Public Administration Graduate Programs Online

Online Public Administration Graduate Programs address how to manage public policy, personnel, budgetary and financial processes in both the public and nonprofit sectors. Through the convenience of web-based courses, students develop a strategic mindset that is able to funnel diverse interests into ethical executive decisions that serve the public good.

Best Online PHDs in Public Administrationwritten by Rana Waxman

Types of Online Public Administration Graduate Programs

Seasoned professionals and returning students could study online Public Administration Graduate Programs at the masters, and doctorate levels as well as certificates. Many course plans have core requirements which familiarize students with the key concepts and ways to conduct critical research.

But they may otherwise be flexible enough to allow students to pick one are to gain more experience. This concentration pieces could help an individual get really meaningful things from their studies – whether the crux of your administration degree is your research interests or career goals.

For someone at-work this might translate to skills and insight that may to craft a solution to an important problem within areas like criminal justice, public management, the environment, and health care.

Interested in a particular field beyond a concentration? One may want to pursue a concurrent graduate-level degree in law, medicine, business or the like. If this sounds right, contact your school about your options. We explain about some of the types of online public administration graduate programs below, just to give you a start.

Online MPA – Master of Public Administration

An online Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree is a professional program which focuses on managerial processes for the public and nonprofit spheres. Online MPA programs often discuss ways to lead and administer to serve the public good and based on

several principles. To be accountable. And to govern ethically. (Think of it as the public sector’s equivalent of the MBA.)

Like the MBA, the MPA is regarded as a terminal degree – one may gain the versatility to apply theory into professional practice. On that note, MPA degrees are known as the ‘practical’ ones in the larger context of Masters in Public Administration online programs. Instead of focusing on academic research, MPA students examine day-to-day administrative and management challenges. Public budgetary and public policy processes, for example.

Full-time students might complete most MPA online programs within 1 to 2 years. An internship may be required for students who do not yet have experience in public service, and a capstone project and/or master’s thesis may be required.

Accelerated one-year MPA online programs usually include fewer courses, as eligible students bring to the table related work experience. An accredited bachelors degree is required to apply.

Sample Online MPA Coursework

Each online MPA degree program is different. Some schools may allow students to pick and choose topics and concentrations, while others may require students to complete a robust set of core classes. We provide some general examples of core topics below though other course names me be used by schools.

  • Public Institutions
  • Organizational Dynamics
  • Public Personnel Management
  • Data Management and Analytics
  • Public Budgeting and Finance
  • Ethical Leadership in the Public Sector

Online MBA in Public Administration

An online Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Public Administration is a professional program which focuses on managerial processes for the private sector. Students often focus studies on the markets and how to make decisions based on profit.

Students usually take a series of MBA core courses which may underscore the financial and operational management. Students may develop the ability to think critically about data they receive and how to parlay it into an executive decision about marketing and innovation.

For students who focus their online MBA in Public Administration, the coursework may highlight a few key topics about capable leadership in the public sphere and inter-governmental relations. Course lists might examine how the public and private sectors differ and affect the strategy managers use to make decisions.

Similar to an online MPA program, full-time students might complete most MPA online programs within 1 to 2 years, and there may be accelerated formats. An internship, capstone project and/or master’s thesis may be required.

Top executives in the public sector often have a degree in business administration, public administration, law, or the liberal arts.i

Other Masters in Public Administration Online Degrees

During your search for online Public Administration programs, one might also run into degree titles such as “Master of Arts in Public Management,” “Master of Science in Management – Public Administration,” “Master of Government Administration,” etc. These are part of the same crowd of Masters in Public Administration programs.

The NASPAA recognizes any degree that deals with public administration or policy. What’s more, in recent years, the MPA and MPP have begun to converge and one may select a university who offers an online MPA in public policy.

Online DPA – Doctorate in Public Administration

An online Doctorate in Public Administration (DPA) is a terminal degree for practitioners. Students who work toward a DPA degree online may focus extensively on concepts and applied (practical) research. The research often includes the analysis of big data and ways to parlay the findings directly to problem solve in the professional ((e.g. managerial) spheres.

