Shilpee Singh
Written By - Shilpee Singh

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A Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) is a graduate-level program designed to equip individuals with the knowledge and skills necessary for public service and administration leadership roles. The MPA curriculum encompasses many subjects, including public policy, organizational management, finance, ethics, and governance. The MPA degree is highly valued in the public sector, nonprofit organizations, and governmental agencies. Graduates may pursue careers as city managers, policy analysts, program directors, or leaders in international development, contributing to positive social change and effective governance. The versatility of an MPA extends its influence into various industries, offering graduates the opportunity to contribute to societal well-being and make a meaningful impact. The career prospects for MPA holders are promising, with high earning potential and favorable job outlooks. For instance, urban and regional planners, who typically hold a master’s degree, enjoy a median salary of $79,540, and the field anticipates an impressive 4% job growth rate from 2022 to 2032, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) [1].

This resource serves as a guide for those considering or already engaged in online MPA programs. It delves into potential career trajectories, industry resources, and what learners can expect from an online MPA degree. It provides valuable insights for those aspiring to make a difference in public service.

Masters in Public Administration Online

Table Of Contents

Featured Online Programs

Southern New Hampshire University

PROGRAM: Online MBA in Public Administration

Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit, accredited institution with more than 3,000 on-campus students and over 60,000 online students, making us one of the fastest-growing universities in the country. Founded in 1932, we’ve been relentlessly reinventing higher education ever since and have gained national recognition for our dedication to helping students transform their lives and the lives of those around them.

We’re proud to provide affordable, accessible education that students can pursue on our 300-acre campus in Manchester, NH, over our innovative online platform or at our regional centers in Manchester, Nashua, Portsmouth and Salem, NH, and Brunswick, ME.

SNHU has earned the GetEducated.com Best Buy and Best of Business – Best Online Degree awards and is consistently ranked as a top Military Friendly® School by G.I Jobs®.

Best Master’s in Public Administration Online

While accredited online MPA programs meet specific academic standards, colleges and universities structure their programs based on several other criteria. Based on our unique methodology, the OMC team has ranked the best online MPA programs, which are listed below:

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College Name & AddressTuitionGraduation Rate
#1
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
103 South Bldg Cb 9100, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599
$10,55291%
#2
Villanova University
800 Lancaster Avenue, Villanova, Pennsylvania 19085
$20,50690%
#3
Texas A&M University, College Station
JKW Administration Building, Suite 200, College Station, Texas 77843
$6,67782%
#4
Marist College
3399 North Rd, Poughkeepsie, New York 12601
$15,30084%
#5
University of Southern California
University Park, Los Angeles, California 90089
$46,27292%
#6
Johns Hopkins University
3400 N Charles St, Baltimore, Maryland 21218
$55,35093%
#7
Northwestern University
633 Clark St, Evanston, Illinois 60208
$56,06794%
#8
Indiana University, Bloomington
107 South Indiana Ave., Bloomington, Indiana 47405
$9,50179%
#9
California State University, Long Beach
1250 Bellflower Blvd, Long Beach, California 90840
$7,17674%
#10
DePaul University
1 E Jackson Blvd, Chicago, Illinois 60604
$19,58474%
#11
American University
4400 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, District of Columbia 20016
$30,35179%
#12
San Diego State University
5500 Campanile Dr, San Diego, California 92182
$7,17673%
#13
University of Central Florida
4000 Central Florida Blvd, Orlando, Florida 32816
$6,91672%
#14
University of Missouri, Columbia
105 Jesse Hall, Columbia, Missouri 65211
$9,26471%
#15
Penn State University, World Campus
128 Outreach Building, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802
$21,68271%
#16
Rutgers University
249 University Avenue, Blumenthal Hall, Newark, New Jersey 07102
$17,73669%
#17
Florida International University
11200 S. W. 8 Street, Miami, Florida 33199
$8,91263%
#18
Kent State University
Executive Office, 2nd Floor Library, Kent, Ohio 4424
$1,176662%
#19
University of North Dakota
264 Centennial Drive, Stop 8193, Grand Forks, North Dakota 58202
$10,53461%
#20
California State University, Northridge
18111 Nordhoff St, Northridge, California 91330
$7,17655%
#21
University of Illinois, Springfield
One University Plaza, Springfield, Illinois 62703
$8,27054%
#22
Sam Houston State University

