By GSH Staff
April 2016

In this article, we highlight the top 30 most affordable online master’s in public administration degree programs 2016.

A master’s in public administration (MPA) is a professional degree for those wanting to work in leadership and management roles within the public service sector. Earning an online MPA means you won’t have to give up your day job while working toward your graduate degree. Many online MPA programs are specifically designed for busy and working professionals who require the flexibility that distance learning provides.

Methodology

We examined 84 schools that offer online master’s degrees in public administration and/or public affairs. We selected institutions with Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA)-accredited programs. From this pool of schools, we selected those that had earned rankings from major publications like Forbes magazine, The Princeton Review, and U.S. News and World Report. We chose the 30 most affordable schools based on the most current tuition and fees published by NCES College Navigator. The school in our #1 spot offers the most affordable tuition.

#30 – Murray State University

Online Master’s in Public Administration

Murray, Kentucky

Website
Murray State University - Online Master’s in Public Administration
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,568

For over 30 years, Murray State University has been preparing students for leadership careers in public service through the MPA program. Now, the school offers an online master’s in public administration that allows students to work at a faster pace than the traditional program. The program is offered on a part-time, full-time, or accelerated format. Required courses include foundations of public administration, public budgeting and finance, public organizations, and public policy analysis. Murray State is regionally ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the 28th best regional university in the South, the 23rd best college for veterans, and the 9th top public school.

#29 – Washington Adventist University

Online Master’s in Public Administration

Takoma Park, Maryland

Website
Washington Adventist - Online Master’s in Public Administration
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,345

The School of Graduate and Professional Studies at Washington Adventist University offers an online master’s in public administration program that is designed to equip students with the advanced skills needed for real-world business situations. Courses include American democracy, introduction to public policy analysis, policy analysis and decision-making, public service team-building, and sustainability and environment resource management. The MPA program is designed for adult learners with busy schedules, and can be completed in as little as 21 months. Washington Adventist is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In the 2016 edition of Best Colleges, the school ranks as the 43rd best regional college in the North.

#28 – University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

Online Master’s in Public Administration

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Website
UNC Chapel Hill - Online Master’s in Public Administration
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,074

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offers an online master’s in public administration degree program that may be completed in as little as 18 months or as long as five years. Students may select a focus area to help tailor their career goals. Five concentration areas include: community and economic development, international relations, local government, nonprofit management, or public health. The program requires a portfolio and professional work experience practicum. Course requirements include organization theory, public administration institutions and values, and public service leadership. UNC is ranked as the 30th best national university by U.S. News and World Report. The school’s public management administration program ranks 16th in the country.

#27 – Kent State University

Online MPA

Kent, Ohio

Website
Kent State - Online Master’s in Public Administration
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,864

Kent State’s online MPA program is designed to prepare students with the knowledge and skills required for career advancement in the public sector. The program is nationally ranked and the only one of its kind in Ohio that is accredited by the NASPAA. While typically a two-year program, the school offers an accelerated option that allows students to complete the degree in less time. Required courses explore topics in ethics in public service, information technology in a public service setting, public budgeting and financial management, and strategic planning. Kent State is a nationally ranked institution. In fact, U.S. News and World Report ranks the school as the 175th best national university and the 98th top public school.

#26 – University of Illinois

Online Master’s in Public Administration

Springfield, Illinois

Website
University of Illinois - Online Master’s in Public Administration
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,532

The University of Illinois offers a NASPAA-accredited online master’s in public administration degree program designed for time-restricted adult learners. Required courses include information for decision-making, introduction to the profession, organization dynamics, and public policy for managers. Several graduate certificates are offered to complement the online degree. Disciplines include community development, labor relations, nonprofit, and the professional certificate in child advocacy studies. The University of Illinois at Springfield is a regionally ranked school. U.S. News and World Report lists the institution as the 42nd best regional university in the Midwest and the 9th top public school. The public affairs program ranks 96th in the nation.

