Masters in public administration online programs are extremely flexible. The degrees are designed to accommodate those who are already actively working in the field. Online MPA programs have courses that can be taken during the evenings and weekends when the individual has some free time. The professional can continue working while earning an online Master of Public Administration, requiring no income interruption or the need to request time off from work. Better yet, professionals maintaining their careers can ask employers about any potential reimbursement for online MPA programs. If the employee has been with the company for an established amount of time, the employer may pay for him or her to pursue an online Master of Public Administration.
Online MPA programs also carry substantial monetary savings. With an online degree, there is no need to pay for commuting costs such as gas and tolls. Online curriculums also usually have an accelerated graduation timeframe. This permits the student to pay less toward tuition. Online programs also offer increased flexibility. For instance, if the student doesn’t live near a college or university that has a MPA degree program, he or she can find an available program online.
Methodology: Ranking the Best Online MPA Programs
To rank the best MPA programs online, Great Business School editors sought out accredited, trusted institutions offering fully online or hybrid MPA programs. From the initial pool, we ranked programs according to their Cost, Reputation, and Salary Expectations, with data drawn from IPEDS, College Scorecard, Niche, and U.S. News.
1. Villanova University
Villanova University’s online MPA program is just as rigorous and worthwhile as its on-campus counterpart. This program covers public administration from all angles, giving students a look at the logistics, ethics, and day to day duties that it takes to become a great public administrator. Being 100% online, it also provides a level of convenience that students don’t get in the physical classroom. Because of its flexibility and its focus on leadership, Villanova is one of the best online MPA programs available.
Villanova is an Augustinian Catholic university with a thriving online community. As a matter of fact, this school is known for its online educational programs. Many consider this school as a leader in this area. As a result, online students can rest assured that they’ll get all of the resources and support that they need. Meanwhile, the Catholic tradition emphasizes compassion, leadership, and service to others.
Highlight: Villanova offers tuition discounts to military members and their families.
2. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s online MPA program offers a challenging, robust curriculum. By graduation, students have confidence for success in the field. In this program, students stretch their limits and learn that they’re more capable than they may have realized. This program helps students become leaders. It equips them for on-the-job decision making, combining theory and practice for a great balance. This combination is what makes UNC Chapel Hill one of the best MPA programs online.
UNC Chapel Hill provides support to its students as it challenges them academically. This school values innovation in education. Talented teachers help their students reach their fullest potential so that they can move on to succeed with their careers. As a widely-recognized school with a reputation for excellence, UNC Chapel Hill has a name that looks good on a resume. More importantly, though, it imparts the skills that students need to become leaders.
Highlight: UNC Chapel Hill is ranked among the top schools for its public affairs programs.
3. Clemson University
Clemson University’s online MPA program is what they call a “blended program.” This means that although the program is fully online, it does require some set login times for students to watch live lectures. The benefit of this method is that students learn alongside their online cohorts, communicating with one another and offering support from their various career backgrounds. Students get to learn from their professors and from each other. For many students who want to combine the feeling of a classroom with the convenience of online learning, Clemson is one of the best online MPA programs.
Clemson University students are both talented and driven. Clemson is one of the most selective public research universities in the United States. It provides a challenging education and blends teaching and research for innovative programs. Clemson is often at the forefront of new methods and ideas. Its research can be found all across the state of South Carolina.
Highlight: Clemson is ranked among the best national public Universities according to US News and World Report.
4. Indiana University Bloomington
Indiana University Bloomington’s online MPA program is specifically designed for busy working adults. No matter what your current responsibilities look like, this program is meant to fit into your schedule. The program is taught by talented teachers who have real-world public administration experience. The program emphasizes all of the core values of public administration such as teamwork, leadership, and service to the public. For many students, this makes Indiana University Bloomington one of the best MPA programs online.
IU Bloomington is a top school known for its innovation and research. This school values creativity and outside the box thinking. As a result, many students move on to become top problem-solvers in their fields. At IU Bloomington, they gain the leadership skills that they’ll need to take charge of large projects. IU Bloomington emphasizes curiousity as one of the most important parts of learning, and as a result, students become lifelong learners at this school.
Highlight: US News and World Report ranks IU Bloomington as the #1 grad school for public affairs.
5. California State University, Long Beach
California State University, Long Beach has a thriving MPA program. It’s designed to help students become effective, efficient leaders while serving the public. Students can choose from several concentrations to tailor their degree to their own needs and goals. Currently, CSULB MPA alumni are working in all levels of government from local to federal. Some have also become educators, and a few work in the medical field. Because of its track record for successful graduates, CSU Long Beach is one of the best MPA programs online.
CSU Long Beach is a thriving university with a reputation for world-impacting research. It has particularly strong science and government programs, which is excellent for those who want to earn an MPA. As part of the broader CSU system, CSU Long Beach provides plenty of resources and opportunities for its students. There’s no shortage of support here, either, for online students or on-campus students.
