Best Online MBA Programs in Public Administration for 2022

Your Guide to Career, Curriculum and Education

Public administration is a broad term that means that managers and employees work in a government organization, carrying out government policies. If you plan to work in a government office, you may work in an executive branch at a local, state, or federal level. You’ll be responsible for maintaining follow-through for all policies allowing the organization or department to function as efficiently as possible, working with officials such as mayoral, governor’s or even presidential staffers, and keeping your budget under control among other things.

You may also end up working to market services to citizens who may need them. An example may be the initiation of services related to a public health threat. As citizens are informed of the health threat, they will be informed of the rollout and distribution of associated services or products.

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What is an MBA in Public Administration?

Earning your Master of Business Administration in Public Administration allows you to blend two distinct disciplines into one function. You’ll be prepared to manage large groups of people and understand how to incorporate a respect for those people your department serves. Even if you end up working with a non-profit organization or for a nongovernmental organization (NGO), your unique skill set and knowledge mean you’ll be able to accomplish a lot in your technology role.

Look for an MBA in Public Administration that offers courses that give you the knowledge and skills you need to work in any type of organization, but that also provides a focus on the specific challenges of a public role. You’ll want to make sure you search for accredited degree programs to ensure that you gain the skills you need to be successful, especially developing and honing skills in management, finance, leadership, strategy and decision making. Additional skills and considerations you may want to look into are strategic management, business management, project management and public service in the public sector.

What Can You Do with an MBA in Public Administration?


  • Fundraising Manager
    Average annual salary: $55,000

    You’re most likely going to be working for a non-profit organization if you take on this role. Your efforts will focus on finding and obtaining funding for your organization’s initiatives.

    You can expect to interact frequently with persons within the organizations you approach for money. You may also communicate with corporate leaders to request financial assistance, write grants, plan events, or even interact with normal people who are interested in your group’s work. It all depends on the type of fundraising initiatives you prepare and push forward. Most, if not all, of those decisions will be up to you.

    You’ll be required to keep in mind the mission of your organization and know what its goals and operational processes are.

  • Public Administration Consultant/Public Affairs Consultant
    Average annual salary: $57,000

    As a consultant, you’ll be responsible for analyzing an organizations daily operations. Once you have completed analyzing their day-to-day work, you’ll offer recommendations as to how they would be able to meet stated goals more efficiently. You may also suggest ways to increase organizational funding and develop new policies that help them to meet larger goals.

  • City Manager
    Average annual salary: $92,000

    In this role, you’re responsible for supervising every department of the city’s government. this includes purchasing, budgeting, accounting, and other departmental offices. You may need to carry out research that informs you about the allocation of city finances and identify areas where costs can be lowered.

    As a city manager, you may also receive suggestions and complaints about various issues within the city, such as efficient operation of the city’s pools or timely road maintenance. City administrators responsible for finances may make recommendations for investments to increase income.

  • Budget Analyst
    Average annual salary: $61,000

    In this position, you’re charged with providing both assistance and analysis as an organization creates a new budget. You may review past years’ performance, study fund allocation, and help the organization stick to both current and future budgets. It’s your responsibility to ensure that upcoming budget funds have been allocated in the most efficient and effective way possible.

Online vs. On-Campus for an MBA in Public Administration


An online Master Of Business Administration in Public Administration isn’t all that different from earning an on-campus degree in the same field. The focus in both will be business administration at the master’s level, while spending time learning about public administration allows you to easily work in certain kinds of organizations.

You’ll learn about public policy, government budgeting, public law, and ethics so that, when you are working in a public administration position, you’ll be able to tackle issues of ethics, laws affecting public matters, and more. You’ll be prepared to work in a government position or for a private company that interacts closely with private-sector companies.