#25 – University of South Florida

Online Master’s in Public Administration

Tampa, Florida

Website
University of South Florida - Online Master’s in Public Administration
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,428

The University of South Florida offers an online master’s in public administration degree program that is designed to prepare students for management roles in the public sector. A required internship is the cornerstone of the MPA curriculum. Students in the Tampa area are matched with sponsors to gain hands-on experience. Students living outside the area may secure an internship near their residence. Required courses include ethics and public service, human resources management, public administration theory and practice, public budgeting, and public information management. University of South Florida is ranked nationally by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, U.S. News ranks the school #156 for best national universities.

#24 – Belhaven University

Online Master’s in Public Administration

Jackson, Mississippi

Website
Belhaven University - Online Master’s in Public Administration
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,990

Belhaven University’s online master’s in public administration degree program prepares students for leadership and management roles in government and non-profit agencies. The program is designed for working adults, with online classes offered at convenient times. Required courses include ethics and society, organizational behavior, principles of executive leadership, public and administrative law, and public policy analysis. A research capstone project is required and typically completed during the student’s second year. Belhaven University is regionally ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the 58th best regional university in the South. The school’s online graduate programs are frequently ranked with U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges publication.

#23 – Concordia University – Wisconsin

Online MBA in Public Administration

Mequon, Wisconsin

Website
Concordia University Wisconsin - Online Master’s in Public Administration
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,984

Concordia University offers an online MBA with a concentration in public administration. The program is designed for working adults or students who desire the flexibility allowed with online learning. The MBA curriculum core includes courses in applied statistical methods, corporate finance, leadership and organizational behavior, and strategic management. Courses in public administration include administrative law and process, budgeting in public agencies, intergovernmental relations, and public personnel administration. Concordia’s Wisconsin school is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the 54th best regional university in the Midwest. The institution’s online MBA program is ranked #141 out of 1,200, according to the 2016 edition of Best Colleges.

#22 – Kansas State University

Online Master’s in Public Administration

Manhattan, Kansas

Website
Kansas State University - Online Master’s in Public Administration
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,972

Kansas State University offers an affordable online master’s in public administration degree program that is designed to prepare mid and pre-career students for work in public interest and civic leadership. The program is accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA) and takes approximately five semesters of full-time study to complete. A part-time option is available. Required courses include public finance, public organization theory, and research methods in political science. Four areas of emphasis are offered, including planning, public budgeting and finance, security studies, and state and local government. The school is ranked with major publications like Forbes magazine and The Princeton Review. U.S. News and World Report ranks the institution as the 146th best national university and the 77th top public school.

#21 – University of Colorado

Online Master’s in Public Administration

Colorado Springs, Colorado

Website
University of Colorado - Online Master’s in Public Administration
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,916

The MPA degree at the University of Colorado may be acquired entirely online, in the classroom, or through a combination of both. Online availability is open to all students who hold a bachelor’s degree and have completed the required admission standards. The program is one of the few of its kind that offer a dual MPA and MCJ (Master of Criminal Justice) degree program. Core requirements include classes in economics and public finance, ethics and leadership, organizational management and behavior, research and analytic methods, and the policy process and democracy. The university is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the 46th best regional university in the West and the 10th top public school.

#20 – Bellevue University

Online Master’s in Public Administration

Bellevue, Nebraska

Website
Bellevue University - Online Master’s in Public Administration
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,900

Bellevue University offers an accredited online master’s in public administration degree program that is designed to prepare students with the skills needed to work in public administration leadership roles. The accelerated program allows students to transfer existing credits and eliminate unnecessary classes so that the degree may be earned quickly. Major requirements include communications in the public sector, finance for the public administrator, foundation in public administration, organizational modeling and decision theories, public administration leadership, and strategic planning and policy development. Bellevue University is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as having the 85th best online graduate business programs (excluding the MBA) in the nation.

#19 – Indiana Wesleyan University

Online Master’s in Public Administration

Marion, Indiana

Website
Indiana Wesleyan University - Online Master’s in Public Administration
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,700

The affordable online master’s in public administration degree program at Indiana Wesleyan University is designed for busy students who want the flexibility that an online graduate program provides. The program provides opportunity for students to gain a thorough understanding of social responsibility and civic engagement. Three specializations are offered, including criminal justice, non-profit leadership, and public management. Required courses include ethical leadership in the public sector, organizational management and behavior, public institutions and values, public policy processes and strategies, and research methods and inquiry. The school is ranked in U.S. News and World Report’s 2016 edition of Best Colleges as the 30th best regional university in the Midwest.

