Guide to Masters in Public Administration Programs

Masters in public administration are geared toward students looking to work in higher level or leadership positions within the public sector. Most programs include a thorough exploration of executive organization, management, and development. Below are schools that offer online programs in masters of public administration.

Schools with online MPA Programs

University of Southern California Master of Public Admin University of Southern California – A nation-wide leader in education, USC gives students an opportunity to obtain an accredited Masters degree in Public Admin. This degree is available in both online and campus courses, giving students the choice that best fits their situation and schedule. This program is designed for students who want to become public administrators or other high level leadership positions.
Click to Request More Information
Purdue University Master of Public Admin Master of Public Health Purdue University – Purdue University’s accredited online Masters in Public Administration degrees are designed for those that want to become a public administrator, while the other for those that want to enter governmental management or public health. Both are fully online degrees that can be completed relatively quickly and on your own schedule. These positions are centered in an industry always seeking highly-skilled individuals.
Click to Request More Information
George Washington University MPS Political Management George Washington University – The MPS in Political Management degree at George Washington University is available through accredited online and campus classes. The online courses can be completed at a pace that is comfortable to you and in an environment of your choosing. Moreover, the assignments can be worked on any computer - no special software needed - at home, at school, or even on the go.
Click to Request More Information
Northcentral University MBA Public Admin DBA Public Admin Northcentral University – Northcentral University has a Masters of Nonprofit Management that focuses on teaching students the core competencies needed for leadership and administration positions, like communication, task prioritization, project management and organization, planning, and human interaction skills. This degree, through online programs, can be completed in only 18 months and can be worked on from any computer, no special software required.
Click to Request More Information
Syracuse University Executive Master of Public Administration Syracuse University – Syracuse University offers multiple online masters in public administration programs that are fast-paced and convenient. Their online programs are designed for those who want to pursue high level public administration positions like a governmental administrator, enter emergency preparedness and response, or join homeland security. Students will learn and develop core skills necessary to become the leaders of the future.
Click to Request More Information
Seton Hall University Master of Public Administration Seton Hall University – Seton Hall University offers two online masters in public administration degrees. The first is designed for those that want to become a public administrator, whereas the second is designed for those that want to influence public policy. The curriculum in both degrees is created to reflect the current environment in order to give students key qualifications needed to take on positions in the field.
Click to Request More Information
Achieve Test Prep Master of Public Administration Achieve Test Prep – We can help you earn your business administration or management degree online in 1/2 the time and cost of traditional schools. With our Live, teacher led-online classes and our test-out program, we’ll prepare you to pass just 1 exam and earn credit for a full semester-long college course! No big boring-expensive textbooks or college papers, or busywork or group projects. Improve knowledge in subjects such as management, business communication, psychology, and finance. The degree covers fundamental business skills you need to get a better job.
Click to Request More Information

Click Here to see more colleges offering Masters in Public Admin degrees

Master in Public Administration Degree Programs

Master of Public Administration has several specializations a student can choose from. In addition, there are several related master’s degrees as well as public administration majors in other types of Masters degrees (Master of Science, Master of Business Administration, etc.).

MPA Degrees & Specializations

Other Related Master’s Degrees

Can a Master of Public Administration Help Me Get the Public Service Job I Want?

A Master of Public Administration (MPA) is a professional degree that focuses on a wide-range of disciplines and public service sectors. This graduate degree program prepares students for a career in government public policy implementation and management. Some graduates go on to work for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and nonprofit organizations.

Master of Public Administration students can expect their curriculum to cover a number of subjects, including policy research and design, public finance and accounting, public management, leadership and ethics, microeconomics and statistics. This curriculum will prepare you for a number of jobs in public service.

In addition to the core curriculum, MPA students are given the opportunity to apply their studies to specific public sector fields of interest, including public health, urban planning, economic policy, public education, transportation and environmental policy. Some students focus their studies on nongovernmental organizations and nonprofits.

What are Common Job Titles for Master of Public Administration Holders?

Many people who hold a Master of Public Administration Degree work for a local, state or federal government department or agency as a program manager. Recent graduates often work as public policy researchers and public policy advocates or lobbyists. They are also hired as consultants.

Because the program trains you in a wide range of analytical and management skills, MPA graduates are hired by many different public service organizations; including government, nongovernment, nonprofit and corporate, domestically and internationally. Some of these organizations focus on one specific public issue and others focus on a variety of issues.

Many MPA students choose which sector and what issue they are interested in before graduating and seek an internship in that field. Internships often lead to permanent positions after graduation. This depends on the college. Some programs can be completed in one year and some require two years of study.

