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Most Affordable Online Master’s in Public Administration

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Online Master’s in Public Administration

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Why should you consider earning an MPA degree online? Public administration programs have plenty to offer, and some think them to be the most recognized degree in the field of public service. The advantage of choosing to study public administration over political science or business is that you’ll receive a unique blend of government and management training. MPA degrees are ideal for students who want to work in administrative or policy positions within the nonprofit or public sectors. And enrolling in an online program means that you can earn your degree on your own schedule – whether that means taking your time or accelerating the path to graduation.

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Top 30 Cheap Online Master’s Degrees in Public Administration

  1. Anna Maria College
    Location

    Paxton, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Last year, nearly 70% of the master's degrees that Anna Maria College conferred were to MPA students. Granted, the school only offers a handful of graduate programs as it is. Even so, this statistic speaks to the popularity of the program - not to mention the time and attention that AMC professors devote to its success. Indeed, these efforts come across in the program's carefully crafted curriculum, which even includes a "Mid-Career Track" (complete with two course waivers) for participants with significant work experience. And of course, earning your master's in public administration online from AMC comes with access to career-oriented concentrations ranging from Criminal Justice to Fire and Emergency Services.
    Average Tuition & Fees: $10,530/yr
    Score: 100

  2. Park University
    Location

    Parkville, MO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Popularity, flexibility, and affordability converge to form Park University's online MPA program. In addition to having the cheapest tuition rate on this ranking, Park's accredited online master's degree in public administration also features a high-quality curriculum - complete with approval from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). Within that curriculum, you'll have a chance to specialize in one of six targeted areas. Choose a traditional topic (e.g. Criminal Justice or Public Management) or carve a more unique niche with a concentration in Global Governance or Management Information Systems.
    Average Tuition & Fees: $8,025/yr
    Score: 99.5

  3. University of Nebraska at Omaha
    Location

    Omaha, NE

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    UNO's low tuition rates and flexible, customizable curriculum work together to make this the #3 best affordable master's in public administration online. But a closer look reveals that this program offers plenty of other attractive features, too. For example, the University of Nebraska Omaha was the first school in the country to earn NASPAA accreditation for its online MPA degree. Even more unique, the curriculum comes with a rare concentration in Aviation. On this track, you'll study transportation safety and finance, aviation administration and policy, and airport management. But if that's a little too unusual for you, rest assured that the program also offers standard concentrations in Public Policy, Local Government, and Criminology, among other topics.
    Average Tuition & Fees: $10,259/yr
    Score: 95.7

  4. California State University-Northridge
    Location

    Northridge, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Believe it or not, CSU Northridge is one of the largest providers of MPA degrees in the entire country (third to Harvard and Columbia)! In fact, last year the university conferred degrees to nearly 600 students from the program. Of course, this popularity is partly due to CSUN's convenient online format. But it also arises from the school's partnerships with agencies across California, which it uses to deliver a cutting-edge curriculum and connect graduates with the best possible job opportunities. On top of all that, members of this affordable online MPA program can select concentrations in in-demand areas like Health Administration and Public Sector Management.
    Average Tuition & Fees: $12,317/yr
    Score: 95.2

  5. Troy University
    Location

    Troy, AL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The main mission of Troy University's cheap online master's degree in public administration is to provide you with one thing: opportunities. Whether you want to work as a policy or budget analyst, law enforcement administrator, grant writer, personnel specialist, or researcher, Troy's program will help you get there. How? By combining a solid core sequence with an extensive selection of concentrations. Indeed, Troy offers something for everyone, including unique tracks in Government Contracting and National Security Affairs. If you're interested in the former, you might also consider earning a 12-credit certificate in Government Contracting for a quick resume boost.
    Average Tuition & Fees: $11,521/yr
    Score: 89.53

  6. University of North Carolina at Pembroke
    Location

    Pembroke, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Last year, nearly 100 students earned their MPA degree from UNC Pembroke. So what makes this program so popular? Maybe it's the engaging online delivery methods, which feature interactive lessons and live-streaming video. Or maybe applicants are attracted to the professionally-oriented concentrations in Health Administration, Public Management, Criminal Justice, and Emergency Management. On the other hand, UNC Pembroke's popularity could stem from its balanced curriculum, which melds theory with application and accommodates professionals from many different backgrounds. But more than likely, it's a combination of all these factors that make this one of the top master's in public administration online.
    Average Tuition & Fees: $11,053/yr
    Score: 88.03

  7. The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
    Location

    Edinburg, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    If you can handle a quick pace and want to complete your degree as quickly as possible, then the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley has the perfect program for you. By delivering courses in accelerated, seven-week modules, UTRGV allows MPA students to enroll and graduate in as little as one year. No other school on our MPA degrees online ranking offers such a short timeline. Of course, speed is not all that this program has going for it. Other highlights include a comprehensive curriculum (with a particularly unique class in political leadership) plus a recently revamped capstone that requires participants to design a product for a real-life client.
    Average Tuition & Fees: $10,280/yr
    Score: 82.72

