The 25 Best Master’s in Public Administration Online for 2018

Best College Reviews - Editors Choice - Top Online Master's Degrees-01

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By BCR Staff
November 2017
The Master of Public Administration (MPA) is the public and non-profit sector’s equivalent of the MBA. As so, the degree stresses professional skills and academic disciplines that are essential for a career in the public sphere, from public policy and analysis, to budgeting, administrative processes, law, management, ethics, evaluation, and more. Graduates can expect to go on to leadership positions in local state, and federal government, or in specialized areas like urban planning, emergency management, transportation, health care, economic development, community development, education, non-profits, environmental policy, and criminal justice. Because many top programs require at least one year of relevant work experience, MPA programs are increasingly offered online, allowing professionals to continue working while advancing their career. And for those interested, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment opportunities in MPA fields look promising, with many areas predicted to grow more than 10% through 2024. Below, find our top 25 online programs.

If you are interested in more general information regarding online learning, visit our ranking of the best colleges online.


  • Affordability (1/3): the average out-of-state tuition per credit hour
  • Completion Time (1/3): minimum amount of course work required for certification
  • Academic Reputation (1/3): the rank of the school’s parent institution according to US News

1. San Diego State University

San Diego State University is a public research university with a student enrollment of about 35,000. Founded in 1897, it is the third oldest school in CSU’s 23-school system. The school is also known for its research leadership: according to the Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index, SDSU ranked #1 in the country for four straight years in productive research. Since 2000, SDSU faculty and staff garnered more than $1.5 billion in research grants and contracts, and the Carnegie Foundation lists the school as a “Research University with high research activity.” It has been recognized for academic excellence by The Daily Beast, Money Magazine, Forbes, and others, with highly ranked programs in Nursing, Speech–Language Pathology, Rehabilitation Counseling, Clinical Psychology, Audiology, and Public Health. SDSU is behind only UC Berkeley in California Fulbright Scholars, and has produced more than 65 in the last decade.

SDSU’s online MPA is a 36-credit program that students can complete in as little as 16 months. Core requirements include Scope of Public Administration, Methods of Analysis, Quantitative Approaches, Administrative Theory, Public Personnel Administration, Administration and Public Policy Development, and Public Financial Management. From there, students have the opportunity to customize the degree through four electives and a capstone internship (which can be waived for full- or part-time public administration professionals). An accelerated, rigorous track, the SDSU MPA is among the most prestigious in the country, having been in existence for 50 years, and is designed to prepare students for careers in government, community agencies, private non-profit organizations, planning and consulting firms, and private sector companies that work in partnership with the public sector. Applicants should have earned at least a 2.85 undergraduate GPA, and must submit GRE scores. The degree is accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA).

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  • Estimated Cost Per Credit Hour: $500

2. Walden University

Walden University, headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is part of the Laureate Education group, with 80 universities across nearly 30 countries worldwide. Walden was founded in 1970, before becoming one of the first fully online higher learning institutions in the 1990s, and now offers more than 80 degree programs – bachelors, masters, certificates, and doctorates – in addition to over 370 specializations and concentrations. Popular areas of study include management, nursing, education, public policy and administration, social work, and counseling, among others. Further, with an enrollment of over 47,000, Walden boasts a highly diverse, well-represented student body from all 50 states and more than 150 countries. In order to best accommodate the school’s working professionals and adult learners, Walden also has affiliations with a number of organizations, including school districts, healthcare centers, corporations, and nonprofits, to help reduce tuition costs and teach relevant professional skills.

Walden’s online Master of Public Administration consists of 46 quarter credits. Core requirements include Principles of Public Administration, Ethics and Social Justice, Organizational Management and Leadership, Finance and Budgeting for the Public Sector, Human Resource Management, Strategic Planning, Public Policy Analysis, Applied Research and Evaluation Methods, and a 5-credit capstone course. Walden’s degree is also exceptionally customizable, and students have the opportunity to specialize in one of 12 concentrations: Criminal Justice, Emergency Management, Global Leadership, Health Policy, Homeland Security Policy and Coordination, NGOs, Law and Public Policy, Local Government Management for Sustainable Communities, , Policy Analysis, Public Management and Leadership, and Public Management and Leadership. (Note that degrees with conentrations will total 61 quarter credits.) One unique feature of the Walden MPA is pragmatic course work and training through a virtual city simulation in which students administer and oversee diverse, complex scenarios. Students on a fast-track can complete the degree in as little as 5 quarters; though, thanks to a generous transfer policy of up to 23 credits, students with previous academic credits may accelerate degree compeltion time.

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  • Estimated Cost Per Credit Hour: $465

3. Capella University

Capella University is a largely online institution of higher learning in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Having specialized in distance education since 1993, Capella has a student enrollment of approximately 39,000, coming from all 50 states and 61 different countries. There are 51 degree programs, in addition to 165 specialization options and 50 certificate programs. Most Capella students are working professionals and/or continuing learners completing their degrees on a part-time basis; 46% of students are enrolled in master’s programs, 26% in doctorate or EdS, and 25% in bachelor’s. All Capella degrees emphasize building professional skill sets for real-world needs, and staff are closely aligned with experts in each respective field – professional associations, state licensure boards, etc. – to ensure curricula fit demands. 96% of employers rate the performance of Capella graduates as exceptional. In addition, Capella holds valuable alliances with more than 500 organizations, including 19 Fortune 500 Companies.

