Top 10 Colleges for Earning a Public Administration Degree Online

Public administrators create, implement, and evaluate the public policies and management of the organizations in which they are employed. With the proper experience and education, many public administration professionals take on management positions within public agencies. These professionals provide services, evaluate social programs, and set and implement policies. They are also involved in public relations, marketing, financial planning, and human resource development.

To effectively manage these diverse responsibilities and job functions, aspiring public administrators require a thorough understanding of government framework and training in problem solving, conflict resolution, and both verbal and written communication skills. While most of the various management positions are projected to grow at rates much higher than average over the next several years, these positions typically require a combination of an advanced-level education and work experience. To acquire the type of advanced comprehensive training necessary, many working professionals look to a master’s in public administration online. The growth of online MPA degree programs available has made it possible for professionals to earn a living while also earning their MPA online.

An online master’s in public administration prepares professionals for the complex nature of management positions by focusing on the many different and relevant areas of public administration while also providing the student with a great amount of schedule flexibility. An online MPA degree provides graduates with a deep understanding of public policies and their financial impact on various levels of government and society. Most online MPA curriculum examines public resources, public accountability, contemporary managerial issues, financial analysis and management, and ethical standards and responsibilities. Online MPA programs generally provide specialization opportunities for students, allowing them to tailor their education to meet their specific career goals. Students interested in a public administration degree online at the undergraduate level also have a variety of options available to them.

While a bachelor's degree does not typically prepare students for management positions in the same way that the online MPA does, it does effectively open the door for several business and administration positions. Online MPA programs are designed to advance the careers of professionals already employed in public or private sectors, as well as those working in nonprofit organizations. Graduates with advanced-level degrees also increase their chances of landing positions in local, state, and/or federal government.

Depending on previous experience and education specializations, an individual with an online MPA degree is considered for a range of jobs in various professions. Both the bachelor's and master’s in public administration online degrees train individuals to accomplish specific goals and objectives through the formation of policies and directives after evaluating all relevant factors. The best online MPA programs provide a comprehensive curriculum which develops the multifaceted skill sets required of individuals serving in these types of competitive positions.

What Are The Best Online Public Administration Programs?


Purdue Global University

Purdue Global University provides learners with online learning options, offering 180 degree choices in fields spanning the disciplines. Those interested in pursuing administrative and managerial careers in public service fields enroll in the 55-credit Master of Public Administration program. The program emphasizes effective and ethical decision-making, financial knowledge, and leadership skills.

The fully online degree plan includes the study of public policy, administrative law in public administration, human resource management in the public sector, finance, and the administration of public funds. There are also several concentrations available, including health care management, fire science and emergency services, and criminal justice. Notably, Purdue Global also has an accelerated MPA option. Admission to the MPA program requires a bachelor's degree and prerequisite courses in American government, statistics, public policy.


Walden University Minneapolis, MN

Walden University, founded in 1970, has earned its place as a leader in distance education. Walden University strives to produce graduates capable of affecting positive social change with real-world impact. The innovative degree programs incorporate the most advanced technology to deliver a challenging and rigorous curriculum. The programs are industry relevant, teaching skills and studying knowledge learned from leading academic research. Students are offered flexible and convenient learning options with schedules that can be tailored to meet the needs of Walden University's busy working adult students. Walden University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association.

The School of Public Policy and Administration at Walden University offers several degree programs in the field. Students are able to complete a Bachelor of Science in political science and public administration, a Master of Public Administration, or a doctorate in public policy and administration. The BS in political science and public administration prepares students for careers in both public and private sectors. Students learn the skills necessary to become leaders in their organization. The program incorporates political theory and application with focused studies in the area of interest selected by the students. Students can pursue a generalized studies program or can select an area of concentration in global issues and social justice, law and legal studies, managing in public environment, public service through civic engagement, or social entrepreneurship. The curriculum includes studies of the ethical considerations confronting political leaders, contemporary issues regarding energy, environments, human rights and health care, and the foundations of the Unites States government.


Villanova University Villanova, PA

Since 1842, Villanova University has been delivering a premier education to students in the Villanova, Pennsylvania area. Today, the institution hosts more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate, and law students across the school's six colleges. In recent years, the institution has dedicated its efforts to enhancing its accessibility for students around the world. By establishing an online school system, Villanova University has become one of the leaders in online professional education. With the aid of its online degree programs, Villanova University has increased its degree program offerings to nearly 90 different fields and grown its student body by tens of thousands of students. The online learning degrees at Villanova University provide students with flexible start dates and 100% online course delivery, allowing working professionals the opportunity to advance their careers without sacrificing their employment.

