In this article, we highlight the top 30 and most affordable online MPA and related degree programs for 2016.

Master’s programs in public administration and public policy are designed to prepare individuals for careers in government, nonprofits, and corporations. Many top-ranked schools offer programs that are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA). To accommodate busy students, many of the nation’s most prestigious schools are offering online MPA (master’s in public administration) degree options. Today, students do not have to leave their current career or struggle to balance family obligations while attending graduate school.

Methodology

We reviewed 134 institutions that offered online master’s degrees in public policy, public administration, or related programs. We narrowed our pool to only accredited colleges and universities that had received rankings from major publications like Forbes magazine, The Princeton Review, or U.S. News and World Report. We chose schools for our list based on the most recent graduate tuition rates/fees from NCES College Navigator. The schools on our list are ranked in order of affordability, with the #1 spot going to the most affordable.

#30 – University of Delaware

Online Master of Public Administration

Newark, Delaware

Website

University of Delaware - online MPA

The online MPA from University of Delaware may be completed in just 30 months!

Graduate tuition/fees: $30,924

University of Delaware offers an online master’s in public administration degree program that is designed to help public service professionals learn advanced skills and application-based solutions to societal issues in public policy and administration. The 36-credit program may be completed in as little as 30 months. All courses are delivered online and include contemporary issues in public administration, information technology and management in public and nonprofit sectors, financial management in public sectors, public policy, and values and ethics for leadership and management. The University of Delaware is ranked by major publications like Forbes magazine and U.S. News and World Report. In fact, U.S. News lists the school as the 75th best national university. Also, the public affairs graduate school ranks #45 and the public management administration school ranks #27 in the nation.

For more information: University of Delaware

#29 – Northeastern University

Online Master of Public Administration

Boston, Massachusetts

Website

Northeastern University - online MPA

The online master’s in public administration degree from Northeastern University is research-based.

Graduate tuition/fees: $23,166

Northeastern University offers an accredited online master’s in public administration program that is research-based and entirely online. The program is designed for professionals seeking research-based management and leadership careers in nonprofit or public sectors. All classes are delivered online and include courses like economic institutions and analysis, public budgeting and financial management, public personnel administration, research and statistical methods, and techniques of policy analysis. Northeastern is a nationally ranked institution according to major publications like Forbes magazine, The Princeton Review, and U.S. News and World Report. Also, the public affairs graduate school ranks 77th in the country.

#28 – Pennsylvania State University

Online Master’s in Public Administration

University Park, Pennsylvania

Website

Pennsylvania State University - online MPA

Penn State’s online master’s in public administration program is NASPAA-accredited.

Graduate tuition/fees: $19,832

Pennsylvania State University’s online MPA program is designed for working students who desire to earn an advanced degree in public administration without having to attend traditional classes. The online program is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA). Courses are delivered online and include governmental fiscal decision-making, introduction to policy analysis, public organization and management, and research methods. A supervised, off-campus internship is also required for students who have less than two years of relevant work experience. Penn State is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the 47th best national university and the 14th top public school.

For more information: Pennsylvania State University

#27 – Norwich University

Online Master of Public Administration

Northfield, Vermont

Website

Norwich University - online MPA

Norwich University’s online MPA program is designed for working adults and busy professionals.

Graduate tuition/fees: $19,675

The online MPA at Norwich University is a program designed to attract busy professionals who want to earn advanced skills in public administration. The online curriculum includes courses in foundations of public administration and policy, public administration research and analysis, and public organization resources and processes. There are also several concentration areas for students to focus their studies and hone their skills. Some of the concentrations include criminal justice and public safety, fiscal management, international development and influence, municipal governance, and nonprofit management. Norwich is regionally ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the 76th best regional university in the North. Also, the public affairs graduate school has earned recognition.

For more information: Norwich University

#26 – Gannon University

Online Master of Public Administration

Erie, Pennsylvania

Website

Gannon University - online MPA

The online master of public administration degree at Gannon University can be completed in just one year.

Graduate tuition/fees: $17,400

One of the more affordable online MPA programs is found at Gannon University. The flexible MPA degree program is fully accredited, offers two areas of specialization, and can be completed in just one year. Specializations include administrative and organizational leadership. Courses are delivered online and include administrative decision-making skills, elements of public administration, ethics and public policy, management and marketing concepts, research in public administration, and strategic planning. Gannon is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report as the 58th best regional university in the North and the 9th best value school.

For more information: Gannon University

#25 – South University

Online Master of Public Administration

Savannah, Georgia

Website

South University - online MPA

South University’s online master’s in public administration degree is for working adults.