Capella’s online MPA consists of 36 credits, which can be completed in as little as 18 months. Core requirements include Public Administration Theory, Public Administration Organizational Leadership and Theory, Finance and Accounting in Public Administration, Strategic Management and Planning, Ethics and Personal Leadership Development, Leadership and Human Resource Management in Public Services, Policy Analysis and Research, and Integrative Public Administration Project. From there, students have the opportunity to customize the degree through electives or one of the following six concentrations in Forensics, Health Policy and Management, Homeland Security, Public Health, Public Safety Leadership, and Nonprofit Management and Leadership. Courses deliver in accelerated 10-week formats, and students taking a full course load may be able to complete the degree in as little 15 months. Students with previous academic credit or relevant work experience may further accelerate the degree through the school’s generous transfer policy of up to 12 credits. All Capella classes are designed for maximum flexibility, and, for students unsure if online learning fits their learning style, free one week mini-courses are available for trial.

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  • Estimated Cost Per Credit Hour: $504

4. University of Nebraska at Omaha

8. Nebraska Omaha
The University of Nebraska at Omaha was founded in 1908 as the Omaha Presbyterian Theological Seminary, joining the state system in 1968. With an enrollment of about 15,000 students, UNO is classified as a doctoral/research university by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. Notable programs include computer science, management information systems (MIS), bioinformatics, information science/assurance, public administration, and business, with many of these ranked in US News’s top 25. Among the school’s distinguished alumni include former U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel; United States Air Force Brigadier General Charles J. Adams; Grammy Award-winning American jazz vocalist Karrin Allyson; CBS News correspondent Harold Dow; 5 Medal of Honor recipients; former Chairman and President of Union Pacific Railroad James R. Young, and numerous professional athletes, politicians, artists, and business leaders.

Nebraska’s online MPA consists of 39 credits (13 courses), designed for full- and part-time students. Full-time students can complete the degree in a little over a year, though all enrolled in the program can take up to 10 years. Course requirements include Foundations of Public Service, Organization Theory & Behavior, Advanced Management & Leadership for Public & Nonprofit Professionals, Analysis & Decision Making, Public & Nonprofit Budgeting, Policy Design & Implementation, Planning & Evaluation, and a capstone project. From there, UNO’s MPA is highly customizable. There are 7 concentrations available – from aviation, to healthcare, to nonprofit management – and specializations in Criminology & Criminal Justice and Information & Technology Management. For students with no relevant professiona experience, the school strongly recommends a hands-on internship. Further, for those that are interested, UNO offers dual degree tracks: Master of Social Work/Master of Public Administration (MSW/MPA), or Management of Information Systems/Master of Public Administration (MIS/MPA). This degree is accredited by the NASPAA.

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  • Estimated Cost Per Credit Hour: $504

5. University of Missouri – Columbia

The University of Missouri, founded in 1839, was the first public university west of the Mississippi River, in Columbia. (There are satellite campuses in Rolla, Kansas City, and St. Louis.) Classified as an R1 by the Carnegie Foundation, it is widely regarded as one of the top public schools in the country and holds membership in the exclusive Association of American Universities. The student body stands at approximately 36,000, and the alumni network is extensive: there are over 300,000 graduates worldwide, including figures as diverse as Jim Lehrer, Senator Tim Kaine, Senator Martin Heinrich, Brad Pitt, Jon Hamm, and astronaut Linda M. Godwin. Mizzou also offers a robust online program, with 90 undergraduate and graduate degrees available – the second most in the SEC and third in the AAU among public univerisities. Per year, over 15,000 students take at least one online course and about 800 earn degrees, with an average age of 34 (most being working professionals).

Missouri’s online MPA consists of 33 credits, designed primarily for individuals with 3-5 years of relevant professional experience. Course requirements include Collaborative Governance, Organizational Dynamics and Leadership, Public Policy Processes and Strategies, Research Methods and Inquiry in Public Affairs, Economic Analysis for Public Policy, Strategic Management of Public Service Organizations, and Ethics, Democracy and the Public Service. From there, students have the opportunity to customize the degree through specialization courses in Human Resource Management and Budgeting and Financial Management, plus 6 hours of electives. All courses are 100% online for maximum flexibility and deliver in accelerated 9-week blocks. For those interested, Mizzou also offers related graduate certificates in Grantsmanship, Organizational Change, Nonprofit Management, and Public Management. Applicants should have earned a 3.0 undergraduate GPA, but GRE scores are not required. The MPA is accredited by the NASPAA.

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  • Estimated Cost Per Credit Hour: $350

6. DePaul University

DePaul University is a private university in Chicago, Illinois, founded by the Vincentians in 1898. With a total enrollment of about 16,000, the school is the 13th largest private school in the country, including students from 60 countries across the world. Depaul has been ranked #1 in the nation for diversity by the Princeton Review, and its unique approach to pedagogy and service-learning has earned recognition from a number of publications. With a student-to-faculty ratio of 16:1, classes are kept small to promote an intimate, collaborative learning environment. Most important, nearly 90% of undergraduate and graduate students are employed or continuing their education within 6 months of graduation. Prestigious programs include business (particularly innovation), computer programming, education, law (IP and health), music, and more. Distinguished alumni include Richard Driehaus, CEO, Driehaus Capital Management; Jack Greenberg, former CEO, McDonald’s Corporation; James M. Jenness, former CEO, Kellogg Company; three former mayors of Chicago, and numerous musicians, artists, athletes, and other business leaders.

