Why This Matters


    With an average salary of $96,940, administrative managers make more than twice the average salary of all other occupations. Administrative service managers work to improve organizational efficiency in the public sector.


    Environmental, demographic, and transportation changes will increase the need for more skilled city planners over the next decade.


    A focus on energy efficiency, effective public services, and sustainable growth is expected to keep the demand for administrative service managers and urban and regional planners higher than all other occupations.

Our Research

Our list covers graduate degree programs in public administration that prepare students for management roles in the public sector, including urban planning, economic development, and environmental policy. The programs in our research offer in-person, online, and hybrid learning formats.

Master’s of Public Administration (MPA) programs undergo an intensive peer review before receiving accreditation. Accreditation is given to programs that uphold a high academic standard and prepare students for leadership roles in the public sector. The Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA) is an internationally recognized accreditation organization and the leading accreditation for public administration programs. Programs on our list also hold a national or regional accreditation to verify the quality of their coursework.

We evaluated each program on the basis of flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

  • 72 hours to write this article
  • 191 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 306 education programs we compared

The Top 43 Master’s in Public Administration Degree Programs

Best Master's in Public Administration Degree Programs
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What You Should Know About This Degree

When choosing a public sector career, you should also consider studying for a master of public policy (MPP) degree. While an MPA helps students develop the skills necessary to manage public policy and resolve organizational problems, an MPP degree specializes in policy research and statistical analysis.

A master’s in public administration has a broader curriculum to help prepare graduates for leadership and management roles in the public sector.

When choosing a degree program, determine whether you’re more interested in researching and analyzing data to create programs for the public sector or implementing and managing new policies.

Students who pursue a master’s in public administration graduate with a comprehensive skill set they can apply to many areas. Graduates often work in the private sector as financial and human resources managers, budget analysts, and tax examiners.

The job outlook for MPA graduates remains significantly higher than the national average due to a need for leaders in government, nonprofit management, and social service. With governments’ focusing on sustainable environmental policy over the next decade, urban and city planners are needed to implement these plans.

What’s Next?

Ask yourself these questions when researching master’s in public administration programs:

  • Am I eligible for this program? To qualify for a graduate program such as an MPA, prospective students must hold a bachelor’s degree. Many programs also ask for a minimum Graduate Records Exam (GRE) score, and additional requirements may include a minimum GPA and relevant professional experience in public administration.
  • How long does it take to complete this online degree? Master’s in public administration programs usually take two years of full-time study to complete. Degrees awarded include master of public administration, master of public affairs, and master of arts in public management.

Be sure to submit all application materials on time. Some programs might have additional prerequisites for applicants, so visit the school website to determine exact application information.

Scholarships, grants, and financial aid packages are available for students wishing to pursue a master’s degree. Consider how you will fund your graduate studies, and research opportunities to reduce tuition fees and related costs.