On-Campus Public Administration Master's Programs
In On-Campus Public Administration Masters Degree Programs, students study curricula that engages them in the theories, analyses, and practical applications that shape public administration and public policy. Students learn how to develop, implement, and assess public policy and administer governmental services at local, national, or international levels.
Through instruction, case studies, reading, writing, and classroom discussion, students learn how to effectively manage government initiatives and navigate interaction between government, private, and community entities. Master’s in public administration or public policy programs commonly include business, communications, and management curricula to help students learn how to apply their studies to public, private, and nonprofit settings.
On-Campus Public Administration Master’s Programs
Students who want to earn a master’s degree in public administration on campus might do so through one of several possible avenues:
- MPA Programs: MPA programs, or Master of Public Administration programs, focus on governmental administration, from finance to planning to management. These programs often include courses that cover public policy. Students graduate with an MPA degree.
- MPP Programs: MPP programs, or Master of Public Policy programs, focus primarily on the process of introducing, facilitating, assessing, and changing public policy and the interaction among governmental, private, and community entities. These programs commonly include courses that cover public administration. Students graduate with an MPP degree.
- MBA Programs with an emphasis in Public Administration: MBA programs, or Master of Business Administration programs, commonly offer an option for students to concentrate their learning in public administration. This means that students focus on general business administration but also learn how to
- apply their knowledge to governmental settings. Students who pursue an MBA public administration degree graduate with an MBA degree.
- MA and MS Programs in Political Science: MA and MS in Political Science programs, or Master of Art and Master of Science programs, sometimes offer an option for students to concentrate their learning in public administration or public policy. Students’ primary focus would be on political science theory and practice. A focus on public administration or public policy would occur through elective or secondary courses. Students graduate with an MS or MA in political science degree.
Why Consider On-Campus Public Administration Masters Programs?
On-campus public administration master’s programs provide structure, in-person interaction, and physical access to on-campus resources, such as libraries, student organizations, and more. For some students, pursuing an advanced degree in this format allows for more engaged and structured learning.
By interacting in the flesh with classmates and professors, students learn how to orally discuss ideas and issues and navigate perspectives face to face. In-class discussions and group projects both provide opportunities for this kind of growth and development. So too do relationships with classmates that develop elsewhere on campus and off campus.
When on-campus students have questions or come across challenging information or assignments, they can meet with professors in their offices and engage in face-to-face, in-person, live discourse. While having in-person support like this isn’t a must for quality instruction, some students feel better able to flesh out ideas and communicate confusion in this kind of setting.
Many campuses have students groups and organizations designed to help students deepen their learning, enhance their social lives, and give them forums for exploring their passions. On-campus students might join groups for personal interests, and they might join groups to help facilitate their learning. Political groups, business groups, cultural groups, and service-oriented groups are all examples of opportunities students in MPA and MPP programs might enjoy.
On-campus public administration and public policy masters programs provide structure for students. Regular class times and locations can support students in having discipline and meeting course objectives and goals. While on-campus program still requires students to get to campus and to class, it doesn’t leave it to them figure out when and how to access course instruction and materials. For many students, structure like this sets them up for success.
Otherwise, on-campus public administration master’s programs enable students to visit bricks and mortar classrooms, flip through physical library books, and interact with people regularly without having to do so through a digital interface.
Formats for Pursuing a Public Administration Degree
Students who pursue a master’s in public policy or public administration on campus still typically have some online options. Depending on the school, some courses might be offered on campus and online, allowing students some flexibility when they need it. Students whose schedules are tight or who need flexible schedules for a semester or two, should consult their academic advisor to see if online courses are an option.
Curricula for a Public Administration or Public Policy Degree
The curricula in a public administration or public policy program varies of course by school and program. A master of science in public policy and management program, for example, will likely offer curriculum distinct from a master of public service and administration program or a program with a public policy analysis major. The moral of the story is simple: different programs offer different curricula.
However, there are some commonalities across programs. Those are evident in the core curricula.