Depaul’s online MPA is designed for current government professionals or anyone interested in a career in the public sector. Consisting of 52 hours, the core curriculum covers government on the local, state, federal and international level. From there, students have the opportunity to customize the degree through one of the three specializations in public management,
international public management, and metropolitan planning and urban affairs. Further, students also have the option to add a gradaute certificate to the MPA; these are offered in Community Development, Metro Planning and Development, Global Health, Public Health, Social Research, and Women’s and Gender Studies. Faculty bring a cross-sectorial approach to learning, research, and service, with a focus on helping leaders address domestic and global issues, alleviate poverty, and build responsive government. This degree is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA).

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  • Estimated Cost Per Credit Hour: $680

7. Indiana Wesleyan University

Indiana Wesleyan University is a private, evangelical Christian, liberal arts university in Marion, Indiana. The five schools – the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Adult and Professional Studies, the Graduate School, the School of Nursing, and Wesley Seminary – combine to offer nearly 90 undergraduate, 38 master’s, and 5 doctorate degrees. Among the fastest growing universities in the country, IWU has swelled from 2,000 students in 1987 to over 14,500 students today, at education centers in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, and online. IWU’s online school offers 80+ programs, including professional certificates and endorsements, designed for adult learners, and provides a highly collaborative, intimate educational environment, with capped classes to ensure close teacher-to-student interaction and peer learning. As a Christian university, IWU emphasizes religious components in core curricula; its mission is to promote lifestyles of “Commitment, Leadership, Service, Stewardship, Innovation and Diversity.”

IWU’s online Master of Public Administration consists of 36 credits. With a strong emphasis on social responsibility and civic engagement, course requirements include Public Institutions and Values, Organizational Management and Behavior, Financing Public Services, Ethical Leadership in the Public Sector, Public Policy Processes and Strategies, Research Methods, Scholarly Research and Writing. Students then have the opportunity to tailor the degree through specializations in either Criminal Justice, Non-Profit Leadership, and Public Management. To gain valuable real-world experience, all students are also required to complete a capstone project. All courses are designed for maximum flexibility to accommodate students’ schedules, and there are four entry dates throughout the year. Full-time students can complete the degree in as little as two years. Applicants should have earned at least a 2.5 undergraduate GPA, and students with relevant academic work may transfer up to 6 credits into the program.

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  • Estimated Cost Per Credit Hour: $521

8. University of North Dakota

23. North Dakota
The University of North Dakota was founded in 1883 in Grand Forks. Considered among the top 100 public universities in the country, it has been ranked highly by Forbes, Princeton Review, and Washington Monthly. In total the school offers programs in over 220 fields of study, including 90 undergraduate and 54 master’s degrees, and has 40 online programs – MBA, Applied Economics, Educational Leadership, Forensic Psychology, Social Work, Public Administration and Nursing. The student body of nearly 15,000 represents 50 states and 85 countries; and with classes capped at 22, the educational experience remains highly intimate and collaborative. Its alumni are spread throughout politics, business, science, the arts, and athletics, including 8 governors of North Dakota, a former Deputy National Security Advisor at the White House, NBA coach Phil Jackson, aviator Carl Ben Eielson, journalist Chuck Klosterman, and more.

North Dakota’s online MPA consists of 36 credits, which can be completed in just over 2 years. Required course work includes Research Methods, Political and Public Policy Analysis, Foundations of Public Administration, Public Policy, Independent Study, an internship, and capstone course. From there, students have the opportunity to specialize in Health Administration or Social Entrepreneurship (or the general track). A comprehensive exam is required to graduate. All courses are 100% online, with live web classes held once a week, and students benefit from a wealth of resources, including online tutoring, e-library, tech support, and advising services. Note also that all students pay in-state tuition regardless of domicility. For those interested, NDU offers an MPA/JD dual degree and accelerated bachelor’s to MPA program for undergraduate students. This degree is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA).

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  • Estimated Cost Per Credit Hour: $427

9. Kaplan University

19. Kaplan
Kaplan University, founded in 1937 as the American Institute of Commerce, has fourteen campuses in Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, and Wisconsin, with online student support centers in Florida and Illinois. Kaplan specializes in distance education and providing maximum flexibility for its students, many of whom continue with their careers while pursuing the degree; and, with new entry dates available every month, students have the freedom to begin their studies according to their unique schedule demands. Each student also receives a personal advisor for academic and enrollment counseling. There are currently over 40,000 students enrolled, and campuses and learning centers are available throughout the country for students wanting blended or face-to-face education formats.

Kaplan’s online Master of Public Administration consists of either an applied research or comprehensive track, each of which total 55 credits. Core requirements include Public Administration and Management, Research and Writing in Public Administration, Leadership in the Public Sector, Finance and the Administration of Public Funds, HR Management in the Public Sector, and a capstone course. From there, students have the opportunity to tailor the degree to specific professional interests through one of four concentrations in Criminal Justice, Emergency and Disaster Management, Government Management, or Healthcare Management. (Note that a general MPA is also availabale.) In particular, Kaplan’s curriculum emphasizes creating public value in diverse and dynamic situations, ethical decision making, innovation, public finance, diversity, leadership, and theoretical foundations, current knowledge, and trends in public administration and public service.

