10 Most Affordable Master’s in Public Administration Online

Staff picture
Updated June 17, 2021

GradSchoolHub.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Discover a program that is right for you.

An online Master's in Public Administration may seem like an odd choice for working professionals, but for those interested in working with governmental agencies or not-for-profit charities will find that the degree is an exceptional choice to advance to mid-level and senior-level positions within the workplace. And with so many employers seeking graduate-level professionals, there has never been a better time to take a look at online programs.

The programs listed on this ranking will help any professional reach their career goals. Most offer various concentrations, fieldwork experiences, research opportunities, and more. These programs can also be completed faster and a professional's own time, making it easier for them to reach their goals.

The ranking itself began with research done using the National Center for Education Statistics and it's publicly available College Navigator database system. By researching tuition rates, online student retention, and more, NCES found an initial pool of 140 schools was created. The resulting ranking was narrowed down to the final 10 by looking at in-state graduate tuition rates.

Explore these promoted online degree programs.

These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online graduate degree programs. Figuring out where to apply? Consider one of these online Master’s or PhD programs.

Most Affordable Master's in Public Administration Online

  1. University of North Carolina at Pembroke

    Pembroke, NC



    The online Master's of Public Administration at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke is an excellent program for professionals from any background. This is one of the few online programs that does not require prerequisite courses for students without any work experience in public administration. The MPA at UNC-Pembroke also offers four concentrations: Public Management, Emergency Management, Criminal Justice, and Health Administration. Students will find a robust program that focuses on the different aspects of public administration; the concentrations will provide further study into one particular area of the field. Students can expect to complete 42 credit hours of coursework, a research project, and a comprehensive exam. Internships are also required, but students with Director-level work experience may apply for a waiver. Sample courses include Human Resource Administration, Leadership and Administration in Public Affairs, and Principles of Budgeting and Finance.

  2. University of Nebraska at Omaha

    Omaha, NE



    The University of Nebraska at Omaha confers an online Master's of Public Administration 100 percent online. There are seven concentrations available for this degree, including Aviation, Health Administration, and Local Government Administration. The degree is built for working professionals with at least two years of experience working in the field; candidates with no work experience may be offered conditional acceptance. The program is comprehensive; students will be expected to complete between 39 to 42 credit hours of coursework, a research paper, a thesis or creative project, and a comprehensive written and oral exam. Sample courses include Policy Design and Implementation, Advanced Management and Leadership for Public and Nonprofit Professionals, and Organizational Theory and Behavior.

  3. Arkansas State University

    Jonesboro, AR



    Arkansas State University confers an online MPA that can be completed in just 18 months. This is a 100 percent online program that focuses on experiential learning. The program was created by working professional and is currently accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration. Working professionals who seek to take on senior-level roles in governmental agencies will find this to be a great choice for them; they will be able to research new innovations, take on an internship, and study alongside professional role models. Students can expect to complete 36 credit hours of coursework, a research project, and a comprehensive written and oral exam; students can also take on an optional internship. Sample courses include Techniques of Political and Public Administration Research, Public Budgeting and Finance, and Grant Writing and Administration.

  4. University of West Florida

    Pensacola, FL



    The University of West Florida offers a cheap online Master's in Public Administration that is perfect for mid-career and pre-service professionals. The degree is designed to build on previous work or educational experience to open students up to new innovations and concepts in public administration. With many experiential opportunities throughout the program of study, students will be able to see those advanced concepts in action. The program, which is 100 percent online and delivered in asynchronous format, also the chance to earn two certifications: Acquisition and Contract Administration and Leadership in Public Service and Nonprofit Administration. Students can expect to complete 27 credit hours of coursework, including a capstone project, and a comprehensive written and oral exam. Sample courses include Analytic Techniques for Public Policy Analysis, Public Service Human Resource Management, and Public Service Ethics.

  5. Indiana State University

    Terre Haute, IN



    Indiana State University confers an online Master's in Public Administration that is a member program of the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration and is associated with the American Society for Public Administration. It is a wholly online program that can be completed in just two years with full-time study; a part-time program of study can be completed in just over three years. Students will also find a wide range of concentrations, including Public Health, Nonprofit Management, and Human Resources Development. Like many other schools, students who do not have at least one year's worth of work experience in the sector will be required to take on an internship in their community. All graduates will be required to complete 36 credit hours of coursework, a research paper, a capstone project, and a comprehensive written and oral exam. Sample courses include Public Personnel Administration, Budgeting in Governmental Agencies, and Statistical Analysis for Public Administration.

