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Pursuing a Masters in Public Administration Online

If you are pursuing a Masters in Public Administration Online, you are a player in a broad field. It includes the cross between public, private, and nonprofit sectors. Public administration degrees may focus on local, state, federal, or international levels of government and other entities. Students are shown how to be adept politically, financially, and socially to manage and navigate the ins and outs of public policy and management. Masters in public administration online programs are structured to instruct students in these areas. They will instruct you in how to serve the public interest. They give you access to tools to help government and other entities run smoothly and effectively.

Masters in Public Administration Online

Why Pursue This Degree?

Some great reasons to pursue a masters degree in public administration include:

  • Learning how to translate theory into practice.
  • Identifying public interests and learning how to support communities.
  • Being able to collect and analyze evidence.
  • Using evidence to impact public service strategies.
  • Building skills to form relationships across parties and groups.

Masters in Public Administration Online: Professional Insight 

“My Masters in Public Administration solidified my understanding of how I could utilize my gifts and talents to assist other organizations in achieving their mission and vision to serve others. Additionally, I gaineErica Wyatt; Masters in public administration onlined the knowledge and understanding needed to launch my own non-profit organization serving underprivileged and underserved youth in my community.”

 -Dr. Erica Wyatt, Life Coach | Author | Educator

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Who Are Masters in Public Administration Online Degrees For?

First and foremost, masters in public administration online programs are built for people who care about communities. Many people seeking a degree in this area want to devote themselves to organizations that influence public vitality and well-being.

Second, mid-career and aspiring professionals who want advanced education seek this degree. You might want to be a manager, consultant, or professional who simply knows his or her stuff. No matter what, if you’re committed to making a difference, pursuing a degree in this area might be for you.

A Masters in Public Admin Might Be Good For You If....

Finally, pursuing a masters in public administration online might be for you if you:

  1. Enjoy potentially challenging coursework.
  2. Want to learn how to conduct research.
  3. Want to connect with students and aspiring public administrators across the country and maybe the world.
  4. Want to serve communities through thoughtful, dedicated action.

What Types of Masters in Public Administration Online Programs Are Available?

There are a couple common options for pursuing a masters in public administration online.

A Master of Public Administration program (MPA) is one that covers public administration broadly and may also focus on one of its many facets. In online MPA programs, students focus their attention on public administration, public policy, and governance.

What Are Some of the Things MPA Online Programs Cover?

Some of the areas MPA online programs may cover include:

  • Health services management.
  • Fire services management.
  • Safety and emergency services.
  • Rural public administration.
  • Urban public administration.

Students might study these and other areas of public administration through defined concentrations or elective study.

What Areas of Concentration Are There?

A Masters of Business Administration Program (MBA) might focus on business but emphasize public administration. In programs like these, students study business administration and explore aspects of public administration, government, and policy on the side. About one third of the coursework in an MBA program will focus on public administration.

What Are the Requirements of a Masters in Public Administration Online Program?

Many students take one and a half to two years of fulltime study to earn their MPA. Classes may be offered 100% online, or students might be able to attend online and weekend classes. In some cases, students may need two year’s work experience to gain entrance to a program. Or, they may have to have done an internship. Entrance requirements depend on the program.

Additional Requirements

MPA online programs comprise core and elective coursework. They may also have concentrations and emphases. To conclude their programs, students might have to write a thesis, take an exam, or do an in-person internship in their home cities. In some cases, students may have the opportunity to intern in communities working in a variety of capacities. They may work for government, non-profit, and other entities and put together a portfolio of work experience. Options and requirements like these vary by program.

Are Online MPA Programs Accredited?

Online MPA programs may or may not be accredited. If they are, they may be accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (the NASPAA). In other cases, the school, not the program, may be accredited.

Why is accreditation important?

Accreditation helps assure that schools and programs provide quality teachers, coursework, and courses of study. Some employers require employees to have degrees from accredited schools. And students who intend to transfer their masters degree to a PhD program might need to have earned their degree from an accredited school. The school and program to which you apply can prove their accreditation status. Simply ask.

