What is an MBA in Public Administration?

To prepare for a career in public service, a student will need an advanced degree in public administration or a related field, such as political science or public policy. Employers at research firms, PACs, and government agencies hire individuals who understand how government works on the local, state, and federal level and who excel at formulating change and inspiring action. Competition is projected to increase as more policy-makers, coordinators, and analysts enter the field; an online MBA in public administration can separate you from the pack.

An MBA in public administration online programs are diverse and allow students to specialize in areas like economic development, policy analysis, or urban planning.

Why Should You Get an Online MBA in Public Administration?

After earning an online master's in public administration, expect your salary to grow throughout your career, nearly doubling by the time you achieve seniority. Given the increasingly competitive nature of the public-sector field, an online MBA in public administration is key to career advancement and job opportunity.

Comparison of Public Administration Master's Degrees

An MBA in public administration online programs are diverse and allow students to specialize in areas like economic development, policy analysis, or urban planning. The curriculum of each public administration MBA online program differs in courses taken, length, and requirements, but all build upon a core understanding of the structure, policy, and protocol of the public sector.

Degree Description Average Salary (1-4 years experience) Length
Master's Degree in Public Policy Students learn to evaluate, oversee, and implement public policies. This degree requires mastery of analytical method, with core courses covering the essentials of policy analysis, negotiation, and ethics. Students present competencies through fieldwork prior to graduation, and prior relevant work experience is required for many courses. $47,500 2 Years
Master's of Arts in Political Science Political scientists are experts in governmental process and political systems. Social science's core curriculum covers the quantitative method, including the use of polls and surveys. It also encompasses analytical writing and the ability to broaden perspective, assess alternatives, and implement policy. Graduates work in fields including law, business, and public service. $55,955 2 Years
Master's of Business Administration (MBA) in Public Administration The MBA in public administration is equivalent to the general MBA for business students and creates more career options for graduates. The curriculum overlaps with the public administration master's degree online program, but also tackles business-focused courses, such as marketing. $52,421 2 Years

Online MBA in Public Administration Curriculum

Graduates of the online MBA with public administration concentration are equipped with core competencies that work across industries in the public and private sectors. Courses from the best online schools for public administration are designed to teach students how to analyze, assess, and implement solutions. Below, we look at typical MBA in public administration online courses.

Course Competencies Developed Occupational Skill Level
Public Health Work with and in health agencies at the local, state, or federal level, and ensure public health programs are adequate, maintained, and ultimately improved upon. TITLE: Public Health Specialist
SALARY: growth of 4%
Strategic Planning Present plans of action that are effective and responsible; weigh the consequences of policy shifts, and implement change to transform an organization, program, or community. TITLE: Director of Development & Fundraising
SALARY: growth of 7%
Budget Management Develop organizational budgets and apply a comprehensive understanding of the fiscal aspects of management in the government and public sectors, including not-for-profit and nonprofit organizations. TITLE: Job Program Manager
SALARY: growth of 2%

What Can You Do With an Online MBA in Public Administration?

Graduates with an MBA in public administration work across various industries, including jobs in the corporate world. Graduates typically pursue careers in the public sector. Here, we break down popular roles.

Program Coordinator, Non-Profit Organization Median Salary: $40,638
  • Civic society/group
  • Environmental NGO
Program coordinators ensure the success of nonprofit programs, handling all phases of development, including budgetary concerns, staff decisions, and implementation of strategy.
Policy Coordinator Median Salary: $41,356
  • Public health organization
  • University
Public policy coordinators assess, plan, and implement policy agendas. They also handle issues related to grants, special-interest groups, and stakeholders.
Program Outreach Coordinator Median Salary: $40,165
  • Public health organization
  • Community center
  • PAC
Program outreach coordinators develop and implement outreach efforts, targeting individuals, groups, organizations, and other donors. They also identify potential partners and submit proposals for engagement.

Schools Offering an Online MBA in Public Administration

Rank School Location Cost Toggle Logo Tuition % Receiving Financial Aid Student Population School Type Description
Adams State University
Location Alamosa , CO Tuition $$$$$ % Receiving Financial Aid 63 Student Population 3,404 Tuition $15,120 School Type Public

Based in Alamosa, Colorado, Adams State offers an affordable and flexible public administration MBA online tailored for busy professionals. The program features a cohort structure with small class sizes, and students typically complete the degree in as little as two years.