#18 – University of Missouri

Online Master’s in Public Affairs

Columbia, Missouri

Website
University of Missouri - Online Master’s in Public Administration
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,506

The Harry S. Truman School of Public Affairs at the University of Missouri (Mizzou) offers a public affairs master’s degree program that is administered entirely online. The program is designed for public service professionals at all levels who desire to obtain a master’s degree in public affairs. The 33-hour accredited degree program offers courses that include topics in collaborative finance, economic analysis for public policy, organizational dynamics and leadership, public policy processes and strategies, and strategic management of public service organization. Mizzou is ranked as the 103rd best national university by U.S. News and World Report. The graduate public affairs program is ranked #33 in the country.

#17 – Clemson University

Online Master’s in Public Administration

Clemson, South Carolina

Website
Clemson University - Online Master’s in Public Administration
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,220

In 2009, Clemson University’s MPA program moved to an interactive format and began offering online classes. Today, the online master’s in public administration degree program is ranked as one of the best programs of its kind, according to Smart Money magazine and U.S. News and World Report. Clemson offers no out-of-state tuition costs for students living outside of South Carolina, making the online MPA one of the most affordable. Clemson’s online MPA offers five areas of specialization: emergency management, homeland defense and security, local government, non-profit management, and sustainability and public administration. According to U.S. News and World Report’s 2016 edition of Best Colleges, Clemson ranks #61 among the best national universities in the country and the 21st top public school. The university is also ranked #567 among best global universities.

#16 – Eastern Kentucky University

Online Master’s in Public Administration

Richmond, Kentucky

Website
Eastern Kentucky University - Online Master’s in Public Administration
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,000

The NASPAA-accredited master’s in public administration degree program at Eastern Kentucky University is offered 100% online with two options for specialization – the community development and general tracks. Online MPA degree’s required courses for either track include administrative law, policy analysis and program evaluation, public finance administration, public sector leadership, and public sector organizations and management. Eastern Kentucky is regionally ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, the 2016 edition of Best Colleges lists the school as the 76th best regional university in the South. Additional rankings include #35 for top public schools, #54 for best colleges for veterans, and #158 for the best graduate schools for public affairs.

#15 – Florida Gulf Coast University

Online Master’s in Public Administration

Fort Myers, Florida

Website
Florida Gulf Coast University - Online Master’s in Public Administration
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,961

Florida Gulf Coast University’s Department of Political Science and Public Administration offers an online MPA that is NASPAA accredited. The program is designed to prepare professional students for administrative roles in public and non-profit sector. Students may select form two degree concentrations: environmental policy and planning and public leadership and management. Required courses include introduction to public administration, organizational theory and behavior, public budgeting, public personnel administration, and public policy. U.S. News and World Report ranks Florida Gulf Coast as the 80th best regional university in the South and the 38th top public school. Many of the school’s graduate programs have earned rankings, including public affairs.

#14 – University of South Dakota

Online Executive Master’s in Public Administration

Vermillion, South Dakota

Website
University of South Dakota - Online Master’s in Public Administration
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,557

The University of South Dakota offers an online executive master’s in public administration (EMPA) program that is designed for public service professionals who desire advancement in their current or future organization. The program helps students build essential skills required to provide superior communication, innovation, and leadership in public and nonprofit organizations. Required courses include executive public administration, facilitation and conflict management, organization and management, and research in administrative practice. Major publications like U.S. News and World Report rank the institution. In fact, U.S. News lists the school as the 180th best national university in the 2016 edition of Best Colleges. Other rankings include #100 for top public schools and #130 for best graduate public affairs programs.

