2020 Best Master's in Public Administration Online Programs

By OnlineU Staff | Updated 3/9/2020
2020 Best Online Master's in Public Administration Badge

Distance students seeking master's programs in public administration will find that these 25 colleges offer the best value based on affordability and alumni salaries. California State University-Long Beach is ranked #1, offering a Master of Public Administration for $10,656 per year. Graduates of the school reported a median salary of $113,300. Second-ranked Arizona State University offers an Executive Master of Public Administration for $10,101 per year.

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

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RankSchool Annual Tuition Mid-Career Salary
# 1 #1 California State University-Long Beach $10,656 $113,300
# 2 #2 Arizona State University $10,101 $112,100
# 3 #3 American University $31,662 $118,100
# 4 #4 Rutgers University $18,562 $109,200
# 5 #5 California State University-Dominguez Hills $14,304 $106,600
# 6 #6 Valdosta State University $5,274 $102,200
# 7 #7 Webster University $14,040 $104,300
# 8 #8 University of Nebraska at Omaha $12,000 $102,900
# 9 #9 University of San Francisco $22,610 $101,800
# 10 #10 Marist College $13,700 $97,600
# 11 #11 Troy University $8,892 $95,000
# 12 #12 University of South Florida Online $16,221 $96,000
# 13 #13 University of Colorado Denver $11,358 $93,600
# 14 #14 University of Southern California $38,560 $103,000
# 15 #15 Golden Gate University $14,850 $89,000
# 16 #16 California State University-San Bernardino $15,672 $89,300
# 17 #17 Central Michigan University $12,103 $85,900
# 18 #18 Ohio University-Main Campus $14,688 $86,700
# 19 #19 DePaul University $15,720 $86,800
# 20 #20 Florida International University $18,900 $86,100
# 21 #21 San Diego State University $19,636 $86,200
# 22 #22 California State University-Northridge $13,284 $83,000
# 23 #23 Ohio State University-Main Campus $9,248 $78,000
# 24 #24 National University $11,934 $78,700
# 25 #25 Columbus State University $5,418 $74,400
Salary data provided by Payscale Logo

2020 Online Colleges Offering Public Administration Degrees - Ranking Details

#1 California State University-Long Beach

  • Annual Tuition: $10,656
  • Median Salary: $113,300
  • Locations: Long Beach (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

The online Master of Public Administration at California State University Long Beach is offered through a partnership between the institution's Graduate Center for Public Policy and Administration and its College of Professional and International Education. The accelerated degree, which can be completed in as little as 22 months, is designed for individuals who work full-time and require the flexibility of an online format. The program is delivered mostly online, though it does require attendance at one class held on the CSULB campus. Students benefit from individualized scheduling, a support coordinator, and guaranteed course offerings. A total of 39 units are required for the degree, and courses are six weeks in length. Classes are delivered both synchronously (one night per week) and asynchronously. Graduates should be prepared for management positions within the public and nonprofit sectors.

#2 Arizona State University

  • Annual Tuition: $10,101
  • Median Salary: $112,100
  • Locations: Tempe (AZ) (and 4 others)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Arizona State University (ASU) offers a 30-credit online Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA) degree through its School of Public Affairs. The program lasts 19 months and requires three in-person executive sessions. Candidates should have five to seven years of experience in the public sector or similar experience with government officials. Students work on a hands-on project and develop a network of diverse public administration leaders. ASU also offers a 33-credit online Master of Public Safety Leadership and Administration degree that can be completed in one year. The curriculum is designed to prepare graduates for leadership positions in the field. Students in the program can choose a concentration in emergency medical services - mobile integrated healthcare, executive fire administration, or executive police administration.

#3 American University

  • Annual Tuition: $31,662
  • Median Salary: $118,100
  • Locations: Washington D.C.
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

The online Master of Public Administration and Policy (MPAP) at American University instructs students in a curriculum focused on policy analysis and organization management. During the two-year program, students gain an extensive understanding of the legal and political perspectives of public service. The 36-credit program emphasizes flexibility and combines core courses with a three-credit public policy practicum that gives students the chance to work on a project for a real client. Graduates join a network of successful alumni.

#4 Rutgers University

  • Annual Tuition: $18,562
  • Median Salary: $109,200
  • Locations: New Brunswick (NJ)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

The Rutgers School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA) offers a fully online Master of Public Administration to interested distance learners. The program requires 42 credits, consisting of 33 core credits and nine credits of electives or concentration-specific coursework. Concentrations are available in budgeting and financial management, healthcare administration, nonprofit management, and public and nonprofit performance management. Students will apply what they've learned in the program to a real-world project during a three-credit capstone. GRE scores are not required for admission.

