- Master of Public Administration
From managing city services to promoting public health, public service professionals can impact thousands of lives daily. Demand for these skilled professionals is growing in a wide range of career fields.
Master of Public Administration
MPA@UNC is the online Master of Public Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Government. MPA@UNC prepares students for leadership positions in local, state and public service organizations through a curriculum that builds core professional competencies.
Community and Economic Development, International Relations, Local Government, Nonprofit Management, Public Health
Students entering MPA@UNC will typically complete the program in 1½ to two years. Students who opt to take a part-time schedule may take up to five years to complete the program. Students who opt to accelerate can complete the program in as little as 18 months.
Start Dates: January, May, August, September
ExecutiveMPA@Syracuse is the online Executive Master of Public Administration from Syracuse University's #1-ranked Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. ExecutiveMPA@Syracuse prepares experienced public servants to advance within government, nonprofit, and for-profit organizations, both nationally and internationally. The curriculum is designed to help executives develop the skills, insights, and strategies to successfully lead organizations amid dynamic global change.
ExecutiveMPA@Syracuse consists of 30 credits which students can complete entirely online in as little as 15 months.
Start Dates: July and OctoberLearn More About ExecutiveMPA@Syracuse
(Bar Graph): 2014: 19,134,000; 2022: 19,890,100; Total percent growth: 4%.
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics
Online Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) Programs
An online MPA degree program prepares students with the management expertise and specialized skills they need to succeed in public administration.
While admissions requirements vary by school, typical requirements for these master’s programs include:
- A bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university
- Prior coursework in U.S. government and policy
- Graduate Record Examination (GRE), Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or Law School Admission Test (LSAT) scores
- Relevant work experience
- Standard admissions materials such as application and fee, transcripts, résumé, statement of purpose and letters of recommendation
An MPA degree is designed to build core public leadership competencies through courses in public administration institutions, organizational theory, analysis and evaluation; professional communication; law; and human resources and public financial management.
Most programs also offer focus areas or concentrations that allow students to develop specialized skills in a particular public administration discipline.
Community and Economic Development concentrations provide the skills and strategies needed to promote social change and equity in communities.
International Relations concentrations prepare students for leadership roles in the international community with courses covering intercultural communication, economic development, international law and conflict resolution.
Local Government concentrations provide the expertise to improve community services through coursework in city and county management, productivity improvement and analysis, and government accounting and reporting.
Nonprofit Management concentrations prepare students to lead or manage nonprofit organizations. Courses generally include the principles of nonprofit management, accounting and reporting as well as grant writing and fundraising.
Public Health concentrations prepare students to apply their core public service leadership skills to address public health issues such as disease prevention and health care policy reform. Students also develop the understanding of sociology needed to plan effective public health campaigns.
A practicum provides students with the opportunity to gain hands-on experience and make a difference in their communities while working in a public service organization or agency. Most MPA programs require a practicum, though the total number of service hours required varies. Some programs also permit students already working in the field to apply a current work project toward the practicum requirement.
Comparing Online Degree Programs
When comparing programs, prospective students will want to consider the features that characterize a high-quality online degree program.
Accreditation: Program and university accreditation ensures that the program meets rigorous standards and that its degrees will be recognized by current and prospective employers. In the public administration field, accreditation by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA) is the recognized global standard of excellence.
Concentrations: A quality online MPA program will usually offer a range of concentrations that permit students to customize their degree program and develop specialized skills in a particular discipline. Before applying, prospective students should check that the concentrations offered align with their career goals.
Engaging, flexible format: While formats and program structures vary, a quality online MPA program should offer:
- The flexibility to earn an MPA degree while maintaining career and family commitments.
- Innovative technology that connects students and faculty through live classes, social media and online collaboration tools.
- Real-world learning experiences in public service organizations in or near students’ own communities.
2U-Powered MPA Programs
2U partners with top universities to offer their degree programs online, including master’s programs in public administration. Students in 2U partner programs benefit from the highest-quality online learning platform available, with access to an online campus from anywhere they have an Internet connection. University faculty lead all academic issues related to programs, including instruction and curriculum development. 2U-powered programs feature:
created by faculty and available 24/7.
in a collaborative online classroom.
between students and universities.
at field placements or immersions.
from application through graduation.
MPA graduates have a wide range of career options spanning the government, nonprofit and private sectors and an array of public administration disciplines — from urban planning and sustainable community development to international relations and global health. Below are some of the positions typically available in these areas.
Community and Economic Development
- Urban planner
- Project manager or PMI-certified project manager1
- Community organizer
- Corporate social responsibility officer or manager
- Parks and recreation manager
- City manager or chief administrative officer
- Public relations officer
- Law enforcement officer
- Policy or budget analyst
- Urban or community planner
- Foreign service officer
- International development consultant
- NGO/nonprofit manager or program director
- National security consultant or analyst
- Policy analyst
- Executive director
- Program manager, coordinator or director
- Grant writer
- Fundraising consultant
- Development director
- Hospital administrator
- Health care manager or policy analyst
- Budget analyst