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Public Administration Masters Degree Online


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Public Administration Masters Degree(MPA) is a widely available degree that can be earned through many different schools. Due to this, the programs are vastly different. We have put together information about what makes a program stand out and make it easier for you to figure out if the program you found will be a good fit for you! Some of the factors we looked at include whether the program is from a well-known university or if it was associated with other degree types. By looking at these degrees we are able to better understand what makes a degree online more effective than others.

The Master of Public Administration (MPA) is a 3-year master’s degree in the United States. The MPA program is most often geared towards students who are in mid-career with experience in either business, government, or non-profits. Many students enroll in this type of program to gain administrative, leadership, and budgeting skills that will enhance their careers and make them more marketable in the workforce. In a highly specialized area like MPA, it is important to find an accredited institution that offers a high-quality educational experience.

What is public administration?

Public administration is a broad field in which professionals manage, supervise, and administer programs that provide a public service. Professionals in the field serve the community by managing city budgets, dealing with social service programs, or creating policies for local governments. Public administrators may work for local, state, or federal governments and are employed by an array of different departments, including health services, law enforcement, fire departments, and human resources.

The field of public administration is related to public policy, which is the process through which governments create laws. Master’s degree students often study both public administration and public policy as part of their curriculum.

The median annual salary for public administrators was $94,720 in 2018 (Bureau of Labor Statistics). With additional education, professionals can earn more money or advance to management roles in the field.

Public administrators make sure that all policies created by legislators and other politicians are carried out as planned. These policies often involve several different agencies, so administrators must work with each one to ensure that everything is operating smoothly.

As a master’s in public administrator, you will be responsible for

  • Creating a budget,
  • Hiring employees, and making sure all regulations are being followed.
  • You will also be in charge of evaluating the work done in your department. If there is an issue, you must find out what went wrong and how to fix it.
  • In most cases, these agents work in city hall or other government buildings at the local level. However, some work on Capitol Hill or in Washington D.C., where they might help create national policies or oversee their implementation on a larger scale.

Advantages of a public administration program

Public administration programs are designed to prepare graduates for successful careers in leadership and management, with many students also pursuing doctoral degrees.

Because it’s generally not a research-intensive field like academic disciplines such as biology or chemistry, you can easily earn a public administration degree online.

Pros of Pursuing Your MPA Online

There are several advantages to pursuing your master’s degree in public administration online rather than on campus:

Convenience and flexibility:

Online classes allow you to continue working full time while you pursue your degree; when you need to work around other commitments, such as your family or another job, distance learning makes it possible for you to do so.

Interaction with classmates and professors:

With online courses, you’re able to interact with peers from all over the world by participating in discussion forums. You’ll still have one-on-one interaction with professors through email and chat rooms.

Public administration masters degree online

The public administration master's degree online program requires a total of 36 credit hours. Students must earn a GPA of 3.0 or better in all courses.

The curriculum for this online master’s in public administration is designed to meet the demands of today’s public service environment. The coursework provides students with advanced training in general management, budgeting and fiscal policy, human resources, and ethics issues in government. Through coursework and an internship, students develop the analytical skills needed to address current problems facing state and local governments and nonprofit organizations.

Graduates are prepared for careers in

  • City management,
  • Human resources,
  • Budgeting and Finance,
  • Research analysis, and
  • Program Evaluation.

Public Administration Jobs and Salaries

There are also many different types of Public Administration jobs. Many people in public administration go on to become policymakers, lobbyists, and political consultants. Other public administration jobs include working in government agencies as well as non-profit groups. The most common public administration job is working in the civil service as a manager or administrator for a federal, state, or local government department.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics,

  • the average salary for a person with a Masters’s in Public Administration is $85,000 annually. This number varies depending on whether you are employed by the government or a private organization.
  • The median salary for people in the private sector with an MPA is $86,000, or $41 per hour.
   Public Administration Jobs
  • State Legislator – $30,000 to $110,000 annually
  • Mayor – $14,000 to $78,000 annually
  • Business Executive – $45,000 to $1.4 million annually
  • Military Officer – $35,000 to $142,000 annually
  • Purchasing Manager – $42,000 to $140,000 annually
  • Public Administrator – $40,000 to $147,000 annually
  • Public Interest Lawyer – $50,000 to $100,000 annually

Public administration courses include subjects such as

  • Public policy analysis,
  • Public financial management, and
  • Organizational behavior.