#5 California State University-Dominguez Hills

  • Annual Tuition: $14,304
  • Median Salary: $106,600
  • Locations: Carson (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

California State University-Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) provides an online, flexible Master of Public Administration. Students in the program can select one of the following concentrations: criminal justice administration, health care policy and administration, nonprofit management, and public management. Students can continue working full-time while pursuing their master's degrees. The curriculum is a combination of core classwork and electives. Either a capstone project or an honors thesis is required to graduate. Thesis-option candidates must have a 3.8 GPA and permission from the MPA department.

#6 Valdosta State University

  • Annual Tuition: $5,274
  • Median Salary: $102,200
  • Locations: Valdosta (GA)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Valdosta State University offers an online Master of Public Administration degree through its graduate school. Students can complete a general degree or select a concentration in either Public Policy or Public Sector Management. This 36-credit degree focuses on giving students a comprehensive understanding of public administration and government. The MPA is a non-thesis program designed for working professionals. All students will be required to complete an internship as a participant-observer in a government, non-profit, or non-governmental organization. Courses are delivered asynchronously so students can log in on their own time to complete assignments, making it easier to maintain professional commitments. Applicants will need to submit official transcripts proving completion of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, as well as exhibiting a satisfactory score on the GMAT, MAT, or GRE exam. Prospective students will also need to have an acceptable cumulative undergraduate GPA and submit a resume, a career goal statement, and three letters of recommendation.

#7 Webster University

  • Annual Tuition: $14,040
  • Median Salary: $104,300
  • Locations: St. Louis (MO)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Webster University hosts an online Master of Public Administration through its Walker School of Business and Technology. This 36-credit hour master’s program is designed to provide a framework for those looking to pursue leadership and management roles in the public sector. Students can enroll in part-time or full-time learning and will take foundational courses, such as organizational behavior, administrative law and processes, public personnel management, and integrated studies in public administration. They will also complete nine credits of electives within the business school. Online classes are delivered through the university’s WorldClassRoom platform and are on an asynchronous schedule with deadlines occurring weekly. Students will participate in reading assignments and class discussions. Applicants must have completed a bachelor’s degree in business or in a business-related field from an accredited college or university with a minimum GPA of 2.5, or they will need to take a business prerequisite course as part of the program. Applicants will also need to submit official transcripts.

#8 University of Nebraska at Omaha

  • Annual Tuition: $12,000
  • Median Salary: $102,900
  • Locations: Omaha (NE)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The University of Nebraska at Omaha offers a 39-credit Master of Public Administration degree through its School of Public Administration. This master’s program has both full-time and part-time options. Full-time students can complete the program within two years and one semester, and part-time students have as long as 10 years to graduate. Degree concentrations include Aviation, Criminology and Criminal Justice, Emergency Management, Local Government, Nonprofit Management, Public Management, and Public Policy. All students are required to complete a capstone project course before being awarded their degree, and internships are also strongly recommended. When they begin their studies, online students are required to attend a one-day on-campus orientation to meet with faculty and advisors and learn about virtual resources available to them, like the library and technology assistance. Applicants must have completed a four-year bachelor’s degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0. They must also submit GRE test scores, two letters of recommendation, a resume, and a statement of purpose.

#9 University of San Francisco

  • Annual Tuition: $22,610
  • Median Salary: $101,800
  • Locations: San Francisco (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

The University of San Francisco offers an online Master of Public Administration through its School of Management. The program is designed to equip students to serve the most vulnerable communities and to become effective leaders in public organizations. This 39-credit master’s degree program has 13 required courses covering topics like leadership ethics, policy analysis, public sector budgeting, quantitative methods, and strategic management of public communications. All courses must be completed with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0, and students can decide to enroll either full-time or part-time. All applicants must submit official transcripts along with a resume and two letters of recommendation. The application also requires a 1,000-word statement of purpose or essay addressing the students’ short-term and long-term professional goals and why they are applying to USF. Some applicants may also be required to participate in an interview. Online students can access a variety of resources, including counseling, career services, the learning and writing center, and disability services.

