5 Best Online Master of Public Service Graduate Schools

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Updated: March 13, 2024, Reading time: 16 minutes

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A broad and dynamic career path, the field of public service offers a wealth of opportunities for those who dream of serving and helping communities. However, this field goes beyond serving the public. It is important that you understand the best area that is suitable to your unique needs, interests, and strengths.

Public service encompasses the public, private, and non-profit sectors. It presents a wide range of career choices, including public management, nonprofit management, human resource management, public administration, public financial management, and other disciplines.

At the entry-level, a bachelor’s in public administration or other related fields can serve as your gateway to starting a rewarding career in the service of communities.

Quick audio summary:


While pursuing a master’s degree in public service seems like a good idea, many find it challenging to divide their time and resources between their budding career and further education.

Fortunately, many colleges and universities all over the country offer public service online programs that are designed for working professionals.
This advanced degree can open doors for you to qualify for senior-level positions in the public or nonprofit sector.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, administrative services and facilities managers can earn a median pay of $99,290 per year.


Acquire more advanced skills and in-depth knowledge of how public service works, policy-making and policy implementation, and other matters relating to leadership in society. These top-rated graduate schools let you earn a Public Service master’s degree online, with high-quality programs exhibiting excellence through these features:

To learn more, see our Methodology page!

Grad School Center is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Top Online Master of Public Administration Programs

Texas A&M University

Texas A&M University

College Station, Texas

Master of Public Service and Administration

Founded in 1997, the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University offers an online master’s degree in public service and administration.

The high-quality coursework in this program assures that students can gain in-depth and advanced skills in public service leadership, critical investigative methods within the public sector, and decision-making. To get admitted into the program, you will need to have at least five years of cumulative experience in the field.  

Standout Features of Texas A&M University’s Master of Public Service and Administration Program:

The program has accreditation from the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA).

It allows you to choose among three available learning tracks, including Homeland Security, Nonprofit Management, and Public Management. This means you can specialize in your field and easily reach your career goals.

Did You Know?

Living by George H.W. Bush’s philosophy that goes, “Public service is a noble calling,” the school embodies the notion in their programs’ curriculum, research, and student experience.

Eventually, the school became an acclaimed graduate institution for public and international affairs. Apart from the Master of Public Service and Administration, other programs on offer include International Affairs and International Policy.

Villanova University

Villanova, Pennsylvania

Master of Public Service and Administration

Established in 1842, Villanova University has always put emphasis on critical thinking and serving others.

The university offers Master of Public Service and Administration program has been offered for more than 30 years, highlighting its rich history and commitment to innovative learning. The program can now be earned both 100% online and in a hybrid format.

A good foundation for those who want to prepare for career advancement in government and in a nonprofit organization, this master’s degree program gives an introduction to a number of perspectives.

This includes ethics, philosophy, theology, history, society, and politics, some of the disciplines with a huge influence on the way government and nonprofit sectors are led and managed. The major is offered in partnership with the Department of Public Administration.

Prospective students can expect to gain first-hand knowledge of effective practices in government and nonprofit agencies while helping you build your network and develop professionally.

Did You Know?

Villanova University makes education highly accessible to prospective students through its online programs.

The institution is also a huge supporter of military service men and women as they pursue their higher education goals through a variety of educational assistance benefits and resources such as the Yellow Ribbon Program.

Utah Valley University

Orem, Utah

Master of Public Service

An integrated university and community college, Utah Valley University has a commitment to education at its core. It is Utah’s largest public university.

One of their innovative offers is the Master of Public Service, which is specially designed to help aspiring administrators become dynamic leaders.

The courses are 100% online, making the program an ideal choice for working professionals who want to pursue advanced education, anytime and anywhere.

Standout Features of Utah Valley University’s Master of Public Service Program:

The Master of Public Service program is pursued by a diverse cohort of professional backgrounds. About 30% of the MPS students come from a criminal justice background.

Another 30% have a background in emergency services or nonprofit management while the remaining 40% have experience in a variety of areas such as health services, the nonprofit sector, community services, and local government, among others.

Did You Know?

Committed to helping students achieve success in careers and in life, Utah Valley University is an open-admission institution. It offers a 15% lower-than-average tuition rate in the state of Utah and 42% lower-than-average tuition nationwide. Recently, the university was ranked number three for return on investment.

Ball State University

Ball State University

Muncie, Indiana

Master’s in Executive Development for Public Service

Ball State University believes that the quest for personal development begins with higher education. They are at the forefront of innovation and collaboration.

As a testament to this, they offer a Master’s degree in Executive Development for Public Service program that is geared towards executives, managers, or supervisors for government, for-profit, and nonprofit organizations.