What are the Requirements for Admission?

As with any graduate degree program, you must apply for admission to the college that offers the MPA program you are interested in. Most colleges require the same things for admission to a graduate program: a copy of your official transcript showing that you earned a bachelor’s degree and an acceptable undergraduate GPA, a personal statement, letters of recommendation and a standardized graduate admission exam score (GRE or GMAT). If you have many years of professional-level public sector work experience, you may not have to take a graduate admissions test. However, you should confirm your eligibility with the school you are applying to.

The Master of Public Administration program accepts all bachelor’s degrees. However, if your course of study did not cover some necessary subjects, you may have to take a few pre-requisite courses.

Necessary pre-requisite courses vary depending on the program, but often include statistics, calculus and micro/macroeconomics.

International students must submit their English language test scores (most students typically take the TOEFL) and an Affidavit of Financial Support.

Where Can I Find Tuition Aid?

There are both federal and private student aid resources. Whether or not you intend on using it, you should always apply for federal financial aid at the same time you apply for admittance to a MPA program. This ensures that you have federal loan money available to you, if you need it when school begins. You can fill out your financial aid application (FAFSA) for free online. You should be aware that federal grants (financial aid that does not have to be repaid) are not available to graduate students. However, there are a number of private scholarships available for MPA students.

In addition to online resources, one of the best ways to find out about available scholarships is to ask your college’s financial aid department. You should also look for published scholarship guides at your local public library or campus library.

Are There Any Other Resources for Student Financial Aid?

Assistantships and fellowships are great ways to gain valuable experience while also earning money for tuition and living expenses. Assistantships are paid, part-time teaching or research positions offered to you by your college. Because there are a limited number of available assistantships, students who have exemplified great academic performance in their undergraduate studies are often the ones who are eligible for the assistantship. Some colleges even require faculty to nominate a student before they can be awarded with an assistantship. However, this should not intimidate you. Don’t hesitate to ask your college’s financial aid department about assistantships. Also, you will need to apply for an assistantship many months prior to your August school start date; most colleges have an assistantship application deadline date of February or March.

Fellowships are much like assistantships. Accepted students often work as part-time research assistants in exchange for aid that does not have to be repaid. Unlike assistantships (which are only offered by your college), fellowships are also offered by other organizations and corporations. Like assistantships, fellowships are often merit-based and require a minimum grade point average.

Can I Combine My MPA With Another Graduate Degree?

If you are interested in pursuing a Master of Public Administration while also pursuing another master’s degree, there are many colleges that offer this option. One interesting fact about earning a MPA joint degree is that many schools will allow you to pursue your second degree at another approved university.

In order to pursue a joint degree, you must submit separate applications, and be accepted, to both programs. It typically takes three years to complete a joint degree; one year less than if you pursued both degrees at separate times.

Some Noted Successful Politicians and Public Workers with MPA Degrees

Although you don’t need a particular degree to become a public servant or a politician, it does help to have some types of professional graduate degree. There are many prominent civil servants and politicians who hold a Master of Public Administration Degree. A MPA degree may not help you win an election, but it definitely can help you climb the civil service ladder.

Listed below are a few notable public servants who earned a Master of Public Administration Degree:

  • Kathleen Sebelius, current U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services and former Governor of Kansas, earned a MPA degree from the University of Kansas.
  • David Petraeus, current Director of the CIA and former four-star U.S. Army General, earned his MPA degree from Princeton University.
  • Hilda Solis, current U.S. Secretary of Labor and former U.S. Representative, earned her MPA degree from the University of Southern California.
  • Robert C. Orr, current Assistant-Secretary General for Policy Coordination and Strategic Planning for the United Nations, earned his MPA degree from Princeton University.
  • Eileen Mason, current Senior Deputy Chairwoman of the National Endowment for the Arts, earned her MPA from American University.
  • Bill O’Reilly, host of the Fox News Channel program “The O’Reilly Factor,” earned his MPA from Harvard University.
  • Chip Reid, Washington, D.C.-based NBC News correspondent, earned his MPA from Princeton University.
  • Marie Johns, current Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration and former president and CEO of Verizon, Washington, D.C., earned her MPA from Indiana University.
  • Ban Ki-moon, current Secretary General of the United Nations, earned his MPA from Harvard University.
  • Anna Escobedo, current Unit Chief for Stakeholder Communications in the External Relations Division of the Inter-American Development Bank and former Treasurer of the United States, earned her MPA from Harvard.
  • Felipe Calderon, current President of Mexico, earned his MPA from Harvard University.
  • Leslie Dach, senior strategist in Democratic politics, former environmental lobbyist and current Executive Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Government Relations for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., earned his MPA from Harvard University.

