Best Online MBA Programs in Public Administration
Updated June 7, 2022 | OnlineMBA.com Staff
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Nonprofit, for-profit, and governmental organizations rely on public administrators and policy professionals to create, implement, and evaluate public policy. The business acumen cultivated by top online MBA programs can qualify you for work in industrial, governmental, or nonprofit sectors.
Getting this advanced degree can lead to salary advancement and promotion to upper-level careers. PayScale indicates that professionals with a master's degree in public management earn an average of $73,000 annually.
The guide below outlines the MBA in public administration degree, including potential career benefits, tips for choosing the right degree program, relevant scholarships, and helpful professional organizations.
Why Should You Get an Online MBA in Public Administration?
Students pursuing a public administration MBA online often benefit from flexible attendance options and reduced costs. Many online programs allow asynchronous attendance, meaning students can attend classes during after-work hours. Distance learners save on commuting time and money, and some programs offer in-state or discounted tuition rates designated for online students.
Top online MBA in public administration programs provide valuable skill sets relevant to many career paths. These include transferable skills in cooperation, digital communication, and attention to detail. Students learn to navigate bureaucracies by understanding systems and communicating with other professionals.
Working professionals with a business background can use this degree to change roles within their own company or to transition into a new career path. Since many public administrator roles require advanced degrees, earning an online public administration MBA also proves ideal for public sector employees seeking promotion or salary advancement.
Salaries for public administration MBA graduates vary widely depending on employer and position. Median annual salaries for the sample careers described below vary from $42,000 to $58,000, but PayScale suggests that master's degrees in this subject put graduates into a higher pay bracket.
What Is an MBA in Public Administration?
Top online MBA in public administration programs integrate standard business courses with public policy-related coursework. Courses in finance, management, and business law cultivate fundamental business skills such as budgeting, project management, nonprofit management, and regulatory compliance. These business skills can help graduates land lucrative analyst, management, or regulatory positions in various industries.
This degree also builds advanced understanding of governmental workings in policy analysis and development. This knowledge provides a great foundation for nonprofit careers, such as community outreach coordinator or policy coordinator. Salaries for these and related positions average $40,000-50,000 annually; however, PayScale data suggests that public management master's degree holders garner an average of $73,000 annually.
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Top 10 Online MBA Programs in Public Administration
What Can You Do With an MBA in Public Administration?
Program Coordinator, Nonprofit Organization
Tasked with promotion, administration, and supervision duties, nonprofit program coordinators oversee projects and initiatives. These positions require field expertise and advanced organizational, leadership, and interpersonal skills. Program coordinators may design programs, generate strategies, and create budgets. These coordinators often hold a bachelor's or master's degree in public administration, social sciences, management, or a related field. They make a median salary of $43,000.
These professionals use public speaking skills to represent their organization to the public. Policy coordinators collaborate with staff, stakeholders, and lobbyists to produce and implement policy. PayScale data for this position indicates a median salary of about $44,000.
Community Outreach Coordinator
These coordinators assess community needs in order to design outreach programs and activities. This role typically involves program design and proposal writing. These professionals require excellent interpersonal and communication skills as they represent their organizations, recruit and oversee volunteers, and engage with donors and partners. Community outreach coordinator positions exist at many organizations in the nonprofit, commercial, and governmental sectors. They make a median annual salary of $42,000.
Much like outreach coordinators, outreach specialists design and implement outreach initiatives for various organizations. These professionals may specialize in areas such as public relations or fundraising and donor relations. Outreach specialists require skills in project management, event planning, and community outreach. PayScale data indicates that outreach specialist salaries usually vary from $40,000-49,000 annually, with a median of $43,000.
Public Policy Analyst
Public policy analysts assess public needs, research and evaluate policy options, and propose changes. These professionals need advanced policy development and communication skills to identify, create, present, and discuss current and recommended policies. These professionals often work for nonprofits, governments, and public health-related organizations. Public policy analysts make a median salary of about $59,000 annually, according to PayScale.
