For those with leadership capabilities and a desire to either enter the public or nonprofit sectors or to advance in a career within these fields, a Master’s of Public Administration might be a good fit. A Master’s of Public Administration degree opens the door to career advancement and prepares graduates for manager or director level position in a public service field. Most programs below offer optional specializations giving students the opportunity to tailor their degree to meet the needs of their career goals. As noted, some programs below are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA). Below is a list of schools that offer an online master’s degree in Public Administration taking only cost into consideration. These are the cheapest online master programs in Public Administration. Program tuition does not include fees — check with the institution for a complete list of costs. Our data was taken from the university websites.
#1. Arkansas State University
Based in Jonesboro, AK, Arkansas State University is a public university that was founded in 1909 and began offering graduate degrees in the 1950s. ASU offers two different tracks within their online Master’s of Public Administration (MPA) degree – an MPA – Public Management track and an MPA – Non-Profit Management track. Both degrees require 36 credits for graduation and include the co-requisites of Introduction to U.S. Government and Economic Issues and Concepts. If not taken prior to enrollment in this degree program students may take these two courses in the first two semesters of the program. The MPA degree includes 7 Core Courses including Techniques of Political and Public Administration Research, Public Budgeting and Finance, and Administrative Ethics. Both tracks require 15 credits in addition to the Core Courses and give students the option to choose between the Internship in Public Administration or Public Information Management. Other courses within the MPA – Public Management track include Public Policy Analysis and Evaluation and Administrative Behavior while students in the MPA – Non-Profit track may take Nonprofit Fundraising and Financial Management and Nonprofit Planning and Marketing. This degree is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA).
Accreditation: Arkansas State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Program Tuition: $10,368
#2. American Public University
American Public University (APU) is a private for-profit university that offers degrees online to over 98,000 students. APU offers monthly start dates for degree programs and classes and students may choose between 8-week and 16-week courses. APU’s Master of Public Administration degree emphasizes networking between agencies and stakeholders and prepares graduates to be problem solvers and excellent communicators in the public, private, and nonprofit arenas. Core requirements include Applied Research Methods in Public Administration, Ethics in Government, and Public Finance. Students choose two courses within Major electives such as Applied Statistics, Law and Public Policy, and The U.S. Presidency, Congress, and Bureaucracy, while also choosing one of seven concentrations: disaster management, environmental policy, health policy, human resource management, national security, organizational management, and security management. Students choose three courses to take within their concentration of choice. The final requirement for graduation is either a Master’s Capstone Seminar in Public Administration or a Creative Project Seminar in Public Administration. A total of 36 credits are needed for degree completion.
Accreditation: American Public University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Program Tuition: $12,600
#3. University of Illinois Springfield
As the newest campus within the University of Illinois system, the University of Illinois Springfield began offering online degrees in 1999, following a traditional two-semester schedule with admission in the Fall or Spring semester. UIS’s Master of Public Administration degree prepares graduates for professional or administrative careers in the nonprofit, governmental, or private sectors. Requiring 36 credits for degree completion, Core courses include Organization Dynamics, Analytical Tools, Human Resource Management, and Public Policy for Managers. Students take four advanced professional development courses as electives, including two courses within the Public Administration field. A final capstone course is required in the final semester. This degree program is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA).
Accreditation: University of Illinois Springfield is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Program Tuition: $13,041
#4. Western International University
Founded in 1978 to meet the needs of working adult students, Western International University (West) offers career-driven degrees entirely online. WIU, based in Arizona, offers 8-week courses with monthly start dates allowing students to complete master’s degree programs in 1.2 years with no transfer credits. West’s Master of Public Administration prepares students for careers in the public, private, or nonprofit sectors in leadership and analytical positions. Core Courses include Global Communication for Professionals, Information Resource Management, Corporate Power, Politics and Negotiations, and Strategic Management in the Public Sector. Major courses include Public and Nonprofit Financial Management and Procurement and Contract Administration, in addition to a final capstone course. 39 credits are required for degree completion.
Accreditation: Western International University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Program Tuition: $13,650
#5. University of North Dakota
The University of North Dakota (UND) is the state’s oldest public research university based in Grand Forks, ND with nearly 15,000 students enrolled each year. UND’s online Master of Public Administration offers in-state tuition regardless of residency and follows a semester schedule with live web-based courses one evening a week. Graduates are prepared for careers in management and administration in the public, private, nonprofit, and healthcare sectors. Core courses include Political and Public Policy Analysis, Research Methods, and an Administrative Internship course. Students choose from three tracks – General, Health Administration, or an Entrepreneurship track to focus their degree with their final three courses. The General Track includes course like Administrative Ethics in the Public Sector, Public Budgeting and Financial Administration, and Administrative Law. The Health Administration Track includes Health Administration and Organization, Health Policy, and Leading and Managing Public Health Systems. The Entrepreneurship Track includes Introduction to Social Entrepreneurship, Creation and Management of Social Enterprises, and Political Advocacy and Social Entrepreneurship. This degree is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA).