#10 Marist College

  • Annual Tuition: $13,700
  • Median Salary: $97,600
  • Locations: Poughkeepsie (NY)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

The School of Management at Marist College offers an online Master of Public Administration. The degree requires students to complete 39 to 42 credits, depending on the track selected, and can be completed on either a part-time or full-time schedule. Full-time students must complete their degree within two years, and part-time students can complete their degree within three years. There are entry points into the program in the spring, summer, and fall semesters. The degree offers several concentrations: Analytics, Ethical Leadership, Healthcare Administration, Non-Profit Management, and Public Management. Coursework explores the skills needed to be an ethical leader of a diverse workforce in public and non-profit organizations. Classes are delivered in an asynchronous format through the iLearn platform and include interactive discussion boards, virtual group conferences, private chat rooms, and continuous communications. Students who do not have at least two years of full-time, professional work experience will need to complete an internship in order to graduate.

#11 Troy University

  • Annual Tuition: $8,892
  • Median Salary: $95,000
  • Locations: Troy (AL)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Troy University offers a Master of Public Administration that can be completed entirely online. The 36-credit program focuses on training students for leadership roles in the public sector. Students choose from one of six concentrations: Public Management, Public Health Administration, Non-Profit Management, Public Human Resource Management, National Security Affairs, and International Public Administration. Students will complete 12 courses—nine core courses and three concentration courses—and the program can be completed in as little as 15 months. Terms last nine weeks, and courses are delivered asynchronously. Students access materials and submit assignments through the Canvas learning management system. Students have the option of enrolling in full-time or part-time study. Students who have less than one year of professional work experience will need to complete an internship. Applicants must submit official transcripts from an accredited college or university; GRE, MAT, or GMAT test scores; and one professional letter of recommendation. 

#12 University of South Florida Online

  • Annual Tuition: $16,221
  • Median Salary: $96,000
  • Locations: Tampa (FL)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The University of South Florida offers a Master of Public Health with a concentration in Public Health Administration. The degree program requires students to complete 42 credits on a full-time or part-time schedule. The curriculum centers on management principles and methods to advance the health of communities. Coursework explores topics such as biostatistics, epidemiology, social and behavioral sciences, and occupational health. Online courses are delivered through the Canvas learning management system. Students must submit assignments according to regular deadlines and participate in online discussions with their peers. Applicants to the MPH program are required to submit official college transcripts, GRE scores from the last five years, at least two letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, a current resume, and an online application. They should also have had at least two years of full-time work experience in a healthcare role or related organization. Students have full access to technical assistance via chat, phone, or email.

#13 University of Colorado Denver

  • Annual Tuition: $11,358
  • Median Salary: $93,600
  • Locations: Denver (CO)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The University of Colorado Denver offers an online Master of Public Administration through its School of Public Affairs. The 36-credit program is designed to prepare students for a career in the public sector, with leadership roles in government or nonprofit positions. Students can enroll in one of seven concentrations: Disasters, Hazards and Emergency Management; Education Policy, Emergency Management and Homeland Security; Environmental Policy and Management; Nonprofit Management; Public Policy Analysis; and State and Local Government. Students can enroll in either part-time or full-time study, and students, on average, complete the master’s in public administration degree in two and a half years. All students complete a capstone course where they demonstrate the knowledge they have gained by completing a client-based project related to their concentration. Students who are admitted to the program without professional experience in the public or nonprofit sectors will have to complete a three-credit internship.

#14 University of Southern California

  • Annual Tuition: $38,560
  • Median Salary: $103,000
  • Locations: Los Angeles (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

The University of Southern California offers an online Master of Public Administration through its Sol Price School of Public Policy. The 40-credit degree program focuses on two main areas: Institutions and Organizations, and Analytics. Students can choose to pursue a certificate in either Public Policy or City and County Management. Students who have less than two years of relevant, full-time work experience will be required to complete a professional development internship for one credit. Online students will all be required to complete two multi-day residencies before graduating from the program, which take place over two to three days on campus. Residencies allow online students to network with their colleagues and professors while working on real-world projects. Courses are delivered synchronously in a live classroom format that allows for interactive discussions. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university and must submit GRE or GMAT scores along with their online application. 

#15 Golden Gate University

  • Annual Tuition: $14,850
  • Median Salary: $89,000
  • Locations: San Francisco (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

Golden Gate University offers an Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA) program that can be completed entirely online. The degree program requires students to complete 36 credits, and students can choose to declare one of four concentrations: General, Law Enforcement and Security, Urban Innovations, and Judicial Administration. The curriculum was designed for students who already have some professional work experience in the public sector and who are looking to pursue leadership roles in public, nonprofit, and governmental organizations. Students can enroll in the fall, spring, and summer terms, and they can complete the degree in as little as 18 months. The program enrolls a cohort of students who will progress through the program together, and students log in to asynchronous classes. All students must submit assignments and meet weekly deadlines through the eLearning platform. A final capstone project requires students to research, develop, and defend a public policy paper. Applicants should submit official transcripts and proof of at least five years of related work experience.