  6. Troy University

    Troy, AL



    Students interested in a comprehensive online Master's in Public Administration will find a home at Troy University. This school confers a master of public administration that can be earned wholly online or through the school's hybrid format. It also comes with seven concentrations, including Public Health Administration, Public Human Resource Management, and National Security Affairs. It is a very versatile program that was designed to meet the needs of working professionals; there are online tutoring sessions available as well as most classes being delivered in an asynchronous format. Students will be required to complete 36 credit hours of coursework, include three courses in their chosen concentration. If a professional has less than one year's of experience in the field, they will also be required to complete an internship in their community. Sample courses include Introduction to Advanced Public Administration, Ethics and Society, and Conflict Resolution.

  7. Post University

    Waterbury, CT



    Post University offers an online Master's in Public Administration that is based on experiential learning that will enable working professionals to use the knowledge they learn in the program in their careers now. This 100 percent online degree can be completed in as little as 18 months will full-time study, but students have up to five years to complete the necessary requirements. The MPA at Post University confers one concentration: Emergency Management and Homeland Security, a good choice for students interested in entering the U.S government's security and emergency management agencies. Students will be required to complete 37 credit hours, including a research project; a capstone project is also required. Sample courses include Role of Homeland Security and Intelligence, Labor Law and Labor Relations, and The History and Future of Public Administration.

  8. Park University

    Parkville, MO



    Students interested in a cross-sector public administration master's online degree will be interested to hear about Park University. The school offers a 100 percent online degree with no residency requirements; however, students will have the option to take on a 10-day intensive experience abroad as part of their practical experience requirements. The MPA at Park University offers seven concentrations, including Nonprofit and Community Services Management, Disaster and Emergency Management, and Global Governance. Students will find that if they have less than two years of experience in the field that they will be required to complete an internship; this can be done in a student's community. For those who have more than two years of experience, they can waive this requirement and focus on completing the 36 credit hours, including a research project, as well as written and oral comprehensive exams. Sample courses include Public Affairs Methodology, Leadership Development and Organizations, and Ethical Foundations of Authority and Responsibility.

  9. American Public University

    Charles Town, WV



    American Public University confers an excellent online Master's in Public Administration. It is designed for working professionals already in the field and expands their knowledge of the different facets that make up this incredible career. It also provides eight concentrations, including Coaching and Conflict Resolution, Security Management, and Disaster Management. As a 100 percent online program, students will never have to travel to the school for a residency requirement. It includes a capstone seminar, which can either be a graduate thesis or a creative project; both are designed and completed in a student's area of residency. Students will be expected to also complete 36 credit hours of coursework and a comprehensive exam. Sample courses include The U.S. Presidency, Congress, and Bureaucracy, Law and Public Policy, and Local Political Administration.

  10. Belhaven University

    Jackson, MS



    A good choice for a Master's in Public administration online comes from Belhaven University. This program, which also offers the option to earn a specialization in Human Resources, is delivered 100 percent online for working professional. The MPA consists of 12 courses, which are asynchronous and delivered in an eight-week format, making it a great choice for students who wish to finish their degree in 18 months. The online program is also accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, meaning that it's a high-quality educational choice for public administration professionals. Along with 36 credit hours of coursework, students will be expected to complete a research project, a capstone project, and a comprehensive exam. Sample courses include Research Methods in Public Administration, Public and Administrative Law, and Ethics and Society.

Our Methodology, Explained

Grad School Hub compiles rankings based on public data released from educational, commercial, and government databases. Sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics play a significant role in how we source our educational data. After collecting insight for each institution, we organize information into five weighted categories.
Metric Data Used Percentage
Academic Quality Full-time faculty percentage, student-to-faculty ratio, student retention and graduation rates 30%
Affordability Tuition rates, median student debt, and financial aid 10%
Reputation Admission and enrollment rates 30%
Program Offerings Number of program options 20%
Online Enrollment Score Portion of learners taking at least one online course 10%
A more comprehensive evaluation of how each category is determined and scored is accessible on our Ranking Methodology page.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Career Options for an Online Master's in Public Administration Degree?

An online Master's in Public Administration opens the door to several different career options for working professionals, including:

  • Public Administration
  • Politician
  • City Manager
  • Policy Analyst
  • Urban Planner
  • Nonprofit Director
  • Grant Writer
  • Budget Analyst
  • Law Enforcement
  • Human Resources Manager

There are several more, but these are just a few of the options available to public administration professionals. Whether a professional wants to enter the public or nonprofit sector, the military, or embark on their own freelance work, there is something available to everyone.

Most professionals work in the public or nonprofit sectors. They take on roles such as analyst, administrator, or executive of different bureaus, agencies, or nonprofit organizations. These are the two most common sectors for these public administrators to find work in. Those students that have earned a concentration may find other career options available to them; homeland security, public health, and intelligence are just a few of the industries that are currently looking for graduates in this field.

