If you've ever dreamed of becoming elected into a leadership position to make positive policy changes at the local, state, federal, or global level, then public administration scholarships can help you work towards making these dreams a reality without financial stress.
Earning a degree in public administration is smart for anyone looking to develop strong leadership skills, learn how to manage programs, and unlock a wide array of career options in the public sector. While most MPA graduates report a decent starting salary between $30,000 to $50,000, it's not uncommon for public administration degree holders to eventually bring in sizeable six-figure salaries for a strong return on their investment.
Below we've highlighted 20 of the best scholarships available for students nationwide looking to work within public administration.
1. B. Harold Farmer Scholarship
Deadline: February 17th
Initiated in 1992 by the Florida City and County Management Association (FCCMA) to honor a past president who worked in municipal government for over 25 years, the B. Harold Farmer Scholarship is awarded for $2,500 annually. Eligible candidates must be enrolled full-time in a public administration or related degree, be attending an accredited Florida-based institution, be in good academic standing, and display a strong commitment to pursuing a career in local government management. In addition to academic funding, recipients will be given an expense-paid trip to attend the FCCMA Annual Conference to network with 200 other city managers.
2. Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Program
Deadline: January 14th
In cooperation with the U.S. Department of State, Howard University hosts the Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Program annually to provide up to $37,500 to graduating college seniors and graduates seeking to pursue a two-year master's degree in international affairs, public administration, public affairs, or a similar area. Qualified applicants must be U.S. citizens, be enrolling in an accredited graduate school, have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.2, and wish to enter a career in the Foreign Service. In exchange for the funding and mentoring, recipients will need to sign a contractual agreement to working at least five years as a Foreign Service Officer upon degree completion.
3. Clarence E. Ridley Scholarship
Deadline: January 9th
Through the Texas City Management Association (TCMA), the Clarence E. Ridley Scholarship was created to provide up to $5,000 annually in honor of the former executive director of ICMA who had a personal commitment to the profession of municipal management. Qualified candidates must already have a bachelor's degree, be enrolling in an accredited graduate school in Texas, plan to major in public administration or public affairs, and display a serious dedication to pursuing a career within local government. Applications must be accompanied by an official college transcript, three endorsement letters, and one two-page personal statement explaining the applicants' goals in city management.
4. Effie B. Urquhart Scholarship Award
Deadline: February 15th
Funded through Pi Gamma Mu Honor Society for its late National Executive Secretary, the Effie B. Urquhart Scholarship Award is presented annually for $2,000 to students in their first or second year of graduate studies in sociology, political science, international relations, public administration, criminal justice, economics, and other social sciences. Applicants must be enrolled in an accredited university, be Pi Gamma Mu members, be actively involved in their chapter's events, and have a strong academic record. Applications must include a current resume, three professional references, and a 500-word personal essay detailing candidates' chosen career interests.
5. George D. Miller Scholarship Fund
Deadline: April 1st
In honor of the exemplary public service of a retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant General who later worked as chief executive officer of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) for 10 years, the George D. Miller Scholarship Fund provides at least $5,000 each year to undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in a fire service or public administration degree program. Qualified students must attend an accredited university in the United States or Canada, plan to pursue a career in fire service, have completed at least one academic year of post-secondary education, be actively involved in volunteer work, and show academic merit.
6. George Nielsen Public Investor Scholarship
Deadline: August 15th
Within the Colorado Government Finance Officers Association (CGFOA), the George Nielsen Public Investor Scholarship is distributed annually for $2,500 to members who plan to enroll in an undergraduate or graduate degree program with a major in public administration, finance, business, or a related field. Eligible applicants must be U.S. citizens, reside within Colorado, have been employed at least one year by a local government, and communicate plans to continue pursuing a career in state or local government. Selections will be based on applicants' past work experience, present study plans, letters of recommendation, future career interests, and dedication to public service.
