Affordable Public Administration Degrees

Scroll down to see the most affordable public administration degrees, as well as info on the different types of public administration degrees and program accreditation.

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School Rankings

1

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The School of Government at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill offers a Master of Public Administration (MPA) program that is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) through 2017. Students admitted to the program can to choose focus on one of the following areas: Community and Economic Development, International Relations, Local Government, Public Health, and Nonprofit Management. Minority students can apply for the Diversity in Public Administration Scholarship. In 2013, the school began offering its MPA program online ([email protected]). The North Carolina Association of County Commissioners (NCACC) and the North Carolina League of Municipalities (NCLM) have partnered with UNC to support its members who wish to pursue the [email protected] program by offering $5,000 fellowships.

CAG Score 97.1

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

29,135 Students

2

CUNY Bernard M Baruch College

Baruch College's School of Public Affairs offers a Master of Public Administration in several program formats, all of which are accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration. The traditional MPA program can be completed on a full or part-time basis, and students can choose a specialization in health care policy, nonprofit management, policy analysis and evaluation, public management, or urban development and sustainability. Non-traditional MPA formats include the Executive MPA, National Urban Fellows MPA and the MS in Nursing Administration/MPA program. The Executive MPA is offered in a cohort model that can be completed in two years by taking Saturday classes. MPA students are eligible for various scholarships ranging from $500 to $3,000, including the Hagedorn Graduate Scholarship.

CAG Score 97.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

18,090 Students

3

Texas A & M University-College Station

The Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University offers a Master of Public Service and Administration (MPSA) program that is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) through 2021. The school has joined with three TAMU departments (Political Science, Economics and Sociology) to give students the chance to earn their undergraduate degrees in these fields (BA or BS) and their MPSA degree in five years. All Bush School students pay in-state tuition, and the school provides some level of financial support to all admitted students ($1,000 to over $15,000/year). Students can apply for the Robertson Fellows Program, which covers tuition, fees, living expenses, health insurance and funding for educational enrichment opportunities.

CAG Score 96.8

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

61,642 Students

4

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

The Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University Minnesota Twin Cities offers a Bachelor of Arts/Master of Public Policy program (BA/MPP). The school's stand-alone MPP program is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA). Students have the opportunity to earn dual degrees in the following: MPP/MBA (Master of Public Administration), MPP/JD (Juris Doctor), MPP/MSW (Master of Social Work), and MPP/MPH (Master of Public Health). The Humphrey School also offers a Master of Public Affairs (Mid-career MPA) program and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Public Affairs program. PhD students can specialize in one of the following areas: Public Policy, Urban and Regional Planning, Public and Nonprofit Management, and Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy.

CAG Score 96.7

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

51,147 Students

5

CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice

The John Jay College of Criminal Justice offers a BS in Public Administration and two Master of Public Arts (MPA) programs through the Department of Public Management. Both MPA programs offer a wide variety of specializations. The MPA in Policy and Administration offers specializations in management and operations, human resources management, law and public management, criminal justice policy and administration, emergency management, court administration and urban affairs. The MPA in Inspection and Oversight offers specializations in forensic accounting, international inspection and oversight, investigation and operational inspection, organizational assessment and monitoring, law and inspection and oversight, and independent and contractual inspection and oversight. Scholarships available to public administration students include the $2,500 Richard Culp Memorial Scholarship and the $500 Robert J. Hong Memorial Scholarship.

CAG Score 96.6

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

15,045 Students

6

Rutgers University

Students attending school at Rutgers University's main campus in New Brunswick, New Jersey can earn bachelor's, master's or doctoral degrees in public policy through its School of Planning and Public Policy. Additionally, through the University's Newark campus, students can enroll in the School of Public Affairs and Administration's bachelor's and master's programs in public administration. The B.S. in Public Policy requires 43-credits of major coursework, with concentrations available in poverty and inequality, health and environment, and public management. The Master of Public Policy is a 48-credit program that offers 13 concentrations, including concentrations in management and nonprofit management. Students at RU's Newark campus can earn a B.A. in Public and Nonprofit Administration and a Master of Public Administration. A global executive online Master of Public Administration is also available.

CAG Score 96.6

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

6,321 Students

7

California State University-Long Beach

In addition to offering a general Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree, the Graduate Center for Public Policy and Administration at CSU Long Beach also offers an MPA program with an option in public works administration and urban affairs. This program is accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA). At the current time, certificate programs are available in the following areas: employee-employer relations, public financial management, and public management analysis. Students have the flexibility to choose on-campus, online, hybrid, or weekend courses. As part of the College of Health and Human Services, MPA students with excellent academic standing can apply for a number of scholarships each year with amounts ranging from $500 to $3,500.

