Schools with Online MPA Degree Programs: How to Choose

Students interested in pursuing their Master of Public Administration degree online need to consider the program's formatting and time requirements, as well as what the program emphasizes. Learn more about these considerations and see some of the different schools and programs available.

How to Select an Online MPA School

Students considering online MPA schools must make their decision based on several key factors. MPA degree programs are differentiated by the emphases available at a given school and by the time and schedule requirements for students in the program. Some courses are designed for full-time students, while others are more suited for working professionals.

Emphasis Availability

Students seeking a master of public administration (MPA) degree online may find programs with a variety of focuses. International organizations and law, urban planning and economic policy are all among students' opportunities for emphasis in a public administration master's degree program. Different institutions offer different emphases, and students may wish to compare a number of different schools before settling on a particular emphasis.

Time Requirements and Format

Degree programs vary in type and time required. Some online programs are designed for students who will study full time, even if they do not wish to attend class at a campus. These programs are often synchronous, which means they require students to attend class at particular times, attend lectures in real time, usually via online streaming video, and complete assignments with other students. These programs are often accelerated learning programs.

The majority of online programs, especially at the master's degree level and higher, are intended for students who are already working professionals and require a more flexible schedule, with no regular class times. Often, even assignments and tests have no specific due dates. Instead, classes have a single date at the end of a semester by which all material must be submitted, and students may set their own schedules. Students who are preparing to enroll in an online MPA degree program should find a program that suits their schedule.

Online MPA Degree Programs

Master of Public Administration

Master of public administration degrees are generally designed for working professionals in the public sector, usually in government jobs, who wish to advance their careers. Some MPA programs are specifically for those who wish to enter leadership positions. Usually, online MPA degrees are designed as continuing education programs with flexible schedules, but accelerated programs for full-time students are available. Curricula focuses on subjects such as:

  • Urban research and analysis
  • Governmental institutions
  • Analytical tools
  • Budgeting and public capital
  • Ethics in public service

Schools With Online Master of Public Administration Programs

Kent State University has a Master of Public Administration program that is fully online and can be completed in two years. The program consists of 36 credits and offers small class sizes. All students must complete a capstone project, and students who do not have full-time administrative experience for a public service organization must participate in an internship that adds 3 additional credits to the 36 required.

Villanova University provides a fully online MPA program that includes a nonprofit management or city management specialization. They also offer three graduate certificates in nonprofit management, city management or public administration. Courses are highly interactive and cover topics that apply to all levels of the government, nonprofits and other sectors.

The University of North Dakota also offers a fully online MPA program that requires 36 credits and takes at least two years to complete. Students take live web courses that are held one evening a week for a semester. The program offers a Health Administration track for those interested in careers in healthcare. UND also offers a few online graduate certificates programs in the field, including one in health administration and one in public administration.

There are multiple online Master of Public Administration programs for students to choose from, but they vary greatly in the formatting, time requirements and specializations available. Students should keep these factors, and additional requirements such as internships, in mind when searching for the best program for them.

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