Graduate tuition/fees: $17,229

South University offers an online master’s in public administration degree program that is designed to equip students with the skills needed to achieve a leadership role in public policy or administration. Courses are administered online and include foundations of public administration, grant writing and contract administration, management for non-profit organizations, public and nonprofit organizational behavior, and strategic challenges in public administration. South University is accredited and regionally ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, U.S. News ranks the institution as among the best regional universities in the South and has recognized the graduate public affairs school.

#24 – University of Massachusetts

Online Master of Public Policy

North Dartmouth, Massachusetts

Website

University of Massachusetts - online MPA

UMASS offers a top-ranked online master of public policy.

Graduate tuition/fees: $14,699

University of Massachusetts offers an online master’s in public policy program that is designed for those seeking careers in nonprofit organizations, municipal government, or various businesses. Courses are delivered online and include administrative law, applied policy research, microeconomics, policy analysis, public institution and the policy process, and research methods for public policy. Three concentrations are available and include educational policy, environmental policy, and public management. University of Massachusetts is regionally ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the 83rd best regional university in the North and the 24th top public school. Also, the school is ranked as being in the top 100 best colleges for veterans.

#23 – University of Baltimore

Online Master of Public Administration

Baltimore, Maryland

Website

University of Baltimore - online MPA

Students can specialize in public or nonprofit management when enrolled in the online master’s of public administration at University of Baltimore.

Graduate tuition/fees: $14,496

Whether you are looking for a master’s in public administration or a masters in public policy online degree, University of Baltimore offers an NASPAA-accredited and ranked program. Students enrolled in the online program may specialize in public and nonprofit management. Required foundational courses include information resource management, legal and ethical environment of public administration, public management, public policy, and statistical applications in public administration. The University of Baltimore is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the 122nd best regional university in the North and the 37th top public school. Also, the public affairs graduate school ranks #68 in the country.

#22 – Walden University

Online Master of Public Administration

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Website

Walden University - online MPA

Walden University offers an online master’s in public administration program designed for working students.

Graduate tuition/fees: $12,609

Walden University’s online MPA program is designed to provide students with the skills and competencies needed to become public administration leaders. While the program is online, students take part in research, coursework, and real-world simulations that help them acquire the knowledge to handle complex challenges and problems faced in public policy or public administration. A variety of specializations are available. Some include criminal justice, emergency management, global leadership, health policy, law and public policy, policy analysis, public management and leadership, and terrorism. Online courses include ethics and social justice, foundations for graduate study, and principles of public administration. Walden’s public affairs graduate school has earned recognition from U.S. News and World Report as a top school.

#21 – Murray State University

Master of Public Administration Online

Murray, Kentucky

Website

Murray State University - online MPA

Murray State’s master’s in public administration online program may be completed in 12-24 months.

Graduate tuition/fees: $11,568

The online master’s in public administration degree offered at Murray State University is an accredited program that may be completed on a part-time or accelerated basis. Students participating in the accelerated completion option may finish the requirements for their degree in 12 months, while others may take up to 24 months. Required online courses include human resource administration, foundations of public administration, public budgeting and finance, public organizations, and research methods. Murray State is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report as the 28th best regional university in the South and the 9th top public school.

#20 – Old Dominion University

Master of Public Administration Online

Norfolk, Virginia

Website

Old Dominion - online MPA

Old Dominion University’s online MPA program is NASPAA-accredited.

Graduate tuition/fees: $11,136

Old Dominion University’s online MPA program is NASPAA accredited and designed for busy individuals who want to earn a graduate degree in public administration entirely online. Courses include administrative theory – context and process of public administration, ethical foundations of public administration, public budgeting and financial management, and public policy analysis and evaluation. Students may also select to earn a traditional MPA or an MPA with a multi-sector public service concentration. Electives required for the concentration include citizen engagement, collaboration, and urban and regional issues. Old Dominion’s public affairs school has earned recognition from U.S. News and World Report as the 96th best graduate school of its kind.

#19 – University of North Carolina

Online Master of Public Administration

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Website

University of North Carolina - online MPA

The University of North Carolina’s online master’s in public administration is top ranked.

Graduate tuition/fees: $11,074

One of the top online MPA programs in the nation is offered by University of North Carolina. The program is accredited and consistently ranked by U.S. News and World Report as among the top public affairs graduate schools in the country. In fact, U.S. News ranks the public management administration graduate program #16 and the public affairs graduate school #25. Students may choose to focus their studies in nonprofit management, which requires courses in government and nonprofit accounting and reporting, grant writing, navigating nonprofit local government relations in organizations, and nonprofit management. A practicum and portfolio is also required to complete the program. Aside from the program rankings and recognition, UNC also ranks with major publications like Forbes and U.S. News. In fact, U.S. News and World Report ranks the school as the 30th best national university in the country.