CAG Score 96.6

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

36,809 Students

8

University of Washington-Seattle Campus

Students admitted to the Master of Public Administration (MPA) program at the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs can choose from the following areas of specialization: Policy Analysis & Evaluation, Leadership, Management, & Decision Making, Nonprofit Management & Philanthropy, Environment & Natural Resources, International Development, Metropolitan & Regional Policy, Social Policy, Poverty, Education, and Social Welfare, and Public Financial Management. The program offers three tracks: Global MPA Track, Part-time MPA Track, and the Peace Corps Master's International Track. There is also an Executive MPA (EMPA) program available for mid-career professionals in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. The Evans School MPA program is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) through 2021.

CAG Score 96.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

44,784 Students

9

Buffalo State SUNY

Buffalo State offers a Master of Public Administration that is delivered in a 17-month cohort format. Members of the cohort form teams for the capstone M.P.A. project, which they work on throughout the program and present to the faculty during the last week of their final term. Students in the program can choose from three tracts: public sector, nonprofit management, or international public management. All M.P.A. candidates take classes on topics such as public administration and policy, research methods, public budgeting, and strategic planning. The program begins in the fall and runs four semesters. Classes during the summer semester are delivered online, and students have the option of an internship in place of one of the summer classes.

CAG Score 96.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

11,083 Students

10

CUNY City College

The Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership at City College of New York offers a Master of Public Administration in Public Service Management designed for students who want management positions in government agencies or non-profits. The rigorous full-time program requires students to complete 45 credits in two years. The program follows a cohort model, with a group of 20 to 25 students moving through the program together. Students can select an optional career track: Public Policy and Research, or Communications and Public Relations. Students who do not have much professional experience must complete a full-time, 400-hour internship the summer between their first and second years. Interns receive a $3,000 stipend. Tuition assistance is available to some M.P.A. students.

CAG Score 96.4

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

15,579 Students

11

Appalachian State University

Appalachian State University's Department of Government and Justice Studies offers a Master of Public Administration program that is one of only 125 programs nationally to receive accreditation from National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration. The MPA curriculum requires 21 credit hours of core courses and 21 credit hours in a chosen concentration. Available concentrations include public management; town, city and county management; administration of justice; and not-for-profit management. All students are required to complete at least one internship during the course of their studies, except for students who are already employed in the field of their chosen career. MPA students are eligible for graduate scholarships, including the $5,000 E.R. Lovill Fellowship and the $2,000 Graduate Alumni Scholarship.

CAG Score 96.3

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

18,026 Students

12

Iowa State University

Iowa State University's Department of Political Science offers a Master of Arts in Political Science with a concentration in public policy, as well as a Graduate Certificate of Public Management (GCPM). The 30-credit MA in Political Science with a concentration in public policy requires 21 credits in political science, including six credits in a concentration area. The Graduate Certificate of Public Management is a 15-credit program that combines coursework in public management and public policy. Students are required to complete nine credits of core coursework and six credits of electives. Graduate students in ISU's Department of Political Science are eligible for numerous scholarships, including the $1,000 Philip R. Baumann Graduate Scholarship and the $1,000 Dwight Ink Graduate Scholarship.

CAG Score 96.3

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

34,435 Students

13

The University of Texas at El Paso

The University of Texas at El Paso offers a Master of Public Administration degree. It is accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA). The program provides students with a professional education that will prepare them for the opportunities and challenges associated with a career in the administration and management of non-profit and governmental organizations. Students in the MPA program have various undergraduate degrees in economics, business administration, political science, marketing, psychology, and others. Students are required to maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average in the MPA program.

CAG Score 96.2

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

23,079 Students

14

Saint Cloud State University

The Department of Political Science at St. Cloud State University offers a Master of Public Administration degree for students interested in professional careers in public service or nonprofit management. The M.P.A. program, which requires between 37 and 40 credits of coursework, includes concentrations in leadership and management of city and county governments, non-profit organizations, international development and health care administration. The curriculum includes 24 three-credit courses, a one-credit capstone course, four concentration courses and an internship for pre-service students. The program takes two years to complete on a full-time basis or three years on a part-time basis. M.P.A. students are eligible for graduate assistantships, which provide a partial tuition remission and a stipend.

CAG Score 96.2

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

16,076 Students

15

University of North Texas

The University of North Texas offers a B.S. in Emergency Administration and Planning, a Master of Public Administration, and a Ph.D. in Public Administration and Management. The B.S. in Emergency Administration and Planning program is truly unique, and it is the world's first emergency management resident degree program, attracting students from all over the world. The MPA at UNT was ranked #8 in the Top 10 programs in the country for urban management and city government by U.S. News and World Reports. MPA students may be eligible for the Hatton W. Summers Scholarships or MPA Alumni Scholarships.

CAG Score 96.1

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

36,486 Students

16

Alfred University

Alfred University offers a Master of Public Administration through its Graduate School's downstate extension program. The M.P.A. is a part-time program, with classes meeting for a full day on the weekend. Each class meets for five full-day sessions over the course of the semester. The program can be completed in 15 months, including two summer semesters. Since the program is part of the downstate extension program, classes are held at various venues in Brooklyn and Oceanside, Long Island. Students are required to complete one class at Alfred University's main campus, which lasts for one week during the summer. M.P.A. students who don't have prior experience in public administration are required to complete a two-credit field experience, which lasts for 100-contact hours.