1806 Ave J, Huntsville, Texas 77340
$5,76554%
#23
Arizona State University
411 N Central Ave, Phoenix, Arizona 85004
$11,72058%
#24
Arkansas State University
2105 E. Aggie Road, Jonesboro, Arkansas 72401
$4,98653%
#25
Indiana State University
210 N 7th St, Terre Haute, Indiana 47809
$7,54241%

Source – Integrated Post Secondary Education Data System & University Data
*Tuition rates are for in-state and per year. Program specific rates may apply.
**NA – data not available

Most Affordable Master’s in Public Administration Online

A degree’s cost continues to rise; but some programs, particularly online, offer affordable MPA degrees. After reviewing various online MPA programs, the OMC team has listed the most affordable online master’s in public administration degrees, as follows:

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College Name & AddressTuitionGraduation Rate
#1
Sul Ross State University
HWY 90 East, Alpine, Texas 79832
$3,90025%
#2
Arkansas State University
2105 E. Aggie Road, Jonesboro, Arkansas 72401
$4,98653%
#3
Sam Houston State University
1806 Ave J, Huntsville, Texas 77340
$5,76554%
#4
Texas A&M University, College Station
JKW Administration Building, Suite 200, College Station, Texas 77843
$6,67782%
#5
University of Central Florida
4000 Central Florida Blvd, Orlando, Florida 32816
$6,91672%
#6
California State University, Long Beach
1250 Bellflower Blvd, Long Beach, California 90840
$7,17674%
#7
San Diego State University
5500 Campanile Dr, San Diego, California 92182
$7,17673%
#8
California State University, Northridge
18111 Nordhoff St, Northridge, California 91330
$7,17655%
#9
Indiana State University
210 N 7th St, Terre Haute, Indiana 47809
$7,54241%
#10
University of Illinois, Springfield
One University Plaza, Springfield, Illinois 62703
$8,27054%
#11
University of Texas, Arlington
701 S. Nedderman Dr., Arlington, Texas 76013
$8,47451%
#12
Florida International University
11200 S. W. 8 Street, Miami, Florida 33199
$8,91263%
#13
University of Missouri, Columbia
105 Jesse Hall, Columbia, Missouri 65211
$9,26471%
#14
Indiana University, Bloomington
107 South Indiana Ave., Bloomington, Indiana 47405
$9,50179%
#15
University of North Dakota
264 Centennial Drive, Stop 8193, Grand Forks, North Dakota 58202
$10,53461%
#16
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
103 South Bldg Cb 9100, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599
$10,55291%
#17
Arizona State University
411 N Central Ave, Phoenix, Arizona 85004
$11,72058%
#18
Kent State University
Executive Office, 2nd Floor Library, Kent, Ohio 4424
$11,76662%
#19
Marist College
2105 E. Aggie Road, Jonesboro, Arkansas 72401
$15,30084%
#20
Central Michigan University
106 Warriner Hall, Mount Pleasant, Michigan 48859
$16,70061%

Source – Integrated Post Secondary Education Data System & University Data
*Tuition rates are for in-state and per year. Program specific rates may apply.
**NA – data not available

Understanding Master’s in Public Administration Online Programs

Master of Public Administration (MPA) programs are advanced degree programs that prepare individuals for public service and administration leadership roles. These programs provide a comprehensive understanding of public policy, governance, and management within the context of government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and other public-sector entities. MPA programs typically have a core curriculum that covers fundamental areas such as public policy analysis, organizational management, financial administration, and ethical considerations in public service. These courses lay the foundation for advanced studies. Many MPA programs incorporate practical experiences such as capstone projects or internships. These hands-on opportunities allow students to apply theoretical knowledge in real-world settings, gaining valuable insights and networking opportunities. 

Master of Public Administration programs are designed to equip individuals with the knowledge, skills, and ethical foundation needed to excel in leadership roles within the public sector. The multidisciplinary nature of MPA programs prepares graduates for the complexities of public administration and the dynamic challenges of contemporary governance. The many components of this degree have been expanded below. 