#16 California State University-San Bernardino

  • Annual Tuition: $15,672
  • Median Salary: $89,300
  • Locations: San Bernardino (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

California State University at San Bernardino offers a Master of Public Administration that can be completed entirely online. Enrollment is available in both spring and fall semesters. Students can enroll in one of four concentrations: Cybersecurity, Leadership, Public Financial Management, and Nonprofit Management. Beginning in the fall of 2020, students will be required to select a concentration. Participants can enroll full-time or part-time to complete the 12 required courses in the MPA program. Students can finish in as little as four semesters and are expected to be continuously enrolled in spring and fall terms. Online classes are delivered both synchronously and asynchronously, with some live web conference classes. Students will be required to participate in online discussions on the Blackboard learning platform multiple times per week. All MPA students must have public sector employment experience prior to joining the master’s in public administration online program, and those who do not will have to complete an approved internship. All students are required to take a comprehensive public administration exam on campus in order to graduate. To apply, students should submit official transcripts, a statement of purpose, and information on professional work experience.

#17 Central Michigan University

  • Annual Tuition: $12,103
  • Median Salary: $85,900
  • Locations: Mount Pleasant (MI)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The Central Michigan University Global Campus offers a Master of Public Administration degree program that can be completed entirely online. The 37-credit program is made up of 25 hours of core classes, elective courses, and an optional internship in government and politics. Courses focus on topics such as public policy process, public budgeting and finance, and administration and ethics in public service. Students without prior professional experience in public service are required to complete the internship. Online classes are delivered through the Blackboard learning platform. Most classes are asynchronous, though some have synchronous elements where students are required to log on during a specific time to meet with their peers and instructors. Students submit weekly assignments and are required to participate in discussion board posts. Applicants must submit official transcripts, a current professional resume, three letters of recommendation from former professors or public service professionals, and a personal statement detailing their professional goals. 

#18 Ohio University-Main Campus

  • Annual Tuition: $14,688
  • Median Salary: $86,700
  • Locations: Athens (OH)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Ohio University hosts an online Master of Public Administration degree. Online students can also enroll in concentrations including Non-Profit Management and Public Leadership and Management. The 38-credit degree program has three start dates each year, in spring, summer, and fall semesters. Students can complete their online degree in as little as two years and have the option to enroll full-time or part-time. Coursework focuses on topics like data analysis, public-private partnerships, and measuring outcomes. Online students can take advantage of a number of virtual resources, including technical support for the Blackboard learning management system, academic advising, and the eCampus Success Center where they can work with an individual success coach. To be considered for admission, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and submit official transcripts. They should also submit a personal statement, a resume, and three letters of recommendation. No GRE or GMAT scores are required for applying.

#19 DePaul University

  • Annual Tuition: $15,720
  • Median Salary: $86,800
  • Locations: Chicago (IL)
  • Accreditation: HLC

DePaul University offers an online Master of Public Administration through its School of Public Service. The program requires students to complete 52 credits, and both thesis and non-thesis options are available. Students have the option of declaring a concentration in International Public Management, Metropolitan Planning and Urban Affairs, or Public Management. Students will join a cohort of peers with whom they progress through the program, with program start dates every autumn. The program has students follow a required course sequence, and there is an option for full-time (two courses per term) or part-time (one course per term) enrollment. Courses are delivered through the Desire2Learn platform, and there is a mix of synchronous and asynchronous learning, including some use of Zoom for virtual classroom discussions. All applicants must submit an online application along with official transcripts from all prior colleges or universities attended, a personal statement describing career goals, relevant work or volunteer experience, and a current resume.

#20 Florida International University

  • Annual Tuition: $18,900
  • Median Salary: $86,100
  • Locations: Miami (FL)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Florida International University offers an online Master of Public Administration through its Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs. The program requires students to complete 42 credits, and students must maintain a 3.0 cumulative GPA or higher throughout their studies. Part-time and full-time enrollment are both available, and students can take between one and four classes per semester. Students can only begin the master’s in public administration online program during the fall semester, and applications are reviewed on a rolling basis. Online classes are delivered asynchronously and require students to participate in discussion boards and submit assignments according to set deadlines. To be considered for admission, students must submit official transcripts showing completion of a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited school, three letters of recommendation from undergraduate faculty or work supervisors, a resume, and a personal statement demonstrating their writing competency and addressing long-term career goals. GRE, GMAT, or LSAT scores are required of applicants who have an undergraduate GPA of less than 3.25 in the last 60 credits of upper-division coursework. 

