University Headquarters (HQ) is an industry-leading, independent educational organization that provides independent college rankings using a proprietary formula to create first class unbiased rankings. The team at University HQ strives to provide accurate and trustworthy rankings that highlights the best programs for public administration in North Carolina.

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What is Public Administration Manager?

In North Carolina, pursuing a degree in public administration offers a blend of academic theory and practical skills tailored for governance and public service. You'll find a range of programs available at various institutions in the state, each fostering a deep understanding of the ethical, administrative, and leadership challenges in public sector management. With esteemed universities in North Carolina offering these programs, students can join a vibrant community dedicated to effective and accountable service.

The flexibility of North Carolina's public administration educational paths accommodates both traditional students and working professionals. Online programs are crafted to maintain the same level of rigor and depth as their on-campus counterparts, ensuring that an online Master of Public Administration (MPA) is as enriching and recognized as any residential program. Notably, online learning platforms also enhance accessibility, allowing students to balance their studies with personal and professional commitments. Students can also tap into extensive alumni networks and resources for scholarships, certifications, and professional development, which could significantly impact their career trajectories within the public sector.

Understanding Public Administration

Public administration is the backbone of government operations and policymaking. As you explore this field, you'll recognize it as the intersection where management meets public service.

Public administrators serve crucial roles by implementing policies, managing government resources, and ensuring the smooth functioning of government operations. You'll find them working at all levels of government—from local municipalities to federal agencies—crafting solutions to community issues, overseeing public projects, and maintaining transparency and efficiency within the public sector.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Policy Implementation: Transforming legislative directives into actionable programs.
  • Resource Management: Overseeing budget allocation, human resources, and government assets.
  • Public Engagement: Facilitating communication between the government and its citizens.

Work Environments:

  • Local, State, and Federal Agencies: Offering a direct impact on your immediate community or the nation at large.
  • Non-profit Organizations: Administrators in non-profits work to advocate for and provide services in line with their organization's mission.
  • Educational Institutions: Implementing programs and policies that affect the academic sector.

Through your deeper understanding of public admin and government administration, you'll be equipped to contribute to effective governance. Whether you're interested in policy analysis, organizational leadership, or ensuring that public services meet the needs of the community, public administration is a field that affords a myriad of opportunities to make a meaningful difference.

Online Education Pathways for a Public Administration Degree in North Carolina

Online Associate Degree in Public Administration (AS)

An associate degree in public administration provides you with a foundational understanding of public service operations and is often a steppingstone toward a bachelor's degree. This degree is suited for those starting their academic journey or professionals seeking to enhance their credentials and they usually take around two years to complete.

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Online Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration (BS)

A bachelor’s degree in public administration equips you with comprehensive skills in policy analysis and public sector management. This program typically spans four years and prepares students for entry-level public service roles or graduate studies. This is also the most commonly earned degree level in this field.

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Online Master’s Degree in Public Administration (MS)

A Master of Public Administration (MPA) is a prestigious program that can take two to five years to complete depending on whether you're a full-time or part-time student. Universities in NC offer high-quality fully online MPA programs, known for affordability and a commitment to student success. These programs often include various concentrations, such as those in nonprofit management or public policy.

University HQ national online rankings for MS in public administration

Online PhD in Public Administration (PHD)

A PhD in public administration is for individuals aspiring to reach the pinnacle of academic achievement in the field. Conducting original research and teaching at the university level are common paths for those who hold this degree. Online opportunities for a PhD are more limited but are starting to emerge with advancements in digital education.

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Online Public Administration Certifications

Professional certifications in public administration can complement your degree and highlight your expertise in specific domains like budgeting, ethics, and leadership. These programs can be found online or through local institutions and are typically short in duration, providing you with the credentials to progress in public sector roles.

Navigating Public Administration Programs

In North Carolina, you have the opportunity to enroll in a Master of Public Administration (MPA) through several esteemed institutions. Whether you choose a fully online, on-campus, or hybrid format - these programs offer quality education designed to cater to diverse professional goals and lifestyles.

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Comparing the Online and On-campus Options

When selecting between online and on-campus MPA programs, consider the structure and delivery of each.

It’s crucial to review each program’s course delivery to align with your scheduling needs.

  • Online Programs: Flexibility for working professionals, study from any location.
  • On-campus Programs: Face-to-face interaction, set class schedules.

Benefits of Online Learning

Online learning delivers distinct advantages for advancing your education in public administration.

  • Flexibility: Online MPA programs often cater to working professionals who require a more adaptable schedule.
  • Accessibility: Geographic barriers are eliminated, allowing you to access top-tier programs no matter your location in North Carolina or beyond.

It's important to review and compare the unique features of online MPA or Master’s in Public Affairs programs, as they are each designed with different professional outcomes in mind. Some require a certain level of professional experience and are geared toward those looking to enhance their leadership skills within the sector.

Financial Aid and Scholarships for Public Administration Degrees

When pursuing a public administration program in North Carolina, you have a variety of financial aid and scholarship options at your disposal to help with tuition costs. Scholarships can significantly reduce your educational expenses, so it's important to apply to as many as possible.

General Financial Aid Advice

  • Complete the FAFSA: The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is your gateway to federal loans, grants, and work-study funds.
  • Search Widely: Seek out scholarships from professional organizations, non-profits, and government agencies related to public administration and your specific interests.
  • Institutional Scholarships: Check if your chosen institution in North Carolina offers scholarships for executive or online programs, like the Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA) track at North Carolina Central University.

Remember, the earlier you apply, the better your chances of receiving financial support. Keep close attention to the eligibility requirements and deadlines for each scholarship or financial aid program.

Licensing and Certification

In pursuing a career in public administration in North Carolina, you'll need to consider the relevant certifications and state-specific requirements that can enhance your qualifications.