Curriculum and Skills Gained in an Online MPA Program

Online master’s in public administration programs that receive accreditation tend to offer many of the same courses. However, some programs also offer concentrations, so those specific course requirements could vary significantly from school to school. Many MPA programs require students to complete a capstone project or thesis. This allows them to apply their knowledge and skills to real-world challenges and demonstrate their understanding of public administration concepts.

It is important to note that the actual curriculum can vary between universities, so prospective students should review the specific program requirements of the institutions they are interested in. However, some standard courses could include:

Public Personnel Administration
Public personnel administration is an essential course for anyone interested in a government or public role that covers personnel recruitment, selection, and evaluation. This course also covers topics like compensation, training, and benefits. Public personnel administration directly applies to many human resources and leadership positions. 

Administrative Theory
Administrative theory introduces the groundwork used for many public administration courses. Students explore many historical and current public administration theories and then evaluate the different uses for each theory. This course also includes extensive reading and research, two skills required for many public administration positions. 

Public and Nonprofit Organizational Behavior
Organizational behavior provides students with a look at how individuals and systems behave within an organization. This course focuses specifically on public and nonprofit organizations, great for anyone interested in a leadership role. 

Public Financial Management
An analytics-heavy course, public financial management applies financial management topics to nonprofits and public organizations. Topics include tax administration, financial analysis, and cost-benefit analysis. While not always required, this course prepares students for financial management careers, a niche career for MPA graduates. 

Collaborative Governance
Collaborative governance deals with the process of implementing policies. The course teaches students to interact with public, private, and nonprofit stakeholders. Other topics include negotiating and policy design. Depending on the position graduates secure, collaborative governance could play a significant role in day-to-day operations. 

Some additional courses that one can find across Master of Public Relations programs include:

  • Media Relations
  • Strategic Communication
  • Digital and social media in PR
  • Crisis Communication
  • Public Relations Research and Evaluation
  • Corporate Communication
  • Event Management and Promotion
  • Public Relations Ethics
  • Campaign Planning and Execution
  • Brand Management
  • Writing for Public Relations
  • Internal Communication
  • Social Impact and Nonprofit PR
  • Legal and Regulatory Issues in PR
  • Leadership in Public Relations

A Master of Public Administration (MPA) program equips students with diverse skills essential for effective leadership and management in the public sector. Here are vital skills typically developed in MPA programs:

Analytical Skills
MPA graduates hone their ability to analyze complex policy issues, offering a deep understanding of the intricacies of evaluating and addressing public problems.

Communication Skills
Graduates have strong public speaking and presentation skills, enabling them to convey complex information to diverse audiences.

Financial Management
Graduates are adept at resource allocation and maintaining fiscal responsibility.

Ethical Decision-Making
Graduates develop the ability to navigate ethical dilemmas and make decisions aligned with public service values.

Data Analysis and Research
Research methods are a focal point, empowering MPA graduates to engage in evidence-based decision-making. 

Legal and Regulatory Compliance
MPA graduates navigate complex legal landscapes, ensuring public organizations adhere to established laws and regulations.

Human Resource Management
Graduates are well-versed in diversity and inclusion strategies, fostering a supportive and inclusive organizational culture.

Public Service Motivation
Commitment to public service values is instilled, fostering a sense of social responsibility and civic engagement among MPA graduates.

Negotiation and Conflict Resolution
Graduates are skilled negotiators, capable of reaching agreements and resolving conflicts. 

Interpersonal Skills
Cultural competence and strong interpersonal communication skills enable graduates to collaborate successfully with diverse stakeholders.

Types of Online Master’s in Public Administration Admission Degrees

Masters in Public Administration (MPA) programs typically require applicants to hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. The specific admission requirements can vary between universities and programs, but there are several common types of master’s degrees that applicants may hold:

Online MPA

The Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) is a comprehensive program designed to prepare individuals for leadership roles in the public sector. This interdisciplinary degree covers practical aspects of public service, governance, and policy analysis. MPA programs offer a diverse curriculum, integrating insights from political science, economics, and management. MPA programs’ flexibility accommodates full-time students and working professionals, empowering graduates to lead in public service with practical skills, ethical leadership, and a broad understanding of public administration.

