Economics and Finance for Public Managers. Tuition is $1,170 per credit.

Online Master's Degrees (1)

  • Annual Tuition: $49,680
  • Median Salary: $103,000
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: WASC WSCUC
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The University of Southern California offers a highly rated Master of Public Administration degree. The program is multidisciplinary, with an emphasis on analysis, management and problem solving. There are three available concentrations: Local Government Management, Nonprofit Management, and Public Policy. Graduate Certificates in City/County Management and Public Policy are also available. The 40 credit MPA program usually takes five or six semesters to complete, and a capstone project is required. The Local Government option concurrently earns the Certificate in City/County Management. Admission is based on an applicant's potential as shown on test scores and GPA. Relevant professional experience is a plus. Tuition is $1,863 per unit and USC offers exceptional support for online students.

Online Master's Degrees (1)

  • Annual Tuition: $16,800
  • Median Salary: $97,600
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: MSCHE
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Marist College offers an online Master of Public Administration degree with concentrations including Ethical Leadership, Healthcare Administration, and Public Management. The programs are 39- 42 credits, depending on an applicant's academic background and are usually completed in two to three years. Admission requires a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA and GRE scores. The program stresses analysis, communication, and data-driven solutions, as well as professional ethics. Courses include Politics and Policy, Statistics for Public Managers, Public Budgeting and Administrative Law. Tuition is $800 per unit, with a substantial reduction for military and emergency personnel. Marist is located in Poughkeepsie New York, north of New York City.

  • Annual Tuition: $17,784
  • Median Salary: $95,000
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
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Troy University offers an online Master of Public Administration program with concentrations in Public Management, Public Health Administration, Non-profit Management, Public Human Resource Management, Government Contracting, Justice Administration, Public Management, and National Security Affairs. Double concentrations are also an option. Admission requires a bachelor's degree, GRE scores, and 3.0 GPA. Each program is 36 credits, with terms lasting nine weeks. The programs focus on ethics, effective administration and public service. Among the core courses are Research Methods in Public Administration, Ethics in Public Administration, and Research Methods. Support for online students is impressive. Tuition is $494 per credit, with a discount for military members. The school is located in Troy, Alabama.

  • Annual Tuition: $11,358
  • Median Salary: $93,600
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: HLC
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The University of Colorado Denver features an online Master of Public Administration program with five concentrations: Emergency Management and Homeland Security, Nonprofit Organizations, Local Governments, Gender Based Violence, and Environmental Policy, Management and Law. Admission requires a bachelor's degree, GRE scores, and a 3.0 GPA. The program is 36 to 39 credits, depending on a student's academic background, and students without a year of professional practice take an additional course. It normally takes two and a half years to complete and requires a capstone project. Among the courses offered are Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, Evidence-Based Decision Making, and Organizational Management and Behavior. Resident online graduate tuition is $625 per credit. Nonresidents pay 120% of the resident tuition.

Online Master's Degrees (1)

  • Annual Tuition: $15,672
  • Median Salary: $89,300
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: WASC WSCUC
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California State University-San Bernardino offers an online Master of Public Administration program. The program consists of 48 credits on the quarter system. Concentrations are available in Leadership and Public Financial Management. Two graduate Certificates are also available in Nonprofit Leadership and Public Procurement. The curriculum focuses on diversity, inclusiveness and democratic government. Admission requires a bachelor's degree and a 3.0 GPA. Sample courses are Managing Diversity in Organizations, Intergovernmental Administration, and Principles of Public Procurement. Tuition for one class is $535 per quarter credit for residents and $799 for non-residents. Cost per unit varies with the number of credits taken. A final comprehensive exam, which must be taken on the CSUSB campus, is also required.

Online Master's Degrees (1)

  • Annual Tuition: $14,310
  • Median Salary: $89,000
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: WASC WSCUC
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Golden Gate University features an Executive Master of Public Administration degree. The 36 credit program can be completed in 18 months. The EMPA is designed for working professionals seeking career advancement. The program focuses on enhancing professional skills in identifying, evaluating and solving serious issues. Three concentrations are available: the general concentration, Judicial Administration, and Law Enforcement and Security. A certificate in Public Administration Leadership is also available. Admission requires a bachelor's degree and at least five years of experience in government, nonprofit or business. A capstone research project completes the program. Among the courses offered are Budgeting and Financial Management, and Personnel Management and Labor Relations. The average age of EMPA students is 34.

