Top School in Tampa for a Public Administration Degree

Students interested in studying public administration in Tampa, FL, have only a few schools to choose from. Read about the top local schools' degree programs, tuition and ranking info to find the right one for you.

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School and Ranking Information

Within 100 miles of Tampa, Florida, there are only six schools that offer degree programs in public administration. These are the top three schools based on school and program rankings, school location, and number of degrees offered in public administration.

  • Winner: The University of South Florida (USF) is the only school actually located in Tampa. USF tied with the University of Central Florida (UCF) in its national rankings from U.S. News & World Report, but earns the top spot due to its location and because the school just opened a new school of public affairs.
  • Runner Up #1: The University of Central Florida has lower tuition than USF and a higher ranked public affairs graduate program, but it is located almost 80 miles from Tampa, making it the first runner-up.
  • Runner Up #2: St. Petersburg College is the next-closest school to Tampa with relevant public administration programs. It's located about 16 miles away in Clearwater. The school has the lowest tuition on the list.

School Comparison Chart

Category University of South Florida University of Central Florida St. Petersburg College
Ranking #170 among national universities in 2014 (tied)*
#94 among top national public schools in 2014 (tied)*
#121 among public affairs graduate programs in 2014*
#170 among national universities in 2014 (tied)*
#94 among top national public schools in 2014 (tied)*
#59 among public affairs graduate programs in 2014*
Location Tampa, FL Orlando, FL (79.7 miles from Tampa) Clearwater, FL (16.1 miles from Tampa)
School Type 4-year, public 4-year, public 4-year, public
Tuition and Fees (2012-2013) $10,415 (graduate, in-state),
$20,603 (graduate, out-of-state)*
$6,247 (undergraduate, in-state),
$22,345 (undergraduate, out-of-state);
$8,817 (graduate, in-state),
$27,660 (graduate, out-of-state)*
$3,172 (undergraduate, in-state),
$11,427 (undergraduate, out-of-state)*
Public Administration Levels Offered Master's and doctoral degrees Bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees Bachelor's degree
Public Administration Degrees and Certificates Awarded (All Levels) in 2011-2012 21* 129* 0*
Most Popular Public Administration Program (2012) Master's in public administration (21 awarded)* Bachelor's in public administration (63 awarded)* N/A
Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal degree time for students) 57% (those who started in fall 2006)* 65% (those who started in fall 2006)* 31% (those who started in fall 2006)
Noteworthy New School of Public Affairs opened in January 2013 School of Public Administration holds regular research colloquiums that bring together students, faculty and researchers Member of the University Partnership Center, which allows students to enroll in programs through allied schools but take courses on the St. Petersburg College campus

Sources: *NCES College Navigator, **U. S. News & World Report.

Winner: University of South Florida

  • Classified by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as a top-tier research university; only 2.2% of all universities in the country have achieved this classification
  • Serves more than 40,000 undergraduate and graduate students annually
  • Rated fourth in the United States among the most veteran-friendly schools in 2012, according to Military Times Edge
  • Offers undergraduate internship programs in public policy

The Master of Public Administration degree program is designed to prepare students for administrative positions within public agencies and nonprofit organizations. The program is meant for students who are looking to further their existing careers, as well as for students holding bachelor's degrees with no professional experience. The program takes 45 credit hours to complete, although students without a professional background must also complete a 6-credit, supervised internship experience. Coursework can include subjects like budgeting, information management, ethics, and policy analysis.

The University of South Florida also offers a Ph.D. for students who are interested in furthering their academic understanding of public affairs in the government sector. The program is available in two tracks: sustainable political communities and public affairs. Within each specialization, students are expected to address how globalization has affected the development of local and political communities. Graduates from the program are eligible to conduct extensive research and contribute to policy-making activities in the fields of public administration, political theory, comparative politics, and international relations.

Although USF doesn't offer bachelor's degrees related to public administration, undergraduates can take advantage of two internship programs in public policy. Students in the Legislative Internship Program work in a legislative office twice per week, while students in the Tallahassee Internship Program work with the legislature, advocates, and lobbyists during the 60-day legislative session in spring.

Runner-Up #1: University of Central Florida

  • Researchers at the University of Central Florida benefit from over $100 million dollars every year for various projects
  • Internships and service learning opportunities available in government, public, and nonprofit capacities
  • Home to the Center for Public and Nonprofit Management

The School of Public Administration at the University of South Florida has a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science program in Public Administration. For those who want to take the arts curriculum, an extra language requirement is required. The science curriculum requires two additional technical courses. Completion of the programs will allow graduates to pursue careers in business, government, and nonprofit areas. Aspects of local government, such as its growth and impact on the environment, will be emphasized throughout the program. During core classes, students will study elements such as public policy, public sector writing, personnel, fiscal responsibility, and research.

Students who enroll in the master's degree program in public administration will learn more leadership strategies that are important to nonprofit and public sectors. The curriculum has a public governance setup designed for diversity. This degree program is made up of 42 credits, which include nine core classes, four advanced classes, and a capstone portion. A minimum 3.0 GPA is necessary to continue and complete the program. A dual degree program with an emphasis in nonprofit management is available as well.

The Ph.D. in Public Affairs curriculum is designed to teach students the skills necessary for careers in institutions of higher learning, profit agencies, and public leadership. In order to attain the degree, a total of at least 57 credit hours must be earned. The program is divided into 15 core credits, 15 interdisciplinary credits, 12 research method credits, and 15 dissertation credits. Students will examine areas such as ethics, public affairs, microeconomics, research methods, public management, and strategic change.

Runner-Up #2: St. Petersburg College

  • Has ten campuses and centers across Pinellas County, FL
  • Student-faculty ratio is 23:1, according to the NCES; the school reports that 75% of its classes enroll only 30 students or less
  • Free tutoring available through the school's Learning Centers, which offer both on-campus and online support

St. Petersburg offers a Bachelor of Science program in public policy and administration. For admission to this program, students must hold an associate's degree and complete prerequisites in computers, macroeconomics, and U.S. government. Coursework for the major covers topics such as social issues and policy, personnel management, introductory public administration, legal research in public administration, and public finance. One elective option is a co-op work experience in the field. The B.S. requires 60 credits of coursework.

Through St. Petersburg College's membership in the University Partnership Center (UPC), students have access to additional public administration programs at universities across Florida and the U.S. When enrolled in a UPC program, students are considered to be enrolled at the program's home university (and pay the home university's tuition rates), but they may take courses on the St. Petersburg College campus. Programs in public administration offered through the UPC include bachelor's and master's degrees through Barry University and a master's degree through Florida Gulf Coast University.

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