In many public administration master’s programs, the following subjects might be consider “core.” Students study these to develop their foundational knowledge:
- Organizational behavior
- Government finance and fiscal decision-making
- Public organization
- Management and leadership
- Human resources in public and nonprofit sectors
- Policy analysis
- Economics and quantitative analysis
- Political thought and institutions
- Research methods
To develop their secondary knowledge, students use elective coursework. In an MPA program, students might choose to study subjects such as:
- Policy analysis and evaluation (in great depth than at the core level or from another perspective)
- Human resources
- Nonprofit management
- Public budgeting and financial management (again, at a greater depth)
- State and local government and administration
Students in MPA programs might also specialize or concentrate their learning in certain areas. This gives them a specialization, something many choose to include in their resume. Examples of tracks and specializations available in MPA programs include:
- Public finance
- Local, federal, or international government
- Nonprofit management
In many public policy master’s programs, the following subjects might be considered “core” and designed to help students develop foundational knowledge:
- Policy analysis
- Quantitative analysis
- Policy making processes
- Policy interventions
- Management and leadership
- Decision theory
Students in MPP programs can also typically opt to concentrate their learning, either through electives, tracks, or concentrations. Some examples of more nuanced subjects students might study in an MPP program include:
- Community and economic development
- Education, environmental, health, public, or international policy
- Media and communications policy
- Business and entrepreneurship
- Civil infrastructure
- Social justice
In some cases of both MPP and MPA master’s degree programs, students might be able to pursue “dual degrees,” or two degrees at once. Common pairings include: an MPA or MPP and a Juris Doctor; an MPA or MPP and a Master of Planning or Urban Planning; and an MPA or MPP and a Master of Social Work. These are just some of many options at schools that offer dual degree opportunities.
MPP and MPA Degree Requirements
In the case of many MPP and MPA degree programs, the requirements are similar if not the same:
- Complete a set of core and elective courses (typically twenty or so courses all together) and earn a certain minimum GPA doing so
- Write and defend a thesis (a comprehensive research project completed toward the end of a program. Core curriculum typically includes courses in research methodology)
- In some cases, take a comprehensive exam
- Also in some cases, participate in an internship
Keep in mind: For entrance into an MPP or MPA program, applicants might have to take the GRE or GMAT depending on the program.
Potential Careers and Salaries for Students Who Pursue an MPP or MPA
Professionals with degrees in public administration or public policy might work at local, state, federal, or international agencies in public, private, or nonprofit settings. Some examples of potential occupations include:
- College administrator
- Criminal justice administrator
- Healthcare or hospital administrator
- City manager
- Political campaign manager
If you’re wondering, “what can I do with a master’s in public administration?” these are just some of many options.
The following are salary potentials for professionals who might hold a degree in public administration or policy:
- Urban and Regional Planners: The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that professionals in this field earned a median annual wage of $71,490 in 2017. The BLS predicts that jobs in this area will grow by 13 percent between 2016 and 2026.i
- Political Scientists: The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that professionals in this field earned a median annual wage of $115,110 in 2017. The BLS predicts that jobs in this area will grow by 13 percent between 2016 and 2026.ii
- Emergency Management Directors: The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that professionals in this field earned a median annual wage of $72,760 in 2017. The BLS predicts that jobs in this area will grow by eight percent between 2016 and 2026.iii
- Administrative Services Managers: The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that professionals in this occupation earned a median annual wage of $94,020 in 2017. The BLS predicts that jobs in this area will grow by ten percent between 2016 and 2026.iv
Guess What? While you need to hold a master’s degree to work as a political scientist or planners (according to the BLS), you don’t necessarily have to hold one to pursue the other listed occupations. However, having a master’s degree can boost your resume and help you pursue the precise position you desire.
Find the Best On-Campus Master’s of Public Administration Programs for You
While you once might have asked, “what is a master’s in public administration?” now you know. And you also know where to find a consolidated list of on-campus master’s of public administration programs: Right here!