CAG Score 96.1

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

2,310 Students

17

Michigan State University

The Department of Political Science offers a public policy undergraduate program, as well as a Master of Public Policy program. The public policy undergraduate major provides students with an understanding of the goals and problems of public policy, the political process of policy development and the implementation and evaluation of public policy. The 39-credit Master of Public Policy program requires 27 credits of core coursework and includes a three-credit field course requirement for students who do not have a lot of public or nonprofit work experience. MSU also offers an accelerated bachelor's/master's program in public policy, which allows undergraduate students apply up to nine undergraduate credits to their master's degree.

CAG Score 96.1

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

50,081 Students

18

SUNY College at Brockport

The Master of Public Administration (MPA) program offered at SUNY Brockport was instituted in 1974 and is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) through 2019. Students pursuing this degree can choose from the following three areas of emphasis: general public administration, health care management, and nonprofit management. MPA classes typically meet in the evenings, and some courses are available online. SUNY Brockport's Department of Public Administration also offers a Graduate Certificate in Non-Profit Management, which is available to MPA students or as a stand-alone certificate.

CAG Score 96.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

8,106 Students

19

SUNY at Binghamton

Housed within the College of Community and Public Affairs, Binghamton University's Department of Public Administration offers a Master of Public Administration (MPA) program that is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA). The 42-credit MPA program includes seven core courses and three courses in one of three areas of specialization: nonprofit management and leadership, local government management and leadership, and sustainable communities. Additionally, public administration dual degree programs are available in nursing, social work and student affairs, and an accelerated bachelor's/MPA degree program is available to undergraduate students in ten majors. Public administration students at Binghamton are eligible for several scholarship opportunities, including the full-tuition Change Maker Scholarship and the Axtell Promise Award.

CAG Score 96.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

16,695 Students

20

California State University-Fullerton

Courses for the Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration degree at Cal State Fullerton include the following: public management and policy, government and the economy, research in public management, politics and policy making, American foreign policy, and law, politics, and society. Students focus on studying the larger political environment of public service and the functions that support it, such as budgeting, policy analysis, personnel, and management. The university also offers a Master of Public Administration program with the following areas of concentration: criminal justice, human resources, public finance management, and urban management. Qualified undergraduates are given the opportunity to intern in the district offices of local, state and federal legislators. Scholarships are available for students who are admitted to the program.

CAG Score 96.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

38,128 Students

21

California State Polytechnic University-Pomona

Students accepted to the Master of Public Administration (MPA) program at Cal Poly Pomona have the option of choosing an area of concentration by taking a series of electives in the following areas: finance and accounting, education administration, community development and urban planning, environmental issues and administration, and information management and technology. Students who do not have at least two years of professional experience in the field of public administration will be required to complete an internship in order to earn their MPA. The culminating component of the program is a final exam or a project/thesis. The Robert M. Odell Scholarship ($1,800) supports qualified students pursuing an MPA degree, with special consideration given to students concentrating in finance and accounting.

CAG Score 96.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

23,966 Students

22

California State University-Stanislaus

Stanislaus State University offers a Master of Public Administration (MPA) program that is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA). The completion of the following nine courses is one of the requirements for the degree: Administration of Public Affairs, Public Finance, State and Local Public Finance, Quantitative Analysis, Public Policy Analysis, Organizational and Administrative Theory, Public Personnel Administration, Public Service Ethics, and Public Agency Budgeting. Students have the option of writing a thesis or taking a comprehensive exam in order to graduate from the program. Academically outstanding students (part-time or full-time status) can apply for the H. Owen Porter Memorial Scholarship (variable amount) or the William E. Neeley Public Administration Fellowship ($350).

CAG Score 96.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

9,045 Students

23

University of Wyoming

The Political Science Department at the University of Wyoming offers a Master of Public Administration (MPA) program. The degree program covers a broad range of topics that include the following: Budgeting and Financial Administration, Economic, Inter-governmental and Social Systems, Organizational and Managerial Skills/Practice, Personnel and Human Relations, and Political and legal Institutions/Processes. The Political Science Department makes some of its courses available online. There is an MPA program with a concentration in Environment & Natural Resources that is offered. Students also have the option of earning a dual degree in MPA/JD (Juris Doctor) through a joint degree program between the Political Science Department and the University of Wyoming Law School.

CAG Score 95.9

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

12,820 Students

24

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

The Political Science Department at UNCG offers a Master of Public Affairs degree, which is fully accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA). Students who pursue a Master of Public Affairs degree may choose one of the following concentrations: Nonprofit Management, Community and Economic Development Concentration, or Local Government Management. MPA graduate students may receive financial aid in the form of the NCCMA Scholarship, the Next Generation Graduate Award, the New Scholarship for Local Government Management Students, the Aericorps Scholarships, the Cemala Foundation Fellowship or Scholarship for Interns, the Graduate Dean's Award, the May Davidson Scholarship, and Graduate Assistantships.