Both the on-campus and online versions of this degree allow you to reach the same goals. Both are equally respected now that online education has become more commonplace. This degree also makes you highly attractive to private organizations or corporations that work with government agencies. For instance, you may interact with local city-operated utility services or your employer may be closely involved with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Types of Public Administration MBA Degrees


  • Postgraduate or Post-MBA Certificate in Public Administration
    Average Salary: $85,000

    You may choose to earn your MBA and a postgraduate certificate in public administration, which may mean about one more year in business school. The certificate program helps you to gain more knowledge about working in the public sector and you’ll be able to work in an NGO or at any level of government, from local to federal. Your courses will go in depth into topics such as management and public policy.

  • M.S. in Public Administration
    Average Salary: $67,000

    Earning a Master of Science in Public Administration equips you with the knowledge you need to work in a public setting, and you’ll graduate in about two years. You’ll gain a deep understanding about the different environments that affect the management and employees of public organizations; these include economic, political, and social impacts. You’ll also gain exposure to fiscal management, leadership, strategic planning, and public policy. You may also be able to participate in assistantships and research opportunities.

  • MBA in Public Administration
    Average Salary: $73,000

    Earning this single degree (MBA in Public Administration) is like earning two degrees. First, you’re going to learn the business skills you’ll need as you work in an NGO, a non-profit, or for a government agency. Second, you’ll have the public administration skills you need so that you’ll be able to assimilate public law, economic, demographic, and ecological challenges and develop strategic solutions to address those problems. And you’ll learn about legal issues as they affect government agencies.

  • Executive MBA in Public Administration
    Average Salary: $68,000

    If you have a goal of advancing to a senior executive position in government, you need to have the degree that allows you to get there. An executive MBA (EMBA) in Public Administration equips you with all the skills you’ll need to lead, manage, and apply business knowledge in your professional role. While some government agencies may not require any type of MBA, it will be an additional selling point for a future employer as they consider which candidate to hire.

Sample Curriculum & Courses for Public Administration


  • Management of Human Resources:
    In this course you’ll study organizational practices as they are managed in human resources. You’ll learn about manpower planning, recruiting, candidate selection, employee training, pay, and today’s problems in real life.
  • Finance Strategy and Valuation:
    In this course you’ll have discussions on investments, valuing potential investments, financing the organization, and the effects of strategic decision-making. You’ll also learn about organization objectives, short-term strategies of financial management, and more.
  • Principles of Public Administration:
    In this course you’ll learn about the development, functions, and problems of governmental administrations at all levels. You will be able to delve into the functions of local, state, and federal government.
  • Communities and Social Change:
    Here you’ll learn about the community as a social organization and how interactions between law enforcement, educational institutions, and welfare organizations impact this organization. Special attention goes to conceptual frameworks and current research.
  • Public Finance and Budgeting:
    This course will cover state and local expenditure patterns, along with revenue sources and income taxation at the local and state levels. You’ll also discuss excise and sales taxation, taxation of capital, and property tax.

Best MBA in Public Administration Colleges


Golden Gate University-San Francisco Location
San Francisco, CA
Retention %
NA
Graduation %
73%
Accreditation
No
Average Salary
$119,900
Hybrid
NA
Part-Time
NA
Student-to-faculty
12:1
University of the Potomac-VA Location
Idylwood, VA
Retention %
83%
Graduation %
100%
Accreditation
No
Average Salary
$58,000
Hybrid
NA
Part-Time
NA
Student-to-faculty
10:1
University of Mary Location
Bismarck, ND
Retention %
80%
Graduation %
59%
Accreditation
No
Average Salary
$72,851
Hybrid
NA
Part-Time
NA
Student-to-faculty
13:1
Liberty University Location
Lynchburg, VA
Retention %
81%
Graduation %
54%
Accreditation
ACBSP
Average Salary
$70,500
Hybrid
Yes
Part-Time
NA
Student-to-faculty
17:1
Olivet Nazarene University Location
Bourbonnais, IL
Retention %
77%
Graduation %
65%
Accreditation
No
Average Salary
$65,389
Hybrid
NA
Part-Time
NA
Student-to-faculty
14:1
Concordia University-Wisconsin Location
Mequon, WI
Retention %
81%
Graduation %
61%
Accreditation
No
Average Salary
$64,703
Hybrid
Yes
Part-Time
NA
Student-to-faculty
12:1
Doane University Location
Crete, NE
Retention %
71%
Graduation %
60%
Accreditation
ACBSP
Average Salary
$65,332
Hybrid
NA
Part-Time
NA
Student-to-faculty
11:1
Northwest University Location
Kirkland, WA
Retention %
74%
Graduation %
58%
Accreditation
ACBSP
Average Salary
$72,142
Hybrid
Yes
Part-Time
NA
Student-to-faculty
11:1
Salem State University Location
Salem, MA
Retention %
73%
Graduation %
59%
Accreditation
AACSB
Average Salary
$65,258
Hybrid
NA
Part-Time
NA
Student-to-faculty
13:1
University of the Potomac Location
District of Columbia, DC
Retention %
67%
Graduation %
43%
Accreditation
No
Average Salary
$107,000
Hybrid
NA
Part-Time
NA
Student-to-faculty
10:1
Full Ranking Report