The curriculum for the 12-credit concentration includes classes in policy analysis, budgeting, and nonprofit management. Students complete all coursework for the 36-credit program online, including the final capstone. The school maintains an open enrollment policy. Applicants must submit GRE/GMAT scores and a 3.0 GPA; students with a 3.5 GPA or higher may receive a GRE waiver.

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Concordia University - Wisconsin
Location Mequon , WI Tuition $$$$$ % Receiving Financial Aid 67 Student Population 8,268 Tuition $27,261 School Type Private

As a Christian school in Mequon, Wisconsin, CUW offers a holistic MBA in public administration online. Tailored for government professionals interested in advancing into administration roles, the 39-credit program focuses on leadership skills, ethics, and creative problem solving. Coursework includes administrative law, program evaluation, budgeting, and intergovernmental relations.

The program encourages distance learners to enroll in a three-credit internship at an approved business site and offers a unique, week-long study abroad opportunity in China or Austria. In the final term, students create a professional portfolio of their work suitable for job-hunting. Requirements for admission include a minimum GPA of 3.0.

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Golden Gate University - San Francisco
Location San Francisco , CA Tuition $$$$$ % Receiving Financial Aid 67 Student Population 2,735 Tuition $54,810 School Type Private

Founded in 1901, GGU specializes in providing post-graduate education and training for business professionals. The school's online MBA public administration concentration requires 54 credits, including 12 credits for the concentration and a capstone in business planning.

Emphasizing a holistic approach to management, the curriculum incorporates integrated planning, analytic processes for decision making, and leadership skills. Coursework includes public personnel management, policy analysis, law, and public sector business relations. Applicants with over five years of professional work experience receive a GRE waiver.

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Liberty University
Location Lynchburg , VA Tuition $$$$$ % Receiving Financial Aid 66 Student Population 80,494 Tuition $20,340 School Type Private

As a private nonprofit Christian institution offering an MBA online in public administration, LU provides a flexible route to career advancement for professionals. The program comprises 45 credits of eight-week classes delivered entirely online and asynchronously; most students complete the degree in two years. The curriculum includes organizational design, policy analysis, and strategies of community economic development.

Distance learners can select from eight different start dates. Students may transfer up to 50% of the required credits and must also demonstrate a 3.0 GPA or higher. Military service members and civilian emergency responders receive a tuition discount.

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Lincoln University
Location Jefferson City , MO Tuition $$$$$ % Receiving Financial Aid 67 Student Population 2,944 Tuition $10,476 School Type Public

As a historically black public higher education institution founded in 1866 in Jefferson City, Missouri, LU boasts a commitment to a progressive future. The school offers a public administration MBA online emphasizing management and leadership skills and the promotion of positive change in public and nonprofit sectors. The curriculum includes constitutional law, administrative theory, urban affairs, and a capstone in business strategy.

Applicants must demonstrate completion of 18 credits of undergraduate prerequisites, including accounting, marketing, and management.

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Northwest University
Location Kirkland , WA Tuition $$$$$ % Receiving Financial Aid 68 Student Population 1,236 Tuition $29,055 School Type Private

Established as a Christian liberal arts institution in Kirkland, Washington, NU offers a public administration MBA online with a concentration in public safety administration. Focused on public service fields such as corrections, law enforcement, and fire safety, this online concentration emphasizes global perspectives and developing effective communication skills.

The program operates on a cohort model with small class sizes; students enroll in one course at a time and graduate as a group. Most students complete the degree in less than two years. Applicants with at least two years of professional work experience and a minimum 3.2 GPA need not submit GMAT scores.

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Southern New Hampshire University
Location Manchester , NH Tuition $$$$$ % Receiving Financial Aid 67 Student Population 61,285 Tuition $22,572 School Type Private

Founded in 1932 as a private nonprofit institution, SNHU offers a career-focused education and an affordable public administration MBA online. The program comprises 36 credits, including nine credits for the concentration. Students can access coursework 24/7, and distance learners can complete the program in as little as 15 months by taking two courses per 10-week term. The curriculum includes fiscal budgeting, community dynamics, intergovernmental relations, and government structure.