CAG Score 95.9

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

18,647 Students

25

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

The Gerald G. Fox Master of Public Administration (MPA) program at the University of North Carolina Charlotte is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA). Students can choose to concentrate their studies in the following specialized areas: Non-profit Management, Urban Management & Policy, Emergency Management, and Public Finance. Certificate programs are also offered in these areas for students seeking advanced training but who are not interested in pursuing a master's degree. UNCC has partnered with public and not-for-profit agencies to support qualified students through the Public Service Fellowship Program. Fellowships typically cover the cost of in-state tuition and include an annual $12,000 stipend.

CAG Score 95.8

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

27,238 Students

26

University of Nebraska at Omaha

UNO's Master of Public Administration (MPA) program is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) and is the only NASPAA-accredited program in Nebraska. Students pursuing this degree can choose from the following areas of concentration: Aviation, Emergency Management, Healthcare Administration, Local Government, Nonprofit, Public Management, and Public Policy. Two dual degree options are available: MPA/MSW (Master of Social Work) and MPA/MMIS (Master of Managing Information Systems). There is also a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Public Administration program. In addition, UNO offers the Nebraska Certified Public Manager program as well as a Graduate Certificate in Public Management.

CAG Score 95.8

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

15,227 Students

27

Winona State University

Winona State University's Department of Political Science and Public Administration offers a Bachelor of Science in Public Administration, as well as an undergraduate minor in public administration. The B.S. in Public Administration prepares students for professional administrative roles in nonprofit or public institutions through 33 major credits of coursework. The B.S. curriculum includes coursework in American politics, state and local government, public service, constitutional law, administrative law and policy. Students are also required to complete a three-credit public administration internship. The core curriculum of the public administration B.S. meets the competencies outlined by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration.

CAG Score 95.8

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

8,684 Students

28

University of South Florida-Main Campus

Public Administration is offered as a Minor in the Bachelor of Science (BS) in Health Sciences program offered at UCF's School of Public Administration. On the graduate level, the school's Master of Public Administration (MPA) program is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA). The program takes a multi-disciplinary approach that allows graduates to pursue careers in non-profit organizations, local, state, or federal agencies, and special service sectors. Students admitted to this program participate in an internship program where they have the opportunity to apply their skills and training while working for organizations and government agencies in the Tampa Bay area.

CAG Score 95.8

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

41,938 Students

29

California State University-Fresno

Fresno State offers the Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree through the Department of Political Science at the College of Social Sciences. The curriculum follows the guidelines recommended by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA). Students take courses such as quantitative applications for public administration, state and local government, human resources management, ethics and public administration, and public policy administration. Students have the option of writing a thesis or taking a comprehensive exam as their culminating MPA experience. Qualified first-semester graduate students may be eligible for the university-wide President's Graduate Scholars Fellowship ($3,500). Graduate students from under-represented groups or disadvantaged backgrounds are considered for the Graduate Equity Fellowship Program (up to $4,500 per year).

CAG Score 95.8

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

23,179 Students

30

Minnesota State University-Mankato

Through its Department of Government, Minnesota State University-Mankato offers a Master of Public Administration and certificate program in public management. The 34-credit MPA program includes tracks in American administration and international administration and provides students with knowledge of the political and legal processes of government. MPA students can choose from a research and writing capstone, a thesis plan or an alternate paper plan. The Certificate in Public Management (CPM) requires 12 credits of coursework and provides students with training in human resource management, budgetary analysis, management theory and public policy analysis. Public administration students are eligible for several scholarships, including the Truman and Reta Wood Scholarship (up to $6,000) and the Winston W. Benson Political Science Graduate Student Scholarship (up to $2,000).

CAG Score 95.7

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

15,387 Students

31

University of Idaho

The Master of Public Administration (MPA) program at the University of Idaho is administered by the Department of Political Science at the College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences (CLASS). Students must complete 36 hours of coursework in order to earn the MPA degree. There are two tracks available: the internship track (for students who have minimal or no public administration experience) and the in-service track (for public administration professionals currently employed in the field). Students focus on a specialization area by taking 12 to 15 hours of elective courses in their area of interest. As an enrolled CLASS student, full-time MPA candidates can apply for the Frank Cushing Public Policy Scholarship, which has a variable award amount each year.

CAG Score 95.7

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

11,702 Students

32

University of Georgia

At the University of Georgia, the Public Administration and Policy Department (PAPD) is part of the School of Public and International Affairs. PAPD offers Master of Public Administration (MPA) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Public Administration programs. The department collaborates with the UGA Law School to offer the MPA/JD (Juris Doctor) joint degree program, which allows students to earn both degrees in four years. PAPD also collaborates with the UGA Honors Program to offer the AP/MPA program. Students who enter the university with several Advanced Placement courses can concurrently complete an MPA degree and their undergraduate degree. Teaching and research assistantships are available from PAPD each year; most award tuition waivers and stipends for a nine-month academic year.