#13 – Hamline University

Online Master’s in Public Administration

Saint Paul, Minnesota

Website
Hamline University - Online Master’s in Public Administration
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,496

Hamline’s online MPA degree program is designed for students who want to earn an advanced degree in public administration. The program is set up for completion in two years with courses offered online and in a hybrid format. Students enrolled in the program are required to complete the online courses with weekend residencies every two months. Required courses include administrative law, foundations in public administration, professional ethics, public fiscal management, and public policy analysis. Hamline is ranked with major publications like Forbes magazine and U.S. News and World Report. In the 2016 edition of Best Colleges, U.S. News lists Hamline as the 12th best regional university in the Midwest. Additional rankings include #15 for best value schools and #12 for best colleges for veterans.

#12 – University of North Dakota

Online Master’s in Public Administration

Grand Forks, North Dakota

Website
University of North Dakota - Online Master’s in Public Administration
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,461

The University of North Dakota offers an online master’s in public administration degree that is designed to prepare individuals for administrative roles in government, healthcare, non-profit, and social sectors. The program is considered affordable due to the in-state tuition policy that allows students, regardless of residency, to take advantage of the low cost. Courses are offered entirely online and include foundations of public administration, political and public policy analysis, and public policy. The institution is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as a best national university. In fact, the 2016 edition of Best Colleges lists the school as #180 among best national universities.

#11 – Northern Michigan University

Online Master’s in Public Administration

Marquette, Michigan

Website
Northern Michigan University - Online Master’s in Public Administration
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,252

The master’s in public administration degree program at Northern Michigan University is offered entirely online. The program is designed for working and busy students who are currently working in public service or desire roles in government or non-profit sectors. Required courses include ethics and public administration, organizational theory, politics of public budgeting, and principles of public administration. U.S. News and World Report ranks Northern Michigan as the 85th best regional university in the Midwest and the 27th top public school.

#10 – San Diego State University

Online Master’s in Public Administration

San Diego, California

Website

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,242

San Diego State University offers an online master’s in public administration (MPA) degree program that is designed for experienced professionals who work in government and non-profit agencies. Students may complete the program is as little as 16 months, working at an accelerated rate. The program models the on-campus MPA program but is faster-paced and offered entirely online. Required courses include administrative theory, methods and analysis of public administration, quantitative approaches, and scope of public administration. San Diego State is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, the 2016 edition of Best Colleges ranks the institution as the 149th best national university and the 79th top public school. The MPA program has earned top-10 rankings from U.S. News for consecutive years.

#9 – University of Louisiana

Online Master’s in Public Administration

Monroe, Louisiana

Website
University of Louisiana - Online Master’s in Public Administration
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,005

The University of Louisiana offers an online MPA degree program designed for students living anywhere in the world. The program may be completed in as little as 12 months through the institution’s fast-track option. Program requirements include analysis of political and administrative data, ethics and public administration, foundations of public administration, public budgeting and finance, and program evaluation and policy analysis. The university is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, the 2016 edition of Best Colleges lists the school as the 93rd best regional universities in the South and the 47th top public school.

#8 – Liberty University

Online MBA in Public Administration

Lynchburg, Virginia

Website
Liberty University - Online Master’s in Public Administration
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,000

Liberty University’s online MBA degree program offers a specialization in public administration that is designed to prepare students for positions of leadership in various fields of business. The program comprises 45 total credit hours, of which 12 credit hours may be transferred from an accredited institution. Core courses include accounting for decision-making, legal issues in business, organizational design and structure, and policy and strategy in global competition. The public administration specialization requires courses in the fundamentals of public administration, politics and strategies, and public policy analysis. U.S. News and World Report ranks Liberty as the 80th best regional institution in the South. The online MBA program is ranked #110 out of 1,200.

#7 – Troy University

Online Master’s in Public Administration

Troy, Alabama

Website
Troy University - Online Master’s in Public Administration
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,948

The NASPAA-accredited online master’s in public administration degree offered by Troy University is designed to prepare students for leadership roles in government or non-profit agencies. Students are required to select one concentration that will include three specific courses that complement the area of focus. Concentrations include government contracting, justice administration, national security affairs, non-profit management, public health administration, public human resource management, and public management. Troy is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the 65th best regional university in the South and the 27th top public school. In recent years, the graduate public affairs school has been recognized by Best Colleges as among the top public affairs graduate schools in the country.