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  • Estimated Cost Per Credit Hour: $385

10. University of Texas – Arlington

10. Texas Arlington
The University of Texas – Arlington is a public research university, founded in 1895 as part of the Texas A&M University System until joining The University of Texas System in 1965. Categorized as an R1 Doctoral University by the Carnegie Foundation, The Chronicle of Higher Education has ranked the university one of the fastest growing public research universities in the nation, and the New America Foundation has named it among its “Next Generation University” class. The school has also been recognized by Forbes, Washington Monthly, and the Princeton Review, which categorizes the school unders its “Best of the West” banner. UTA offers a wide range of offerings, including 81 bachelor’s, 71 master’s, and 31 doctoral degrees, with notable programs in engineering, social work, nursing, business, education, and interdisciplinary studies.

Arlington’s online Master of Public Administration is designed for anyone looking to pursue careers in the public sector, with a special emphasis on tackling urban issues. Of the curriculum’s 39 credits, core requirements include Intro to Public Administration, Public and Non-Profit Human Resources, Ethics in Public Service, Foundations of Urban Research and Analysis, Public Budgeting, Financial Management in the Public and Non-Profit Sectors, Public and Non-Profit Human Resources Law, Non-Profit Institutions, Evaluation Research, Intergovernmental Relations, and Public and Non-Profit Organization Theory. Students then have the opportunity to choose an elecitve in either Capital Budgeting or Personnel Management and Conflict Resolution in the Public and Non-Profit Sector. As Arlington’s program places a focus on practical, real-world learning, all students with less than a year’s relevant work experience must complete an urban planning and management internship, plus an applied research capstone course. Applicants should have earned at least a 3.0 undergraduate GPA and must submit GRE scores. Degree completion time is two years. It is accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA).

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  • Estimated Cost Per Credit Hour: $425

11. Belhaven University

Belhaven University is a private Christian liberal arts school in Jackson, Mississippi, with satellite campuses in Atlanta, Houston, Memphis and Orlando. Founded in 1883, the school offers 27 bachelor’s degrees in a variety of disciplines, including Accounting, Visual Arts, Biblical Studies and Ministries, Biology, Business Administration, Chemistry, Communication, Computer Science, Creative Writing, Elementary Education, English, Graphic Design, History, International Studies, Mathematics, Music, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, Social Services, Sports Administration, Sports Medicine and Exercise Science, and more. Master’s degrees are available in Business Administration, Leadership, Public Administration, Teaching, and Education; and pre-professional programs include in Christian Ministry, Medicine, Dentistry, Law, and Nursing. As a Christian university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church, Belhaven’s curriculum incorporates religious values and concepts.

Belhaven’s online Master of Public Administration consists of 36 credits. Course requirements include Ethics and Society, Organizational Behavior, Research Methods in Public Administration, Administration of Financial Resources, Principles of Executive Leadership, Public and Administrative Law, Economics and Public Policy, Human Resources Development and Administration, Public Policy Analysis, and a capstone project and management research capstone. Designed for maximum flexibility to accomodate working professionals, all courses deliver in accelerated 8-week blocks. Interested students also have the opportunity to concentrate in Human Resources for an additional 9 credits in HR Employee Relations, HR Compensation and Benefits, and Issues and Innovations in Human Resources. Applicants should have earned at least a 2.5 undergraduate GPA. Degree completion time is within 2 years, though students with prior work experience or relevant academic work may transfer credits into the program. Belhaven University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission.

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  • Estimated Cost Per Credit Hour: $530

12. Sam Houston State University

6. Sam Houston State
Founded in 1879, Sam Houston State University is the third oldest public university in Texas. Located in Hunstville, about an hour north of Houston, SHU has a student enrollment of 20,000 and offers over 80 undergraduate, 54 master’s, and 6 doctoral degrees, in addition to 21 professional certificates. Sam Houston was the first university in Texas to be classified as an R1 Research University by the Carnegie Foundation, and has been recognized by Forbes, Washington Monthly, and US News for academic excellence; the school’s Criminal Justice program is of particular note, the largest and one of the oldest in the country, ranked fifth by the Journal of Criminal Justice. Other degrees are offered through six colleges in Business Administration, Education, Fine Arts and Mass Communication, Humanities and Social Sciences, Sciences, and Health Sciences.

Sam Houston’s online MPA is designed for maximum flexibility, with full-time professionals in mind. Of the curriculum’s 36 credits, core requirements include Dynamics Of Public Administration, Program Evaluation, Organizational Theory & Behavior, Human Resource Management, Public Budgeting and Finance, Ethics In Government, Public Management, and Scope & Methds Of Political Science. From there, students have the opportunity to concentrate in Disaster and Emergency Management, which consists of a seminar in Public Administration, Public Policy, Global Disaster Politics, Emergency Management, and Decision Making in Public Administration. For students without professional experience, an internship is required to gain valuable, hands-on work in the field. Courses are highly interactive and encourage a collaborative educational environment. SHU’s MPA alumni network is exstensive and active, working as directors of county agencies, city managers, directors of nonprofits, and leaders in emergency service agencies. Applicants with an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.2 may waive the GRE requirement.