CAG Score 95.7

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

35,197 Students

33

University of Colorado Colorado Springs

The School of Public Affairs at UCCS offers a Master of Public Administration (MPA) program that is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA). Students also have the option of earning a dual degree - MPA/MCJ (Master of Criminal Justice). The school has a Graduate Certificate in Public Management available, which is designed to increase a student's knowledge of the field of public administration. Students can apply for the following scholarships, which have been set up specifically for students enrolled in the School of Public Affairs: John Suthers Scholarship Fund ($500 to $1,000), Arthur B. Murphy Scholarship ($750), and the School of Public Affairs Fund ($750).

CAG Score 95.7

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

11,761 Students

34

California State University-Northridge

The Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree at CSUN is offered through the Tseng College. Students accepted to the program can choose from the following areas of concentration: health administration, non-profit sector management, and public sector management and leadership. Tseng College offers the MPA program online and on campus, and in a number of off-campus locations as well. It is also possible to bring the MPA program on-site to an employer. The mode of delivery for an employer-contracted MPA program can be on-site (face-to-face), online, or a combination of both. The Robert M. Odell endowed scholarship ($2,000 annually) was established by the California Society of Municipal Finance Officers to support students who are enrolled full-time in a public administration program.

CAG Score 95.7

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

40,131 Students

35

West Virginia University

The Master of Public Administration (MPA) program offered at West Virginia University has two areas of specialization - Healthcare Administration and Local Governance and Community Development. WVU's MPA program is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA). Students admitted to the program are given the opportunity to earn dual degrees - MPA/MSW (Master in Social Work) or the MPA/JD (Juris Doctor). There are two Graduate Certificates available - one in Nonprofit Management, and another in Cultural Resource Management. The Department of Public Administration provides a limited number of tuition waivers to its students each year. Students can also apply for Graduate Assistantships, which provide tuition waiver and a stipend.

CAG Score 95.6

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

29,175 Students

36

Old Dominion University

Old Dominion University's School of Public Service offers a Master of Public Administration that can be completed in-person, online or through a combination of in-person and online learning. The MPA program, which is accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration, requires 39 credits of coursework, including an internship for students without extensive professional experience. ODU also offers an MPA bachelor's to master's program that allows students to complete up to 12 graduate credits their senior year. ODU's PhD in Public Administration and Urban Policy is a 45-credit program that gives students the opportunity to choose either a public administration or public policy track. Graduate students are eligible for assistantships or fellowships, which provide awards ranging from $10,000 to $15,000.

CAG Score 95.6

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

24,932 Students

37

University of Illinois at Chicago

At UIC, the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs is home to the Department of Public Administration. The department offers a Master of Public Administration (MPA) program that is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) through 2021. There is also an accelerated MPA Program available, with classes scheduled so that full-time students can complete the program in 12 months. Students can choose from the following areas of concentration: Public Management, Financial Management, Information Technology, Survey Methods, Local Government Administration, Non-profit Management, and Information and Performance Management. The department's Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program has three areas of concentration: Public Management and Organizations, Financial Management, and Survey Methods.

CAG Score 95.6

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

27,969 Students

38

The University of Texas at Dallas

The School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences at the University of Texas in Dallas offers a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Public Affairs degree. Students pursuing this degree can take advantage of the Fast Track option, which lets them complete their BS degree and earn a Master of Public Affairs (MPA) degree in five years. The MPA program is also offered as a stand-alone program and is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) through 2017. Areas of MPA specialization include: Local Government Management, Nonprofit Management, and Policy Analysis. The school has a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program with the following concentration areas: Policy Analysis and Evaluation, Human Capital, and Nonprofit Management.

CAG Score 95.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

23,095 Students

39

SUNY at Albany

The Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy at University at Albany offers a Master of Public Administration and a Ph.D. in Public Administration and Policy. The M.P.A. is a 49-credit program that requires two years to complete for full-time students. Part-time students are welcome to enter the program, which offers classes in the evening. M.P.A. candidates complete 29 credits in core classes covering public management, analytic methods, and financial management, and choose an area of concentration. Candidates also have an internship or career experience. Ph.D. candidates can concentrate in: Public Management, Public Finance, Organizational Behavior and Theory, Public Policy, or Politics and Administration. The university also grants a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy and Management.

CAG Score 95.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

17,273 Students

40

Bellevue University

Bellevue University offers an accelerated Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree program that can be completed through online or in-person learning. The program requires 36 credit hours of coursework, with students taking three classes each term for a total of four terms. Students in the program are required to design four applied projects over the course of their studies (one per term) in the subjects of grant writing for a real organizational need; written assessment of real policy and strategic issues; strategic planning for a funding goal; and developing a training module addressing an actual organizational goal.