The school admits applicants on a rolling basis and accepts up to six transfer credits. Military service members and spouses receive a 25% tuition discount.

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University of Mary
Location Bismarck , ND Tuition $$$$$ % Receiving Financial Aid 65 Student Population 2,872 Tuition $15,000 School Type Private

A Catholic institution based in Bismarck, North Dakota with Benedictine values, Mary offers a flexible, accelerated public administration MBA online that can be completed in as little as 20 months. The concentration in public administration comprises three courses focused on public sector leadership, public budgeting and finance, and foundations of public administration.

Distance learners gain leadership competencies, human resource skills, and nonprofit fund management skills. Students conduct all online coursework collaboratively through the Canvas platform, and small class sizes permit individualized attention from faculty.

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Doane University
Location Crete , NE Tuition $$$$$ % Receiving Financial Aid 72 Student Population 2,065 Tuition $16,170 School Type Private

With three regional campuses in Nebraska, Doane boasts values such as social responsibility, innovation, and collaboration. The school offers a public administration MBA online with a focus on rational decision making and the technical elements of operational and strategic management. Coursework for the concentration in nonprofit and public administration covers fundraising, philanthropy, governance, budgeting, and marketing.

The school accepts up to nine credits in transfer, and applicants may also receive credit for professional work experience. In addition to being a military friendly school, Doane also participates in a regional state reciprocity agreement extending outside Nebraska.

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How to Choose an Online MBA in Public Administration Program

Choosing the right public administration MBA online takes time and research. When reviewing prospective programs, learners should think beyond the advertised benefits and consider whether the program meets their long- and short-term goals. Points to consider include:

  • Search for Schools in Your Area

    When looking for a public administration MBA online some feel location doesn't matter, but choosing a school within 100 miles of your home can be beneficial. While you won't need to visit campus to attend class, proximity allows you to take advantage of networking events, meet recruiting staff, stay active in the alumni association, conduct research, or meet with professors.

  • Ensure the School's Admission Requirements Meet Your Expectations

    According to PrepScholar, the average worldwide GMAT score is 552. Depending on the institution, GMAT requirements can vary. When looking at prospective MBA online in public administration degrees, find programs that align with your abilities and interests. Consider previous experience and compare it with the school's requirements.

  • Compare Student Outcomes Data

    One way to ascertain if an MBA in public administration online degree program is right for you is by looking at the graduation and employment rates alongside the average starting salaries for alumni. Check school websites for student profiles detailing how they use their degrees after leaving school; if you can't find this information online, contact the admissions department for relevant data.

  • Estimate the Expected Costs of Your Program

    MBAs are one of the most expensive degrees due to the high average starting salaries of recent graduates. When looking at the cost of an MBA, prospective degree seekers must think beyond tuition and course fees and consider expenses like textbooks and course materials.

  • Check That Classes Will Fit in With Your Schedule

    As distance learning technology continues to improve, many public administration MBA online programs allow learners to complete coursework asynchronously. Check with schools to learn about live vs. pre-recorded policies and how much flexibility departments offer.

  • Look for Partnerships With Local Businesses

    Students enrolled in online MBA in public administration programs often need to complete projects requiring them to partner with local businesses. Choose an organization that could lead to networking opportunities and even a job after graduation.

  • Make Sure the Program Is Accredited

    In addition to ensuring any school you attend holds proper regional accreditation, finding a program that maintains programmatic accreditation can be as important. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business serves as the predominate accrediting body for MBA programs, but individuals seeking a concentration in public administration should also look for schools approved by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration.

  • Talk to Current Students And/Or Recent Alumni

    Prospective degree seekers can spend months reviewing rankings, combing through university websites, and reading what professionals have to say about the school, but none of these activities beat talking to current students or recent alumni. Ask the admissions department to connect you with these students or consider finding them on school social media or LinkedIn.

Resources for MBA in Public Administration Students

Scholarships for Public Administration MBA Programs

Various scholarships have been established to aid the development of future leaders, policy-makers, and political scientists looking to forge careers in public service. Award amounts range from $1,000 to full tuition fellowships, averaging at $3,000. Scholarship programs for public administration students are competitive and favor those who show academic excellence and a commitment to public policy and a life of public service.

Other Online MBA Programs That May Interest You

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