Frequently Asked Questions


What certification should I get in addition to an MBA in Public Administration?

Consider a certificate in public management if you feel the need for an extra certificate or you ever want a refresher. You’ll learn how to combine theory with the application of strategies as you face issues in public administration. Once you graduate with your degree and certificate, you’ll be equipped to focus on issues, make positive changes, and begin guiding your community or state to lasting, beneficial effects.

As a public administrator, you need to have strong analytical capabilities. You’ll need to know your way around computers and other electronics and also know how to communicate effectively. You need to be able to act quickly as difficulties develop.

What are the differences between an MBA in Public Administration and a regular MBA?

The most obvious difference is that one degree prepares you to work and lead in initiatives that are created to benefit the public, here in the US and overseas. A good MBA in Public Administration program focuses deeply on leadership as it is administered in both public agencies and non-profit organizations. Public policy and leadership are also discussed and taught at length, along with an analysis of the issues that are the most critical to modern public administration.

In contrast, an MBA offers a broad perspective in business and leadership within the business school sphere. This degree helps executives, administrators, and managers to develop the skills they need.

Who should consider getting this degree?

If you are focused on a career in public service (non-profit, health, international/foreign affairs, education, and public and societal benefits), this graduate degree is a good fit for your goals.

If you also want to have the business acumen you need to manage finance and accounting, then an MBA in Public Administration may also be a good choice. The MBA prepares you to run a business while an MPA allows you to easily work in leadership roles in non-profit or governmental environments. Both the MBA and MPA offer flexibility and allow you to specialize. In order to obtain either one of these graduate degree programs one of your first requirements would be to obtain an undergraduate degree from an accredited university or college.

How to Choose the Right Program


Do you have time to go back to business school?


Going back to school to earn an MBA in Public Administration won’t be easy. It’ll take up a lot of time, meaning time away from work and your family life. If this is a goal you’ve had for several years, you’ll want to find a program that is as flexible as possible. Luckily, there are plenty of options available, from weekend or evening classes to an online program.

You’ll also need to factor in the time you’re going to spend searching for the right online program, applying, writing your personal essay, applying for financial aid, and any other activity related to getting back into business school. The plentiful options mean that this process may be longer than it used to be, but don’t get discouraged. It’ll all be worth it once you have your degree.

Is this a long-term career path for you?


Given that earning your MBA in Public Administration means you’re going to be devoting much of your time and attention to that effort, it’s good to first make sure that this is a long-term goal for your career. If you’ve already come this far, you’re probably pretty certain, but this is a terminal degree. If the plan is to work in public administration in order to get into the highest levels, you may want to focus in on an executive MBA. Or, if you want to eventually end up in the C-suites of a particular type of organization, you may do just as well with a regular MBA.

Because public administration and an MBA zero in on the effective organization of government policies, you know you stand a better chance of advancing within an NGO or non-profit leadership role, or one in a government office.

What kind of networking opportunities are available?