CAG Score 95.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

9,879 Students

41

University of Massachusetts-Boston

Through its Department of Public Policy and Public Affairs, the University of Massachusetts-Boston offers a traditional Master of Public Administration degree, as well as a Master of Public Administration in Global Comparative Public Administration. The traditional M.P.A. program takes 18 months to complete, with classes offered in the evening and on the weekends. Two tracks of study are available in the traditional M.P.A. program: a track in municipal management and a track in gender, leadership and public policy. The gender, leadership and public policy track takes a full two academic years to complete, as opposed to 18 months. The M.P.A. in Global Comparative Public Administration is a two-year, 39-credit program that can be completed on campus or online.

CAG Score 95.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

16,756 Students

42

University of Southern Maine

Through its Muskie School of Public Service, the University of Southern Maine offers a Master of Policy, Planning and Management and a graduate certificate in public management. The M.P.P.M. degree program requires 36 credits of coursework, including 18 credits of core coursework and 18 credits of electives, which may include a public service internship. Students in the program can choose an individualized concentration or choose from concentrations in public policy, sustainable development and geospatial technologies, or public and nonprofit management. Each concentration requires nine credits of coursework. Students in all concentrations are required to complete a portfolio demonstrating their skills and knowledge. The certificate in public management is a 12-credit program designed for those working in city, county or state government, or other forms of public service.

CAG Score 95.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

8,428 Students

43

University of Northern Iowa

The Department of Political Science at UNI's College of Social and Behavioral Sciences offers a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Public Administration program. Students admitted to this program can choose from the following focus areas: Economics and Finance, Community and Regional Development, and Human Resources. The following scholarships are available for students in the Department of Political Science: Women in Political Science Scholarship ($1,500), Dhirendra Vajpeyi Scholarship ($1,000), Dennis Jensen Memorial Scholarship ($750), and the Charles Ray and Ada Mae Hoxie Scholarship ($590).

CAG Score 95.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

11,928 Students

44

Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis

The School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) at Indiana University Purdue offers a Bachelor of Science degree in public affairs. Students accepted to the program can select from the following areas of specialization: civic leadership, management, media and public affairs, policy studies, and sustainable management and policy. There is also a 15-credit hour Public Management Certificate available, which can be pursued both online and on campus. On the graduate level, the university offers a Master of Public Affairs degree with concentrations in nonprofit management, urban sustainability, criminal justice, and policy analysis and public management. At the current time, SPEA offers two dual degree programs: Master of Public Affairs/Doctor of Jurisprudence and Master of Public Affairs/Master of Arts in Philanthropic Studies.

CAG Score 95.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

30,690 Students

45

San Diego State University

SDSU's School of Public Affairs offers a Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration degree with an optional emphasis in city planning. The school also offers a Master of Arts in Public Administration (MPA) degree that can be pursued on campus or online. The MPA program offers concentrations in city planning and in criminal justice administration. Students have the option of earning a Master of Arts degree in Latin America studies at the same time as their MPA degree. The school's MPA program is accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA). Undergraduates can apply for the Ken Perry Endowed Scholarship ($1,000), while graduate students can apply for the John Fowler Graduate Endowed Scholarship in Public Administration ($1,500).

CAG Score 95.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

33,483 Students

46

The University of Texas at Arlington

The Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree offered at the University of Texas in Arlington is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA). Students accepted to the program are required to select an area of emphasis from the following: public budgeting and financial management, local government management, urban non-profit agency management, strategic human resources management and economic development management. The MPA program is available on campus or online. The on-campus MPA can be pursued on a full-time or part-time basis. Full-time students can complete the program in two years. The online MPA is a part-time program that can be completed in seven semesters. A Doctor of Philosophy in Public and Urban Administration degree is also available.

CAG Score 95.4

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

39,740 Students

47

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

Southern Illinois University- Edwardsville offers a 39-credit Master of Public Administration (MPA) program that can be completed on a full or part-time basis. The MPA program, which is offered through the Department of Public Administration and Policy Analysis, requires seven core courses and six elective courses. The program is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) with emphases offered in public management and nonprofit administration. Students can also create an individualized area of emphasis with the approval of their adviser. The MPA program at SIUE offers internships that include a tuition waiver and allow students to earn up to three credits of graduate tuition.

CAG Score 95.4

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

13,972 Students

48

George Mason University

The Master of Public Administration (MPA) program offered by the School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs at George Mason University has 11 diverse areas of concentration. All MPA students are required to take courses in the following: administration in public and nonprofit organizations, problem solving and data analysis, organization theory and management behavior, public policy process, ethics and public administration, and third-party governance. In addition, students have to complete a methods course, one course in accounting, budgeting and financial management, and four credits in their chosen area of emphasis. An advanced seminar in applied public administration research is also required. This requirement can be waived for students with two or more years of professional experience in a related field.

CAG Score 95.3

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

33,729 Students

49

University of Maine

The College of Professional Studies at the University of Maine Augusta (UMA) offers a Bachelor of Science in Public Administration degree designed for students with an interest in administrative work in government and non-profit organizations. UMA has an agreement in place with the University of Southern Maine (USM) that allows its BS in Public Administration graduates to enroll in the Master of Public Policy and Management program at USM with an advanced standing. This reduces the number of credit hours needed to complete the master's program from 39 to 33, thereby allowing students to earn the degree in a shorter amount of time. UMA also offers a post-baccalaureate program in public administration for applicants with a bachelor's degree in another discipline.