7. Harold F. Holtz Jr. Scholarship
Deadline: April 1st
Sponsored by the Georgia City-County Management Association (GCCMA), the Harold F. Holtz Jr. Scholarship program is hosted annually to provide $1,500 to $2,500 for students enrolled either full-time or part-time in an accredited Master of Public Administration (MPA) program at a university within Georgia. Applicants must be U.S. citizens, be in good scholastic standing, and exhibit a strong potential for serving as a local government administrator in Georgia. Recipients will be given the opportunity to complete a summer or fall internship within a city, county, or consolidated unit of the State of Georgia to build a broad range of public management skills.
8. Herbert Roback Memorial Scholarship
Deadline: May 29th
In honor of his 34-year career as a respected public servant, the Herbert Roback Memorial Scholarship is awarded annually for $7,500 through the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA). To qualify, candidates must be enrolled in a participating graduate school, maintain full-time enrollment, be pursuing a master's degree in public administration or public affairs, submit two letters of support, and write a 500-word statement describing their professional interests. Applications will be accepted from students at Syracuse University, Brandeis University, Princeton University, John Jay College, SUNY Albany, New York University, and any universities in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.
9. Jack Pittis Memorial Scholarship Fund
Deadline: February 27th
Annually, the Washington State Chapter of the American Public Works Association (APWA) offers the Jack Pittis Memorial Scholarship Fund to provide $10,000 for individuals pursuing a degree in public administration, environmental science, construction management, engineering, or related fields for a career in public works. Eligible applicants must be actively involved in their communities, reside within Washington State, be attending an in-state accredited institution, have at least junior standing, and maintain full-time enrollment. With the electronic application, candidates must write two essays describing their current participation in the public works field and their future contributions to APWA.
10. Kathleen Mansfield Scholarship for City Management
Deadline: May 31st
With the goal of promoting the city management profession, the Missouri City/County Management Association (MCMA) offers the Kathleen Mansfield Scholarship annually for $500 to three Missouri residents currently pursuing a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree. Eligible candidates must have a bachelor's degree, maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0, exhibit financial need, plan a career in local government service, and demonstrate a propensity toward the public service profession through civic involvement. The scholarship can be used to cover college expenses, including tuition, fees, room and board, textbooks, or other supplies.
11. NFBPA National Scholarship Program
Deadline: February 15th
Ranging in value from $1,000 to $10,000, the National Forum for Black Public Administrators (NFBPA) hosts a National Scholarship Program annually to give awards to African American and other minority students who are currently enrolled full-time in a public administration or public management program. Qualified undergraduate or graduate candidates must take at least nine credits per semester, attend an accredited U.S. institution, exemplify outstanding leadership, and have achieved extraordinary success in public service. Application packets must include a signed application, official college transcripts, two reference letters, a photocopy of applicants' validated Student ID cards, and a three-page autobiographical essay.
12. Philip M. Dowd Memorial Scholarship
Deadline: April 14th
Within the Sacramento Region Community Foundation, the Philip M. Dowd Memorial Scholarship is presented annually for $1,000 to $5,000 to provide financial assistance to college-bound graduating high school seniors seeking to pursue a degree in public affairs, public administration, political science, or government. Qualified applicants must have overcome significant obstacles to achieve their goals, plan to attend an accredited two or four-year college, exhibit financial need, maintain a minimum overall GPA of 3.0, and write a 500-word essay about their career objectives in local government. Preference will be given to students from Sacramento, Placer, Yolo, Yuba, Shasta, Butte, Sutter, and Colusa counties in California.
13. Pride Foundation Political Leadership Scholarship
Deadline: January 16th
Through the Pride Foundation, the Political Leadership Scholarship is granted for up to $2,000 annually for currently enrolled college students pursuing a degree in public administration, public policy, political science, or law with the goal of improving rights for LGBTQ people. Eligible candidates must be pursuing accredited post-secondary education full-time in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, or Washington with good academic standing. Preference will be given to applicants who self-identify themselves as LGBTQ, represent an ethnic minority group, come from a low-income family, or are first-generation college students.
