The best MPA programs on campus offer career advancement with an affordable and also flexible graduate degree program. A master’s in public administration is a good career choice for social workers who want to take their career and earning potential to higher levels. The MPA is similar to a master’s in business administration (MBA). However, it focuses on working for government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector. The social worker degree coursework and experience you get from working as a social worker help you negotiate and make your way through bureaucracies to get them to function more efficiently.
Why get an MPA when other master’s degrees are seemingly better options for a social worker? You should get an MPA degree if you prefer working in roles that require management skills while working to make the world a better place. The type of work you’ll do in an MPA position does pull you back from working with people on a one-on-one basis. However, you can make a bigger impact on an individual’s life by creating and implementing sound policies.
How We Ranked the Best Master of Public Administration Programs
Social Work Degree Center’s editors know social workers need a degree that will pay off in their careers. That’s why we feature only accredited, reputable colleges and universities. Programs are ranked using public available data from IPEDS and Niche, including student reviews, graduate salary, and cost.
1. Carnegie Mellon University
Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College offers an MS in Public Policy, and Management (MSPPM). The program ranks among the most innovative Master of Public Policy programs in Pennsylvania and beyond. Moreover, the Carnegie Mellon program requires four semesters to complete, including a summer internship and capstone project to bring together theories with real-world applications. Additionally, this MPA degree from CMU offers eleven academic concentrations.
CMU started in the 20th Century as a technical school. The university started as the Mellon Institute in 1968. Since then, the school has grown tremendously. CMU’s seven colleges and schools serve approximately 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students each year. Additionally, Carnegie Mellon University’s urban campus covers more than 100 acres and is only a few miles from downtown Pittsburgh.
Degree: MS in Public Policy and Management
2. University of Minnesota Twin Cities
The University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs offers a Master of Public Affairs degree program (MPA). The program is for working professionals with more than ten years of professional experience. Furthermore, the University of Minnesota’s Master of Public Administration program requires 30-semester units, with fourteen credits included in a self-designed concentration. Minnesota’s Master of Public Policy program also requires a capstone project regarding public policy. Graduates of this MPA program have had rewarding careers in all levels of government, corporations, and also nonprofits.
The University of Minnesota Twin Cities is a land and space-grant school that opened in the 1850s as a college prep school. As a recognized public ivy, the University of Minnesota Twin Cities services more than 48,550 students online and on the university’s multiple campuses. Furthermore, the University has nineteen colleges and schools, plus six centers of interdisciplinary studies.
Degree: Master of Public Affairs
3. San Jose State University
San Jose State University offers a Master of Public Administration degree (MPA) program. It is one of the Golden State’s most well-respected Master of Public Policy degree programs. Also, this degree from San Jose State University has accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs & Administration. Additionally, this 36-credit master’s degree includes featured classes in public budgeting, public management, administrative research methods, and also policy analysis.
San Jose State University opened in the 1850s and is a California State University system member. Furthermore, SJSU consistently ranks among the leading suppliers of Silicon Valley specialists. The school’s student enrollment exceeds 33,000. San Jose State University is the west coast’s oldest public institution of higher education.
4. Binghampton University (SUNY)
Binghamton University offers a Master of Public Administration degree (MPA) program accredited by the NASPAA. This Master of Public Policy degree is also offered as a dual degree with social work, student affairs administration, or sustainable communities. Students graduating from Binghamton University’s graduate degree in public administration find rewarding management careers in nonprofit and also public organizations. In addition, degree candidates complete an internship of 300 hours in Binghamton or internationally.
Binghamton University (SUNY Binghamton) was founded in the 1940s as the Triple Cities College. The university maintains multiple campuses that serve approximately 18,050 students each year. In addition, this space-grant school is classified as a large research university. According to US News, Binghamton University is ranked among the best SUNY schools.
5. Texas Tech University
Texas Tech University offers a Master of Public Administration degree (MPA) program that is NASPAA accredited. The university’s Master of Public Policy degree program offers academic specializations in environmental policy & administration, nonprofit management, healthcare administration, and also public management. In addition, students studying full-time can complete this Master of Public Administration degree in public policy in two years, but students are afforded six years to complete the degree.
TTU is a research institution of higher education established in the 1920s as a technological college. Moreover, the school is the primary campus of the Texas Tech University System and a Hispanic-serving institution. With more than 40,000 students, Texas Tech University is the 7th largest higher learning institution in the Lone Star State. Additionally, Texas Tech University’s thirteen colleges and the school offer more than 150 programs.