Online MBA in Public Administration Curriculum
The top online MBA in public administration programs feature business management and public administration coursework focused on assessing needs and designing solutions through effective policy, programming, and management. Program focus areas and courses vary, but the sample courses below outline common curriculum content for this degree.
This foundational MBA course prepares students for budgeting duties, particularly in public sector organizations. Students learn to manage organizational finances and create budgets.
Public Service Ethics
This course teaches students about public service ethics, laws, standards, and practices. Topics may include personal financial gains laws, transparency laws, public resource use, and merit-based decision-making.
This course examines legal issues in business, including tax and nonprofit laws. Students learn about governmental regulations and compliance measures relevant in for-profit and nonprofit organizations.
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How to Choose the Right Online MBA in Public Administration Program
Students interested in public administration master's programs have a rich array of options. Some students opt for a master's in public policy, which focuses on policy analysis and ethics, while others select a political science master's degree that focuses more heavily on governmental and political systems.
Both degrees focus primarily on the public sector, whereas the more versatile MBA in public administration incorporates business courses that can qualify students for work in private industries. Other related degrees include MBAs in human resources, organizational leadership, operations management, and global management.
The top online MBA programs sometimes offer multiple curriculum specializations such as urban planning or policy analysis. Students should look for curricula that align with their interests and career aspirations.
Prospective students should also compare program structures, timelines, and extracurricular requirements. Many online programs offer various pacing options, so pick a program tailored to your scheduling needs. Busy professionals often opt for part-time programs that allow them to work while earning their degree, while students with more available time sometimes choose an accelerated program format. Extracurricular requirements such as internships or capstone projects should also factor into your program decision.
Public administration programs also vary in quality, so check program accreditation standards before you apply. The best public administration MBA programs typically appear at regionally accredited schools and boast programmatic accreditation from organizations such as the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration.
Scholarships for Public Administration MBA Programs
As you plan out how to finance your public administration MBA, be sure to examine the many scholarships and fellowships available to students based on identity, financial need, and merit. Public administration-related graduate scholarships often look for academically accomplished students committed to public service careers.
Harry S. Truman Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Junior-level undergraduates in the top 25% of their class who plan on pursuing a public service graduate program may apply if they receive nomination from their school's Truman Scholarship faculty representative. Eligible applicants must be U.S. citizens or nationals who demonstrate an impressive community service record, excellent leadership capability, and communication skills.
Amount: Up to $30,000
Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Graduate Fellowship Program
Who Can Apply: This program awards fellowships to 30 eligible U.S. citizens who boast a minimum 3.2 GPA. Candidates must intend to enter a graduate program in foreign service or a related field at an approved school.
Amount: Up to $37,500 annually for up to two years
Clarence E. Ridley Scholarship
Minorities in Government Finance Scholarship
Walter W. Mode Scholarship
Who Can Apply: ASPA members who are committed to a public service career and enrolled in a public administration graduate program may apply.
Professional Organizations for Public Administration
Public administration professional organizations can help students and professionals develop their career and remain current on relevant policy and administration trends. Professional organizations frequently provide networking events, online platforms, continuing education opportunities, and job boards. Many organizations also conduct research, educate the public, and advocate for the profession.
Founded in 1939 in response to governmental administration concerns, ASPA provides e-learning programs, a job board, and conferences for public administration and government policy professionals. ASPA's student summit, young scholar's workshop, and founders' fellows programs may appeal to public administration students.
A professional organization that supports public policy and management research, APPAM provides public policy news, continuing education, conferences, and publications for policy and management professionals. APPAM offers discounted memberships, mentorship, and career and education guidance for students.
This international nonprofit association of public policy and administration schools aims to encourage public service by enhancing education and training for public servants. NASPAA accredits public policy, public affairs, and public administration master's programs.
This nonprofit association of public works professionals and organizations raises public awareness and provides education, advocacy, and career support for public works professionals. APWA boasts several certification programs, events, and networking groups.
Chartered by Congress, this nonprofit organization supports analysis of government and public administration trends. NAPA addresses 12 grand public administration challenges and runs several topic-based working groups.
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