14. Robert M. Odell Scholarship
Deadline: May 1st
In honor of the former city treasurer for Los Angeles, the California Society of Municipal Finance Officers (CSMFO) has created the Robert M. Odell Scholarship to provide $1,600 to four upper-division undergraduate or graduate students pursuing a degree in public administration. For consideration, students must be currently matriculated at CSU Chico, CSU East Bay, CSU Fresno, CSU Sacramento, CSU Stanislaus, San Francisco State, San Jose State, or Sonoma State full-time. Eligible candidates must carry a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0, plan to specialize their career in public finance, have at least junior-level status, and submit a one-page personal statement describing their future aspirations in government.
Robert M. Odell Scholarship
1215 K Street Suite 940
Sacramento, CA 95814
15. Robert R. Robinson Memorial Scholarship
Deadline: May 31st
Created in memory of the former executive director for the Michigan Townships Association (MTA), the Robert R. Robinson Memorial Scholarship program is designed to deliver financial support to junior, senior, and graduate students currently pursuing a degree in public administration. Eligible applicants must be enrolled in an accredited Michigan university, plan to enter a career in local government administration, submit one letter of recommendation from a faculty instructor, receive support from an MTA-member township board, and write a short essay explaining an important issue in local government. Selection will be based on academic achievement, community involvement, and commitment to the public administration field.
16. Stene Academic Scholarship Program
Deadline: May 19th
Each year, the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) hosts the Stene Academic Scholarship Program in honor of Professor Edwin O. Stene to provide $1,000 to currently enrolled full-time graduate school students who are pursuing a degree in public administration or public affairs. Applicants must have enrolled by September, attend a college recognized by the NASPAA, have little or no full-time work experience, be sponsored by a local government manager, and write a three-page personal essay demonstrating their interests in a local government career. In addition to the scholarship funding, recipients will be granted complimentary registration to the ICMA Annual Conference.
17. Stephen K. Hall ACWA Policy Scholarship
Deadline: April 1st
Established by the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) in honor of the former executive director who advanced policies against the state's water supply challenges before passing away in 2010 after a lengthy battle with ALS, the Stephen K. Hall ACWA Policy Scholarship is awarded annually for $7,000. Qualified candidates must be currently enrolled in an accredited American graduate school with a major in law, public policy, or public administration to pursue a career managing California's water resources. Recipients will be chosen based on their academic performance, financial need, and commitment to a career in water resource management.
18. Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship
Deadline: January 16th
As part of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship is granted annually to provide up to $37,500 annually to cover tuition costs, room and board, textbooks, and mandatory fees. To apply, candidates must be rising seniors or graduate students, be seeking admission to a two-year master's degree program, have U.S. citizenship, carry a minimum overall GPA of 3.2, and agree to complete a summer internship program in Foreign Service with the U.S. Department of State. Acceptable majors include public administration, sociology, political science, business, public policy, international affairs, and all foreign languages.
19. Walter W. Mode Scholarship
Deadline: December 9th
At its annual National Conference, the American Society of Public Administrators (ASPA) awards the Walter W. Mode Scholarship for $1,500 to honor its 30th President who lead a distinguished career of public service at the federal and international levels. Qualified recipients must be currently enrolled in graduate study at an accredited U.S. institution, be pursuing a master's degree in public administration, have ASPA membership, and display a commitment to public service after graduation. With the application, students should attach a personal statement, current resume, official transcript, and letters of recommendation.
20. Young Women in Public Affairs Awards
Deadline: April 1st
Annually, Zonta International proudly grants the Young Women in Public Affairs (YWPA) Awards for $1,000 to $4,000 apiece to encourage outstanding young female students to pursue a degree in public affairs, public administration, government, or international affairs for a career within the volunteer sector. Qualified candidates must live in a Zonta district/region, have an active commitment to volunteerism, have previous leadership experience in local or student government, and share the goal of advancing the status of women worldwide. Applications must be accompanied by proof of current school enrolment, two confidential letters of recommendation, and four short essay responses showing their leadership potential.
While there are numerous options at the bachelor's level for public administration students, most continue into graduate school to earn an MPA degree for the largest range of career opportunities. Since this will require at least two years of additional schooling and tuition costs, you'll likely need to discover multiple sources of financial aid to reach graduation without piles of student loan debt waiting. Consider applying to some of these great public administration scholarships to finance your education and work towards your goal of leading government or nonprofit organizations towards success.