#18 – Kent State University

Online Master of Public Administration

Kent, Ohio

Website

Kent State University - online MPA

Kent State University’s online master of public administration degree program is nationally accredited.

Graduate tuition/fees: $10,864

Kent State University offers an accredited program designed for those interested in earning an online master’s in public policy or public administration degree. The program is nationally accredited by NASPAA, offered completely online, and provides flexible access to the same courses that are taught in the traditional classroom. Online courses include methods in public administration, public budgeting and financial management, public personnel administration, public sector IT management, and strategic planning. Kent State is a nationally recognized and ranked institution. In fact, U.S. News and World Report ranks the school as the 175th best national university. The public affairs graduate school ranks #130.

#17 – University of Illinois

Online Master of Public Administration

Springfield, Illinois

Website

University of Illinois - online MPA

University of Illinois offers a top-ranked online master’s in public administration degree program that is for distance learners.

Graduate tuition/fees: $10,532

University of Illinois offers an online master’s in public administration program that is NASPAA-accredited and designed to provide quality education to long-distance learners. Online courses may include analytical tools, budget and finance, information for decision-making, introduction to the profession, and public policy for managers. All degree candidates must take a capstone course that is designed to synthesize all topics covered throughout the program. The University of Illinois has received rankings from major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, U.S. News ranks the school as the 42nd best regional university in the Midwest and the 9th top public school. Also, the public affairs graduate school ranks #96 in the country.

#16 – Indiana University

Online Public Affairs MPA

Bloomington, Indiana

Website

Indiana University - online MPA

Affordable and top-ranked! Earn an online MPA from Indiana University.

Graduate tuition/fees: $9,743

One of the most affordable online MPA programs is found at Indiana University. The program is designed to provide an interdisciplinary approach that prepares students for careers in nonprofit leadership, policy analysis, or public management. Online courses include law and public affairs, public finance and budgeting, public management, public management economics, and statistical analysis for effective decision-making. An experiential component is also required for the degree, which includes the completion of an internship, prior volunteer experience, or completion of an independent or group project. Indiana University is a nationally ranked institution. According to U.S. News and World Report, the school ranks 75th for best national universities. Also, U.S. News ranks the public affairs graduate school #1 in the country.

#15 – Indiana Wesleyan University

Online Master of Public Administration

Marion, Indiana

Website

Indiana Wesleyan - online MPA

Indiana Wesleyan University’s online master’s in public administration program has 3 specializations.

Graduate tuition/fees: $9,700

Indiana Wesleyan University offers a graduate program designed for those interested in master’s in public policy online degrees. Students may earn a master’s in public administration online with specializations in criminal justice, nonprofit leadership, or public management. Courses are delivered online and generally taken one at a time until the program is complete. Online courses include ethical leadership in the public sector, financing public services, organizational management and behavior, public institutions and values, and public policy processes and strategies. Indiana Wesleyan is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the 30th best regional university in the Midwest and the 12th best value school.

#14 – University of Missouri

Online Master of Public Affairs

Columbia, Missouri

Website

University of Missouri - online MPA

Students can earn an online master’s in public affairs from the top-ranked University of Missouri.

Graduate tuition/fees: $9,506

Interested in earning an online master’s in public policy or related degree? University of Missouri offers an affordable option. The online master’s in public affairs is an accredited degree program that is designed for public service professionals at all levels of their career. The program is offered entirely online and may be completed in three to five years. Online courses include collaborative governance, economic analysis for public policy, public policy processes and strategies, research methods and inquiry in public affairs, and strategic management of public service organizations. University of Missouri is a nationally ranked institution. In fact, U.S. News and World Report lists the school as the 103rd best national university. Also, the public affairs graduate school ranks #33 and the public management administration program ranks #27.

#13 – Clemson University

Online Master of Public Administration

Clemson, South Carolina

Website

Clemson University - online MPA

Clemson’s online MPA program offers specializations in homeland defense and nonprofit management.

Graduate tuition/fees: $9,220

Clemson University’s online MPA program is accredited, affordable, and may be completed within three years. Several specialization areas are available, including emergency management, homeland defense and security, local government, non-profit management, and sustainability and public administration. Online classes include administrative leadership, perspectives on public administration, public data analysis, public financial management, public policy process, and research methods for public administration. Clemson is a nationally ranked institution. In fact, U.S. News and World Report ranks the school as the 61st best national university, 16th most innovative school, and the 21st top public school. Clemson is also recognized as a best global university.