To explore MPP and MPA program options, look below and click on program hyperlinks and icons for more information. You can even contact schools directly using our onsite form! If you’d like to narrow your search, say to look for programs by location (city, state, or country), simply use our search tool, and our site will do the work for you. Finding the best MPP programs and beyond is that easy. Good luck!
i bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/urban-and-regional-planners.htm | ii bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/political-scientists.htm | iii bls.gov/ooh/management/emergency-management-directors.htm | iv bls.gov/ooh/management/administrative-services-managers.htm
- Bristol, RIBristol, RI
Roger Williams University
Offered online or in a hybrid model (online and on-ground) at our Providence Campus. Special tracks in Health Care Administration and Public Management.
- Belmont, CABelmont, CA
Notre Dame de Namur University
The Master of Public Administration offered at Notre Dame de Namur University is offered on campus or 100% online. Additionally, the program has long been recognized for our faculty's dedication to preparing professionals to work effectively in manage...
- San Luis Obispo, CASan Luis Obispo, CA
California State University, Cal Poly
The Master of Science in City and Regional Planning (MCRP) is an applied, comprehensive, and professionally-based program that is open to students with high standards of academic achievement who wish to pursue careers in city and regional planning.
- Madison, NJMadison, NJ
Fairleigh Dickinson University
A part of Petrocelli College of Continuing Studies, the Public Administration Institute offers a curriculum leading to the degrees of Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.) and Master of Administrative Science (M.A.S.).
- Teaneck, NJ
- Hamden, CTHamden, CT
The master of science in public relations program offers students the opportunity to pursue an advanced degree in a highly competitive and growing field.
- Fairfield, CTFairfield, CT
Sacred Heart University
The Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree at Sacred Heart University will provide you with the skills to thrive in the 21st century public and non-profit workplace.
- El Paso, TXEl Paso, TX
University of Texas at El Paso
- Bozeman, MTBozeman, MT
Montana State University - Bozeman
- Baton Rouge, LABaton Rouge, LA
Louisiana State University
- Arlington, TXArlington, TX
University of Texas at Arlington
Urban Affairs - Master
The Master of Urban Affairs prepares students for public service, managerial and administrative positions in local government, non-profit and private-sector consulting and for other professional positions in development, social planning and urban journa...
- Arlington, TX
- Brisbane, AustraliaBrisbane, Australia
James Cook University
- Vancouver, WAVancouver, WA
Washington State University
WSU Vancouver offers a master's degree in Public Affairs (M.P.A.). This degree program is offered exclusively on the WSU Vancouver campus, and is designed for...
- Dayton, OHDayton, OH
Wright State University
The Department of Urban Affairs and Geography offers a Master of Public Administration degree.
- Brisbane, AustraliaBrisbane, Australia
University of Queensland, The
- London, United KingdomLondon, United Kingdom
Unlike other Colleges of the University of London Birkbeck not only provides a range of full-time postgraduate taught and research programmes for UK a...
- Bristol, United KingdomBristol, United Kingdom
University of Bristol
The programme provides thorough theoretical and practical knowledge of the variety of qualitative and quantitative data collection methods available to the social scientist, and the main methods of data analysis.
- Villanova, PAVillanova, PA
We are pleased to offer two options for prospective students - our traditional, campus-based options as well as a fully online MPA degree. On campus, you can pursue an MPA degree or certificates in City Management or Nonprofit Management. We also off...
- Cambridge, MACambridge, MA
Harvard Kennedy School is committed to making a positive impact in the world. Over the last three decades, we have become the global leader in educating and empowering individuals committed to advancing the public interest. Inspired as ever b...
- Cambridge, MA
- Victoria, BCVictoria, BC
University of Victoria
The School's current list of offerings include programs that are available to full time and part time students, such as the M.P.A. and Concurrent LL.B/M.P.A., as well as the Diploma in Public Sector Management which includes the Local Government Option.
- Toronto, PEToronto, PE
The mission of the graduate program in Public Policy and Administration is to provide a high quality, professionally-relevant...
- Montreal, QCMontreal, QC
- Ypsilanti, MIYpsilanti, MI
Eastern Michigan University