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Best School in Milwaukee for a Public Administration Master's Degree

Several schools near Milwaukee, WI, have top ranking master's degree programs in public administration. Read on to find out more about what these top schools have to offer for public administration, as well as tuition and degree information.

School and Ranking Information

Students interested in working in management positions within government, non-profit or other public organizations might want to consider a completing a master's degree program in public administration. There are about six schools within 75 miles of Milwaukee that have public administration programs; according to school and program rankings by U.S. News & World Report, the top three schools are Northwestern University, the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee and Concordia University Wisconsin.

  • Winner: Northwestern University (NU), located about 70 miles from Milwaukee in Evanston, IL, is the top choice. NU was ranked 12th among national universities for 2014 and has a ranked graduate public administration program. It also awarded the most master's degrees in the field among area schools.
  • Runner Up #1: The University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee (UWM), which also has a nationally ranked public administration, takes second place due to its location right in Milwaukee.
  • Runner Up #2: Concordia University Wisconsin (CUW) takes the third spot on this list. The school is located about 16 miles from Milwaukee in suburban Mequon, and it offers a Master of Business Administration (MBA) program with a concentration in public administration.

School Comparison Chart

Category Northwestern University University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee Concordia University Wisconsin
Rankings Tied for 59th best graduate public affairs program in the U.S. (2012)*
Ranked 12th among the national universities (2014)*
Ranked 59th among the nation's graduate public affairs programs (2012)* Named 68th among regional universities in the Midwest (2014)*
Location Evanston, IL (roughly 70 miles from Milwaukee) Milwaukee, WI Mequon, WI (about 16 miles from Milwaukee)
School Type 4-year, private not-for-profit 4-year, public 4-year, private not-for-profit
Tuition & Fees (2013-2014) $39,065 (cost of entire program)** $25,966 in-state; $57,130 out-of-state (estimated cost of entire program)*** $23,985 (2013-2014, tuition for entire program)****
Public Administration Master's Degrees Awarded in 2011-2012 70*** 13*** 9***
Undergraduate Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal program time) for 2006 Entering Class 93%*** 43%*** 59%***
Noteworthy MPA program offered on campus or fully online Home to the Helen Bader Institute, a non-profit leadership institute for education and research Classes available in evening, weekend and distance education formats

Sources: *U.S. News & World Report, **Northwestern University, *** University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, ****Concordia University Wisconsin, *****NCES, College Navigator.

Winner: Northwestern University

  • School was ranked 2nd in the Midwest and #17 overall on the 2013 Top Schools list by Forbes
  • University has very low student-faculty ratio of 7:1, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)
  • Faculty includes top Chicago-area professionals from leadership roles in government, non-profit, healthcare and consulting sectors

NU offers a Master of Arts (M.A.) program in public policy and administration through its School of Continuing Studies. This program has concentrations in public administration, public policy, global policy and health services policy, and it prepares graduates for careers in healthcare management, urban planning, emergency management and foreign affairs. All of the concentrations are offered through both classroom study and distance education except the health services policy program, which is only offered on campus.

This program requires 13 courses, which include ten core requirements, two electives and a capstone project or thesis. The courses include topics in leadership, public finance, analytic methods, public policy and organizational theory. Many electives are available and include studies in the non-profit sector, intergovernmental relations, regulatory policy, national security and urban issues.

Runner-Up #1: University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee

  • Ranked 149th in the Midwest region by Forbes in 2013
  • Master of Public Administration (MPA) program is available with two tracks and multiple concentrations
  • Sheldon B. Lubar School of Business accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business

The UWM Lubar School of Business and the College of Letters and Science jointly offer this Master of Public Administration program through the Department of Public and Nonprofit Administration. The program has three concentration options. The municipal management concentration focuses on accounting and land use practices, while the general public administration track covers strategic planning and the non-profit management program addresses topics in business and marketing.

This MPA program requires at least 39 credits of coursework, though students who do not have significant work experience in public administration may be required to complete an internship for additional credit. Some of the core classes include human resources management, public policies, public sector budgeting and a capstone project. Students may also take concentration courses such as intergovernmental relations, administrative law, land use planning and nonprofit advocacy.

Additionally, the Department of Public and Nonprofit Administration offers programs that focus on nonprofit administration, such as a master's degree in nonprofit management and leadership and a graduate certificate in nonprofit management. Students also have the option of pursuing a dual degree that combines the MPA program with a Master of Urban Planning.

Runner-Up #2: Concordia University Wisconsin

  • The GMAT exam is not required for admission to this program and a thesis in not needed to graduate
  • Program accredited by the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education

CUW offers a Global MBA degree with a program concentration in public administration. This 39-credit program has on-campus and off-site classes that are held in an 8-week module accelerated format. In addition, there are eight off-campus sites throughout Wisconsin, as well as locations in Michigan and Missouri, and coursework may also be completed online.

The public administration concentration covers the application of business administration to government and nonprofit sectors. Students must complete 24 credits of required MBA classes that could include business ethics, managerial economics and strategic management. The public administration concentration includes 15 credits of study that cover public agency budgeting, public personnel administration and intergovernmental relations, as well as an internship or a course in public program evaluation.

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