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  • Estimated Cost Per Credit Hour: $482

13. Indiana State University

Founded in 1865, Indiana State University is located in Terre Haute and has a student body of approximately 13,500. The school is classified as a Doctoral University by the Carnegie Foundation, and both the Princeton Review and US News rank it among the best schools in the Midwest region. Six colleges – Arts and Sciences, Business, Education, Professional Studies, Health and Human Services, Technology – offer more than 100 undergraduate majors, and there are bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees offered, plus a education specialist track. With nearly 65% of classes at 30 students or less, courses are intimate and collaborative, allowing for a tight-knit educational community and learning experience. ISU has a strong alumni network of 100,000, with graduates in business, politics, the arts, and more.

Indiana State’s online MPA consists of 36 credits, designed for working professionals with experience in public or nonprofit organizations. Course requirements include Proseminar in American Administrative Institutions and Public Policies; Proseminar in Public Administration; Statistical Analysis for Public Administrators; Research Methods in Public Administration; Organizational Behavior in Public Agencies; Public Personnel Administration, and Budgeting in Governmental Agencies. From there students have the opportunity to customize their degree through a series of electives or choose a concentration in either Criminology and Criminal Justice, Human Resources Development, Public Health, or Nonprofit Management. All students then complete a capstone project directed by a faculty advisor to demonstrate mastery of material. (For students without significant professional experience, an internship may also be required.) Courses deliver in both asynchronous and live videoconferencing formats for maximum flexibility, and the Blackboard platform promotes an intimate, collaborative learning environment. The program is a member of the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) and is associated with the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA).

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  • Estimated Cost Per Credit Hour: $427

14. Old Dominion University

19. Old Dominion
Old Dominion University is a public university in Norfolk, Virginia, with satellite campuses in Hampton Roads. Founded in 1930, the school is one of the largest institutions of higher learning in the state at an enrollment of 25,000. Academic offerings are large and diverse: 73 bachelor’s, 60 master’s, and 35 doctoral degrees, across six colleges in Arts and Letters, Business, Education, Engineering and Technology, Health Sciences, and Sciences. Among the first of its kind, Norfolk’s distance education program launched in 1994 and now offers 60 programs, which can be taken 100% online or in hyrbid formats at one of Old Dominion’a 50 partner locations in Virginia, Arizona, or Washington. There are over 124,000 in all 50 states and 67 countries, with notable graduates including game show host Ben Bailey, former astronat Michael Bloomfield, Admiral William Joseph Fallon, ESPN Sportscenter host Jay Harris, and numerous professional athletes, business executives, and politicians.

ODU’s Master of Public Administration is designed for both experienced professionals and individuals pursuing a career in the public sector. Consisting of 39 credits, core requirements include The Context of Public Administration, The Process of Public Administration, Public Budgeting and Financial Management, Public Policy Analysis and Evaluation, Ethical Foundations of Public Administration, Research Methods for Public Administration, and a Capstone Seminar in Public Administration. Students also have the opportunity to customize the degree with a concentration in Multi-Sector Public Service (a traditional track is available, as well). In particular, the curriculum focuses on public budgeting and personnel systems; organizational design processes and behavior; political, legal, and ethics of public administration; quantitative and qualitative analysis, policy analysis and program evaluation. Degree completion time is 2 years, and courses are designed for maximum flexibility to accomodate busy schedules. For those interested, ODU offers a certificate program in Public Procurement and Contract Management for 15 credits. This MPA is accredited by the NASPAA.

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  • Estimated Cost Per Credit Hour: $516

15. Central Michigan University

3. Central Michigan
Founded in 1892, Central Michigan University is a public university in Mount Pleasant. CMU’s totall enrollment is approximately 28,000, with 7,000 enrolled in online programs, making the university one of the largest in the state. There are more than 200 programs in undergraduate, master’s, doctoral, and specialist fields, including well regarded programs in entrepreneurship, journalism, music, audiology, teacher education, psychology, physician assistant, and neuroscience, ranked first in the nation by the Society for Neuroscience. Further, Central Michigan’s unique endowed lectureships include series on dictatorship, democracy and genocide; integrity in politics; and the William B. Nolde Lecture Series, which focuses on leadership in the military and larger community. Notable alumni have gone on to careers in broadcasting, politics, business, athletics, and more.

CMU offers an online MS in Administration with a concetration in Public Administration that consists of approximately 36 credits, depending on the student’s track. Core requirements include Research Methods in Administration, Organizational Dynamics and Human Behavior, Strategic Planning for the Administrator, Financial Analysis, and Administration, Globalization and Multiculturalism. Students then have the opportunity to select up to 21 credits of electives to tailor the degree to particular areas of interest, with studies in areas like Collective Bargaining and Labor Law, Politics and Policy in Urban Communities, and Intergovernmental Relations in the United States. To demonstrate a mastery of material and gain real-world experience, students must also complete either a directed portfolio or applied research project. For students with previous relevant academic work, CMU offers a generous transfer policy of up to 10 credits, accelerating degree completion time and lowering total tuition costs. Online courses are designed for maximum flexibility and include delivery block options in 8, 10, and 12 weeks.