The 36-credit master’s of public administration online degree at Villanova University focuses on strategic planning and management, preparing professionals to be ethical leaders of the future. In addition to the general degree option, the online MPA offers the choice of specialization in either nonprofit management or city management. There are also three graduate certificates available to both students in the MPA online program and those who do not wish to enroll in a full MPA online.


University of Delaware Newark, DE

Tracing its roots to 1743, The University of Delaware is now one of the nation’s leading research universities. With top-ranked degree programs and a committed faculty, UD actively prepares students to make a difference in their fields. UD offers a learning environment designed to help build your leadership potential through applied research and dynamic skill building. This proven academic approach extends to UD’s online graduate degree programs, which brings together expert faculty, experiential learning and flexible access online learning offers.

Learn effective leadership and management strategy for public service and nonprofit operations with Delaware’s Online Master of Public Administration. This program is founded on the Delaware Model of integrating theory and practice into applicable skills that develop your public service business acumen and help you overcome today’s leading public challenges. You will examine case studies and apply best practices to enhance your foundation in public service management strategy and prepare for leadership roles.


New England College Henniker, NH

New England College is located close to both Boston and Concord and offers more than 50 years of academic education experience. The institution strives to provide the academic curriculum and support necessary to ensure the success of their students. Students are encouraged to challenge themselves, strive for academic excellence, and affect positive change in their worlds. The curriculum is steeped in a strong liberal arts foundation and focuses on experiential learning. New England College instills in its students an ethical responsibility to social justice and environmental responsibility, and cultivates an appreciation for lifelong learning. New England College is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

The School of graduate and professional Studies at New England College offers a 36-credit Master of Arts in Public Policy-Strategic Administration, though the degree program is not offered entirely online. The two-year program is completed through a combination of evening courses and internet supplements. The curriculum provides training on policy development, leadership and government, economics, the fiscal impact of policy implementation, policy analysis, and planning. The courses offered within the program include organizational management and leadership, public policy analysis, strategic planning and policy, governmental policy makers, and ethics.


Duquesne University Pittsburgh, PA

A private Catholic institution founded in 1878, Duquesne University is a dedicated provider of quality distance education programs intended to facilitate the success of their students. Duquesne University has earned international regard for the quality of their degree programs and commitment to excellence. The institution boasts a student body of more than 10,000 individuals and nearly 80,000 alumni, and offers 100 undergraduate and 66 graduate degree programs. The degree programs provide a comprehensive liberal arts education intended to equip each student with the skills and knowledge to succeed in any field. Duquesne University is a service driven institution which strives to instill in each of its graduates an understanding and appreciation for social responsibility and high ethical standards. The faculty members are dedicated spiritual and academic instructors who are committed to their students. The business programs at Duquesne University are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International, the world’s premier business school accrediting agency.

The Graduate Center for Social and Public Policy at Duquesne University offers a 36-credit Master of Arts in Policy Analysis and Administration which provides students with an in depth understanding of the complexities and challenges of the public administration field. Students learn the policy-making process and the techniques and methods of policy analysis and research, and examine a focused area of the field such as health, environment, housing, or community development. The program curriculum teaches students to devise and implement effective policies in response to social and political problems. Required courses include social and public policy analysis, politics of civic problems or women and politics, policy implementation, American politics and policy, research methods, quantitative analysis, and an internship. A certificate program is also offered, requiring the completion of 21 credits, as well as a five-year bachelor’s to master’s program. Upon completion of either program, graduates are prepared to work in the public or private sector.


Brookline College Phoenix, AZ

Brookline College, founded in 1979, offers a range of affordable, flexible degree programs. Brookline College strives to continuously improve its educational experience to meet the needs of its culturally diverse student body and to remain abreast of advances and changes in various industries. The range of career-oriented degree programs offered at Brookline College includes associate and bachelor’s degree programs and diploma options. Brookline College adds programs to its college based on which fields are experiencing growth and employment needs. The curriculum focuses on experiential learning. Frequent enrollment options ensure students won’t have to delay the start of their educational program. Faculty members teaching the courses are experienced instructors with advanced degrees. Brookline College offers extensive support services including continual placement assistance for alumni and on-campus career fairs. Brookline College is accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools.