6. San Francisco State University
San Francisco State University’s School of Public Affairs and Civic Engagement offers a Master of Public Administration degree (MPA) program delivered as a hybrid program. This NASPAA accredits San Francisco State University’s Master of Public Policy degree program offers seven academic concentrations in public policy, urban administration, nonprofit administration, public service management, criminal justice administration, gerontological administration, environmental administration, or a self-design emphasis. The Master of Public Administration program requires 39 to 42 credits, depending on the student’s study path.
San Francisco State University opened the year before the 20th century. Furthermore, SFSU is a member school of California’s State University System, with more than 26,950 undergraduate and postgraduate students. Additionally, the university’s urban campus covers more than 100 acres and is a few miles from the Pacific Coast.
7. University of Arizona
The University of Arizona offers a Master of Public Administration degree (MPA) program available for full or part-time students, with full-timers finishing in two years. Students graduating from the University of Arizona’s 36-credit Master of Public Policy degree enter the workforce working for local & state governments, nonprofit corporations, or higher learning institutions, to name a few. The graduate degree in public administration is also available as an accelerated program.
The Arizona Territorial government established the University of Arizona in 1885. U of A operates as a land and space-grant school with a student enrollment that nears 46,000 students on-campus and online. The University of Arizona’s student-athletes play as the Wildcats and have won various national titles in several sports.
8. George Washington University
George Washington University offers a Master of Public Administration degree (MPA) program that requires forty graduate credit units to meet the graduation criteria. Sample classes for George Washington University’s Master of Public Policy degree include perspectives on public values, policy analysis, managing public organizations, economics for public decision-making and research methods, and applied statistics. In addition, students complete a culminating capstone project. In addition, George Washington University offers seventeen academic concentrations for its Master of Public Administration degree program.
George Washington University was federally chartered as Columbian College in the 1820s. This private research higher learning is the largest school in the nation’s capital, serving approximately 26,900 students each year. In addition, George Washington University ranks among the top leading schools in the Northeast, which offers the most popular international study abroad programs. George Washington University maintains campuses in Virginia, Mount Vernon, and also Foggy Bottom.
9. University of Georgia
According to US News and World Report, the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs offers a Master of Public Administration degree (MPA) program that ranks among the country’s leading Master of Public Policy degree programs. UG offers eight concentrations for its MPA degree in criminal justice, health policy, public policy, higher education, public management, nonprofits, and public budgeting & finance. The University of Georgia’s Master of Public Administration degree program requires students to complete 41 graduate semester hours to meet UG’s graduation criteria.
The University of Georgia was established under the Morrill Land Grant Act in the mid-1780s and is the flagship, space-grant school of the state and the university system in Georgia. The school maintains more than 40,000 acres across thirty counties in Georgia that serve approximately 38,550 students. In addition, the University of Georgia holds the distinction of being one of the nation’s public ivy schools.
10. University of Texas at El Paso
The University of Texas’s El Paso offers a Master of Public Administration degree (MPA) program that is NASPAA accredited. UTEP’s Master of Public Policy degree has been offered since 1924 and offers students a chance to explore public policy and administration theories and applications. Graduates of the University of Texas’s Master of Public Administration degree enter the workforce working for local or state governments, nonprofit organizations, and agencies, to name a few.
The University of Texas-El Paso was founded in 1914 and is a member school of the Texas University System. The university’s urban campus in El Paso covers several hundred acres and serves approximately 25,050 undergraduate and graduate students each year. The University of Texas at El Paso is organized into eight colleges/schools that offer nearly 180 academic degrees and diploma/certificate programs.
11. Texas A&M University
Texas A&M University’s Bush School of Government and Public Service offers a Master of Public Service and Administration that is one the most innovative and leading Master of Public Administration degree programs across the nation, according to US News. In addition, Texas A&M University’s Master of Public Policy degree offers three academic concentrations in public management, nonprofit management, or public policy analysis. Featured core classes for this Master of Public Administration degree include fiscal management of nonprofits and the management and leadership of nonprofits, among others.
Texas A&M University was established in the 1870s and is a land, sea, and space-grant university that serves approximately 69,550 students each year online and on the school’s 5,000+ acre campus. Texas A&M University is also considered a senior military school, with a volunteer Corp of Cadets studying with civilian students.
