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Top Ranked Master's in Public Administration Degree - Atlanta, GA

Atlanta has few schools with master's degree programs in public administration. Find the best program for you by reading about schools' rankings, program offerings and tuition info.

School and Ranking Information

Master of Public Administration programs in and near Atlanta can be found in public and private nonprofit schools, as well as for-profit institutions. Based on rankings, graduation rates and number of degrees awarded, the following schools are considered the top three in Atlanta for MPA programs:

  • Winner: With the highest ranked public administration program, the highest graduation rate and the most MPA degrees granted, Georgia State University emerges as the top school in Atlanta for this degree program.
  • Runner Up #1: Kennesaw State University is named as the first runner up because its graduation rate and number of MPA degrees conferred are not as high as Georgia State's. The school is the second largest among the three in terms of student enrollment.
  • Runner Up #3: Due to it having the lowest number of degrees awarded and the lowest graduation rate of the three schools, Clark Atlanta University claims the third spot. It is, however, the only private nonprofit school found in Atlanta that has an MPA program.

School Comparison Chart

Category Georgia State University Kennesaw State University Clark Atlanta University
Rankings #24 in the country for Public Management Administration master's programs in 2012* #149 in the country for Public Affairs in 2012* #9 for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, nationwide in 2014*
Location Atlanta, GA Kennesaw, GA (22.4 miles from Atlanta) Atlanta, GA
School Type 4-year, public 4-year, public 4-year, private not-for-profit
Tuition & Fees (2012-2013) $8,176 (graduate, in-state)
$23,728 (graduate, out-of-state)**
$7,834 (graduate, in-state)
$24,024 (graduate, out-of-state)**
$14,948**
Public Administration Degrees Awarded (Master's) in 2011-2012 63** 34** 10**
Undergraduate Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal program time) for 2006 Entering Class 51%** 42%** 39%**
Noteworthy All 22 departmental faculty hold doctoral degrees On-campus chapter of Pi Alpha Alpha, the National Honor Society for Public Affairs and Administration Students can choose from five different concentrations

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

Winner: Georgia State University

  • Students choose one of six concentrations
  • Nearly 10 departmental scholarships and fellowships are available, most of which include tuition waivers and stipends
  • 'The Briefing' newsletter, published by GSU's School of Policy Studies 2-3 times per year, includes student and faculty news, events, current research projects, and program information

Not only did U.S. News & World Report rank GSU as the nation's 23rd best graduate program for public affairs in 2012, but a number of the school's MPA program concentrations also scored in the top 30. In order to graduate, students must complete 39 hours of coursework, including an internship and 12 hours in a chosen concentration. Available concentrations include planning and economic development, policy analysis and evaluation, management and finance, nonprofit management, criminal justice, and public health. All classes are taught in the late afternoon and evening, allowing working students to earn their degrees after business hours.

Each year, the school's International Center for Public Policy hosts visiting scholars from around the world and presents an International Policy Lecture Series. Students may also benefit from the roughly 50 workshops and seminars the school presents each year, where past speakers have included U.S. President Bill Clinton, Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, and economist Paul Krugman.

Runner-Up #1: Kennesaw State University

  • Students have the option of pursuing dual MPA/MBA degrees
  • Public Administration Student Association provides networking opportunities
  • Ranked #30 for Top Public Schools in the country by U.S. News & World Report in 2014

Information available on KSU's website in 2013 noted that there were 109 students pursuing master's degrees in public administration. Of those students, 58 were part-time and almost three-fourths were women. MPA students must complete 36 hours of coursework; 24 in core classes, nine in a chosen concentration, and three in an internship or similar project. Degree concentrations include governmental administration, nonprofit administration, and information systems administration

The department's seven faculty members, all of whom hold doctoral degrees, have experience in a variety of public administration careers, including local and federal government, private consulting, grant writing, and overseas project design and implementation. The man who created KSU's MPA program is also still serving as a member of the faculty. A joint program with the College of Business allows students to earn both MPA and MBA degrees in 51 credit hours, as opposed to the 72 hours it would take to earn the degrees separately.

Runner-Up #2: Clark Atlanta University

  • School has an active Public Administration Student Association

Clark's MPA program has been following NASPAA standards since 1978. In addition to 42 semester hours of coursework and a 12-week internship, MPA students must write and defend an 'Exit Paper' in order to graduate. Concentrations available include community and economic development, international administration and development management, human resources, public policy, and urban administration.

All six faculty members hold doctoral degrees, including one with a DPA. The Public Administration Student Association hosts guest speakers and events and also volunteers in the local community. The Carnegie Commission of Higher Education classifies Clark as a Doctoral Research University, and both students and faculty are encouraged to participate in research projects.


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