What Are the Best Master of Public Administration Programs?

Learn about top schools where you can earn a Master of Public Administration degree. Get information about schools, rankings, and programs so that you can decide if one of them is right for you.

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Public administration degree programs teach students about aspects such as policy, financing, public affairs, and administration. These top schools offer many unique benefits when earning an MPA, including dual degree availability and various specialization options.

School Overviews

Master of Public Administration (MPA) students take classes in public finance, personnel management, organizational behavior, and public affairs economics. Many master's degree programs in public administration have specializations in such areas as non-profit management or global administration. Some of the best MPA programs in the U.S. are at Arizona State University in Tempe, Syracuse University in New York, and Harvard University in Cambridge, all of which offer dual program options.

These schools were ranked as some of the best in the country offering a master's in public administration by U.S. News & World Report in 2016.

Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona

School Highlight: U.S. News & World Report has not only ranked ASU among the top 20 schools offering MPA programs, but also #9 in nonprofit management and #11 in public finance and budgeting.

As of 2016, this top U.S. college was listed as a 'Best Western College' by The Princeton Review. Faculty members include Nobel Prize winners, National Academy of Science members, and Fulbright scholars. Through the College of Public Programs' School of Public Affairs, students can pursue a Master of Public Administration with concentrations in urban administration or not-for-profit management. Graduate students can also pursue a dual Master of Public Administration/Master of Social Work degree.

Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York

School Highlight: SU's Maxwell School sponsors 10 internationally-recognized research centers and institutes.

In 2016 - the most recent year that U.S. News & World Report ranked graduate public administration schools - Syracuse University was listed as having the #1 public administration program in the nation. The Maxwell School's Department of Public Administration offers a 40-credit Master of Public Administration program as well as a 30-credit curriculum for professionals with at least eight years of public administration experience. The MPA program offers concentrations in seven areas, including environmental policy and administration, national security and international policy, non-profit management, and social policy. The school also offers two dual degrees - a Master of Public Administration/Juris Doctor and a Juris Doctor/Master of Arts in International Relations.

Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts

School Highlight: Harvard is ranked #2 on U.S. News & World Report's list of best National Universities in 2016.

In 2016, this school was ranked as the #7 public administration program in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, among many other distinctions. Harvard offers both a 64-credit MPA degree as well as a 48-credit option, allowing students to complete both an MPA and another degree in business, law, medicine, or a related field at the same time. Both options offer high degrees of personalization according to a student's preferences, requiring two elective courses in a policy area of concentration as well as four credits in economics and quantitative analysis, political thought and institutions, and management and leadership.

Top Public Administration Programs

In addition, these are also schools known for consistent quality in their public administration master's programs.

  • Indiana University - Bloomington is ranked #3 on U.S. News & World Report's 2016 listing of schools with the best public management administration programs.
  • Students at New York University have access to the Financial Access Initiative, the Furman Center for Real Estate & Urban Policy, and the Research Center for Leadership in Action, designed to help students tackle complex problems and encourage research in public administration and similar fields.
  • The John Glenn School of Public Affairs at Ohio State University in Columbus has a Washington office that works with government agencies and provides a Washington Academic Internship Program.
  • University of Kansas, located in Lawrence, Kansas, was ranked #6 on U.S. News & World Report's listing of best schools with public management administration programs in 2016.
  • 25% of students in the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy of the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor come from international countries.
  • MPA students enrolled at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have access to professional work experience in their first year, and also have access to a job posting listserv, job fair, and mentoring program.
  • Students have the option to complete the University of Southern California in Los Angeles' MPA program online.

Arizona State, Syracuse, and Harvard are three of the top universities in the country offering Master of Public Administration degrees. These and many more have been highly ranked by the U.S. News & World Report due to the exceptional quality of their degrees.

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