Public Administration and Public Policy Graduate Programs Online

Hoping to prepare for a public administration or policy career path by studying online? Then it’s time to learn more about online public policy graduate programs or public administration programs that may help you make a positive impact in your field. Whether you intend to explore the leadership of public organizations, delve into the issues and ethics of policymaking, or hone knowledge areas like policy analysis and leadership, you just might find an online graduate program that’s perfect for your goals! Below is some helpful information on program types you may encounter, plus advice on how to evaluate the programs that interest you. Plus, you may find some Online Public Administration Graduate Programs listings worth checking out!

What kinds of online public administration and public policy graduate programs might I find?

Depending on your qualifications, goals, and the degree level you aspire to, you may have a few potentia Online Public Administration Graduate Programs options:

Online Master’s in Public Administration[i] - Often abbreviated as MPA, an online master’s in public administration may be a popular program for political scientists. Online MPA programs may offer courses in areas like statistics, program evaluation, research methods, and more. Unlike MPP programs, which we’ll learn about a bit later, an online MPA program may focus primarily on the administration and leadership of private and nonprofit organizations.

Online Master’s in Public Policy[i] - Earning a master’s in public policy, or MPP, may also be a potential path for future political scientists! Like an online MPA, an MPP program may feature courses in areas like research and statistics, plus key subjects like policy formation. Besides exploring policy process in general, you may even be able to focus on an area of policymaking that you’re passionate about – for instance, education or environmental policy.

Online MPA vs. MPP Confused as to whether earning an MPP or an MPA online is a perfect path for you? Both program types may be multidisciplinary in nature, while potentially allowing students to focus on an area of professional interest. You may even find a program that combines features of both an MPP and an MPA. Ultimately, your choice may come down to your professional goals and what you’re most interested in accomplishing!

Online PhD – Public Policy or Administration[i] - Political scientists may also pursue a doctorate degree, such as a PhD in public policy online. Keep in mind that doctorate and PhD programs may be quite research-intensive and multidisciplinary, challenging students to explore fields like economics, sociology, and other areas that could impact public policy formation or government leadership. Earning a PhD may require several years of coursework, plus researching and writing a dissertation. Doctorate public administration online programs may be a lengthy undertaking, but for some candidates, like prospective postsecondary political science teachers, this path may be both essential and rewarding![ii]

Did you know? 17% of political scientists said they needed to earn a master’s degree for their current roles, while 78% earned a doctorate.[iii]

Public Policy or Public Administration Certificate Online – Another program that may be worth considering is the graduate certificate. Earning, say, a public administration certificate online may require fewer courses than a master’s program and could be one way to brush up on topics like public policy analysis, public financial management, and much more. While pursuing a certificate is not the same as earning a graduate degree, you may come away with enhanced preparation for a new or existing career path.

Is online learning a perfect choice for me?

If you don’t yet have experience with online education, it’s only natural to wonder if this format suits your personality and learning style! While earning an online master’s in public administration or pursuing a PhD in public policy online may seem like the obvious choice for some students, others may prefer on-campus or hybrid learning. However, here are a few potential reasons to give online learning a chance:

You have a hectic schedule – Busy parents, or adults who work full-time, may wonder how to squeeze their coursework into an already-full day. While some campus programs may offer evening and weekend courses, you may still need to juggle your schedule to accommodate your commute to school. On the other hand, earning an online MPA, MPP, doctorate degree, or graduate certificate may suit your lifestyle a bit better. For instance, you could potentially avoid a commute to campus, while pursuing coursework whenever you have a chance – even if that’s at midnight on a Tuesday.

You like to do your own thing – While online learners should still enjoy the support of their institutions and professors, they may have just a bit more leeway to explore their subjects independently. For example, if you prefer to move a bit faster than the group, or if you feel that you learn best on your own, maybe pursuing a certificate, master’s degree, or PhD in public policy online is a path worth considering!

You’re pretty good with technology – Online learning tends to rely on technology to connect students and professors from around the country. If you enjoy using programs like online message boards, slide-sharing software, and recording tools, you just might be in your element! Check with your prospective graduate program to learn more about technology requirements, like recommended internet speed and hardware.

Online Public Administration Graduate Programs: What’s my next step?

It may be time to start evaluating public administration and public policy graduate programs that appeal to you – like online MPA programs, online PhD public policy programs, etc. Among other potential criteria, look for schools that are accredited by organizations recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.[iv] You may also want to evaluate Online Public Administration Graduate Programs based on academics, student outcomes, resources, and reputation.

Below, you’ll find some listings for online public administration and policy graduate programs that may interest you! On the left sidebar, you can filter Online Public Administration Graduate Programs by degree type, such as masters, doctorate, and certificate. Best of luck pursuing your Online Public Administration Graduate Programs educational goals!


Sources: [i] bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/political-scientists.htm#tab-4 | [ii] onetonline.org/link/summary/25-1065.00 | [iii] onetonline.org/link/summary/19-3094.00 | [iv] studentaid.ed.gov/sa/prepare-for-college/choosing-schools/consider#accreditation

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