Online Master's Degrees (1)

  • Annual Tuition: $14,688
  • Median Salary: $86,700
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: HLC
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Ohio University-Main Campus offers an online Master of Public Administration with concentrations in Non-Profit Management and Public Leadership and Management. The 36 credit programs may be completed in two years. Admission requires a bachelor's degree and a 3.0 GPA. The GRE is not required. The Public Leadership option focuses on efficiency, maximizing resources and ethics. The Non-Profit option focuses on merging social responsibility and entrepreneurship. Courses include Public Budgeting, Public Private Partnerships, and Strategic Leadership and Public Value. Graduate online tuition is $800 per unit for state residents and $819 per unit for non-residents.

  • Annual Tuition: $16,800
  • Median Salary: $86,800
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: HLC
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DePaul University offers an online Master of Public Administration degree with three specializations: International Public Management, Public Management, and Metropolitan Planning and Urban Affairs. Admission requires a bachelor's degree. The 52 required credits are on the quarter system. Students are on a cohort system and have a thesis option. The programs can be completed in two years and a summer term. The International Public Management specialization focuses on structure and operations of public and nonprofit entities worldwide. The Metropolitan Planning and Urban Affairs specialization focuses on matters of local and regional management, including zoning and transportation. The Public Management specialization focuses on professional managing skills. Graduate online tuition is $630 per quarter unit. DePaul is located in Chicago.

  • Annual Tuition: $10,728
  • Median Salary: $85,900
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: HLC
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Central Michigan University offers an online Master of Public Administration. The 37 credit program can be completed in two years. Admission requires a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.8 GPA and completion of an undergraduate statistics, research methods, or economics course.The program focuses on competencies to be an effective public administrator and was designed for mid-career professionals interested in career advancement. There are two concentrations: Public Management and State and Local Government Policy. Among the courses offered are Public Budgeting and Finance, and Public Servant Competencies. Courses are offered in 8-, 12- and 16-week formats. Tuition for all online students is $596 per unit and CMU provides strong support services for online students.

Online Master's Degrees (1)

  • Annual Tuition: $14,850
  • Median Salary: $86,200
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: WASC WSCUC
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San Diego State University features an online Master of Public Administration. The 36 unit program may be completed in 16 months. Admission requires a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.85 GPA and significant related work experience. Students are admitted to a cohort system. The curriculum has six, two-month modules and two required on-campus experiences, one at the program's start and another at the end. A final research capstone project is presented on campus. No transfer credit is accepted. The program is designed for people currently working in government or nonprofit agencies. Courses offered include Scope of Public Administration, Public Financial Management, and Public Personnel Administration. Tuition is $509 per credit.

Online Master's Degrees (1)

  • Annual Tuition: $20,965
  • Median Salary: $86,100
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
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Florida International University offers an online Master of Public Administration. The 42 credit program can be completed in two years. Admission requires a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA. The GRE may be waived for students with significant experience. Five specializations are available: Human Resources Management, Public Management, Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Nonprofit and Community Development, and Comparative and International Public Administration. The program emphasis is on creative problem solving and management in large urban areas. Courses offered include Public Finance and the Budgetary Process, Leadership and Decision Making, and Practice of Public Management. FIU is located in Miami and is among the most diverse universities in the country.

Online Master's Degrees (1)

  • Annual Tuition: $12,900
  • Median Salary: $78,700
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: WASC ACCJC and WASC WSCUC
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National University features an online Master of Public Administration with available specializations in Human Resource Management and Organizational Leadership. The general MPA and Organizational Leadership tracks are 54 quarter units, while the Human Resource Management track is 58.5 quarter units. A capstone research project is also required to bridge theory and practice. Admission requires a bachelor's degree with a 2.5 GPA. Classes are held in four-week terms, with one four credit course per term. The programs emphasize an interdisciplinary approach that combines analysis, leadership, and communication. The courses offered include Public Personnel Policy, Finance Management and Grant Administration, and Conflict and Power Dynamics. National's main campus is in San Diego and the school is very military friendly. Support for online students is exceptional.

  • Annual Tuition: $10,350
  • Median Salary: $75,800
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: HLC
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Bellevue University offers an online Master of Public Administration program.  The 36-credit program uses a cohort format and may be completed in two years. Admission requires a bachelor's degree with a 2.5 GPA. The program is particularly appropriate for working professionals and focuses on organizational and financial issues in government and nonprofits, management, and communication. Some of the courses offered in the program are Foundations of Public Administration, Finance for the Public Administrator, and Public Administrator Leadership. The school is located in Bellevue, Nebraska.