CAG Score 95.3

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

11,286 Students

50

University of Colorado Denver

The School of Public Affairs at the UC Denver offers both Bachelor of Arts in Public Service and Master of Public Administration (MPA) degrees. The MPA program is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA). The following MPA options are available: traditional (full-time or part-time attendance), accelerated (degree completion in just one year), executive (weekend classes only), and online (no residency requirement). MPA students can concentrate in one of the following areas: gender-based violence, emergency management and homeland security, environmental policy, management, and law, local government, and nonprofit organizations. UC Denver offers the following dual degree options: MPA/Master of Criminal Justice, MPA/Master in Economics, MPA/Master of Public Health, and MPA/Master of Urban and Regional Planning.

CAG Score 95.3

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

22,791 Students

Public administrators manage the services that make communities work and come together. Often employed by government agencies, public health institutions, service agencies and even school boards, public administrators are in high demand by organizations that provide services to the public. They’re responsible for creating and supporting programs and services, supervising service staff and managing finances and funding for community projects.

The BLS indicates that the field of social and community service management is expected to grow faster than average between 2012 and 2022. Although public servants don’t go into government for the money, Social and Community Service Managers earn a respectable median pay. Those with a master’s degree or higher can expect to earn more.

Confused about your options? Use our guide to affordable public administration degrees. In each section, we detail the coursework you can expect, discuss the differences between titles (MPA vs. MPP, DPA vs. PhD) and outline your potential career opportunities. We also take a close look at the importance of regional, business school and NASPAA accreditation.

Types of Public Administration Degrees

Associate’s Degree in Public Administration

Because most public administration programs are offered at the master’s level, associate degrees in this field are fairly rare. However, you may wish to pursue one in order to earn credits towards a bachelor’s degree in public administration. Ask if your academic credits will be accepted by your preferred university/college before you enroll.

Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration

A bachelor’s degree in public administration is a 4 year undergraduate program that prepares students for careers in public administration and public policy. A high school diploma or GED is required to apply.

Although the MPA has more clout, an accredited bachelor’s degree from a good school can provide you with a solid foundation for entry-level jobs in public service. Talk to your guidance counselor about your goals.

Degree Options

  • Bachelor of Public Administration (BPA): Typically designed for students interested in public sector management and administration.
  • Bachelor of Public Policy (BPP): Combines public administration with public policy issues, politics, policy analysis and policy advocacy.
  • Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA): Prepares students for business and leadership roles in private, public and nonprofit sectors.

In your search for programs, you’ll see a lot of crossover between these 3 degrees. The trick is to define your goals (e.g. working in relief agency), and then choose the program that suits.

Sample Coursework

Like any other bachelor degree, the BPA is a combination of courses in your chosen major, electives and science/liberal arts requirements.

As part of your major, you might examine:

  • Public administration
  • Management & leadership
  • Fiscal budgeting & public finance
  • Economics
  • Government & political theory
  • Planning & GIS
  • Statistics
  • Program evaluation & performance management
  • Public policy analysis
  • Politics
  • Community relations
  • HR management & organizational dynamics
  • Ethics

A capstone project or internship is often included in the curriculum.

Career Opportunities

BPA graduates can apply for entry-level jobs in the public sector, non-profit and non-governmental organizations, hospitals, schools, international agencies and more.

Examples of job titles might include:

  • PR specialist
  • Administration specialist
  • Grant specialist
  • Program analyst
  • Budget analyst
  • Policy analyst
  • County clerk
  • Lobbyist
  • Social services administrator
  • Political scientist
  • Fundraiser
  • Campaign assistant

Once you have a few years of experience under your belt and money in the bank, you may wish to consider an MPA. This will qualify you for management jobs with heftier salaries.

Master’s Degree in Public Administration

A master’s degree in public administration is a 1-2 year professional program that prepares graduates for management/leadership positions in public, NGOs and non-profit organizations. (Think of it as the public sector’s equivalent of the MBA.) An accredited bachelor’s degree is required to apply.

Like the MBA, the MPA is considered a terminal degree – you don’t need a doctorate in order to advance your career. It’s also a practical degree. Instead of focusing on academic research, MPA students examine day-to-day administrative and management challenges.

Accelerated 1 year programs are available to qualified professionals with prior work experience.

Degree Options

  • Master in Public Administration (MPA): Concerned with public management/administration and program implementation.
  • Master in Public Policy (MPP): Typically focused on public policy issues, analysis and design.
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in Public Administration: Roughly equivalent to the MPA.

During your search for programs, you’ll also run into degree titles such as “Master of Public Service,” “Master of Public Affairs,” “Master of Government Administration,” etc. These are part of the same crowd. The NASPAA recognizes any degree that deals with public administration or policy. What’s more, in recent years, the MPA and MPP have begun to converge.

