Top 20 Cheap MPA Online Programs

Best Value Schools - Online MPA Degree ProgramsBy Iris Stone
Updated July 2016

Why should you consider an MPA program online? Public administration programs have plenty to offer, and some consider 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. 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.

Online learners often place a premium on affordability in their search for schools, and for 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.


With this list, you now have the 20 most affordable online MPA degree programs at your fingertips, and you can easily sort through credible options that range from $12,000 a year to just $5,000. We focused only on accredited universities offering these types of program. We acquired tuition information for all the online schools we considered from College Navigator (a component of the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics) and verified this information on the universities’ websites when possible. The tuition rates are meant to be specific to online graduate coursework but note that your actual bill may vary according to scholarships and other fees.

Lastly, you’ll see quickly that just because these schools are affordable doesn’t mean they sacrifice quality. Many of them earn top rankings for their public administration programs or online instruction, and some of them even have special MPA accreditations.

Note: This article contains sponsored links. These are designed to help you connect with programs easily.

California Baptist University Cheap Online MPA
Earning the 38th spot on the U.S. News 2015 “Best In The West” list, California Baptist University offers students online MPA programs at affordable rates.

20. California Baptist University

Online Master of Public Administration

Many students choose to pursue an accredited online MPA program because it allows them to bring value to an important field. Whether you are interested in working for the government or in the nonprofit community, earning a master’s degree in public administration is an important step to get you there. California Baptist University can aid you in this quest through its accelerated program, which can get you through the entire course of study in just sixteen months. Thanks to a three semester per year system, CBU students learn quickly and efficiently while still holding down jobs. Class options include Leadership and Management, Public Personnel Management, and Political Economy, as well as final project/thesis courses. CBU is one of the best universities in the region, earning the 38th spot on U.S. News’ 2015 “Best in the West” ranking.
Tuition: $11,384/yr

Thomas Edison State College Cheap Online MPA
Mentioned in The New York Times as a college that “paved the way for flexibility”, Thomas Edison State College offers affordable online MPA programs for their students.

19. Thomas Edison State College

Online Master of Public Service Leadership

Take a different approach to public administration at Thomas Edison State College, an online school that focuses on “Public Service Leadership” over traditional managerial topics. Students have the option to concentrate in one of several unique areas, including Community and Economic Development, Nonprofit Management, Environmental Policy/Justice, and Public and Municipal Finance. TESC stands apart as a school “exclusively for adults,” which makes its accredited online MPA idea for experienced professionals who are no longer interested in a typical collegiate environment. This online school has earned substantial accolades for its commitment to distance education, and a 2013 New York Times article named it the college “that paved the way for flexibility.”
Tuition: $11,106/yr

Belhaven University Cheap Online MPA
Ranked as a “College of Distinction” for 2015 both nationally and within Mississippi by Belhaven University works with students to help them achieve their goals of working towards MPA online degrees.

18. Belhaven University

Online Master of Public Administration

If you’re considering applying to an MPA program online, chances are you’re interested in assuming a position of leadership in your field. Belhaven University encourages this goal through its skill-based curriculum, which actively involves students in team exercises and group discussions. Although the classes take place online, you will nonetheless engage with your classmates through coursework in Ethics and Society, Principles of Executive Leadership, Economics, and Public Policy, and Organizational Behavior. You’ll also tackle a final research project on management and explore public administration issues from a Christian perspective. Belhaven ranks as a “College of Distinction” for 2015, both nationally and within Mississippi, on
Tuition: $11,070/yr

Washington Adventist University Cheap Online MPA
For under $11,000 a year, Washington Adventist University helps students advance their career by offering MPA online programs.

17. Washington Adventist University

Online Master of Public Administration

A “balanced curriculum” is the name of the game at Washington Adventist University. Student reviews on College Prowler indicate that WAU is most popular for its knowledgeable professors and manageable course load, benefits that will easily appeal to potential online MPA degree candidates. Experienced professors find an ideal balance between theoretical instruction and practice-based activities, offering classes in American Democracy, Public Service Budgeting and Fiscal Controls, Leadership and Change Management, and Public Service Team Building. The convenient “condensed” program is flexible enough for working students to graduate in fewer than two years (21 months).
Tuition: $10,985/yr

Troy University Cheap Online MPA
Work towards an MPA online program at Troy University where all courses are led by certified professionals and are accessible from any computer with access to the internet.