#6 – Southern Utah University

Online Master’s in Public Administration

Cedar City, Utah

Website
Southern Utah University - Online Master’s in Public Administration
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,756

Southern Utah University offers a 36-semester-hour online MPA that is NASPAA accredited and designed for students pursuing a career in management within non-profit or public sectors. The program can be customized to suit personal interests and particular career trajectories. Degree requirements include administrative law, critical thinking and ethics in the public sector, public human resource management, public sector economics, and research methods for public administration. All MPA students must complete a professional project or thesis, as well as an MPA internship. According to U.S. News and World Report, Southern Utah University is ranked 70th for best regional universities in the West and the 24th top public school.

#5 – Georgia College and State University

Online Master’s in Public Administration

Milledgeville, Georgia

Website
Georgia College and State University - Online Master’s in Public Administration
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,174

Georgia College and State University offers a NASPAA-accredited online master’s in public administration that is designed for professional students seeking career advancement in public service. Required core courses include administrative ethics, leadership and organizational behavior, public administration and the public service, public finance and budgeting, public personnel management, and quantitative techniques in public administration. A capstone project or thesis option is required. Students choosing the thesis option must complete 3 credit hours of thesis research design, thesis writing and development, and thesis defense. U.S. News and World Report ranks Georgia College as the 28th best regional university in the South and the 9th top public school.

#4 – Valdosta State University

Online Master’s in Public Administration

Valdosta, Georgia

Website
Valdosta State University - Online Master’s in Public Administration
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $6,490

Valdosta State University offers an online master’s in public administration degree program that is designed to prepare students for public service careers. The program consists of 36 hours of coursework, which includes 24 hours of required core classes and 12 hours in a concentration area. With input from a program coordinator or advisor, the student decides on a specific area of concentration. Required courses include governmental budgeting and finance, information management, organizational theory and behavior, and quantitative methods for public administration. Valdosta is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report as the 76th best regional university in the South.

#3 – Stephen F. Austin State University

Online Master’s in Public Administration

Nacogdoches, Texas

Website
Stephen F Austin State - Online Master’s in Public Administration
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $6,310

Stephen F. Austin State University offers an affordable online master’s in public administration that is designed to prepare graduate for leadership and management roles in the public sector. Classes are taught by instructors certified to teach online. Required courses include applied methods for public administration, ethics in public administration, policy systems and evaluation, public administration models, and public organizations and management. A limited number of graduate assistantships are offered, allowing students to work on assigned research projects with faculty members in the Department of Government. The institution is ranked with U.S. News and World Report as the 87th best regional university in the West and the 35th top public school.

#2 – Arkansas State University

Online Master’s in Public Administration

Jonesboro, Arkansas

Website
Arkansas State University - Online Master’s in Public Administration
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $5,810

In as little as 18 months, students at Arkansas State University may complete an accredited online master’s in public administration degree. The MPA program is fully accredited by the NASPAA and designed to enhance the careers of working professionals in the public sector and non-profit agencies. ASU faculty teaches all classes associated with the online program. Required courses include administration ethics, administrative leadership, public budgeting and finance, public policy analysis, and techniques of public administration research. The university is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, the 2016 edition of Best Colleges lists the school as the 53rd best regional universities in the West and the 21st top public school.

#1 – Texas A&M International University

Online Master’s in Public Administration

Laredo, Texas

Website
Texas A&M International University - Online Master’s in Public Administration
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $5,586

Texas A&M International University offers an affordable online master’s in public administration degree program that is designed for individuals preparing for employment in public and non-profit sectors. The program incorporates culturally diverse community engagement and research opportunities that focus on diversity. The program is NASPAA accredited and requires a final research project or internship for successful completion. Major course requirements include advanced methods of social research, communication for public administrators, principles and politics of public budgeting, and public policy development and implementation. The institution is ranked as the 70th best regional university in the West according to U.S. News and World Report.