Strayer University Washington, DC

Strayer University, established in 1892, boasts a long and illustrious history as a provider of distance education programs. Strayer University was developed for the purpose of providing quality and affordable educational programs to busy working adults who would otherwise be unable to accomplish their educational goals and advance their careers. The degree programs provide career relevant curriculum at the forefront of advances in each industry. As a student-centered institution, Strayer University strives to provide their student body of more than 54,000 individuals with the individualized attention and programs needed to ensure their success. In addition to high-quality degree programs, Strayer University employs industry experienced instructors to teach their courses. Students are offered the option of completing courses online or at one of the many campuses across the country. Strayer University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

The 54-credit Master of Public Administration degree offered at Strayer University provides a challenging, comprehensive program which prepares students with the skills and knowledge necessary to become leaders in the industry. Students acquire expertise in the field, developing skills in problem solving, conflict resolution, management, and critical and analytical thinking. The curriculum includes studies in the fundamental areas of business and management. The courses include studies of public perception, methodology, and theory. The program prepares students for work in a variety of settings including government, nonprofit organizations, and various professional entities. Practical application of the skills learned in the classroom is utilized to develop an inherent understanding of the major and to develop an ability to develop and determine optimal solutions to an array of dynamic and difficult issues facing societies and governmental entities.


Bellevue University Bellevue, NE

Bellevue University is an award-winning provider of distance education programs. The largest private university in the state of Nebraska, Bellevue University offers a range of innovative degree programs through online courses. Bellevue University offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs, including a doctorate program. Students are offered the option of completing an accelerated bachelor degree program which can be completed in only three years. The curriculum incorporates practical application with theoretical studies to ensure students attain a comprehensive understanding of the course content. Faculty instructors are experienced teachers and professionals who bring real world knowledge into the classroom experience. Bellevue University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Bellevue University offers a comprehensive 36-credit master’s of public administration degree program which prepares students to meet the challenges of this complex field. Students are equipped with the skills and knowledge necessary to become leaders in the public administration profession. The 16-month program includes studies in management, organization, and finance for a range of organizations including government, nonprofit, and public organizations. Courses include a foundation in public administration, communications in public sector, organizational modeling and decision theories, human resources and organizational effectiveness, strategic planning and policy development, finance for the public administrator, and contemporary issues in public administration. Projects are due each term to provide students the opportunity to exercise the knowledge they are learning in their courses.


South University Savannah, GA

South University, established in 1899, has evolved from a two-year institution into a well regarded provider of undergraduate and graduate degree programs, with eight traditional campuses and an online campus. South University is a private, student-centered institution which strives to prepare its students with the intellectual and social skills necessary to become successful professionals in their area of study. The degree programs are designed to promote critical thinking, effective communication skills, and an appreciation for lifelong learning. Students are taught ethical and professionals values, and learn to develop and achieve their goals. South University offers students career services intended to help with job placement and professional development, and financial aid services to help students with financing their education. South University is accredited by the commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

The College of Business at South University offers a Master of Public Administration which provides a comprehensive and rigorous curriculum. Students enrolled in the program are prepared to assume leadership positions in local, state, and national governmental agencies, as well as non-profit organizations. The interdisciplinary program includes coursework from other areas to ensure students are equipped with the skills and knowledge necessary. Students are able to pursue an area of specialization in nonprofit administration, public policy, criminal justice, or information technology, or adhere to a general studies program. Students also have the option of creating a customized degree program from a series of elective and specialization courses. Students in all three tracts will be required to complete core courses in general subjects, elective courses, and specialization courses, as well as complete a capstone project.

To determine the best online Public Administration programs, we looked at the most important factors prospective students, mainly common predictors of future success and a school's commitment to online programs. This boils down to admissions rate, student loan default rate, retention rate, graduation rate, and the percent of students enrolled in online classes. All data points are taken from information provided by colleges and universities to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Each factor is weighted evenly in order to give an objective view and determine the best online Public Administration programs. To calculate our rankings, we looked at a school's ranking when organized by a single factor, and then averaged each category's ranking to find an overall score: Admissions Rate (20%) + Default Rate (20%) + Retention Rate (20%) + Graduation Rate (20%) + Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes (20%) = Final score.