#21 San Diego State University

  • Annual Tuition: $19,636
  • Median Salary: $86,200
  • Locations: San Diego (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

San Diego State University offers an online Master of Public Administration through its World Campus. The 36-credit program is meant for experienced professionals who currently work in government and nonprofit agencies. This online degree is a fast-track program that takes 16 months to complete. Students take classes in six two-month modules, completing two courses at a time. There is typically a two-week break between modules. Students are also required to complete two on-campus experiences, one at the start of the program and one at the end. Students join a cohort of peers with whom they progress through the program, and there is only one start date per year. All classes are asynchronous, and students are required to submit weekly assignments, participate in discussion boards and group exercises, and submit papers based on reading assignments. Applicants are required to provide official college transcripts; have an overall GPA of at least 2.85; and submit GRE test scores, two letters of recommendation, a resume, and a statement of purpose. Full-time professionals also need to submit an internship waiver request form signed by their current or past supervisors.

#22 California State University-Northridge

  • Annual Tuition: $13,284
  • Median Salary: $83,000
  • Locations: Northridge (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

California State University Northridge offers an online Master of Public Administration through Tseng College. The program is designed to accommodate working professionals looking to further their careers in the public sector. Students can choose from three online concentrations: Health Administration, Nonprofit Sector Management, and Public Sector Management and Leadership. Students enter the program as a cohort and progress through the program with that group of peers. Students typically take one eight-week class at a time and complete two courses per term. Classes are delivered asynchronously so students can log on to complete assignments and review materials whenever is best for them. Students can engage with a network of peers and, through classes and assignments, can maximize interaction with colleagues and faculty. Students have access to a variety of support services, including a program management team and an academic lead for help with administrative and academic issues. Applicants must submit official transcripts and are required to have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school or university with a cumulative undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0. Students should also have two years of work experience in the public sector.

#23 Ohio State University-Main Campus

  • Annual Tuition: $9,248
  • Median Salary: $78,000
  • Locations: Columbus (OH)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Ohio State University hosts an online Master of Public Administration and Leadership through its John Glenn College of Public Affairs. Students can complete one of four program tracks: Criminal Justice Administration and Policy, Management and Leadership, Nonprofit Management, and Policy. Students can complete the master’s in public administration degree in as little as two years, typically taking two courses per term. However, options for both full-time and part-time study are available. Classes are offered in the fall, spring, and summer semesters. Coursework focuses on equipping students to address management challenges and to prepare for leadership roles in the public sector. Applicants should have at least three years of significant post-baccalaureate work experience in management, budgeting, or decision-making in a professional setting. They will also be required to submit three letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, a current resume, and official college transcripts. Students have access to an online student community to connect with peers and networks within the university.

#24 National University

  • Annual Tuition: $11,934
  • Median Salary: $78,700
  • Locations: La Jolla (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

National University offers a Master of Public Administration degree that can be completed entirely online through its College of Professional Studies. Students can choose to declare a specialization in Human Resource Management or Organizational Leadership. The program requires students to complete 54 credits, including 36 credits of core requirements and 18 credits of elective or specialization requirements. This degree focuses on preparing students for leadership roles in the public sector by teaching students management and analytical skills. There are monthly start dates for the program, and students take classes one at a time, with each course lasting four weeks. Online coursework is delivered asynchronously and includes discussion boards, readings, presentations, lectures, quizzes, and exams. Applicants should have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university and are required to submit official college transcripts showing a minimum GPA of 2.75 for their last 90 credit hours. Students with a lower GPA can submit GMAT, GRE, or Miller Analogies Test scores.

#25 Columbus State University

  • Annual Tuition: $5,418
  • Median Salary: $74,400
  • Locations: Columbus (GA)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Columbus State University offers a Master of Public Administration that can be completed entirely online. Students can choose from two tracks: Criminal Justice and Government Administration. The 36-credit program can be completed either full-time or part-time and includes 21 credits of core classes along with 15 credits of concentration courses. Students must complete a comprehensive exam at the end of their program in order to graduate. Students can enroll in either the fall or spring semester, and courses are offered throughout the summer term as well. All online courses are delivered through the CougarVIEW online learning platform. Applicants should submit official college transcripts from every school attended and should have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.75. Applicants must also submit one letter of recommendation from an employer or professor and a statement of purpose that outlines their interest in the program, their personal goals, and their professional goals. 

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.

This website offers school details to prospective students as an informational resource. The appearance of a school listing on this website should not be interpreted as an endorsement of the school by this site.