16. Troy University

Online Master of Public Administration

For some students, time is really of the essence. Highly motivated individuals may not want to take two or more years to earn their online MPA degree, and Troy University could save the day. In just a little over a year, you can start and finish all your required courses at Troy, taking NASPAA-accredited classes along the way. You can also access the university’s attractively affordable program anywhere in the world, so you are free to travel and continue working as you study. Troy is a top-ranked university in the region and enjoys a strong reputation in public affairs – ranks it one of the top 10 best online MPA programs in the nation.
Tuition: $7,372/yr (In-state) $13,942/yr (Out-of-state)

National University Cheap Online MPA
National University offer students is known for offering one of the best online map programs in online education.

15. National University

Online Master of Public Administration

Acquire a traditional, research-focused Master of Public Administration at National University. Designed for students who want to work for the government or in the nonprofit sector, National’s affordable online MPA program covers financial management, grant writing, personnel policies, urban planning, and quantitative methods. You will work continuously to improve your communication and critical thinking skills as you analyze case studies, pen research papers, and deliver oral presentations – yes, even online! A final capstone project ensures that you are ready for the competitive world of public administration. NU receives significant attention for its commitment to diversity, and Diverse Issues in Higher Education recognized the university for the number of degrees it awards to multiple minority populations.
Tuition: $10,638/yr

Post University Cheap Online MPA
Post University offers online MPA programs for students so they don’t have to step onto campus to learn.

14. Post University

Online MPA Degree

It is clear that Post University took a thorough look at its graduate students’ interests before designing the curriculum for its accredited online MPA degree. This online college noticed that while many learners desire professional business training, many programs focus exclusively on public sector work. Post took a different route, developing a major that fluidly integrates MBA and MPA classes. You might find yourself taking classes in Organizational Creativity, Discovery, and Innovation; Public Policy; and The Future of Leadership and Management all at the same time. This not only makes Post University’s curriculum more interesting but it also greatly enhances the quality of the program; the Connecticut Quality Improvement Award Partnership granted the university a Silver Level Innovation Prize in 2009 for its forward-thinking MBA coursework.

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Tuition: $10,545/yr

Anna Maria College Cheap Online MPA
Anna Maria College offers students reliable online MPA programs for students seeking a new career. All courses are held online.

13. Anna Maria College

Online Master of Public Administration

It’s hard to go wrong with a degree that doesn’t require a GRE exam, offers multiple specialization options, and caters to mid-career professionals. Anna Maria College checks all these boxes and more with its master’s degree in public administration. You can focus on Criminal Justice, Fire and Emergency Services, Emergency Management, or Homeland Security, or stick with a “General Track” if you’re indecisive. Applicants who have at least four years of work experience can get credit for up to two classes, while applicants who have completed the U.S. Fire Administration’s Executive Fire Officer Program can earn twelve entire credits toward their MPA (assuming they select the Fire and Emergency Services specialization). AMC’s unique benefits have earned it a “Colleges of Distinction” label from
Tuition: $10,530/yr

Indiana State University Cheap Online MPA
Recognized by Washington Monthly and Americas Top Colleges for having affordable online MPA programs, Indiana State University helps students advance their careers.

12. Indiana State University

Online Master of Public Administration

Indiana State University’s “Extended Learning” segment provides students all across the nation with access to its many top courses. In 2014, Washington Monthly placed ISU in the top 30 of “America’s Top Colleges,” citing the university’s community involvement as one of the deciding factors in the ranking. For online MPA students who aspire to jobs in public service, this characteristic may be the reason they decide to attend Indiana State. The curriculum encourages students to participate in an internship and considers the best way to deliver services that are ethical, efficient, and effective. The program contains four specialization options, but whether you choose to concentrate in Criminal Justice, Human Resources Development, Public Health, or Nonprofit Management, you’ll leave with the skills to benefit your community and enact change.
Tuition: $7,040/yr (In-state) $13,646/yr (Out-of-state)

Indiana Wesleyan University Cheap Online MPA
Indiana Wesleyan University offers cheap online MPA programs for under $11,000 per year.

11. Indiana Wesleyan University

Online Master of Public Affairs

Another Indiana university to make this ranking, IWU brings experience and flexibility to the table. While many online colleges are for-profit, Indiana Wesleyan stays true to its primary goal of educating hardworking students; in fact, ranks IWU 9th on its list of the 30 largest nonprofit online universities. Distance education students enjoy responsive technical support, virtual library services, and the same experienced professionals who lead on-campus courses. Online MPA students, in particular, choose this school for both its breadth and depth of subject matter, which covers everything from terrorism and urban development to welfare services and child poverty.
Tuition: $10,235/yr

University of North Carolina Pembroke Cheap Online MPA
Known as a college for “aggressive career development”, the University of North Carolina at Pembroke offers online MPA programs for about $5,000 (instate) per year.