What’s the Goal of an Online MPA Program?

The goals of online MPA programs vary by program. But we can give you a sense of what programs might intend you learn.

  • How to be an effective leader.
  • How to lead with compassion.
  • About the interaction between public, private, and nonprofit sectors.
  • The nuances of producing public good.
  • How to translate research into practice and policy.
  • How to assess and evolve practices and policies.

Are There Other Subjects I Need to Learn?

Students may also learn about:

  • Collecting evidence and analyzing strategies.
  • Improving workers’ morale.
  • Working amidst cultural diversity.
  • Employing social responsibility, integrity, and ethics.

Students will also learn about government, policy, and administrative theory, principle, and practice. They will also learn how to apply them, analyze them, and adjust applications.

What Will I Study When I Pursue an Online Masters in Public Administration?

When you pursue your masters in public administration online, you’ll study many subjects across government, policy, and administration. You’ll learn about public administration in contemporary society and much more.

High-Level Learning

In some classes, you might learn how to navigate public administration as a field and how to negotiate within it. You might learn how to manage budgets and about finance and economics. Students may compare public administration and policy across cities, states, or nations. Or they may learn about management and leadership in the field. You may also explore how to engage and communicate with the public.

What Subjects Will I Study

Some specific subjects you might study include:

  • Strategic communications.
  • Intersectoral leadership.
  • Public policy analysis and implementation.
  • Organizational behavior.
  • Human resources.
  • Quantitative methods and big data.
  • Strategic planning.
  • Information technology.
  • E-trends.
  • Program evaluation and monitoring.
  • Value driven leadership and ethics.

Are There Areas of Specialization?

You may also specialize your knowledge in subjects such as:

  • Community and economic development.
  • International relations.
  • Local government.
  • Nonprofit management.
  • Public health.
  • Emergency planning.
  • Public policy and law.

In MBA programs that have a public administration option, you’ll focus on business in general and take some classes in public administration.

Talk to Me about Careers. Where Might I Work With an MPA Masters Degree?

You might work in government, nonprofit, or private sectors. You might work as a manager, leader, or researcher. You might work locally, nationally, or internationally. It depends on your goals, program, and experience. No matter what, you’ll likely work in service to communities and with public policy in mind.

Where EXACTLY Might I Work?

Here are some specific areas in which you might work:

  • Finance and budgeting.
  • City or county management.
  • Social responsibility for corporations.
  • Human resources.
  • Law enforcement.
  • Consulting for governments and managers.
  • Nonprofit fundraising or management.
  • Urban planning.
  • Waste management.
  • Utilities management.
  • Public affairs.
  • Parks and recreation.
  • Public interest law.

These are just some of dozens of areas in which you might work. Students who have earned their masters in public administration online may work for government or act as a bridge between government, nonprofit, and private sectors.

What Are Some Possible Salaries in These Areas?

Here are some examples of salaries you might earn according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • Emergency management directors earned median annual pay of $67,330 as of 2015. You must have at least a bachelors degree to work in a position like this.i
  • Urban and regional planners earned median annual pay of $68,220 as of 2015. You must have a masters degree to work in this area.ii
  • Financial managers earned a median annual pay of $117,990 as of 2015. You must have at least a bachelors degree to work in this area.iii

While data isn’t available for all of the positions mentioned above, you can always talk to your program rep as well as people in the field to get a sense of what kind of pay is possible.

How Do I Find My Perfect Program?

Consider what you want to study and where you want to pursue a career. Then, browse programs on our site. Take note of what you can study, what experience you can gain, and whether or not a program might help you meet your goals. Contact a program through our site to ask questions.

If you’re not sure what you want to study or where you want to work, use our site to get clear. Browse all of your options and take note of programs that spark your interest. Contact programs to assess what careers they might help you pursue.

Then, jump in. Earning a masters degree in public administration online can be the first step to improving communities and jumpstarting a career that makes a difference.

Good luck!


[i] bls.gov/ooh/management/emergency-management-directors.htm [ii] bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/urban-and-regional-planners.htm [iii] bls.gov/ooh/management/financial-managers.htm