Degree: Master of Public Service and Administration
12. University of Maryland Baltimore County
The University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) School of Public Policy offers a Master of Public Policy degree program that is one of the leading Master of Public Administration degree programs in Maryland and beyond. The University of Maryland’s Master of Public Policy degree offers students concentrations in health policy, emergency services, public management, education policy, urban policy, economics, policy history, and evaluation & analytical methods. Sample classes include governmental budgeting and managing public organizations, to name a few.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County was chartered in the 1960s to meet the educational needs of returning veterans seeking a degree on the GI Bill in the Baltimore area. More than 13,350 students attend classes online and suburban campuses on the schools. The University of Maryland Baltimore County comprises three colleges and four schools offering programs in the sciences, art/humanities, STEM, public policy, and social work, to name a few.
Degree: Master of Public Policy
13. Syracuse University
Syracuse University’s Maxwell School for Citizenship & Public Affairs offers a Master of Public Administration degree (MPA) program ranked as the leading one-year Master of Public Policy degree program. This intensive MPA degree from Syracuse is also offered in an eighteen-month academic path. Syracuse’s Master of Public Administration degree is offered with eight concentrations: data analytics, national/international security, environmental policy, public/nonprofit management, public sector innovation & management, state & local government financial analysis, and social policy.
Syracuse University was established in1870 as a seminary in Lima, NY. This private, space-grant research school is home to 21,150 students each year online and across the school’s multiple campuses. Syracuse University is among the best colleges for veterans, with the School of Public Affairs is ranked as the leading school for public administration in the nation.
14. University of Central Florida
The University of Central Florida’s School of Public Administration offers a Master of Public Administration degree (MPA) program that is one of the country’s best and most innovative Master of Public Policy degree programs. The graduate degree in public administration from the University of Central Florida offers six academic concentrations in public administration, urban & regional planning, research, public policy, nonprofit management, and emergency management. These Master of Public Administration degree programs have received accreditation from the NASPAA.
The University of Central Florida was founded in the 1960s as Florida Tech to serve the nearby space-coast, including Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center. This space-grant institution of higher learning with a student enrollment that exceeds 71,760 students each year. The University of Central Florida has a main campus in Orlando plus ten regional centers throughout central Florida.
15. George Mason University
George Mason University Schar School of Policy & Government offers a Master of Public Administration degree (MPA) program that US News ranks as one of the leading Master of Public Policy degree programs, with a subspecialty in emergency management. In addition, George Mason University’s graduate program in public policy has received accreditation from the NASPAA. Available concentrations include justice administration, homeland security, environmental science, international management, nonprofits, public management, nonprofit finance, policy studies, managing across sectors or state/local government.
George Mason University (GMU) was founded as a research institution of higher education in 1949. George Mason University operates multiple campuses in Virginia and an international location in South Korea. More than 38,850 students attend classes on the university’s campuses and online. The student to faculty ratio at GMU is an impressive 17 to 1, with 30% of graduate classes having less than 20 students.
16. Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis
Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) School of Public & Environmental Affairs\ offers a Master of Public Administration degree (MPA) program that requires degree candidates to complete 39 graduate credit units. This Master of Public Policy degree from Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis is available to part-time and full-time students. IUPUI’s graduate degree offers concentrations in nonprofit management, policy analysis, public management, innovation and social change, environmental policy and sustainability, homeland security & emergency management, and urban and regional governance.
Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) was founded in the late 1960s and now operates as a space-grant with approximately 30,000 students. The school’s campus covers more than 500 acres and sits on a peninsula alongside Indianapolis’s downtown. Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis’s law school is only one of two law schools.
17. Mississippi State University
Mississippi State University Department of Political Science & Public Administration offers a Master of Public Policy and Administration (MPSS) that is NASPAA-accredited and ranked among the state’s leading online Master of Public Administration degree (MPA) programs. Featured coursework for Mississippi State University’s Master of Public Policy degree program includes government organization and administrative theory, public policy, administrative law, public personnel management, and research methods for public affairs, plus an integrative Master of Public Administration capstone, to name a few.
Mississippi State University for Agriculture & Applied Science opened in the 1870s. MSU now operates as a land, space, and sea-grant designated institution of higher education with more than 22,850 students each year. MSU offers a distinguished lecture series each year that previously included Spike Lee, John Grisham, and also Condoleezza Rice. Additionally, Mississippi State offers nearly 200 programs from its twelve schools and colleges.