Master of Arts in Public Administration

The Master of Arts in Public Administration (MAPA) is a graduate-level program designed to equip individuals with the skills and knowledge needed for effective leadership and management roles in public service. MAPA programs often incorporate real-world case studies, collaborative projects, and experiential learning opportunities to provide practical insights. Graduates of MAPA programs are prepared for diverse careers in government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and other sectors, where they can contribute to the betterment of communities and society at large.

Master of Science in Public Administration

The Master of Science in Public Administration (MSPA) is an advanced graduate program that focuses on developing the skills and knowledge required for effective leadership and management in the public sector. The MSPA curriculum typically covers various topics, including public policy analysis, organizational management, public finance, and ethical considerations in governance. This program prepares individuals for leadership roles in government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and other public service entities.

Executive Master of Public Administration Vs. Master of Public Administration

The Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA) and Master of Public Administration (MPA) are both advanced degree programs in public administration. Still, they cater to different sets of professionals and career goals. We have highlighted some of these differences below:

AspectMaster of Public Administration (MPA)Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA)
Target AudienceEarly to mid-career professionals.Experienced professionals in leadership roles.
DurationTwo years of full-time, part-time, and online options are typically available.Structured for working professionals, often completed in a shorter timeframe.
CurriculumCovers a broad range of public administration topics, including policy analysis, public finance, and organizational management.It is tailored to experienced professionals, emphasizing advanced leadership, strategic thinking, and decision-making.
Career FocusRoles include program managers, policy analysts, and mid-level managers in various sectors.Executive-level positions include city managers, department heads, and leaders in government and non-profit organizations.

Specializations in MPA Programs Online

There are many specializations that MPA students can choose, which provide the flexibility to choose a path that aligns with their career aspirations and interests within the broad field of public administration. Some specializations in MPA programs are:

SpecializationDescriptionCareers
Public Policy and AnalysisThis specialization focuses on understanding, analyzing, and evaluating public policies, exploring the policymaking process, and developing policy analysis and implementation skills.Policy analyst, research associate, legislative assistant
Nonprofit ManagementThis specialization explores the unique challenges of managing and leading nonprofit organizations, covering topics like fundraising, strategic planning, and organizational development.Nonprofit manager, program coordinator, development officer
Healthcare AdministrationThis specialization addresses the complexities of healthcare management, policy, and systems, preparing students for leadership roles in healthcare organizations.Healthcare administrator, health policy analyst, program manager
Environmental Policy and SustainabilityThis specialization focuses on environmental issues, sustainability, and policy development, equipping students to address climate change and resource management challenges.Environmental policy analyst, sustainability consultant, program director
Human Resources ManagementThis specialization concentrates on personnel management, organizational behavior, and workforce development within the public sector.HR manager, training and development specialist, labor relations specialist
Public Finance and BudgetingThis specialization covers financial management, budgeting, and fiscal policy, preparing students to navigate the financial aspects of public administration.Budget analyst, financial manager, fiscal policy analyst
Emergency ManagementThis specialization addresses disaster preparedness, response, and recovery, training students to manage emergencies and crises at the community and organizational levels.Emergency management coordinator, disaster response planner, public safety director
Urban and Regional PlanningThis specialization explores city and regional planning, land use, and community development, preparing students to contribute to sustainable urban environments.Urban planner, regional planner, community development specialist

Graduate timeline for MPA Programs Online

Master of Public Administration (MPA) programs offer flexible timelines for diverse student needs. Full-time MPA programs typically span two academic years, allowing them to immerse themselves in coursework and gain comprehensive insights into public administration. Part-time options are designed for working professionals, offering a more extended completion duration, often three or more years. This structure enables one to balance work, life, and academic commitments. Accelerated MPA programs condense the curriculum, allowing one to complete their studies in a shorter time frame, often within 12 to 18 months. Accelerated options are ideal for individuals seeking an intensive, focused learning experience, enabling a swift transition into leadership roles in the public sector.