Often, a DPA degree is pursued by senior-level practitioners and/or academics. Depending on the program, a full-time student might complete the requirements in about 4 to 7 years, though one could expect variables. A masters degree and significant work experience may be prerequisites.

Sample Online DPA Coursework

The standard curriculum for a doctoral degree may be divided into two parts.

In the first two years (or so) students might take advanced courses in public administration theory, policy analysis and research methods. Since courses vary in each program, the list below provides only a general sample.

  • Ethics in the Public Sector
  • Diversity Within a Global Society
  • Public Sector Policy Analysis
  • Organizational Leadership Within Public Administration
  • Strategic Accounting and Finance

In the years after the required courses, students might begin to work on an independent research project. This culminates in a written doctoral dissertation and oral exam.

Online PhD in Public Administration

An online Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Public Administration is the highest degree for researchers. In reality, the DPA and the PhD are regarded as academically equivalent and many programs have the same goals. Check with individual schools to see which program may be perfect for you.

Students in Public Administration PhD programs are usually very intent on original and innovative research and the development of new theories. In this regard, a PhD might target senior researchers in business and government and/or academics.

Participants might need to complete holistic coursework in a field in public administration, a substantive field of the student’s selection (e.g., public policy, global health policy, nonprofit management), and a series of courses in statistics, analysis and research methods.

Online Graduate Certificate in Public Administration

A certificate in public administration is a non-degree program. Students who pursue apublic administration certificate online might study a single topic (theme) in just a few courses. Because they are highly focused, students may cultivate expertise in a particular area of interest (e.g. non-profit management).

In fact, some universities may offer specific concentrations within their MPA degree programs that students might pursue independently. This allows students to earn a graduate certificate in public administration online without necessarily enrolling in a full degree program. Certificates vary in length and commitment but may take from 3 months to a year or so to complete full-time.

Students often pursue a graduate certificate in order to transition into a public administration career or earn credits at the masters level. Some schools have transfer policies where earned credits might be transferred into a masters program further down the road. If you want to earn a certificate as a step towards a masters degree, make sure your credits will be transferable.

Are Online Public Administration Graduate Programs Accredited?

Many universities that offer online graduate programs in public administration are regionally accredited. Regional Accreditation is a type of “seal of approval” granted to institutions (e.g. non-profit and public colleges and universities) by one of six regional accreditation agencies (e.g. North Central Association of Colleges and Schools).

Students who choose to attend a regionally accredited school may be able to transfer credits, apply for student loans, tuition reimbursement, scholarships and federal financial aid. Otherwise, regional accreditation only applies to the school/university, not individual degrees or departments. For programmatic accreditation, students might consider business school accreditation or approval from NASPAA.

The Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) is a membership organization of 300+ graduate education programs in public policy, public administration, public & non-profit management and public affairs. It accredits masters degree programs in public administration throughout the world though not all schools have it. Business school accreditation may come from agencies such as AACSB, ACBSP or IACBE.

Why Earn a Graduate Degree in Public Administration Online?

Many of today’s universities offer the same program to online and on-campus students. So, if you have a non-traditional schedule or prefer not to commute online Public Administration Graduate programs may be worth a look. They are often quite convenient for the at-work or just really busy adult.

Formats vary but may present classes in modules or as pre-taped lectures. Pre-taped lectures may start out as live-streaming sessions, so if you could ‘make it to class’, you might plug in and take part. Modules may be self-paced with the exception of any assignment deadlines and could promote a feeling of flexibility. Take class on your own time frame.

About interaction – which some folks may wonder if they would miss. This is definitely a feature to look into. How do I communicate with faculty? Are there any opportunities to interact via live chats, emails, networking, virtual team projects? Is there a compulsory residency? You ultimately need to decide what your needs are and weigh them with the program’s structure. offers 38 Online Public Administration Degree Programs

Here’s how to get started on your search for an online Public Administration Graduate Program. Read through partner online MPA and other degrees. Choose a few to take the next step with then just fill out the on-page form. It’s easy and free so go for it today!

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