Accreditation: The University of North Dakota is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Program Tuition: $15,664
#6. Troy University
Located in Troy, AL, Troy University is a public university that was founded in 1887. Troy’s online Master of Public Administration degree prepares graduates to be public leaders and provides the foundation for a career or advancement in public service. This degree requires 36 credits for graduation which includes nine Core courses and three Concentration courses. Students choose from 7 Concentrations – Public Management, Governmental Contracting, Justice Administration, Public Health Administration, Nonprofit Management, Public Human Relations Management, and National Security Affairs. If students have not worked for at least one year in a professional position related to the public administration field, an internship may be required for graduation.
Accreditation: Troy University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Program Tuition: $17,784
#7. Indiana State University
Located in Terre Haute, IN, and founded in 1865, Indiana State University (ISU) is an independent public university that offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees and is known for it’s commitment to public service. ISU’s online Master of Public Administration degree is designed for students who are mid-career in public or non-profit agencies but is also open to entry-level students through an additional internship requirement (a 3 credit course). All students take 7 Core Courses and a final Capstone course all taught by political science professors with optional concentrations in Non-Profit Management, Criminal Justice, Human Resource Development, and Public Health. Core courses include Proseminar in American Administrative Institutions and Public Policies, Statistical Analysis for Public Administrators, Organizational Behavior in Public Agencies, and Budgeting in Governmental Agencies. This program is an accredited member of the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) and the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA). 36 credits are required for degree completion.
Accreditation: Indiana State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Program Tuition: $17,964
#8. Indiana Wesleyan University
Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU) is the largest private university in Indiana with nearly 16,000 students enrolled each year. A Christian school located in Marion, IN, IWU offers over 90 online degrees at seven different levels. IWU’s Master of Public Administration emphasizes social responsibility and civic engagement with monthly start dates and 6-week course terms. This degree requires 36 credits for degree completion, 24 of which are Core credits with 12 credits in an optional specialization. Specializations include Non-Profit Leadership, Public Management, and Criminal Justice. Core courses include Public Institutions and Values, Ethical Leadership in the Public Sector, Public Policy Processes and Strategies, and Scholarly Research and Writing. Students take four courses in their specialization of choice and all students take a final Capstone course.
Accreditation: Indiana Wesleyan University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Program Tuition: $18,756
#9. Northern Michigan University
Northern Michigan University (NMU) is a public university located in Marquette, MI. Founded in 1899, NMU offers 124 undergraduate majors and 28 graduate programs some of which can be earned entirely online through their Global Campus. NMU’s online Master of Public Administration requires 38 credits for graduation and gives students the choice between four concentrations – Criminal Justice Administration, Human Resource Administration, State and Local Government, and Public Management. Core courses include Research Methods of Public Administration, Seminar in Public Policy Analysis, Organizational Theory, and Politics of Public Budgeting. Students with less than one year of professional experience in the Public Administration field are required to complete an internship while those who have more than one year experience may apply for exemption from the requirement (making it a 36 credit program). All students complete a Capstone Course or a master’s level Thesis to complete the degree.
Accreditation: Northern Michigan University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Program Tuition: $18,772
#10. University of North Carolina – Pembroke
The University of North Carolina – Pembroke is a public university and a historically American Indian liberal arts university that enrolls over 6,000 undergraduate and graduate students each year. UNC – Pembroke’s online Master of Public Administration degree prepares graduates for leadership positions in public and nonprofit organizations as well as in private sector positions that have strong connections to government. This degree program follows a traditional semester schedule and requires 45 credits for graduation. Core courses include Leadership and Administration in Public Affairs, Organizational Behavior, Analytical Methods, and Principles of Budgeting and Finance. Students take four courses in the concentration of their choice. Available concentrations are Public Management, Emergency Management, Criminal Justice, and Health Administration. In addition, two elective courses are required and a Capstone course including the completion of a professional paper. An internship is required, but students who have director level or higher experience in a public administration career may apply for exemption.
Accreditation: University of North Carolina – Pembroke is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Program Tuition: $19,088