Online Master's Degrees (1)

  • Annual Tuition: $5,418
  • Median Salary: $74,400
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
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Columbus State University offers an online Master of Public Administration with three tracks: Health Services Administration, Criminal Justice, and Government Administration. Each is a 36 credit program, comprised of 21 core credits, 15 concentration credits, and a capstone project.  The programs can be completed in two years. Admission requires a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA and either GRE or MAT scores. The program focus is on analysis, communication and decision making. The course schedule includes Public Personnel Administration, Public Budgeting/ Financial Administration, and Legal and Ethical Environments of Administration. Tuition for the online MPA is $240 per unit for in-state students and $940 per unit for out-of-state students. CSU is located in Columbus, Georgia.

  • Annual Tuition: $25,305
  • Median Salary: $76,700
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: MSCHE
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The University of Baltimore offers an online Master of Public Administration with a specialization in Public and Nonprofit Management. The program is 42 credits, with an additional 3-credit internship required for those without pertinent experience. Admission requires a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA. The program focus is on providing the skills necessary to cope with rapid changes. Courses include Bureaucracy and the Political Process, Public Program Evaluation, Managing Diversity, and Strategic Planning. Online tuition is $840 per unit for in-state students and $1,172 per unit for out-of-state students.

Online Master's Degrees (2)

  • Annual Tuition: $8,154
  • Median Salary: $71,800
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: HLC
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The University of Illinois at Springfield offers an online Master of Public Administration program. The 36 credit program includes a capstone project and may be completed in two years. Admission requires a bachelor's degree with a 2.5 GPA, and the GRE is optional. The program focuses on budget and finance, analysis, human resource management, and program evaluation. A joint MPA/Master of Public Health program is available, as are graduate certificates in Community Planning and Managing Nonprofits. Classes in the program include Introduction to the Profession, Budget and Finance, and Public Policy for Managers. UIS calls online tuition "etuition,"  and has a flat rate of $453 per credit unit. The school is one of three branch campuses of the University of Illinois.

Online Master's Degrees (1)

  • Annual Tuition: $9,572
  • Median Salary: $71,400
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
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The University of Central Florida offers several online MPA programs: the general MPA, an MPA and Master of Nonprofit Management dual degree, and an MPA and MS in Criminal Justice dual degree. Admission into the 42 credit hour program requires a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA. The MPA focus is on budget, ethics, evaluation and effective management. The program is comprised of 27 credit hours in core courses, 12 in electives and three in a capstone project. Courses include Public Administration in the Policy Process, Human Resource Management, and Analytical Techniques for Public Administration. In-state online tuition is $369.95 per credit hour and $1,194.05 per credit hour for non-residents. UCF is one of the largest universities in the country.

  • Annual Tuition: $21,576
  • Median Salary: $70,300
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
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Nova Southeastern University offers an online Master of Public Administration degree with concentrations in Criminal Justice, Disaster and Emergency Management, Non Profit/ Non-Governmental Organizations, and State and Local Administration. The 42 credit program can be completed in two years. Admission requires a bachelor's degree, a 3.0 GPA and GRE or GMAT scores. Lower GPA's will be considered on the basis of the overall application. The program focuses on the social and political context of management decisions, and also on practical skills. Tuition is $899 per credit unit. Courses include Public Sector Statistical Analysis, Public Finance, and Public Administration in Theory and Application. Nova is located in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and offers excellent support for online students.

Online MPA Programs Overview

Program Requirements

Students who are considering enrolling in an online master's degree program in the field of public administration must first complete a bachelor's program in a similar field. Applicants will need to provide transcripts from their undergraduate degree programs. Some schools may also require personal statements, a resume or CV, letters of recommendation, and standardized test scores. Most programs can be completed online in two years or less, and require between 30 and 40 units.

Curriculum

Online MPA programs typically offer coursework in economics, statistics, public policy, research methods, management, business ethics, organizational behavior, government, and social responsibility. Many schools offer specializations so that students can become experts in specific aspects of public administration. Possible specializations include non-profit management, human resources, organizational leadership, healthcare administration, and criminal justice. Students earning MPA degrees with specializations will take additional classes that focus on their topics of choice.

Students who earn master's degrees in public administration may pursue jobs as development managers, directors of non-profits, government affairs directors, health service managers, policy coordinators, program analysts, and communications directors.

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