Acceleration for MPA Programs Online

Many online master’s in public administration students choose to study part-time to continue working. However, other students want to complete their graduate degrees quickly. An accelerated MPA program teaches the same materials as a regular program, only at a faster pace. These degrees usually take one year to complete, though they can anticipate an intensive course of study. Here are some universities that offer accelerated online MPA programs, including a one-year online master’s in public administration:

Online Master’s in Public Administration Admission Requirements

Every school sets its requirements for an online MPA program, though most accredited schools set similar requirements. While specific requirements vary by institution, some standards include the following:

  • Bachelor’s Degree: All online master’s in public administration programs require at least a bachelor’s degree. Some schools prefer candidates with a bachelor’s in a field related to public administration;
  • Resume/CV: Some online programs want applicants to demonstrate relevant professional experience. Regardless of requirements, a strong resume/CV could help applicants stand out;
  • Letters of Recommendation: Online MPA programs require at least two letters of recommendation. These should come from previous college professors or current professional supervisors;
  • Personal Statement: Some colleges expect students to submit a Personal Statement to highlight the intent of pursuing the MPA program; 
  • GPA: Many programs require an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher, though other schools set no requirements. However, high GPAs could improve a candidate’s chance of getting admitted and securing financial aid;
  • GRE Scores: The Graduate Readiness Exam (GRE) is a standardized test that colleges use to evaluate applicants. This requirement is becoming less common, though some schools still require minimum GRE scores. 

Accreditation for MPA Programs Online

Accreditation is a crucial consideration when choosing a Master of Public Administration (MPA) program, as it ensures that it meets specific standards of quality and excellence. Programmatic accreditation is specific to certain academic programs, ensuring they meet industry-specific standards. For MPA programs, accreditation from the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA) is highly regarded [7]

Besides programmatic accreditation, universities are also typically accredited by one of six regional accrediting bodies:

Understanding the importance and nuances of accreditation is essential for students.

No GRE MPA Programs Online

No GRE MPA Programs provide an alternative pathway for individuals seeking admission to Master of Public Administration (MPA) programs without the requirement of submitting GRE (Graduate Record Examination) scores. These programs aim to make the application process more accessible, especially for professionals with significant work experience who prefer not to take the GRE. Some colleges providing no GRE MPA programs include:

Free Master’s in Public Administration Online Courses

While uncommon, some students could enroll in a free online MPA program. These programs do not charge tuition rates to learners, making it an excellent way to earn a graduate degree. However, these rare programs are usually incredibly exclusive. Regardless, those who enter these programs enjoy quality degrees at no cost. While there aren’t any accredited free MPA programs, some courses are taken from previous years’ programs and made available online. Here are some free courses for MPA programs:

CourseMaking Public Policy[14]
Provided byMIT OpenCourseWare
DescriptionIn a Making Public Policy course, students delve into the intricacies of policy development, implementation, and evaluation within the public sector. The curriculum equips them with essential skills and knowledge to navigate the complex world of policymaking. From analyzing existing policies to formulating and advocating for new ones, they gain insights into the multifaceted aspects of policy analysis.
CourseMeasuring Causal Effects in the Social Sciences[15]
Provided byCoursera
DescriptionIn the course, students focus on developing a deep understanding of methods used to assess and measure causal relationships in social science research. The curriculum is designed to equip them with the theoretical knowledge and practical skills to draw meaningful conclusions about cause-and-effect relationships in various social contexts.
CourseScience, Politics, and Environmental Policy[16]
Provided byMIT OpenCourseWare
DescriptionThe course explores the intricate intersection of scientific knowledge, political decision-making, and the formulation of environmental policies. Designed to provide a comprehensive understanding of how scientific evidence shapes ecological policy and how political processes influence scientific discourse, the course covers various topics essential for navigating the complex landscape of environmental governance.

How to Pay for a Master’s in Public Administration Online Degree

When pursuing an Online Master of Public Administration (MPA) program, several techniques exist for financing your education and managing the associated costs. Here are various strategies and options to consider:

Scholarships and Grants

Seek out scholarships and grants designed explicitly for MPA students. Many organizations, institutions, and foundations offer financial aid based on academic merit, field of study, or specific criteria.

Employer Tuition Assistance

Inquire with your employer about tuition assistance programs. Some companies provide financial support or reimbursement for employees seeking further education related to their job responsibilities.

Federal Financial Aid

All graduate students should submit the Free Application for Financial Student Aid (FAFSA), a government program that helps students who demonstrate financial need pay for their degree[17]. After completing the FAFSA, new learners automatically apply for financial aid, ranging from student loans to grants.  