Highlight: Money.com ranked CSU Long Beach as the #1 best public university in the US.
6. Marist College
Marist College’s online MPA degree can be taken 100% online or as a blended online/on campus program. Either way, students get an excellent education with plenty of support. The program lets students choose between a few concentration options depending on whether they want to go into government, health administration, a nonprofit organization, or general leadership. As a result, Marist College is one of the best online MPA programs.
Marist College is an independent institution that thrives in the liberal arts. Students who choose Marist College often want a well-rounded approach to education. No matter the major, Marist begins with a foundation of core knowledge that students can use to enhance their overal learning process. Marist College turns students into leaders and thinkers who succeed in their career fields.
Highlight: The program instills both leadership and service skills, helping students develop a balanced approach.
7. Rutgers University Newark
The MPA at Rutgers University comes in a 100% online option, so busy students can get the flexibility that they need to balance their lives, work, and families with their educational goals. The MPA program at Rutgers teaches a core foundation of knowledge and then builds on that education with specialized skills. Students learn how to become effective leaders and make practical, ethical decisions. Because this program combines theory and practice for a well-rounded balance, it has become one of the best online MPA programs available today.
Rutgers University is perhaps the most well known university in the state of New Jersey. It’s a leader in research, and much of its research has impacted lives all across the world. Students who value innovation and staying on the cutting edge of new ideas often choose Rutgers. Furthermore, Rutgers has a reputation for its public service, which makes it a great choice for those who want to go into a government or nonprofit career.
Highlight: Rutgers University is the #1 public university in New Jersey.
8. University of Missouri
The University of Missouri’s online MPA program helps students hone their academic and leadership skills. The program has core classes and specialized classes that aim to help students become analytical thinkers. Students who graduate from this program have excellent problem-solving skills. They can analyze situations from all angles and come up with creative solutions that benefit the most people. As a result, The University of Missouri is one of the best MPA programs online today.
The University of Missouri is a thriving and diverse public university with a reputation for its research. This school values academic excellence and encourages students to learn from one another as well as from their teachers. Students here get a comprehensive yet focused education so that they can become critical thinkers while they pursue their goals.
Highlight: 48% of University of Missouri students graduate with no debt.
9. University of Southern California
University of Southern California’s online MPA program is part of this school’s thriving online community. Classes in this program are flexible enough to fit into the schedules of the busiest working adults. The MPA program helps students sharpen their leadership skills so that they can better serve the public. The program emphasizes ways in which students can identify problems and then find effective solutions to those problems. Students in this program get both an analytical and creative education, which makes USC one of the best online MPA programs.
The University of Southern California is a well-known private university with a reputation for excellence. Among private universities, USC often leads the way in terms of research and innovation. This diverse school helps students reach their fullest potential by providing a challenging and supportive education. Students learn from talented faculty members who have years of experience in their fields.
Highlight: USC is the #3 ranked private university in the United States according to several publications.
10. University of Baltimore
The University of Baltimore’s online MPA program is not an independent study program. The program does have set login times so that online students can view the same lectures as their on-campus peers. For many students, this setup is ideal because they can rest assured that they get the exact same education that on-campus students get, but they can also access their classes from any place that has an internet connection. Students learn from talented faculty members about the best practices for public leadership. For those who prefer live lectures and learning alongside a cohort, the University of Baltimore is one of the best MPA programs online.
The University of Baltimore is committed to providing excellent education and imparting leadership skills to its students. Students here get a challenging, rewarding education that they can use for the rest of their lives. Over the years, what started as a private night school has become a thriving university that educates people from all backgrounds with all kinds of flexibility needs. Students here have all of the resources and support that they need to find success at school and beyond.
Highlight: The University of Baltimore has some of the top grad school programs in the country, as recognized by US News and World Report.
11. American University
American University offers an online Master of Public Administration and Policy. Even for students who choose the 100% online path, this school’s Washington DC location makes it a great choice for those who want to go into public policy. American University gets up close and personal with current politics because it happens to be close to where the action happens. As a result, public administration students get a clear look at what it takes to become a leader in politics. For many students, this makes American University one of the best online MPA programs available.
American University thrives in the areas of education, politics, and science. It provides students with a deep education and an up-close look at how policy makers impact the US as a whole. This diverse school is student-centered, meaning that it puts its students first and considers their needs when it comes to any major decisions or changes. Students here are driven and enjoy working through challenges.
Highlight: 94% of AU faculty hold the highest degree in their field.
Degree: Master of Public Administration and Policy
12. University of Texas at Arlington
The University of Texas at Arlington’s online MPA program is dedicated to educating future leaders and helping them make the best decisions. The program recognizes that their students will one day make major decisions that impact people from all backgrounds. As a result, the program emphasizes diversity and ethics, helping students learn how to make choices for the greatest good. Here, students hone their analytical skills and learn how to work with other leaders to help the people whom they serve. As a result, UT Arlington is one of the best MPA programs online.