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  • Estimated Cost Per Credit Hour: $527

16. Marist College

Marist College
Marist College is a private Catholic liberal arts school located in Poughkeepsie, New York. Founded in 1929, Marist sits on the banks on the Hudson River, with an additional campus in Florence, Italy, and study abroad opportunities in nearly 30 countries across the world, including Egypt, Morrocco, Senegal, France, Greece, Ireland, Argentina, Cuba, and JOrdan. Among the rop ranked schools in the region, Marist has been recognized by the Princeton Review, Forbes, and Kiplinger’s, which ranked the college on its list of best values in private colleges for eight consecutive years. In total, the school offers more than 40 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s, and 21 certificate programs; and with a 15:1 student-to-faculty ratio, courses are intimate and collaborative. Among the school’s distinguished 30,000 alumni are Bill O’Reilly, Fox News Anchor; Timothy G. Brier, co-Founder of; Christopher McCann, President of; and New York Times bestselling author Ian O’Connor.

Marist’s online MPA is designed to prepare professionals in the public and non-profit sector to take on leadership positions. Consisting of 39 credits, core requirements include Public Budgeting, Administrative Law, Technology Management for Public Managers, Program Planning and Evaluation, Organizational Theory and Change, and Innovation in Public Administration. From there, students have the opportunity concentrate in either Law Enforcement, Emergency Management, or Criminal Justice. All students complete an internship to gain valuable hands-on experience. Courses deliver in accelerated 8-week blocks, and corporate and organizational partnerships are available to reduce tuition costs. (Recent partners include the New York State Fire Prevention and Control departments, national professional associations such as Women in Federal Law Enforcement (WIFLE) and the National Organization for Black Law Enforcement Executive (NOBLE), and law enforcement organizations in Florida and California.) Though the degree can be completed 100% online, students in the New York Area are free to take hybrid course work for maximum flexibility. Note that the degree is accredited by the ational Association for Schools of Public Affairs and Administration.

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  • Estimated Cost Per Credit Hour: $750

17. Arkansas State University

Arkansas State University is the flagship university of the ASU system, the second largest in the state. Located in Jonesboro, the school enrolls 13,000 today, with students from across the globe, including Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, China, Japan, Vietnam, and South Korea, among others. Further, ASU’s average class size of 27 and student-to-faculty ratio of 17:1, which supports an intimate, supportive, and collaborative learning environment. There are more than 150 degrees offered, including bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and professional programs. Among the school’s 70,000+ alumni, distinguished graduates include Governor Mark Beebe, 4 Olympic gold medalists, and numerous professional athletes.

Arkansas State’s online Master of Public Administration is designed primarily for working professionals in law enforcement or the public sector looking to advance their careers. With a focus on Public Management, the curriculum consists of 36 credits, including Public Policy Analysis, Public Budgeting & Finance, Techniques of Public Administration Research, Public Information Management, Grant Writing, Administrative Leadership, Administrative Ethics, and a cumulative MPA experience. All students also choose between an internship or course in non-profit management. (Note that students without at least one year of professional experience at an administrative-level in government or non-profit sectors.) A comprehensive exam is required to graduate. In particular, the degree covers solving complex problems through critical analysis and creative thinking; building communities and social infrastructures through clear communication and ethical, effective management; organizational behavior on an administrative level, and applied theory. Students can complete the degree in as little as 18 months. The degree is accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA).

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  • Estimated Cost Per Credit Hour: $270

18 (tied). University of Illinois at Springfield

Founded in 1969, the University of Illinois at Springfield became a part of the UI system in 1995. (The school is also a member of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), and the American Council on Education.) With a student enrollment of approximately 5,400, Springfield offers 27 bachelor’s degrees, 20 master’s, and a doctorate in Public Administration. The university has also been offering online degrees since 1999, for which it has received awards from the Sloan Consortium for Excellence in Institution-Wide Online Teaching and Learning, the Ralph E. Gomory Award for Quality Online Education, and the Society for New Communications Research for Excellence in Online Reputation Management. Among the school’s distinguished graduates include Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Kathy Best, United States Department of Defense inspector general Gordon S. Heddell, Emmy-winning filmwriter-producer Milton J. Nieuwsma, and many others in business, politics, and entertainment.

Springfield’s online MPA is appropriate both for experienced professionals and individuals looking to begin a career in the public and non-profit sector. Totaling 10 courses (40 credits), the curriculum consists of Organization Dynamics, Analytical Tools, Budget and Finance, Human Resource Management, Public Policy for Managers, Information for Decision Making, and more. Students then have the opportunity to tailor the degree through a variety of electives and complete a capstone course. For interested stidents, Springfield also offers a Nonprofit Management Certificate, Community Planning Certificate , Child Advocacy Studies certificate, joint MPA/MPH, all online. All online course work is designed for maximum flexibility, and students have access to the same financial aid, registrar, library, and other support services as on-campus students. Applicants should have earned at least a 2.5 undergraduate GPA, or otherwise submit high GRE scores. Note that the degree is accredited by the NASPAA.

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  • Estimated Cost Per Credit Hour: $362

18 (tied). California State University – Dominguez Hills

California State University – Dominguez Hills, in Carson City, is part of the state’s 23-school system. With a student enrollment of approximately 14,000, Dominguez Hills offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 22 master’s, and 17 teaching credentials. The university is boasts both academic excellence and exceptional value, ranked by several publications as one of the most affordable colleges in the country. Further, Dominguez Hills’s student population is famed for its diversity, with the highest percentage of African American students in the CSU system, plus a number of first-generation college students. 65% of students participate in service learning, which is built in through the standard curriculum and the Center for Service Learning, Internships, & Civic Engagement (SLICE). In 2014, Dominguez Hills was named a Presedential Winner on the Education Community Service Honor Roll.