While you’re in school working on your MBA-PA program, you’ll want to make sure you’ll have plenty of networking opportunities. Some university and college MBA-PA programs specifically offer their graduate student the opportunity to meet and network with non-profits and alumni groups. You may also have the opportunity to meet and greet with professionals in the business community in your area.

This should be one of the things you are looking for in your MBA program and you should plan to devote some of your time to these networking events. They will offer immeasurable help to you both before and after graduation. Even if you think your time would be better spent with your books, try to get out there and make the connections that will help your career.

Does earning this MBA provide a significant return on investment (ROI)?


Earning a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in public administration is a major investment in your time and money. However, it’s also an investment in your career. The next question is whether or not it’s worth it. Will you benefit from a return on investment (ROI) after you graduate?

Considering you will have a degree that can give you access to administrative positions in non-profits, government positions, and also put you in good standing with many private companies as well, it’s likely that your average annual salary is going to increase after you earn this degree.

As a public administration official, you’ll also benefit from the positive impact your work can have on your community.

Consider the student outcomes for each degree program


Student outcomes can tell you a lot about a school, or even a specific program. Retention rate tells you how many students chose to stay after their first year, which might indicate that the school doesn’t provide for student needs if not very many students stay. Graduation outcomes can tell you how many students graduated and how long it took them to do so. Employment outcomes let you know how many students went on to receive work, how long it took, and some even tell you whether or not they are working in their degree field.

Making sure you check student outcomes for the school or program you are considering will provide you with a plethora of information that you can use to decide if this is really the program for you.

Make sure the college or university program is accredited


This can’t be said often enough: regional school accreditation and programmatic accreditation are vital to your degree and career options. If you spend two-plus years on your degree only to find out that your school’s lack of accreditation won’t lead to the career you planned on, you won’t be very happy.

Accreditation is concrete evidence of quality that proves to the US Department of Education, a future employer, and to other universities that you are working on a high-quality degree program. With accreditation, your ability to get financial aid and credibility with future employers is much more certain.

Professional Organizations


  • American Society for Public Administration (ASPA)
    ASPA serves as the vital link between an education in public administration and those who are working in this field. ASPA supports its goal to advance the practice of public and non-profit administration.
  • Association of Government Accountants (AGA)
    AGA stands as the organization for those employed as government financial management professionals. AGA leads the way toward change that benefit to the profession and to all citizens.
  • Association for Public Policy Analysis & Management (APPAM)
    APPAM works to help improve both public policy and management, encouraging excellence in three areas: research, analysis, and education. Every policy is intended to direct APPAM’s future programs.
  • Alliance for Nonprofit Management (ANM)
    ANM is made up of non-profit funders, consultants, coaches, and professionals who strengthen every member of its organization. ANM stoves for quality research and practice; without one, there wouldn’t be the other.
  • International City/County Management Association (ICMA)
    ICMA’s efforts develop and improve professional local government management so it is able to create sustainable communities. The overall goal of ICMA is to improve lives all over the world.

Potential Scholarships to Consider


  • McKinsey Award
    Award: $10,000
    Offered by: McKinsey & Company

    First-year MBA students are eligible to compete for this fellowship. Previous professional experience is not taken into consideration. Qualities such as academic drive and excellence; personal impact; and community, campus, and professional leadership are also considered.

  • Judith A. Lindquist Scholarship for Graduate Studies in Business and Public Administration
    Award: Varies
    Offered by: Drake University

    Female students from Iowa, pursuing an MBA, Master in Public Administration, Master in Accounting, certificate programs, or Master of Data Analytics Leadership. Students receiving these awards are expected to contribute some of their own money to their tuition costs, depending on their personal circumstances.

  • Hamline School of Business
    Award: Up to $10,000
    Offered by: Hamline University

    Incoming graduate students who have a demonstrable record of academic achievement (or who are able to prove exceptional leadership accomplishments) are eligible for this scholarship.

MBA Degrees, Career Paths & Resources