UT Arlington is part of the greater University of Texas system. As such, it provides students with plenty of resources for learning. As a well-known research institution, UTA has developed a positive reputation among employers. This school values critical thinking skills and helping students apply knowledge from all of their classes to their future careers.
Highlight: UTA’s MPA program is ranked #18 in the United States.
13. University of North Dakota
The University of North Dakota’s online MPA program helps students become successful public policy leaders. Faculty in this program understand the challenges that public leaders face today. That’s why they structure their classes to help students face those challenges head on and come up with creative solutions. Courses cover subjects such as ethics, management, leadership, and other topics that students will need to master for a career in public administration.
The University of North Dakota is a challenging and well-regarded school. This research university emphasizes leadership, teaching students the skills that they’ll need to lead teams and solve complex problems. Students here are smart, determined, and ready to take on academic challenges. Because of its commitment to innovation, UND helps students take creative solutions to everyday issues.
Highlight: All MPA students at UND pay in-state tuition regardless of where they live.
14. University of Miami
The University of Miami’s online MPA program prepares students for rewarding careers. Students in this program get a comprehensive look at what it means to be a public leader today. The program lets them explore public administration from all angles and think deeply about their potential choices. As a result, students are empowered to make the best decisions. Because of its deep yet varied approach to public administration topics, the University of Miami is one of the best online MPA options.
The University of Miami has excellent online programs. Students get a quality education with plenty of support from their teachers. Degrees can be tailored based on student goals. Students here come from all different backgrounds, but what they all have in common is that they need flexibility without academic compromise. The University of Miami provides these students with exactly what they need.
Highlight: UMiami provides the same academic challenge and support for online students as it does for on-campus students.
15. University of Nebraska Omaha
The University of Nebraska Omaha has a great online MPA program. Available online since 2000, this program has a professional focus that helps students move forward with their careers. The program emphasizes effective leadership and excellent decision making skills. The challenging classes help students increase their confidence and become skilled leaders in the field of public administration. As a result, UNO is one of the best online MPA programs.
UNO blends excellent academics with a strong community focus. Students get to learn both from their teachers and from one another. This school encourages students to think for themselves, take risks, and come up with creative solutions to everyday problems. That’s why UNO graduates often move on to become leaders in their fields.
Highlight: Military Times has ranked UNO as the #1 university for military friendliness.
Why Should I Get an MPA?
A public administration master’s degree leverages the government or non-profit employee for advanced positions. A public administration degree can be found through numerous graduate level programs. However, the most popular type for those looking to manage government offices and non-profit organizations is a Master of Public Administration (MPA). Benefits of studying public administration is that the enrollee learns about policy creation and enforcement, economics, and managerial challenges. When applying for a MPA program, the college looks at what type of undergraduate degree the prospective student holds and also past professional experience. MPA programs are ideal for those with a complete work history since the college may offer credit for past professional experience.
A common question is, “What can you with an MPA degree?” There are multiple career titles a person can have after earning a public administration degree. A few examples of popular post-graduation careers include city manager, county clerk, state government policy administrator, foundation manager, budget director, non-profit director, and public administration consultant.
Many also wonder, “Should I get a masters in public administration?” The degree is perfect for those stuck in their careers. When working within a government office or non-profit agency, upward mobility is limited for those with only a bachelor degree. Public administration masters programs are designed to accommodate working schedules and are ideal for mid-level professionals. The majority of public administration degree seekers have a minimum of five to ten years of work experience.
Do I Need the GRE to Get an Online MPA Degree?
A common search query is for online MPA programs no GRE. The reason for this common online search is that the GRE is time-consuming. Taking the GRE requires a lot of preparation with most test takers enrolling in advanced preparatory programs. Although free prep questions are offered online, the highest value types with proven results are costly. Another consideration is the student may not do well on the GRE, but has a lot to offer. He or she may have an excellent undergraduate GPA and years of professional work experience. The good news is that there are online MPA programs no GRE requirement. The majority of colleges waive the GRE requirement for professionals with executive experience. Each college is likely to have different minimum past work experience mandates. However, the program may allow for credits for those who have five years executive experience or ten years of total work experience.
Is an MPA Useful for International Students?
Degrees for public administration are useful internationally. Public administration is considered a very broad discipline. Public administration focuses on managerial and executive skills that are used throughout the business world. Public administration in USA companies follow the same rules as companies located in other countries. The degree prepares students for jobs within the public service sector or with non-profit organizations. Within curriculums for public administration degrees, students learn about the different types of responses to public issues made by world governments. Since MPA degrees have an international focus, the programs attract students from all over the globe. This allows for international students to expand their networks. The MPA student can connect with global contacts to potentially find positions abroad. International and domestic government agencies seek out students with MPA degrees.
Employers know that MPA graduates are comfortable working different roles within the public sector. MPA degree holders may have past or current job titles such as educational administrator, policy administrator, healthcare director, or county manager. Many MPA degrees permit a specialization—which allows the international student to carve out a niche.