Top Ranked Public Administration Degree Program - San Francisco, CA

San Francisco has many schools with programs in public administration. Find the best program for you by reading about schools' rankings, program offerings and tuition info.

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School and Ranking Information

There are seven schools within a 25-mile radius of downtown San Francisco with academic programs in public affairs. Based on program rankings and graduation rates, the top public administration schools in the San Francisco area are:

  • Winner: The University of California - Berkeley ranks sixth among public affairs graduate schools by U.S. News and World Report. It offers master's and doctoral programs.
  • Runner-Up #1: San Francisco State University is ranked 87th among public affairs graduate schools. It offers master's degrees.
  • Runner-Up #2: The University of San Francisco is also a ranked a public affairs graduate school. It offers bachelor's and master's degrees and an online option for students.

School Comparison Table

University of California - Berkeley San Francisco State University University of San Francisco
Rankings (2013) #6 among public affairs graduate schools* #87 among public affairs graduate schools* #121 among public affairs graduate schools*
Location Berkeley, California (11 miles from downtown San Francisco) San Francisco San Francisco
School Type 4-year; public 4-year; public 4-year; private not-for-profit
Tuition and Fees (2012-2013) $12,874 (in-state, graduate),
$27,976 (out-of-state, graduate)**
$7,706 (in-state, graduate),
$17,252 (out-of-state, graduate)**
$38,884 (undergraduate),
$20,390 (graduate)**
Public Administration Degree Levels Offered Master's and doctoral degrees Master's degrees Bachelor's and master's degrees
Public Administration Degrees Awarded (All Levels) in 2011-2012 80** 42** 84**
Most Popular Program (2011-2012) Master of Public Policy (76 degrees awarded)** Master of Public Administration (42 degrees awarded)** Master of Public Administration (62 degrees awarded)**
Graduation Rate (in 150% of Normal Program Time) for , 2005 Entering Class 90%** 46%** 70%**
Noteworthy Mid-career executive programs Chapter of NASPAA national honors society (Phi Alpha Alpha) Online option for MPA program

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

Winner: University of California - Berkeley

  • Public management administration graduate program ranked #29 by U.S. News & World Report (2012)
  • Public policy analysis graduate program ranked #1 by U.S. News & World Report (2012)
  • Dual-degree programs available
  • Client-based projects and required internships
  • Undergraduate minor available

The University of California - Berkeley opened in 1869 as the flagship campus of the University of California system. Through the Goldman School of Public Policy, undergraduate students can complete a minor in public policy analysis and management. Graduate students can pursue a Master of Public Policy (MPP). The MPP program focuses on providing students with quantitative research opportunities as well as hands-on service-learning experience. Core coursework includes topics such as agency management, public leadership and decision analysis. Interdisciplinary elective topics are available in areas of study that include city planning, education, public health, political science and economics.

In addition to a required summer internship, MPP students may also engage in introductory and advanced client-based research projects in public policy. Research opportunities are also available through four research centers that study issues such as environmental public policy and democratic engagement. Students seeking a doctoral degree can pursue the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Public Policy and Management.

First Runner-Up: San Francisco State University

  • Master of Public Administration (MPA) program is accredited through the National Association of Schools for Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA)
  • Six areas of emphasis
  • Graduate certificates available
  • Community-service learning opportunities
  • Undergraduate major in urban studies available

San Francisco State University was founded as a teaching college in 1899. Housed within the College of Health and Social Sciences is the School of Public Affairs and Civic Engagement. The Department of Public Administration offers a traditional NASPAA-accredited MPA program with emphasis options in public management, public policy, criminal justice administration, nonprofit administration, urban administration and environmental administration. The 42-unit MPA program includes an internship, which can be waived with evidence of professional experience.

Foundation courses cover topics such as data analysis, research design and policy process. Students also take management courses covering performance planning, program delivery and resource allocation, among other topics. The department offers some courses that provide students with the opportunity to earn credits for community-service learning through the university's Institute for Civic and Community Engagement. Students can also earn professional development certificates in nonprofit management through the College of Extended Learning.

Second Runner-Up: University of San Francisco

  • NASPAA-accredited MPA program
  • Multiple related graduate programs
  • Research, academic and professional development institutes and centers

The University of San Francisco is a private Jesuit Catholic institution, originally named St. Ignatius Academy prior to being granted a college charter in 1859. The School of Management offers a bachelor's degree program in management with an emphasis in public and nonprofit administration. Undergraduate public administration students take courses in human resource management, management strategy and program evaluation. This program is available for traditional students during the day and as a degree-completion program for working professionals during the evenings.

The school also offers an NASPAA-accredited MPA program through its Department of Public and Nonprofit Administration. The program is designed to be completed in 28 months and may be completed on campus or online. Program courses include topics such as policy analysis, leadership ethics, public communication and program evaluation. This program offers a specialization option in health services administration. Students can also pursue a specialized Master of Nonprofit Administration, a degree program covering topics such as philanthropy, fundraising, volunteer management, governmental contracting and nonprofit marketing.

Located in the College of Arts and Sciences, the Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good offers internships, degree programs and service-learning opportunities. The McCarthy Center offers an undergraduate minor in public service and community engagement as well as graduate programs leading to either a Master of Arts in Urban Affairs or a Master of Public Affairs. The 36-credit Master of Public Affairs program includes an internship and culminates in a project. Graduate public affairs courses include topics such as applied democratic theory, political psychology, urban politics and governmental relations.

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