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Public Administration Degrees in North Carolina with School Options

North Carolina has nearly forty colleges that offer public administration programs. Learn about the degree programs, tuition info and program options for the nine largest schools to make an informed education decision.

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Essential Information

The majority of North Carolina schools that have public administration programs offer a graduate-level program in the field, but there are several schools that have doctoral public administration programs. Schools may also offer a public policy or public affairs graduate-level program in place of a public administration program. Both programs are closely related to the public administration field and will provide students with comprehensive training in conjunction with coursework emphasizing economics, public policy, and service.

Below are brief overviews of nine of North Carolina's largest schools that offer public administration or closely related programs, as well as a comparison table outlining individual school programs and tuition costs.


Appalachian State University

Located in Boone, Appalachian State University offers a 42-credit Master of Public Administration (MPA) program that will provide students with the training to work in the public sector, typically in a management position. This program will require students to take 21 credits of core classes and 21 credits within one of four areas of concentration. Students can choose to concentrate in one of the following four specialty areas: public management, town, city and county management, administration of justice, and not-for-profit management. Students who currently work in the public service industry in some capacity are not required to complete an internship. Core coursework will include research methods, budgeting and fiscal administration, organization theory, and a capstone.

Duke University

Durham-based Duke University has a Master of Public Policy (MPP), Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Public Policy, and a Master of International Development Policy (MIDP) that are offered through the School of Public Policy. The two-year MPP program integrates core classes with classes emphasizing public policy and policy analysis. Students can also enroll in a dual degree program offered through Duke or the University of North Carolina. Individuals can opt to earn an MPP in conjunction with a graduate-level degree in law, business, environment, or medicine through this program option. Duke also offers a five-year PhD in Public Policy that is a research-intensive program. Students will receive the training to gain employment in academia, specifically in positions relating to public policy and public administration, or distinguished positions at public agencies, research companies, or consulting firms. The MIDP option is an interdisciplinary program designed to train students on policy and service-related issues as they pertain to developing countries. This program allows students to choose from two concentrations, international taxation or public financial management.

East Carolina University

Greenville's East Carolina University offers an MPA through the Department of Political Science that will require students to complete the required coursework, an internship, and a professional paper in addition to choosing an area of concentration. This is a 45-credit program where students will take 27 credits of core classes that will cover relevant topics, including different types of management, policy and analysis in the field. A 300-hour internship is required for students who do not have background or work experience in the public sector. Additionally, students must take 15 elective credits in an area of specialty within public management or public policy.

North Carolina State University at Raleigh

Raleigh-based North Carolina State University at Raleigh has an MPA program and a PhD in Public Administration, both of which are administered through the School of Public and International Affairs. The university's MPA program is ranked in the top 20% for programs of its kind in the nation by U.S. News and World Report and the PhD program is the only doctorate-level program offered in public administration in North Carolina. The 40-credit MPA program requires students complete 18 credits of core classes, an internship, and a handful of graduate-level electives. The program allows students to individualize their curriculum through the elective coursework or opt for one of the offered areas of concentration, including public policy and nonprofit management. The university's PhD program is research-based and requires students take core courses and electives in addition to completing a final dissertation. Coursework will include public organization theory, public policy process, quantitative research, and advanced research design.

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Located in Charlotte, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte offers an MPA program with five areas of concentration. This program is designed for individuals who already work in management and will provide them with the proper knowledge and skills to work successfully for public agencies or non-profit organizations. The program offers the following five specializations: non-profit management, urban management and policy, arts administration, emergency management, and public finance. Students who are interested in one of these areas of concentration, but not a master's degree, have the option of earning a graduate certificate in their chosen field of interest. Coursework for the MPA program will include core classes, research-based classes, and electives. Required major-specific coursework will include a foundation in public administration, budgeting and finance, human resource management, and quantitative research methods.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Located in Chapel Hill, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offers a full-time MPA through the School of Government and a dual MPA and Master of Social Work program housed through the School of Social Work. The university also recently added an online MPA option, allowing working adults to receive the same education as those attending in the traditional setting. The 44-credit MPA program integrates core classes, electives, and a management-centric internship to provide students with a well-balanced education. The program also requires students to submit a final portfolio and take a comprehensive oral exam in order to successfully complete the program. Coursework includes law for public administration, public financial management, human resource management, public service leadership, and professional communications. The dual public administration and social work option requires students complete 92 credits and they must first enroll in the social work program and complete the core requirements within the field before taking any public administration coursework. This program can be completed in three years and will prepare students to work in the human services field in leadership positions.

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Greensboro's University of North Carolina at Greensboro offers a Master of Public Affairs through the Political Science Department that has been accredited since 1993. This program has three areas of concentration: nonprofit management, community and economic development, or local government. Students who have previous work experience are not required to complete an internship and must take 40 credit hours in order to successfully finish the program. The program consists of 43 credits for students who need to gain practical experience through an internship. Program coursework will include public personnel management, quantitative analysis, strategic planning, ethics in public policy, and nonprofit law. The school also offers several graduate-level certificates in related fields, including nonprofit management, and urban and economic development.

University of North Carolina at Wilmington

Wilmington-based the University of North Carolina at Wilmington offers a 42-credit MPA through the Department of Public and International Affairs within the College of Arts and Sciences. This program requires students complete 18 credits of core classes, 12 credits within the concentration of their choice, nine elective credits, an internship, and a skill-based course. Students with relevant work experience can request a waiver for the internship, bringing the total credit requirement for the program to 39. Students can choose to specialize in one of the following subjects: coastal management, environmental policy and management, marine policy, nonprofit management, public management, public policy analysis, and urban and regional policy and planning. Core coursework will include public human resources development, budgeting and finance, policy analysis, and quantitative methods.

Western Carolina University

Cullowhee's Western Carolina University offers a Master of Public Affairs through the Political Science and Public Affairs Department that requires students complete 39 credit hours, or 36 hours if they have previous work experience and do not need to participate in an internship. Program curriculum includes 24 hours of major-specific coursework, nine credits within a students' chosen concentration, and a variable number of elective credits, depending upon previous work experience. Core classes will include legal issues in public affairs, public affairs administration, public organization theory, and research methods.

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type & Setting Public Administration Degrees Offered Graduate Tuition & Fees (2015-2016)
Appalachian State University University, public; distant town Master of Public Administration $7,409 for in-state and $19,951 for out-of-state residents*
Duke University University, private not-for-profit; midsize city Master of Public Policy,
Doctor of Philosophy in Public Policy
$48,656*
East Carolina University University, public; small city Master of Public Administration $6,857 for in-state and $19,459 for out-of-state residents*
North Carolina State University at Raleigh University, public; large city Master of Public Administration,
Doctor of Philosophy in Public Administration
$10,224 for in-state and $24,323 for out-of-state residents*
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill University, public; small city Master of Public Administration,
Master of Social Work/Master of Public Administration dual degree
$11,074 for in-state and $28,285 for out-of-state residents*
University of North Carolina at Charlotte University, public; large city Master of Public Administration $7,032 for in-state and $19,703 for out-of-state residents*
University of North Carolina at Greensboro University, public; large city Master of Public Affairs $7,489 for in-state and $20,938 for out-of-state residents*
University of North Carolina at Wilmington University, public; midsize city Master of Public Administration $6,832 for in-state and $18,923 for out-of-state residents*
Western Carolina University University, public; distant town Master of Public Affairs $7,065 for in-state and $17,472 for out-of-state residents*

Source: *NCES, College Navigator.

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