CSUDH’s online Master of Public Health consists of 36 credits. Core requirements include Environment and Practice of Public Administration, Public Management, Administrative Theory and Behavior, Quantitative Methods in Public Administration, Administrative and Public Policy Analysis, Public Personnel and Labor Relations, Public Budgeting, Foundations of Ethical Administration, and either a capstone course or honors thesis. From there, students have the opportunity to tailor the degree through choosing from concentrations in Criminal Justice Policy and Administration, Healthcare Administration, Public Management, and Non-Profit Management. Courses deliver in accelerated 8-week blocks, and the program is designed for maximum flexibility to accommodate students’ busy schedules. Classes are asynchronous, interactive, and engaging, with group discussion threads, lecture videos, video chat and conferencing, and more. The degree is accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA).

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  • Estimated Cost Per Credit Hour: $530

20. Eastern Kentucky University

Founded in 1906, Eastern Kentucky University has an enrollment of about 16,500 students, with a flagship campus in Richmond and additional centers in Corbin, Hazard, Somerset, Danville, Lancaster, and Manchester. EKU offers 160 programs at the bachelor, master, and doctoral level across five schools in Arts and Science, Business and Technology, Health Sciences, Education, and Justice and Safety. The university has been recognized by Forbes, US News, and Military Times EDGE magazine, which has ranked it first in the nation on several occasions for its veteran programs. Notable alumni include Sam Champion, weather anchor and broadcaster for “Good Morning America” and ABC News; Tom Colbert, the first African-American Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice; Danny Ford, House Republican Whip, and many others in business, politics, and professional sports.

Eastern Kentucky’s online MPA consists of 39 credits and two possible tracks, the general (customizable) or the community development track. Both require a core curriculum that includes Administrative Law, Research Methods, Public Sector Leadership, Public Sector Organizations and Management, Public Human Resources Management, Public Finance Administration, Policy Analysis and Program Evaluation, and Administration, Ethics, and Public Policy. The general track adds 12 credits of electives, while the community development track include courses in Strategic Planning and Grant, Intergovernmental Relations, and State and Local Politics, among others. All students must also complete a field-exit internship in order to gain valuable real-world experience. All courses are collaborative and interactive, and students benefit from personal academic advisors, individualized course mapping, and accreditation by the NASPAA.

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  • Estimated Cost Per Credit Hour: $600

21. University of Colorado – Denver

Colorado Denver
The University of Colorado – Denver has campuses downtown and in nearby Aurora, which houses the Anschutz Medical Center. Bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and certificate programs are available across a wide spectrum of study areas, from Architecture & Design, to Education & Counseling, to Social & Behavioral Sciences. As the largest research institution in the state, UC Denver receives more than $400 million per year in research grants. The school has received high rankings from publications like Forbes, the Princeton Review, and US News, with its graduate school particularly well-regarded. Further, the Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index ranks Denver in the top 10 for biomedical sciences, developmental biology, human and medical genetics, oncology and cancer biology, structural biology and toxicology. The school’s online programs have rapidly expanded in recent years, and there are now more than 450 offered. There are nearly 100,000 alumni worldwide.

UC Denver’s online Master of Public Administration consists of 36 hours. Required courses include Introduction to Public Administration and Public Service, Organizational Management and Behavior, Research and Analytic Methods, The Policy Process and Democracy, Leadership and Professional Ethics​, and Evidence-Based Decision-Making, among others. Students then take 12 credits of electives to customize the curriculum – from Policy Formulation and Implementation to Disaster and Emergency Management Policies. Online students also have the opportunity to earn a concentration or graduate certificate in Nonprofit Organizations. (There are 5 additional on-campus concentrations.) Graduates of the program will have a comprehensive understanding of public and nonprofit management, policy, and research; develop effective verbal and written communication skills; and solve problems in public and nonprofit settings through critical thinking. For those interested, UC Denver’s on-campus offerings include an Executive MPA, Accelerated MPA, and numerous dual degrees.

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  • Estimated Cost Per Credit Hour: $605

22. Kent State University

15. Kent State
Kent State University, founded in 1910, is a public research university in Kent, Ohio, with additional campuses in Cleveland, Independence, Twinsburg, New York City, and Florence, Italy. The university also has a robust online education presence, with more than 30 undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs available from a wide range of disciplines. (In total, the school offers 300 degrees, including 250 bachelors and 50 masters). KSU has received high academic marks from notable institutions: the Carnegie Foundation has ranked it in the top 80 public research universities in the country, and the Times Higher Education named it in the top 200 universities in the world in 2010. Further, as one of the largest higher education schools in Ohio (approximately 44,000 enrolled), Kent State boasts an alumni network of over 210,000 from all 50 states and more than 100 countries.

Kent State’s online MPA is a 36-credit track designed for working professionals, consisting of 12 three-credit courses. Course requirements include Public Budgeting and Financial Management, Public Personnel Administration, Program Evaluation, Methods in Public Administration, Strategic Planning, Personal Accountability in the Public Service, Public Sector IT Management, and Labor Management Relations in the Public Sector, among others. In particular, the curriculum trains students in ethical leadership and theoretical understandings of administration; enhancing knowledge, analytical and technical skills; and emphasizing experiential learning opportunities. All courses are designed for maximum flexibility to accommodate busy schedules, and students are able to complete the degree in as little as two years with accelerated 7-week delivery blocks. Class sizes are small and intimate, and the program enjoys 92% approval rate. Further, the Blackboard platform allows for a highly collaborative educational experience through group discussion boards, live chat rooms, and more. The degree is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA).