Degree: Master of Public Policy and Administration
18. University of North Carolina at Charlotte
The University of North Carolina at Charlotte offers a NASPAA-accredited Master of Public Administration degree (MPA) program. It is one of the nation’s leading Master of Public Policy degree programs. Furthermore, UNC Charlotte’s graduate degree in public policy requires 39 graduate semester hours to meet program criteria. Featured core classes for this UNC program include a foundation in public administration, public budgeting, human resources, and also quantitative research methods. In addition, available concentrations include nonprofits, urban management, public finance, emergency management, and arts administration.
The Charlotte campus within the University of North Carolina started in the 1940s and is the largest higher learning institution in and around the Charlotte region. UNCC has more than 30,000 students each year. Additionally, UNC Charlotte’s nine colleges and schools offer nearly 150 programs at the bachelor’s, master’s, and also doctoral levels.
19. University of Maryland
The University of Maryland School of Public Policy offers a variety of Master of Public Administration degree programs. These graduate programs include a Master of Public Policy, a Master of Public Management, a Master of Professional Studies in Public Administration, an Executive Master of Public Management, and a Master of Public Management, plus dual degree options. The core curriculum for this Master of Public Administration degree includes governance, leadership, and accountability, examining social identity and normative & political dimensions of public policy, among others.
The University of Maryland (UMD) was established under the Morrill Land Grant Act in the 1850s. In addition, the University of Maryland operates as a sea and space-grant school and the flagship campus of the Maryland University System. More than 41 150 undergraduate and postgraduate students attend classes offered by the public ivy university.
Degree: MPP, MPM, MPS-MPA, EMPA
20. University of Alabama at Birmingham
The University of Alabama at Birmingham offers a Master of Public Administration degree (MPA) program that has received the NASPAA. Degree candidates enrolled in UAB’s Master of Public Policy degree program must complete 39-42 semester hours, depending on the professional experience. In addition, the University of Alabama at Birmingham offers students two tracks to graduation, a thesis track and a non-thesis track. Therefore, this program in public policy can be a dual degree.
The Birmingham campus within the University of Alabama is a research school that operates as a sea and space-grant designated institution of higher education. Founded in the late 1960s, the University of Alabama at Birmingham now serves approximately 22,350 students each year online and on the Birmingham campus. The University of Alabama at Birmingham has eleven colleges and schools. Additionally, the school offers more than 120 academic and diploma programs.
21. University of Kansas
The University of Kansas School of Public Affairs & Administration offers a Master of Public Administration degree (MPA) program ranked among the leading Master of Public Policy degree programs by US News & World Report. This graduate degree from the University of Kansas requires 43 graduate semester hours. Available concentrations include policy, sustainability, urban planning, or law & society. This two-year degree also offers students an opportunity to participate in the University of Kansas’s city management fellowship program.
The University of Kansas is a research institution of higher education that opened in the mid-1860s. Kansas maintains multiple campuses as the state’s flagship school that serves nearly 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students each year. Additionally, the University of Kansas is also a space-grant institution of higher learning.
22. Ohio State University
Ohio State University‘s Glenn College of Public Affairs offers a Master of Public Administration degree (MPA) program that prepares students for rewarding careers in economics, management, and public policy or administration. The MPP classes are delivered in half-semester modules that last seven weeks. Featured elective coursework includes lobbying and government relations, survey design in public affairs, public affairs skills, conveying quantitative data in public affairs, and database management, among others.
Ohio State University is a flagship land-grant school that opened in 1870. Ohio State University is also a designated sea-grant and space-grant research school with a student enrollment across all campuses of approximately 67,950. In addition, OSU is among the few public schools that is a Public Ivy.
23. Georgia State University
Georgia State University’s Young School of Policy Studies offers a Master of Public Administration degree (MPA) program that has received NASPAA accreditation. Degree candidates must complete 39 graduate semester credits to graduate. Furthermore, twelve credits are in the student’s academic concentration and may include criminal justice management and urban planning & economic development. Other classes are public health, management & finance, nonprofit management, and also policy analysis and program evaluation. In addition, with prior approval, students may customize concentrations to match their career goals.