#12 – Jacksonville State University

Online MPA

Jacksonville, Alabama

Website

Jacksonville State University - online MPA

One of the most affordable online MPA programs is found at Jacksonville State University.

Graduate tuition/fees: $9,204

One of the most affordable online MPA programs is found at Jacksonville State University. The program offers seven areas of concentration, including administrative management, criminal justice, education, emergency management, environmental science management, geographical information systems, and political science. Online courses include administrative leadership and ethics, diversity in the workplace, foundations of public administration, public finance administration, and research methods in public administration. Jacksonville State is a regionally ranked institution. In fact, U.S. News and World Report ranks the school among the best regional universities in the South and also recognizes the public affairs graduate school.

#11 – Eastern Kentucky University

Online Master’s in Public Administration

Richmond, Kentucky

Website

Eastern Kentucky University - online MPA

Eastern Kentucky University’s online master’s in public administration is 100% online.

Graduate tuition/fees: $9,000

Eastern Kentucky University offers a unique graduate degree program designed for those interested in a master’s in public policy online degree. The online master’s in public administration program is NASPAA-accredited with classes taught by the same instructors who teach in the classroom. The program is 100% online with two available tracks: Community development or general MPA. Required online courses include administrative law, policy analysis and program evaluation, public finance administration, public sector leadership, and public sector organizations and management. Eastern Kentucky University is a regionally ranked institution. In fact, U.S. News and World Report ranks the school as the 76th best regional university in the South. The public affairs graduate school is ranked #158 in the country.

#10 – Texas A&M University

Online Executive Master of Public Service and Administration

College Station, Texas

Website

Texas A&M - online MPA

Texas A&M offers an online executive master’s in public service and administration that is highly affordable.

Graduate tuition/fees: $8,656

The Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University offers one of the most affordable online MPA programs in the country. Students may earn an executive master of public service and administration entirely online. Three specializations are available, including homeland security, nonprofit management, and public management. Required courses, regardless of the concentration track, include economic analysis, foundations of public service, program evaluation in public and nonprofit organizations, public policy formation, and quantitative methods in public management. The university is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, U.S. News ranks the institution’s public affairs graduate school #31 in the country.

#9 – University of South Dakota

Online Executive Master of Public Administration

Vermillion, South Dakota

Website

University of South Dakota - online MPA

The University of South Dakota’s online MPA is designed for professional students.

Graduate tuition/fees: $8,557

For those interested in earning a master’s in public policy online or a public administration graduate degree, University of South Dakota offers an affordable option. The online executive master’s in public administration program (EMPA) is designed to equip students with advanced leadership skills that may be used in public service professions. Required courses include administrative law and government, budgetary and fiscal management, executive public administration, facilitation and conflict management, organization and management, and public personnel management. A capstone course and advanced leadership theory and practice seminar are also required. University of South Dakota is nationally ranked by U.S. News and World Report. Also, U.S. News ranks the graduate public affairs school #130 in the country.

#8 – University of North Dakota

Online Master’s in Public Administration

Grand Forks, North Dakota

Website

University of North Dakota - online MPA

The University of North Dakota’s online MPA degree program is top-ranked and accredited.

Graduate tuition/fees: $8,461

Interested in a master’s in public policy online degree? The University of North Dakota offers an online master’s in public administration that can be completed entirely via distance learning. Live web classes are held one evening per week and the program takes just over two years to complete. According to the program website, affordable in-state tuition is available no matter where you live. Required courses include foundations of public administration, political and public policy analysis, public policy, and research methods. The institution is ranked by major publications like Forbes magazine and U.S. News and World Report as a best national university. Also, the public affairs graduate school ranks #168 in the country.

#7 – University of Louisiana

Online Master’s in Public Administration

Monroe, Louisiana

Website

University of Louisiana - online MPA

University of Louisiana’s online MPA program may be completed in just 12 months!

Graduate tuition/fees: $8,005

The accredited online MPA degree from the University of Louisiana is an affordable program that may be completed in as little as 12 months. Students may choose from five concentrations, including administration of education, administration of health, administration of justice, management, and public management. Required online courses include analysis of political and administrative data, ethics and public administration, intergovernmental relations, program evaluation and policy analysis, and public budgeting and finance. University of Louisiana is a regionally ranked institution. In fact, U.S. News and World Report ranks the school as the 93rd best regional university in the South and the 47th top public school.

