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.

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

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%

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.
Rank School Location Cost Toggle Logo Tuition % Receiving Financial Aid Student Population School Type Description

Adams State University

Location Alamosa, CO Tuition Tuition $15,120 % Receiving Financial Aid 63% Student Population 3,404 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 Tuition $27,261 % Receiving Financial Aid 67% Student Population 8,268 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 Tuition $54,810 % Receiving Financial Aid 67% Student Population 2,735 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 Tuition $20,340 % Receiving Financial Aid 66% Student Population 80,494 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 Tuition $10,476 % Receiving Financial Aid 67% Student Population 2,944 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 Tuition $29,055 % Receiving Financial Aid 68% Student Population 1,236 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 Tuition $22,572 % Receiving Financial Aid 67% Student Population 61,285 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 Tuition $15,000 % Receiving Financial Aid 65% Student Population 2,872 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 Tuition $16,170 % Receiving Financial Aid 72% Student Population 2,065 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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If you’ve decided that an MBA in Public Administration is right for you, then it is time to start narrowing down the list of schools you are interested in. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you through this process.

  • Search for schools in your area

    Even though you are looking for online programs, it can be helpful to choose a school that is within a 100 mile radius of your home. Online students often report that they enjoy having the ability to visit campus if they want to. In addition, schools often partner with local businesses, meaning a school in your area will have a better chance of helping you find a job close to home.

  • Compare student outcomes data

    Many schools will readily provide this information on their website; however, if you can’t find it, be sure to contact the school and ask for it. This data should include graduation rates, employment rates, and the compensation levels of recent graduates. When looked at side-by-side, this information can give you an easy glimpse of program quality.

  • Estimate the expected costs of your programs

    Prospective students often underestimate the total cost of their program. Make sure you calculate the total number of credit hours you will need to graduate, and multiply that by cost per credit hour. Do not forget to include the cost of supplies, internet, and time you will spend not earning an income. Additionally, compare financial aid options, different schools may offer better financial aid packages and/or scholarships that can offset the cost of education.

  • Check that classes will fit in with your schedule

    One of the central benefits of online education is flexibility. However, some programs will require set meeting times, synchronous workshops, and mandatory campus visits. Be sure that you are aware of all time commitments and that they will fit into your current schedule.

  • Look for partnerships with local businesses

    The main objective of getting your MBA in Public Administration is to find a secure job with a healthy salary in a field you enjoy. To that end, attending school that is well connected with local businesses can be a fantastic leg up upon graduation. Many of these partners will offer internships to students that can lead to full-time employment or provide the network and experience you need to get a job elsewhere.

  • Make sure the program is accredited

    Accreditation is the formal review process that ensures a school is offering a reputable program adhering to minimum academic standards. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business is the national agency that accredits for undergraduate, master’s and doctoral programs in business and accounting. By checking a program’s status with the AACSB, you can be confident you are receiving a recognized, quality degree. Employers generally will not hire job candidates who possess a degree from a school that is not accredited, and schools will not accept academic credentials from an unaccredited program.

  • Talk to current students and/or recent alumni

    One of the best resources when it comes to making a final decision on an online MBA in Public Administration program is actual students and graduates. They can give you an unbiased, real-world take on how the program has served them, what they have liked, and what they have disliked. Ask an admissions counselor to put you in touch with a current student or recent alumni. Alternatively, use LinkedIn or Facebook to find and reach out to people.

Search Programs by Concentration

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.