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  • Estimated Cost Per Credit Hour: $663

23. California State University – Northridge

California State University – Northridge is located in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles. With a total enrollment of 42,000, Northridge is the largest school in the state’s 23-school system, offering 134 bachelor’s degrees, 70 master’s degrees, 3 doctoral degrees, and 24 teaching credentials. CSUN also offers a joint BA/JD program in conjunction with Southwestern Law School, which began in 2014 and operates under a 35-student cohort model. Northridge’s faculty are well-regarded: 8 have been awarded Guggenheim Fellowships for research and creative activity, and 59 have won Fulbright awards to conduct research or teach abroad. The university ranks fifth in the country by the Social Mobility Index. and has been listed in Money Magazine, The Daily Beast, Washington Monthly, and Forbes, as well. Of its 200,000 active alumni, distinguished graduates include AT&T Corporation CFO Charles Noski; Participant Media CEO Jim Berk; Paramount Pictures SVP Christine Essel; Chairman and CEO of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Alex Yemenidjian; and numerous actors, actresses, politicians, and musicians.

CSUN’s online Master of Public Administration is designed for both working professionals in the public sector and those who are looking to begin their careers. Established in 1985, 2,000 students have graduates through the program and gone on to successful careers across a wide spectrum of public sector fields. The degree is highly customizable, and students have the opportunity to concentrate in either Health Administration, Nonprofit Sector Management, or Public Sector Management and Leadership. The Healthcare specialization offers a stackable curriculum, enabling students to take the MPA-linked Health Administration graduate-certificate program and apply credits toward the MPA at a later date, or apply credits toward an MS in Health Administration. All students receive exceptional student services, including a program mananger, academic lead, and cohort to build relationships and collaborate with throughout the program. Degree completion time is typically two years, and all courses are flexible to accommodate students’ busy schedules.

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  • Estimated Cost Per Credit Hour: $663

24. Pennsylvania State University

Penn State’s World Campus is the university’s online campus, launched in 1998, with students from all 50 states, more than 60 countries, and 7 continents. One of the leaders in distance education, Penn State offers 120 online undergraduate and graduate degrees, plus professional certificate programs. In fact, Penn State has been providing distance education opportunities since 1892 – a solid century before dial-up – when the university began the nation’s first correspondence study programs to farmers throughout Pennsylvania. Still, online students can take advantage of the many resources on-campus have, including an alumni network of more than 645,000, all of whom are highly active and loyal to the Penn State community. And once Penn State graduates start their careers, they hit the ground running: according to a survey by the Wall Street Journal, PSU graduates are ranked #1 by recruiters for professional preparedness.

Penn State’s online MPA consists of 36 credits, combining theory and applied concepts of organizational governance, finance, and administration. Course requirements include Public Organization and Management, Governmental Fiscal Decision Making, Research Methods, Human Resources in the Public and Nonprofit Sectors, Introduction to Public Policy Analysis, Organizational Behavior, and Research Topics. Students then have the ability to tailor the degree to professional interest through 15 credits of electives in government administration, human resources management, information resource management, policy analysis, criminal justice, and other areas. With an emphasis on practical, experiential learning, all students must also complete a supervised internship. (Note that students with more than two years of relevant professional experience can waive this requirement.) For intersted students, PSU offers related graduate certificates in Public Budgeting and Financial Management and Public Sector Human Resources Management. The degree accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA).

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  • Estimated Cost Per Credit Hour: $825

25. Regent University

Regent University is a private Christian university in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Through eight colleges, Regent offers more than 70 programs on the bachelor, master, doctoral, and associate levels. Among the more popular undergraduate majors include accounting, biblical and theological studies, business, communication, criminal justice, English, marketing, mathematics, organizational leadership and management, education, psychology, and religious studies. Founded by Pat Robertson, Regent places a special emphasis on Christian values and studies, and there are numerous theological-related graduate programs available. Regent also has a robust online presence, and its distance education programs have received numerous accolades. Notable alumni include Bob McDonnell, former Virginia Governor; Lisa Kruska, former Assistant U.S. Secretary of Labor; actor Tony Hale, and many others in entertainment, politics, media, and business.

Regent’s online Master of Public Administration consists of 36 credit hours and may be completed in as little as 24 months. Core requirements include Library Research and Resources, Career Management, Principles of Economics, Research Methods, Christian Foundations of Government, Public Policy Initiatives, Public Human Resources Management, Public Budgeting and Taxation Policy, Principles of Public Administration, and Organizational Theory. Regent also offers students the ability to tailor the degree through 6 concentration options: Non-Profit Organizations, Leadership & Management, Law, Homeland Security, Healthcare Policy & Ethics, and Federal Governemnt. (Note that students may also take a generalist track.) In particular, the curriculum covers the US Constitution and American political history; contemporary and classical economic theory; the interplay of government and markets, and a practical and theoretical practices and processes of local, state and national legislation.

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  • Estimated Cost Per Credit Hour: $650

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