Top Public Administration Degree Program - Irvine, CA

School and Ranking Information

There are more than 10 schools within a 25-mile radius of Irvine, CA, offering programs in public administration. The following schools are considered the top three based on rankings, location and tuition:

  • Winner: California State University in Fullerton is the winner due to its low tuition rates and multiple degree level options in the field.
  • Runner Up #1: California State University in Long Beach is the first runner up for its top-125 national ranking for graduate public affairs programs in 2012 from U.S. News & World Report and for its total amount of degrees awarded in the field.
  • Runner Up #2: Brandman University, located in Irvine, takes third place for its location and high level of degree offered in the field.

School Comparison Chart

Category California State University - Fullerton California State University - Long Beach Brandman University
Ranking(s) 149th for graduate public affairs programs in 2012, nationwide* 121st for graduate public affairs programs in 2012, nationwide* Rank not published for graduate public affairs programs in 2012
Location Fullerton, CA (14 miles from Irvine) Long Beach, CA (17 miles from Irvine) Irvine, CA
School Type Four-year, public Four-year, public Four-year, private not-for-profit
Tuition & Fees (2012-2013) $6,195 (undergraduate, in-state), $17,853 (undergraduate, out-of-state); $7,461 (graduate, in-state), $17,007 (graduate, out-of-state)** $6,052 (undergraduate, in-state), $17,710 (undergraduate, out-of-state); $7,506 (graduate, in-state), $17,052 (graduate, out-of-state)** $10,243 (undergraduate, in-state), $9,663 (undergraduate, out-of-state)**
Public Administration Degree Levels Offered Bachelor's and master's degrees** Master's degrees** Master's degree**
Public Administration Degrees (all levels) Awarded in 2011-2012 59** 117** 17**
Most Popular Public Administration Program in 2011-2012 Bachelor's degrees (34 awarded)** Master's degrees (117 awarded)** Master's degrees (17 awarded)**
Undergraduate Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal degree time) for 2005 Entering Class 50%** 54%** N/A**
Noteworthy Generates $1B statewide annually and 8,700 jobs in region Has 350 California Merit Finalists among current undergraduate population University was founded by and a part of the Chapman University System

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

Winner: California State University - Fullerton

  • 1st in state and 8th among universities nationwide awarding bachelor's degrees to Hispanic/Latino students
  • Student body includes students from 79 nations
  • Ranked 31st among regional universities (West) and 5th among top public schools in 2013 by U.S. News & World Report

CSUF's Division of Politics, Administration and Justice offers the undergraduate BPA and also the graduate MPA degree programs. The BPA program requires a minimum of 120 units, with the core curriculum including criminal justice, policy-making, ethics and national security. Electives selections cover civil liberties, international law, constitutional law and urban planning. For both the BPA and MPA programs, an internship is required; students may be exempt if they have prior non-profit agency experience. Additionally, qualified students may be allowed to join Pi Alpha Alpha, a national public administration honor society.

Students pursuing an MPA can select from among four concentrations: urban management, criminal justice, public finance management and human resources. Required coursework are specific to the selected concentration; however, all students regardless need to take courses in public administration theory, systems management, public finance, and administrative research. The final program requirement is the completion of a thesis; students in lieu of a thesis may consider a independent project or a comprehensive exam.

Runner-Up #1: California State University - Long Beach

  • Highly diverse student body, according to NCES
  • NCES showed in the 2011-2012 school year, 72% of first-time undergraduates received financial aid, which is the highest of the three profiled schools
  • Ranked 28th among regional universities (West) and 4th among top public schools in 2013 by U.S. News & World Report

CSULB's Graduate Center for Public Policy and Administration, in partnership with the College of Continuing and Professional Education, offers a NASPAA accredited MPA degree program. The school provides students the option to take the general MPA program on campus during the day and evening, as well as by an accelerated distant education program offering through hybrid format classes. The MPA program requires 39 semester units of graduate coursework, with 24 of the units covering core courses. The core curriculum includes foundations of public policy and administration, budgeting, personnel administration, organization theory, and research methods. A seminar of policy issue analysis is further required, as is a directed research course. Elective courses include another seminar in urban affairs, and courses in negotiating, leadership skills, employee-employer relations, and urban policy. Students taking the distant learning option have web coursework offerings combined with Saturday meetings on campus. One night per week students connect with the instructor for a synchronous web-cast lecture. The accelerated program consists of six week sessions of pre-set coursework, with the entire program able to be completed in 22 months.

Runner-Up #2: Brandman University

  • Ranked 8th and 70th among bachelor's and graduate business online programs in 2013 by U.S. News & World Report
  • BU offers more than 170 certificate and degree programs in traditional and online formats
  • Boasts a students to faculty ratio of 12:1, according to the NCES

Originally established in 1958 as part of Chapman University, BU became an independent school in 2009 through a donation from the Brandman Foundation. At BU's Irvine campus, or via online, the school offers a 36-credit MPA degree program. The students may choose to pursue coursework from three areas of emphasis: local government, judicial administration, or organizational leadership. The program further offers students the option to customize their curriculum, with elective course selections among study areas such as accounting, finance, health administration, strategic management, HR, international business, and marketing. In addition to its Judicial Administration Certificate, BU looks to prepare its MPA graduates for opportunities in both the public and non-profit sectors.

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