10. University of North Carolina Pembroke

Online Master of Public Administration

The University of North Carolina at Pembroke asserts that “aggressive career development” is an integral part of its online MPA program. Professors look beyond your current career and instead focus on the job you want to have. Concentrations are available in Public Management, Health Administration, Criminal Justice, or Emergency Management, and each one offers targeted classes that will launch you into those higher- level positions that elude your current career trajectory. In a broader sense, UNC Pembroke is a great college with top online programs; U.S. News ranks it in the top 50 public universities in the nation.
Tuition: $5,386/yr (In-state) $14,713/yr (Out-of-state)

Concordia University Wisconsin Cheap Online MPA
Recognized as a “Best Buy” from, Concordia University Wisconsin has an online public health MBA program accessible from any computer with access to the internet.

9. Concordia University Wisconsin

Online Public Administration MBA Concentration

Concordia University at Wisconsin describes its MPA degree as “business studies rooted in Christian ethics.” As a concentration within the broader MBA program, the public administration curriculum leans heavily into foundational business practices. Classes include Project Management, Budgeting in Public Agencies, and Public Personnel Administration, as well as a required internship. CUW’s MBA earns a “Best Buy” distinction from, indicating that it is also one of the best online MPA programs available online. Add to this its incredibly affordable cost, and you have a school that combines quality and accessibility in a way not many do.
Tuition: $9,660/yr

University of Nebraska Omaha Cheap Online MPA
The University of Nebraska Omaha MPA online programs for students that want to advance their career.

8. University of Nebraska Omaha

Online Master of Public Administration

Another indisputable top choice is the University of Nebraska-Omaha. Both its online and traditional degree options boast esteemed reputations, and ranks UNO 5th on its list of the 20 best online MPA programs in the nation. The university also claims accreditation by the NASPAA and a prestigious list of faculty; a third of professors hold membership in the National Academy of Public Administration. And as a student, your options are practically limitless. You can choose from one of seven main concentrations in Aviation, Public Policy, Public Management, Emergency Management, Local Government, Healthcare Administration, or Nonprofit, or pick a specialization in Criminal Justice/Criminology or Information Technology. Furthermore, you can pursue a dual degree in Social Work or Information Systems if your career goals demand multidisciplinary knowledge.
Tuition: $5,610/yr (In-state) $13,525/yr (Out-of-state)

University of Texas Tyler Cheap Online MPA
The University of Texas at Tyler is on the Top 50 Western Regional Universities list and it offers a credible and affordable online MPA program for students interested in working for an NGO or local government.

7. University of Texas Tyler

Online Public Administration MPA Degree

The affordable online MPA program is certainly low cost (at less than $6,500 a year for in-state students, it’s a real steal) but it also offers quality, engagement, and excellent career preparation. Experienced professors act as mentors who can guide you into suitable professions in the local area, from governance to education to healthcare. The broad curriculum includes coursework in budgeting, finance, administration, human resources, and labor-management relations, as well as a seminar that covers topical events in the field. And for students who plan to settle in the West after graduation, they’ll have a great line on their resume; College Choice includes UT at Tyler on its selection of Top 50 Western Regional Universities.
Tuition: $6,142/yr (In-state) $12,648/yr (Out-of-state)

University of West Florida Cheap Online MPA
Work in the non-profit, NGO, or in any local government by taking the online MS in public administration program at The University of West Florida.

6. University of West Florida

Online Master of Science in Administration: Public Administration

There aren’t many schools out there that have an entire graduate program devoted to administration, but the University of West Florida is one exception. The organization of the degree requires all students to gain a solid understanding of essential administration skills before choosing a concentration – one of which is public administration. Other focus areas include Acquisition and Contracts, Software Engineering, Leadership, and Human Performance Technology. The MPA program, in particular, is ideal for students who want to become city managers, legislative assistants, labor relations specialists, budget analysts, or country administrators. Many of UWF’s programs feature high rankings and impressive awards, and the school’s online segment has received special recognition. In fact, it places 22nd on Best Master’s Programs’ list of the top 50 online graduate schools.
Tuition: $9,062/yr

Park University Cheap Online MPA
Work directly from your laptop or computer towards an online master of public affairs program at Park University.