How Much Can You Earn in this Field?

The current average salary for a student with an online master's in public administration is approximately $80,000. This salary can range wildly, however, depending on how a student chooses to use it. From differences in working in the government or nonprofit sector, to a range of careers available to a student with this degree, the salaries can look vastly different.

For example, professionals who work in government agencies make an average of $40,000 to $95,000. This salary range encapsulates everything from public administration managers to directors of bureaus and everything in between. Additionally, these government professionals also have a great benefits package that includes health insurance; students will find plenty of jobs available at the local, state, and federal levels.

Professionals who work in the nonprofit sector can make anywhere from $35,000 to $100,000. Just like in government agencies, the actual salary depends on whether they have taken an entry-level or senior level position. While many nonprofit agencies cannot afford to provide a comprehensive benefits package, larger and international nonprofit organizations often have higher salaries than their government counterparts. These jobs can also be more competitive and often require a facile understanding of one or more languages.

Professionals with this degree are ready for a variety of careers, as evidenced in the above question. This means that graduates can interview for a variety of entry-level positions as well as mid-level to senior level positions. It also means that their salaries will fluctuate to meet the standard of the position they have taken.

Specializations, also known as concentrations, also play a vital role in salary. If a student has a concentration that is in high demand, they will find themselves with salary offers that are higher than a professional who has no concentration at all. Students are advised to consider concentrating in one core area of public administration in order to meet demand and earn higher salaries.

What are the Various Disciplines of Public Administration?

Public administration has several different disciplines associated with it, not least of which is administration. Because most who take on this role become public administrators, this should come as no surprise.

But there are several others. For professionals who work in the government sector, they are tasked with understanding United States government, economics, history, policy, law, politics, and much more. For those who work in the nonprofit sector, the disciplines of nonprofit management, law, international law, policy, advocacy, history, and policy play a role.

Nearly every public administrator will also have to contend with finance, accounting, human resources, data, analytics, computer science, and technology. Depending on a student's chosen field of concentration, they will also be tasked with understanding all of the disciplines that fall under that subfield of public administration.

Related Industries

Why is it Important to Find an Accredited Online Program?

Many online students think that the only difference between an accredited program and an unaccredited only program is the quality of education. However, there are a few critical reasons why every student should endeavor to find an accredited online program; in public administration, this should be mandatory.

One of the main reasons remains that yes, there is a quality of education that is delivered by accredited schools that unaccredited schools simply cannot guarantee. These schools have maintained a level of academic excellence that enables them to carry that accreditation; the application process can take up to two years and is very complex. And because both regional and specialized accreditation are distinctions of a quality education, they tend to also be preferred by employers.

Specialized accreditation isn't as important as regional accreditation to the educator's eyes, but the accreditation of a program can expand a student's job opportunities. This is because many employers, especially in the public administration field, require someone who has received an exceptional education that adheres to the climate of the field. It can also be a distinction that sets students apart from other candidates.

A more important reason to find an accredited program, specifically regional accreditation, is that these schools can receive payment in the form of federal assistance programs. This includes FSA and FAFSA applications. For veterans, it means that their benefits and military tuition assistance funds can be used at these schools

While accreditation may seem like such a small thing at the beginning of the hunt for an online Master's in Public Administration, it remains valuable to both students and employers. All students should only focus on accredited schools. Thankfully, there are many schools, including those on these rankings, that has just the accreditation that they need.

Why Do Schools Require an Internship for an Online Degree in Public Administration?

The field of public administration is difficult to comprehend without experiencing it firsthand. There are dozens of facets that make up this role. From politics to finance, economics to social services, the role of a public administrator can change from hour to hour.

That's why many graduate schools require an internship for this degree, even for online students. Having work experience, while still in school, enables professionals to see the amount of responsibility and the duties they have waiting for them when they enter the workforce. It also gives them the chance to network, with a possibility of having a job offer when they graduate.

But not all schools mandate internships for students. Some, including a few on this list, offer internships as optional. Others do not require it all because their admissions requirements mean that all of their graduate students already have work experience in the field.

Public administration continues to be a large part of everyday life, even if most in the field don't realize it. Without the help of these professionals, government services would not work, and so it's important to understand how critical their education can be. More professionals will be ready to do the hard job of keeping the American government working with an online Master' sin Public Administration under their belt.

This concludes our ranking of the Top 10 Most Affordable Master's in Public Administration Online.

Additional Resources

See All Posts

GradSchoolHub.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Discover a program that is right for you.

Explore different options for you based on your degree interests.