Having an undergraduate degree in a related field is not always necessary for admittance into a master’s program. With the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting that the national unemployment rate for people with a master’s degree was 2.5% in 2018, it is safe to say that most people can benefit from obtaining their graduate degree.

It is a common misconception that a master’s of public administration is only for those interested in working in government. Although some jobs are available within the federal government or state and local governments, many other opportunities are available in non-profit organizations, private businesses, and think tanks.

A master's in Public Administration can lead to a variety of career opportunities and pay higher salaries than positions held by those with only an undergraduate degree.

Students looking to earn an accredited online Masters in Public Administration degree from a top university often choose programs from

  • Harvard,
  • Princeton, and the
  • University of Pennsylvania.

Online Masters in Public Administration degrees prepare students for careers in

  • Urban planning,
  • Public policy development,
  • Public administration, and non-profit management. Most online Masters in Public Administration degrees are offered as a Master of Public Administration (MPA) or Master of Public Policy (MPP).

Online Masters in Public Administration schools offer students the same quality education as their on-campus counterparts. Online Masters in Public Administration programs will require students to complete internships and other hands-on experiences to ensure that they are prepared for their careers

The following organizations are all directly or indirectly related to the field of public administration. These organizations can provide students with useful resources and networking opportunities.

American Society for Public Administration:

The ASPA is the largest professional organization dedicated to public administration, with over 10,000 members and a network of over 70 chapters across the U.S.

International City/County Management Association:

ICMA provides resources, training, and job opportunities to local government management professionals. The group’s website hosts information on local government management, current news, best practices, and other useful resources.

National Association of Government Webmasters:

NAGW is a professional association dedicated to supporting government web professionals by providing education and networking opportunities. NAGW holds an annual conference and regional meetings throughout the year.

Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action:

ARNOVA supports nonprofit research and education through publications, conferences, and networking opportunities. The association publishes two journals, ARNOVA News and Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, which feature articles on topics related to nonprofits.

Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management:

APPAM is an international association that promotes education and research in the field of public policy analysis and management through publications, networking activities, and conferences.

If you’ve decided to earn a Masters’s in Public Administration, the next step is finding an accredited program that’s right for you. You’ll need to consider the following:

Cost. Tuition and fees are major factors for most students.

  • Remember that public administration programs are available at both public and private universities, so tuition costs can vary widely.

Program focus.

  • Some programs offer more of a generalist approach while others allow you to specialize in areas like urban planning,
  • Health care administration, or
  • Governmental accounting.


Do you want to pursue your MPA online or on campus? In-state tuition rates or residency for out-of-state students may be considerations if you choose to attend a traditional university

Online masters in public administration schools offer a wide variety of programs, so you should be able to find one that suits your needs. You may be able to specialize in a field such as healthcare administration or urban management or choose a general curriculum that covers topics like policy analysis, economics, and organizational management.

In order to qualify for an online master’s in the public administration degree program, you must have

  • a bachelor’s degree with a minimum overall grade point average (GPA). Some schools will also require you to submit scores from the GRE or GMAT exam.
  • You may need to provide recommendations and/or write an essay on your future career goals.

To apply for an online master’s in a public administration degree program, you will need to fill out an application and pay a fee.

  • You can expect your transcripts from other schools to be requested, and
  • you may need to provide proof of English proficiency if English is not your native language.

The bottom line is that the field of public administration has a lot of potentials to offer future graduates. In many aspects, the field is full of interesting and exciting opportunities. But just like any other field, in order to make career opportunities work for you, it is vital to choose an online master’s in public administration school that can help you refine your skills and build on your potential. That’s why it’s so important to take time to learn about what you can achieve with this degree and to find a good school where you can actually implement these skills.

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