Georgia State University started as an evening school for technology in 1913. GSU operates as one of the state’s four research schools with the university system. The total student enrollment for postgraduate and undergraduate students is nearly 53,000 each year. It is estimated that Georgia State University has an economic impact of $2.5 billion.
24. University of Texas at Austin
The University of Texas at Austin offers a Master of Public Administration degree (MPA) program available in several formats – a one-year traditional Master of Public Policy degree, an integrated MPA, and a Master of Public Administration with an academic focus in economics. The University of Texas’s graduate degree in public administration offers exceptional education and creates a customized curriculum to meet the student’s academic and career objectives. Available tracks for this Master of Public Administration degree include managerial accounting, financial reporting, taxation, generalist, and a host of related certificate programs.
The University of Texas at Austin, established in the 1880s, operates as a public, space-grant school. The University of Texas is also the University of Texas’s flagship campus, serving more than 50,850,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students each year. In addition, student-Athletes at the University of Texas in Austin participate in the Big 12 conference of the NCAA as Longhorns.
25. Arizona State University
Arizona State University’s School of Public Affairs offers a Master of Public Policy (MPP) degree & a Master of Public Administration degree (MPA) program among Arizona’s leading graduate degrees in public policy. In addition, these public administration degrees from ASU have received NASPAA accreditation. Arizona State University’s MPA degrees require 42 semester hours, with students enrolled in the program afforded six years to complete the program. Applicants to this ASU program may transfer up to 12 credit hours if eligible.
Arizona State University started in 1885, several years before the Arizona Territory reached statehood. With a student enrollment exceeding 125,000, Arizona State University is one of the largest student enrollments in the United States and the world. Student-athletes at ASU compete in 25 varsity sports. The number of faculty & staff members working at Arizona State University totals more than 4,650.
What Makes a Good MPA Program?
Looking at masters in public administration rankings for schools across the country is a good starting point to find a school that ranks high for the best masters of public administration programs. The best masters in public policy programs are ones that go beyond offering a classroom education and provide students with the opportunity to meet people in the field and find employment. Students of a master’s in public policy program need opportunities to connect with people who have the power to employ them after graduation in the form of internships networking events to learn more about the field along with the who’s who to talk to. In addition, theaters in public policy programs have government connections that help funnel students into government jobs after graduation.
Another feature of the best master’s in public administration programs is the opportunity for international study and internships. Students who want to work in an international setting can more easily find their way into a foreign organization through a school’s internship program. If this is your goal, make sure to look at the best masters in public policy programs that feature study abroad and a track record of helping students find employment in an international or foreign organization.
What is Public Administration?
When looking at public administration, you’ll find that it has similarities to business administration in that you manage an organization. Still, you work primarily in the public sector instead of the private sector. The loos public administration definition is working in executive positions to craft policies and manage their implementation.
The role requires leadership skills and the ability to perform economic analysis, among other competencies and aptitudes. The benefits of studying public administration come in the form of more employers in terms of where can a public administrator work, higher salary, and leadership opportunities.
What Can I Do With an MPA?
You can do a lot with an MPA. Furthermore, you will find many public administration jobs when you search for MPA jobs. Whether your MPA is traditional or an online MPA degree, there are many opportunities. Public administration jobs are in community organizations at the local, state, and also federal government levels. Additionally, private organizations are a great place to work. In these positions, employees engage in crafting policies.
However, public administration careers are not just with the government or an NGO. You’ll find many good answers to the question of “what can I do with a master’s in public administration?” when it comes to the areas of employment related to the degree.
Here are some public administration job examples:
- Public administration consultant
- City manager
- Budget analyst
- Fundraising manager
- Foreign Service Officer
- Civil Service
- Director of development
- Elected offices
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, public administration careers and salaries average $98,890 per year. The BLS uses Administrative Services and Facilities Manage as an umbrella description for public administration job titles. The public administration jobs will grow 9% between 2020 and 2030, which matches the average growth rate for all jobs in general. Furthermore, most vacancies are from people retiring from the role and moving into other occupations.
Public Administration Careers
You don’t have to go far when finding public administration jobs. The chances are good that there’s a need for someone with public administration skills in your own backyard. You’ll find the question of “what can I do with a master’s in public administration?” an easy one to answer when looking at public administration careers. So, make sure to find a master of the public administration program with a concentration that aligns with your goals. So, choosing the right degree in the type of work you want to do is vital.