Interested in a particular field? You may wish to pursue a concurrent graduate-level degree in law, medicine, business or the like. Talk to your school about your options.

Sample Coursework

Each program is different. Some schools will allow you to pick and choose topics and concentrations; others will require you to complete large number of prerequisite courses.

There are MPA/MPP degrees targeted at military personnel, mid-career professionals, international development specialists, community organizers, civil servants (e.g. firefighters, police, civil engineers) and more.

With a generic MPA, your core curriculum may cover:

  • Public administration
  • Management & leadership
  • Fiscal budgeting & public finance
  • Planning & GIS
  • Microeconomics
  • Accounting
  • Statistics
  • Program evaluation & performance management
  • Public policy analysis
  • Politics
  • Community relations
  • HR management & organizational dynamics
  • Ethics

In addition, you will usually be allowed to select a concentration in your area of interest (e.g. urban policy, human rights, sustainability, healthcare, international affairs, criminal justice, etc.).

An internship, capstone project and/or master’s thesis may be required.

Career Opportunities

You may wish to earn your MPA in order to:

  • Qualify for leadership/management positions in the public, private and non-profit sector
  • Transition to a job in local, state or national government
  • Become a city manager, non-profit manager, political scientist, policy consultant, policy analyst, etc.
  • Pursue a career with an NGO, global development bank, international finance institution, or strategic consulting firm

Since the MPA is a terminal degree, pretty much any door is open.

Doctoral Degree in Public Administration

A doctorate in public administration is a 4-7 year program focused on advanced research. (The time it takes to finish depends on your choice of school). A master’s degree and significant work experience may be prerequisites.

Degree Options

  • Doctor of Public Administration (DPA): Focuses on theoretical/practical research with a direct application to the professional sphere (e.g. managerial practice). Often earned by senior-level practitioners and/or academics.
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Public Administration: Focused on original research and the development of new theories. Targeted towards senior researchers in business and government and/or academics.

In reality, the DPA and the PhD are regarded as academically equivalent and many programs have the same goals. Check with individual schools to see which program is right for you. 

Sample Coursework

The standard curriculum for a doctoral degree is split into two parts.

  1. In the first few years, students take advanced courses in public administration and research methods.
  2. In the remaining years, they work on an independent research project. This culminates in a written doctoral dissertation and oral exam.

Career Opportunities

Graduates with a DPA or PhD work as high-level managers in the government, NGOs, non-profits and the private sector; senior researchers in federal, state and local governments; and university professors.

Certificate in Public Administration

A certificate in public administration is a non-degree program that takes ~3 months-1 year to complete. Most of these programs are offered at the graduate-level (i.e. Post-Baccalaureate or Graduate Certificates).

Students often pursue a graduate certificate in order to:

  • Transition into a public administration career
  • Earn credits for a master’s degree further down the track
  • Specialize in a particular area of interest (e.g. non-profit management)
  • Qualify for higher-level job openings

If you’re considering earning a certificate as a step towards a master’s degree, make sure your credits will be transferable.

Important Accreditations

Regional Accreditation

We recommend your college or university has regional accreditation. This is a “seal of approval” granted to institutions (e.g. non-profit and public colleges and universities) by one of six regional accrediting bodies (e.g. North Central Association of Colleges and Schools).

You can learn more about the difference between regional accreditation and national accreditation in Accreditation: Understanding the Difference Between Real Schools and Diploma Mills.

Benefits of Regional Accreditation

Attending a regionally accredited school will make it easier for you to:

  • Transfer credits (many regionally accredited colleges and universities will not accept credits from nationally accredited schools)
  • Apply for student loans, tuition reimbursement, scholarships and federal financial aid
  • Get into graduate school
  • Attract the attention of headhunters and recruiters

Regional accreditation only applies to the school/university, not individual degrees or departments. You can also look for business school accreditation and/or accreditation from NASPAA.

NASPAA

The Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA) is a membership organization of 300+ graduate education programs in public policy, public administration, public & non-profit management and public affairs. It accredits master’s degree programs in public administration throughout the world.

NASPAA accreditation is a nice bonus, but there are plenty of excellent public administration programs – including ones offered by Ivy League schools – that don’t have it. It should only be one factor in your decision.

View a roster of NASPAA-accredited programs.

Business School Accreditation

If you are considering a BBA or MBA, check if the business school has accreditation from AACSB, ACBSP or IACBE. AACSB is usually considered the gold standard, but we take a closer look at all 3 in our article on affordable MBA programs.

Licensure & Certification

Project Management Certification

Unless you’re interested in becoming a budget analyst or government financial manager, there are no mandatory certifications for public administrators. However, there are plenty of project management credentials that your business colleagues will recognize. These include:

CGFM Certification

Offered by the Association of Government Accountants (AGA), the Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM) credential is targeted at government financial managers. The certification process covers governmental accounting, auditing, financial reporting, internal controls and budgeting at the federal, state and local levels.

Criminal Justice

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Sociology

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