  8. Florida International University
    Location

    Miami, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Like most schools on this online master's degree in public administration ranking, Florida International University has earned NASPAA accreditation for its MPA. So how does FIU stand out, then? Interestingly, some of the program's best features arise outside of the classroom. For example, MPA students have access to a superior alumni network specifically for public service and nonprofit jobs. Plus, FIU's Career Services Department has a dedicated coordinator that works exclusively with students in the public administration program. Of course, the academics are plenty strong, too. In fact, the curriculum supports specializations in an impressive five distinct areas of study.
    Average Tuition & Fees: $17,650/yr
    Score: 82.15

  9. Wayland Baptist University
    Location

    Plainview, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Interested in criminal justice, government administration, or homeland security? You're in luck; Wayland Baptist University offers specialized MPA degrees in each of these areas. All three of WBU's online master's degrees in public administration split their coursework evenly between core and concentration classes (18 credits each). This means you'll have plenty of space to stretch out and explore your chosen area of specialization. For example, Homeland Security concentrators can take classes in crisis communication, terrorism, international legal systems, espionage, conflict resolution, and much more. And like most programs, this degree also incorporates a capstone to help you synthesize your knowledge and apply your skills to real-world problems.
    Average Tuition & Fees: $11,800/yr
    Score: 81.22

  10. The University of Montana
    Location

    Missoula, MT

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    You can earn your degree from the University of Montana without ever setting foot on campus - or leaving your house, for that matter. After enrolling in this NASPAA-accredited master's in public administration online, you'll gain access to an extensive list of web-based classes - including plenty of elective options. In fact, you can choose from dozens of courses to tailor your degree to a specific topic. Pre-approved specializations include Public and Nonprofit Administration, but the department will also approve coursework in Environmental, International Development, or Local Government Administration. And while UM encourages students without professional experience to pursue an internship, it is not a requirement for graduation.
    Average Tuition & Fees: $13,224/yr
    Score: 79.86


  • Methodology: Here's How We Rank Schools


    At Best Value Schools, we help students of all ages get the best possible value for their education. When choosing the best schools and programs, we prioritize tuition rates, student debt, financial aid opportunities, graduation rates, and the availability of online programs.
    We source unbiased data from government and educational databases like the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for 6,374 schools across the U.S. We organize that data into five weighted categories to compile our school rankings.

    Metric Data Used Percentage
    Academic Quality Full-time faculty percentage, student-to-faculty ratio, student retention and graduation rates 25%
    Affordability Tuition rates, median student debt, and financial aid 35%
    Reputation Admission and enrollment rates 15%
    Program Offerings Number of program options 10%
    Online Enrollment Score Portion of learners taking at least one online course 15%

    You can read more about our comprehensive evaluation process on our methodology page.


Featured Online Programs

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Most Affordable Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Public Administration Least Expensive Online Master’s Degrees in Public Policy Public Administration Scholarships

Online learners often place a premium on affordability in their search for schools, and for a good reason. When you have a job and a family, the financial commitment you’re willing to make to college is a significant decision. Luckily, this list can be your guide.

The 30 Best Online MPA Programs Ranking Methodology

Selection Criteria

For this ranking, we looked for public and private (non-profit) colleges and universities that offer MPA degrees online. Because the focus of this list is on affordability, we only considered programs with average* tuition rates of $20,000/year or less.

*For public schools, we calculated the average value of their in-state and out-of-state rates.

Ranking Factors

After compiling a list of all the colleges that offer online master’s degrees in public administration and meet the above criteria, we then collected data in four categories:

  • Program Popularity: How many graduate students choose to earn their degree in public administration over another option that the school offers (that is, how much more attractive is the MPA program than alternatives, like an MBA for example)? To find out, we looked at both the number of master’s students who earned their MPA in the most recent school year as well as the percentage of all master’s program graduates that that number represents.
  • Concentration Options: Does the program provide specialized pathways that allow students to develop their expertise in a particular topic (e.g. criminal justice or nonprofit management)? If so, how many of these concentrations does the curriculum offer?
  • Flexibility:Does the program allow students to customize their program through electives? If so, how many of these classes (including concentration courses) are incorporated into the curriculum?
  • Affordability: What is the average annual cost of attendance?

After collecting and sorting all the information, we ranked the candidates according to their performance in each area. Finally, we summed up the results and gave each school a final score using a curve so that the top-scoring program earned an even 100 points.

Read more about the best cheap online public administration master’s programs below!

Thanks for reading our ranking of the 30 top cheap master’s in public administration online!

Sources:
IPEDS Data Center
College Navigator

Additional Resources

Use articles and resources to uncover answers to common questions, get guidance on your goals, and learn about applying to schools.


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