Certification Programs

You have the opportunity to obtain various professional certifications that can bolster your credentials. These certifications are not typically mandatory for public administration roles but can provide you with a competitive edge. Programs such as the Certified Public Manager (CPM) and credentials from professional organizations like the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) are widely recognized.

Some of the prevalent certifications include:

  • Certified Public Manager (CPM)
  • Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM)
  • Certified Municipal Clerk (CMC)

Each of these certifications focuses on specific skills and knowledge areas crucial for public administration professionals.

State-Specific Requirements

Your career in public administration may require a familiarity with North Carolina's laws and regulations. State-specific requirements could encompass knowledge of the local government structure, budgeting procedures, and legal frameworks. You are advised to stay updated with the North Carolina Public Administration statutes that might affect your profession.

Requirements may vary based on the position, but can include:

  • Understanding of the North Carolina General Statutes
  • Knowledge of local government functions and procedures
  • Compliance with state ethics and accountability standards

Engagement in continuous learning through workshops and state-sponsored training programs can keep you informed of these requirements.

Networking and Professional Organizations

In North Carolina, your Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree can open numerous avenues for networking and connecting with industry professionals. Having access to a robust network and being part of professional organizations are critical for fostering growth and opportunity in public service.

Professional Associations

The Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA) is paramount when discussing professional associations linked to your MPA. It serves as the global standard in public service education, and the accreditation from NASPAA represents a significant mark of quality for MPA programs across the state. Membership and involvement in NASPAA can offer you access to the most recent research, industry standards, and networking opportunities with educators and professionals alike.

Networking Events and Opportunities

Numerous networking events are organized throughout North Carolina, specifically tailored for MPA students and graduates.

These often include:

  • Job Fairs: Connect directly with potential employers in the public sector
  • Alumni Events: A chance to meet and engage with successful MPA graduates who are active in their communities
  • Professional Conferences: Venues where you can learn from experts in the field and build valuable connections

Universities in North Carolina boast a job placement record for MPA graduates that surpasses 90%, hinting at an extensive network and strong relationships with public sector employers. Taking advantage of these events can significantly enhance your career prospects and professional development.

Potential Careers and Salaries for PA Graduates

As you explore careers with a public administration degree in North Carolina, you'll find a diverse array of roles that allow you to apply your skills in public management, policy analysis, and administration across various sectors including government, nonprofit organizations, and private entities. Your degree positions you for meaningful work that can influence public policy and governance.

Public Policy Analysts:

Job Description: As a public policy analyst, you can expect to engage in researching, analyzing, and evaluating the impacts of public policies and regulations. Your role is crucial in shaping legislation and informing government decisions.


  • Master's degree, Growth Potential 7% (Faster than average)
  • Research new proposed policies
  • Collect data from primary and secondary sources
  • Analyze the data and draft a proposal on the impacts
  • Develop solutions for affected organizations

Median Salary: $132,350

Administrative Specialists:

Job Description: Administrative specialists play a vital role in the daily operations of government agencies and departments. Your proficiency in managing projects and ensuring that policies are implemented effectively will be at the core of your responsibilities.


  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Answer telephones and take messages or transfer calls
  • Schedule appointments and update event calendars
  • Arrange staff meetings
  • Handle incoming and outgoing mail and faxes

Median Salary: $46,010

Non-Profit General Managers:

Job Description: If you're looking to make an impact within the non-profit sector, the role of a non-profit general manager will have you overseeing programs, fundraising efforts, and strategic planning initiatives to advance the organization's mission.


  • Bachelor's degree, 5 years or more work experience
  • Establish and carry out departmental or organizational goals, policies, and procedures
  • Direct and oversee an organization’s financial and budgetary activities
  • Manage general activities related to making products and providing services
  • Consult with other executives, staff, and board members about general operations

Median Salary: $103,840

Chief Operating Officer:

Job Description: As a COO, often a role found in larger cities or more established organizations, you will be guiding and implementing high-level strategies, managing overall operations, and setting the path toward fiscal and operational success.


  • Bachelor's degree, 5 years or more work experience
  • Determine and formulate policies and provide overall direction of companies or private and public sector organizations within guidelines set up by a board of directors or similar governing body
  • Direct or coordinate an organization's financial or budget activities to fund operations, maximize investments, or increase efficiency
  • Confer with board members, organization officials, or staff members to discuss issues, coordinate activities, or resolve problems
  • Prepare budgets for approval, including those for funding or implementation of programs

Median Salary: $258,900

In each of these roles, your ability to leverage your public administration degree will be essential in steering your career trajectory within the state of North Carolina. Embarking on the path to become a public administrator here, you'll find that your impact and earning potential can grow as you gain experience and take on increased responsibilities.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the admission requirements for a master’s public administration degree?

To enroll in an online MPA program, you usually need to have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. Additional requirements may include letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and standardized test scores, although some programs may waive the latter for applicants with work experience or a high undergraduate GPA.

Are there any online public administration degree options available in North Carolina?

Yes, several universities in North Carolina offer online Public Administration programs. These programs are designed to cater to both in-state and out-of-state students, providing flexibility for those who are working or have other commitments. You can find options at UNC Pembroke and Chapel Hill, North Carolina Central University, and more.

How much does it generally cost to pursue a public administration degree?

The cost for an MPA program varies depending on the institution and the length of the program. There is also usually a higher cost per credit hour for graduate programs than there is for undergraduate options. Tuition fees can range widely, so it's essential to research the specific costs at the university you're interested in attending.

How can I determine if a public administration degree program in North Carolina is accredited?

A school in this state should be regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. You can verify the accreditation of an MPA program by checking if it's accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA). Accredited programs meet established standards of quality for education in public administration.

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