MPA Program Fellowships

Fellowships, such as the Byron Hanke Fellowship, fund public administration students in exchange for work [18]. Like internships, a fellowship helps students pay for their degrees while gaining valuable experience. 

Work-Study Programs

Participate in work-study programs if available, allowing you to gain practical experience in your field while earning income to support your education.

Part-Time Employment

Consider part-time employment during your studies. Many online MPA programs are designed to accommodate working professionals, allowing you to balance work and education.

Budgeting and Financial Planning

Develop a realistic budget that includes tuition, fees, books, and living expenses. Efficient financial planning can help you allocate resources effectively and avoid unnecessary debt.

Research Assistant Positions

Explore opportunities for research assistant positions within your academic department. These roles may offer financial support while allowing you to contribute to research projects.

Alternative Financing Options

Investigate alternative financing options, such as private student loans or educational lines of credit. Be cautious and compare terms before choosing this route.

Read the  best Financial Guide to understand college funding better.

Scholarships for Online Master’s in Public Administration Students

Besides other grants, financial aid, and fellowships, online MPA students also use scholarships to help pay for their degrees. Many scholarships only accept applicants who pursue a master’s degree in public administration, and some could finance a significant portion of a graduate degree.

Walter W. Mode Scholarship[19]

Awarded through the American Society for Public Administration, the Walter W. Mode Scholarship awards $1,500 to an ASPA committed to public service. 
Amount: $1,500
Application Deadline: Varies

National Forum of Black Public Administrators Scholarships[20]

The NFBPA provides various scholarships for members and those who study at a Historically Black College or University. Some scholarships only accept graduate student applicants. 
Amount: $2,000 to $10,000
Application Deadline: February, annually

Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation[21]

A comprehensive award that finances students’ education pursuing various degrees, the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation has extended over 3,000 awards. 
Amount: $30,000
Application Deadline: July, annually

Government Finance Professional Development Scholarship[22]

Those planning to earn a degree in government finance can apply for the GFOA Finance Professional Development Scholarship. Four winners are selected each year. 
Amount: $10,000
Application Deadline: November, annually

Career and Salary Outlook for Master’s in Public Administration Online Graduates

A master’s in public administration introduces various topics to prepare students for careers in private, public, and nonprofit organizations. As a result, potential career opportunities can vary. Regardless of which direction they take their career, graduate public administration students can anticipate good wages and steady job growth.

The versatility of a Master’s in Public Administration opens doors to various roles across different sectors, allowing graduates to make meaningful contributions to public service and societal development. Some roles that MPA graduates can pursue include

  • Public Policy Analyst
  • City Manager
  • Nonprofit Director
  • Government Affairs Manager
  • Urban Planner
  • Healthcare Administrator
  • Human Resources Manager
  • Policy Advisor
  • Environmental Policy Analyst
  • Emergency Management Director
  • Budget Analyst
  • Public Relations Specialist
  • Educational Administrator
  • Criminal Justice Administrator
  • Community Development Manager
  • Social Services Manager
  • Foreign Service Officer
  • Local Government Official

 Some potential career and salary potentials for online MPA graduates include the following:

OccupationUrban and Regional Planner[23]
SkillsAnalytical, communication, decision-making, and leadership skills
Median Annual Salary$74,549
Job Growth (up to 2032)4% (as fast as the average)
Job DescriptionUrban and regional planners are professionals dedicated to shaping the future of communities by designing and creating sustainable, functional, and aesthetically pleasing spaces in towns, cities, and metropolitan areas. Their work comprehensively explains the complex social, economic, and environmental interactions that influence urban development.
OccupationHuman Resources Specialist[24]
SkillsCommunication, decision-making, detail-oriented, and interpersonal skills
Median Annual Salary$64,240
Job Growth (up to 2032)6% (faster than average)
Job DescriptionHuman Resources (HR) specialists play a pivotal role in the success of organizations by managing the intricate aspects of talent acquisition, employee relations, and organizational culture. Whether in private corporations, government agencies, or non-profit organizations, HR specialists contribute to developing and maintaining a thriving and cohesive work environment.
OccupationPolitical Scientist[25]
SkillsAnalytical, communication, creativity, and critical-thinking skills. 
Median Annual Salary$128,020
Job Growth (up to 2032)7% (faster than average)
Job DescriptionPolitical scientists are instrumental in the political process, wielding their expertise to analyze, evaluate, and shape political systems. Engaged in research, policy development, and strategic analysis, they play a vital role in understanding, interpreting, and influencing the dynamics of political structures.
OccupationAdministrative Services Managers[26]
SkillsAnalytical, communication, detail-oriented, and leadership skills. 
Median Annual Salary$101,870
Job Growth (up to 2032)5% (faster than average)
Job DescriptionAdministrative services managers are pivotal in orchestrating and enhancing the operational efficiency of organizations across the private and public sectors. Their role involves coordinating various initiatives to streamline processes, improve workflows, and ensure the smooth functioning of administrative functions.
OccupationFinancial Managers[27]
SkillsAnalytical, communication, detail-oriented, math, and organizational skills. 
Median Annual Salary$139,790
Job Growth (up to 2032)16% (much faster than average)
Job DescriptionFinancial managers are pivotal in steering the fiscal success of businesses and organizations. With a comprehensive understanding of financial principles, these professionals assess an entity’s economic health, provide strategic insights, and contribute to informed decision-making at the organizational level.