5. Park University

Online Master of Public Affairs

Park University brings new meaning to the term “flexibility.” This top college offers classes online, on campus, during the day and evening, over the weekend, and in a hybrid format. Students can even occasionally take courses at the national conference of the American Society for Public Administration. And Park’s online options are just as useful as its traditional courses – publications like Guide to Online Schools and Online U have recognized its superior distance education delivery. What’s more, named its Public Affairs program 14th in the entire country. This top commendation stems from the university’s affordability and comprehensive approach to education. As an MPA student, you’ll have the option to concentrate in Public Management; Disaster and Emergency Management; Nonprofit and Community Services; or Business, Government, and Global Society.
Tuition: $8,640/yr

Hamline University Cheap Online MPA
For under $9,000 per year students can enter the online MPA program at Hamline University.

4. Hamline University

Online Master of Public Administration

Some online programs abandon the personal attention and interactivity that accompany traditional classes, instead of succumbing to the assumption that distance education is passive and one-dimensional. Not Hamline. This university uses a hybrid model to keep students constantly engaged. Although you can take the majority of classes from home, bimonthly weekend residencies bring you to Minneapolis to meet your professors and network with your classmates – and potential future colleagues! And it’s worth it to make the trek to discuss your progress with your professors. Hamline’s faculty members in the public administration department all have years of relevant experience. They include former judges, chiefs of police, leadership consultants, and board members.
Tuition: $8,112/yr

Arkansas State University Cheap Online MPA
Noted as being a “Best Value” college, Arkansas State University offers cheap and affordable MPA online programs.

3. Arkansas State University

Online Master of Public Administration

Arkansas State University is the epitome of a “best value” college, proving that you don’t have to break the bank to access a nationally ranked program. includes this school on its list of the best 25 programs in the country, and yet tuition at Arkansas State is almost unreasonably low – just $260 per credit hour! You’ll also love how quickly you can earn this cheap online MPA degree. Full-time students can complete all 36 hours of coursework in just a year and a half, learning about social infrastructure, ethical communication, effective management techniques, and problem analysis along the way.
Tuition: $6,240/yr

American Public University Cheap Online MPA
Work with the staff members at the American Public University to advance your career. It’s recognized as offering one of the best online MPA programs in the country.

2. American Public University

Online Master of Public Administration

American Public University deserves the #2 spot on this ranking, thanks to an annual tuition cost that is (almost) impossible to beat. APU crops up on a wealth of “best value” lists because of its comprehensive selection of degree programs, which include Public Health, Political Science, Management, and of course Public Administration. Students enrolled in this MPA program online flex their intellectual muscles as they learn about policy development and administrative theory and examine specific case studies in public policy. If that’s not enough for you, you might also consider earning a certificate in Organizational Management or Strategic Leadership. If you choose APU, you’ll be joining a large group of like-minded students; currently ranks it the 2nd most popular online college in the country.
Tuition: $6,150/yr

Southern University Cheap Online MPA
For under $5,000 (instate) and $6,000 (out-of-state) per year, students can enter an online MPA programs at Southern University.

1. Southern University

Online Executive Master of Public Administration

The clear advantage of choosing Southern University for your graduate degree is its tuition rates – even out of state students pay less than anywhere else they could choose to go! SU’s Nelson Mandela School of Public Policy includes degree options in Social Science, Criminal Justice, and Public Administration, as well as an “Executive” MPA track. This leading program boasts full accreditation from the NASPAA and welcomes nearly 200 students each year. Concentration options include Public Policy, Health Services Administration, Nonprofit Management, or a “generalist” track, but you’ll complete an internship regardless of the specialty you choose. And despite being a cheap MPA program online Southern University offers a lot of bang for its buck, including attentive faculty advisors and stringent thesis requirements.
Tuition: $4,794/yr (In-state) $5,941/yr (Out-of-state)

See also:

College Navigator
New York Times
Colleges of Distinction
Connecticut Quality Improvement Award
Colleges of Distinction
U.S. News and World Report

About the Author:
Iris Stone began her writing career when she started working as a freelance writer and researcher in 2011. Her freelance business soon took off and she now owns and operates a writing and editing firm that works with clients all across the country. Despite the time it takes to run a business she still does much of the writing herself, and her work has included a variety of content related to education policy, colleges and universities, academic programs, and graduates’ careers. Her interests actually span far beyond writing, and she is currently studying to be a physicist! Check out her Google+ Profile.


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