Can I Earn an MPA While Working Full Time?

Some schools offer what is called a “Mid-Career” or “Executive” Master of Public Administration Degree. This specific MPA Degree program is designed for those who have several years of work experience. Mid-Career/Executive MPA programs allow working professionals to continue their full-time career while earning their master’s degree through evening and weekend classes. Depending on the school you choose, the program could take one to two years to complete.

In addition to campus-based Mid-Career/Executive MPA programs, some schools are now starting to offer online Mid-Career/Executive MPA programs. These online programs offer even more flexibility and convenience for working professionals looking to earn their Master of Public Administration degree.

Can I Earn my Master of Public Administration Degree Through an Online Program?

There are several schools that now offer online MPA programs. If you are a traditional student, it is best to choose an online college program that has a campus near your home. This will allow you the opportunity to get to know the faculty and staff. This is important; because they can help you get the best internship (required for graduation) and possibly recommend you for a fellowship. Networking with other people is very important for gaining employment in the civil service sector. For this reason, most traditional students should consider attending a campus-based MPA program that will allow them to get to know the faculty and staff very well. Attending a campus-based program is also generally the only way to earn an assistantship or fellowship.

For working professionals who are interested in earning a MPA degree, an online Mid-Career/Executive MPA program may be the perfect way to earn their master’s degree. Because they have already gained work experience, working professionals are not required to participate in an internship. Generally, they have also already established themselves as a public service professional, so networking may not be as important to them. In this case, an online Mid-Career/Executive MPA program may be the most convenient option available for them.

Master of Public Administration FAQ:

Have a question? Students who are considering obtaining an MPA should feel free to email us questions related to MPA programs, degrees and careers and we’ll answer the question and post it to our FAQ

What Else is a Master of Public Administration Called?

The Master of Public Administration, or MPA, is referred to differently depending on the school offering the degree. It can also be called Master of Management/Public Administration, Master of Public Policy, or Master of Public Management. You can also choose to specialize through programs like Master of Science in Public Safety Administration, or Master of Health Administration, to name a few. In countries other than the United States, this degree is often closer to an MBA due to the added business courses.

What Sorts of Skills Might a Student Expect to Learn While Earning This Degree?

One of the skills that you can expect to learn with this program is practicing professional ethics, which you will need to apply while on the job. You will also learn some of the best research methods, budgeting basics, leadership and organizational skills, and how to determine and interpret statistics.

Which Careers are Common for People with Masters of Public Administration?

Most Master of Public Administration graduates enter fields that deal with public service, especially nonprofit organizations. Job titles might include city manager, policy analyst, human resources director, Census analyst, budget specialist, or any elected office. However, some who hold a Master of Public Administration are attracted to the private sector, which is also often a good fit for the skills learned with this program.

What Types of Classes are Involved in Earning a Master of Public Administration?

A public administration program typically requires about 40 credit hours, which are usually broken up into a two-year program. Many classes focus on general skills that you would need to be a public administrator, such as leadership, ethics, management, and strategic planning. Other classes are more specific, and teach specialized skills like administrative law, statistical analysis in the public sector, microeconomics, public policy evaluation, and budgeting. In most cases, prerequisite courses include American government and politics, and introductory classes in accounting and statistics.

If you know the area in which you want to specialize, you can take extra courses related to that subject. For example, many universities also offer specific courses dealing with healthcare administration, criminal justice, and urban policy, to name a few. Taking a few courses with these specialized careers in mind can help you be prepared to join the workforce when you graduate from a Master of Public Administration program.

Average Salary of a Person with a Master of Public Administration?

There is quite a range of salaries with this degree, depending on whether you choose to work in the public sector, private sector, or nonprofit. According to PayScale, a nonprofit program coordinator would make just over $40,000, while a human resources director could make about $75,000 annually. In general, the average salary of someone with a Master of Public Administration is about $54,000.

What are the Degree Requirements for Becoming a Public Administrator?

You will need at least a B.A in public administration in order to get a job in this field, but the majority of positions require a master’s degree. This is especially true of government positions.

More Master of Public Administration Info

Masters In Public Administration is a resource created for future MPA students to learn about their educational options with respect to MPA degrees and programs. In addition to our student FAQ, we maintain the only updated list of all accredited masters in public administration colleges and universities on the web. We invite you to submit additional questions to be added to our FAQ.

Search Public Administration Degrees