Certifications and Licenses for Public Administration Graduates

Fortunately for public administration students, many potential careers do not require any certification or license. However, those unsure what to do with their career should consider becoming Certified Public Managers. Career outcomes, such as financial managers, could benefit from niche certifications.  Some professional certifications graduates in public administration can pursue include:

Certified Public Manager[28]
A Certified Public Manager (CPM) is an individual who demonstrates excellence in their field. Aside from improving resumes and applications, the CPM certification qualifies individuals to join the American Academy of Certified Public Managers. To qualify, individuals must complete the CPM program. 

Certified Government Financial Manager[29]
Ideal for anyone interested in financial management, the CGFM certification proves competency in auditing, financial reporting, and controlling budgets at the local, state, and federal levels. Applicants need a degree and at least two years of relevant professional experience. 

SHRM Certification[30]
This organization is created for human resources professionals. The SHRM certification requires master’s degree graduates to complete at least one year of professional HR experience before applying. Accreditation helps professionals advance their careers and secure higher salaries. 

Unlike certain professions, such as law or medicine, there is no universal license for MPA graduates. However, specific roles within public administration may require certifications or licenses.

Resources for Online Public Administration Students

Before completing an online MPA, students should consider joining a professional organization. These organizations provide members with various benefits, from career boards to scholarship opportunities.

American Society for Public Administration[31]
ASPA members serve as civil servants, elected officials, and industry thought leaders. Aside from networking, members gain access to professional development and various industry publications. 

Government Finance Officers Association[32]
Founded in 1906, GFOA serves over 20,000 public finance officials across North America. The association offers membership for current professionals and students, including public administration students. 

National Academy of Public Administration[33]
 A non-partisan association dedicated to providing expert advice to government leaders, NAPA doesn’t offer membership. However, public administration professionals can connect with NAPA Fellows and gain valuable industry insights. 

Alliance for Nonprofit Management[34]
The Alliance for Nonprofit Management works to connect nonprofit professionals to promote social change. Members receive various industry discounts, access to educational opportunities, and plenty of networking opportunities. 

National Forum for Black Public Administrators[35]
NFBPA works to advance Black public leaders. Members get access to a job board, industry discounts, and an extensive community of professionals.

FAQs About Master’s in Public Administration Online Programs

What is a Master’s in Public Administration (MPA)?

A Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) is a graduate-level program that focuses on developing skills and knowledge for effective leadership and management in public and nonprofit sectors. It covers public policy, organizational management, budgeting, and governance.

Can I pursue an MPA without a background in public administration?

Are MPA programs available online? 

Can I pursue a dual degree alongside an MPA?

What is the difference between an MPA and an MBA? 

What career paths can I pursue with an MPA degree?

 Is work experience required for admission to MPA programs?

Citations:

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook for Urban and Regional Planners

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

Syracuse University

Barry University

Troy University

San Diego State University

Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration

Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)

Tennessee State University

University of Central Florida

Kent State University

Making Public Policy-MIT OpenCourseWare

Measuring Causal Effects in the Social Sciences-Coursera

Science, Politics, and Environmental Policy-MIT OpenCourseWare

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U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook for Urban and Regional Planner

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