#6 – Liberty University

Online Master of Arts in Public Policy

Lynchburg, Virginia

Website

Liberty University - online MPA

Liberty University’s online master’s in public policy prepares students for careers in government.

Graduate tuition/fees: $8,000

Liberty University’s online master’s in public policy program is designed to prepare individuals for careers in government, politics, and public administration. Four specialization options are available, including campaigns and elections, international affairs, Middle East affairs, and public administration. Public administration is a non-thesis track with required courses in applied public policy research methods, economics and public policy, fundamentals of public administration, political philosophy, and public policy analysis. Liberty is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report as the 80th best regional university in the South. Also, the school ranks #58 for best colleges for veterans.

#5 – University of Colorado

Online MPA

Denver, Colorado

Website

University of Colorado - online MPA

Six available concentrations are offered from the University of Colorado’s online MPA program.

Graduate tuition/fees: $7,804

For those interested in an online master’s in public policy or public administration, the University of Colorado’s School of Public Affairs provides options. Students may earn an online MPA with six available concentrations. According to the program website, those interested in public service or public policy may choose the nonprofit organizations concentration. Online courses include effective grant writing for public and nonprofit managers, nonprofit financial management, nonprofits and public policy, social entrepreneurship, and strategic management for public and nonprofits managers. UC-Denver is a nationally ranked institution. According to U.S. News and World Report, the school is ranked as the 199th best national university and the 116th top public school. Also, the public affairs graduate school ranks #34 in the country.

#4 – Southern Utah University

Online Master of Public Administration

Cedar City, Utah

Website

Southern Utah University - online MPA

Southern Utah University’s online master of public administration program requires a thesis or project.

Graduate tuition/fees: $7,756

Southern Utah University offers an accredited online MPA program that is designed to help develop students to become public service professionals. All classes are delivered online and include topics in administrative law, critical thinking and ethics in the public sector, program overview and theory of public administration, and public sector economics. All MPA students must complete either a professional project or thesis. Internships may also be required, depending on pre-service standings. Southern Utah University is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, U.S. News ranks the school as the 70th best regional university in the West and the 24th top public school. In recent years, the graduate public affairs school has earned recognition.

#3 – Valdosta State University

Online Master of Public Administration

Valdosta, Georgia

Website

Valdosta State University - online MPA

Valdosta State University’s online MPA program is accredited and affordable.

Graduate tuition/fees: $6,490

Valdosta State University offers an online MPA program that is accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration. Online students must complete 36 hours of course work, which includes 24 hours of required core courses and 12 hours in an approved concentration. Required courses include governmental budgeting and finance, human resource management, information management, organizational theory and behavior, performance analysis, and quantitative methods for public administration. In addition to classes, students must complete an internship in public affairs/administration. Valdosta State is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the 76th best regional university in the South and the 35th top public school.

#2 – University of Nebraska

Online MPA

Omaha, Nebraska

Website

University of Nebraska - online MPA

The online MPA degree program at University of Nebraska is highly affordable.

Graduate tuition/fees: $5,836

Students interested in earning an online master’s in public policy or related degree may find the University of Nebraska’s College of Public Affairs and Community Service to offer an affordable option. The school offers an NASPAA-accredited online MPA degree program that is taught by the same professors who teach on campus. Six concentrations are available, including aviation, emergency management, local government, nonprofit, public management, and public policy. Online courses include advanced management and leadership for public and nonprofit, analysis and decision-making, foundations of public service, organization theory and behavior, and policy design and implementation. Internships are recommended by the program but not required. University of Nebraska is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, U.S. News lists the school as among the best national universities. The graduate public affairs school is ranked #25 in the country.

#1 – Arkansas State University

Online Master of Public Administration

Jonesboro, Arkansas

Website

Arkansas State University - Online Master’s in Public Policy

Arkansas State University offers the most affordable online master’s in public administration program on our list.

Graduate tuition/fees: $5,810

Arkansas State University’s online master’s in public administration program may be completed in just 18 months. The online MPA is offered 100% online and allows students to focus their studies on public administration and management, while gaining valuable hands-on experience through internship opportunities. Required MPA courses include administrative ethics, administrative leadership, grant writing and administration, public budgeting and finance, and techniques of political and public administration research. Arkansas State is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report as the 53rd best regional university in the South and the 21st top public school. The public affairs graduate school has also earned recognition. The school’s low graduate tuition cost makes it our top pick for the best online master’s in public policy or public administration degree programs.

This concludes our ranking of the top 30 and most affordable online MPA and related degree programs for 2016.

By BMD Staff
September 2016