Standout Features of Ball State University’s Master’s in Executive Development for Public Service Program:

Unlike other public service and public administration programs, the Master’s degree in Executive Development for Public Service equips you with skills and knowledge that prepare you to demonstrate your expertise in a variety of specialized settings as opposed to specializing in one discipline. This means you have plenty of opportunities in a wide range of fields.

The program lets you choose among a broad range of degree emphasis. This includes Adult Education, Program Evaluation, and Staff Development; Business and Related Areas; Communications; Computer Science and Educational Technology; Educational Administration and Supervision; Health Science, Gerontology, and Wellness; Political Science; and Psychology.

Did You Know?

Ball State University has been recognized and ranked nationally, demonstrating its commitment to quality education that carries over to its online programs.

In fact, it has consistently earned top rankings from U.S. News & World Reports among the “Best Online Programs” in 2013. It also ranked 15th among the 2022 Best Online Programs for Veterans from the same publication.

Drury University

Springfield, Missouri

Master of Public Service and Safety Leadership

Located in Springfield, Missouri, Drury University is a small private higher learning institution that is committed to personalized education in an innovative environment. One of their programs offers is the Master in Public Service and Safety Leadership.

This degree focuses on equipping prospective students with skills that will prepare them for leadership positions, all the while integrating all aspects of public safety along with operations, personnel management, and strategic practices and policies.

Standout Features of Drury University’s Master of Public Service Program:

The program is geared toward leaders of public safety and service from a wide range of backgrounds, including emergency management, public health service, emergency medical services, fire service, homeland security and public administration, and many more.

Along with the master’s degree, you also have the opportunity to earn the 12-credit-hour Public Safety Leadership Certificate.

Did You Know?

A regionally accredited institution, Drury University has continuously received accolades and recognition. Recently, it ranked among the “Best Colleges 2022” as listed by the U.S. News & World Reports. This demonstrates the university’s high-quality education.

Beyond education, the university is also committed to a more sustainable future. Every year, more than 300 bicycles are ridden on campus. About 25% of these are maintained through Drury’s D.Cycle bicycle loan and maintenance services program.

What is the field of Public Service?

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the field of Public Service?

Public service is often equated to government services and policy changes, but it actually encompasses multifaceted fields, including nonprofits and nongovernment organizations, healthcare organizations, public safety, social welfare, public health, public administration, administration, and more. Services for the public may be run by the government, just like in the case of fire or police departments.

They can also be provided by independent contractors from private companies, non-government organizations, or nonprofit agencies. This is true in the case of trash pickup, a service fulfilled by a contractor but financed by the jurisdiction.

Is a Master’s in Public Service and Administration program worth it?

If you are one of those whose passion lies in serving others, influencing a system for the better, and furthering a cause, then earning an MPS program is worth it. You can take it a step further by earning a master’s degree, which can help in your career growth and development.

This advanced degree will lead you to higher levels of management and leadership roles in government agencies, nonprofit sectors, and other related fields.

What career paths can I take when I earn a Master of Public Service and Administration degree?

An online MPS program can give you plenty of opportunities in a variety of sectors.

Some of the most common jobs for an MPS graduate include becoming financial aid officers, benefits administrators, hospital administrators, criminal justice administrators, public administrators, consultants, political analysts, city managers, urban and regional planners, budget managers, and community relations managers, and many more.

You will be able to work in a variety of fields, including cyber security, homeland security, emergency management, forestry, public health services, and so much more.

What can I expect in Public Administration programs?

As a public service student, you can expect a variety of courses geared toward understanding everything that goes into public service and policy.

You might need to delve into the history of public administration and discuss ethics in public service. Some of the courses will cover crisis management, urban planning, and other aspects of services in the nonprofit and public sectors.

Most MPS programs culminate into a capstone project, foregoing thesis requirements. There are others that offer specialization tracks and learning concentrations. A lot of them also allow customizations to help you pursue your professional goals.

You need to keep in mind that like most public administration online programs, many master’s of public service programs require a bachelor’s degree for admission. The bachelor’s degree should be in public service and administration or other related fields.

How much do Public Service online programs cost?

The cost of MPS programs may vary from university to university. It can cost somewhere between $10,000 to $80,000, or possibly more. It might also depend on whether you live in-state or out-of-state, with the latter usually being more expensive.

Online MPS programs can be less costly if we take out the need for additional expenses like transportation and on-campus living costs.

Fortunately, many institutions offer some kind of financial aid, such as federal financial aid in the form of student loans, scholarships, or grants. An online program might not always be eligible for financial aid, but you can check on the university of your choice.

Is there a difference between Public Service and Public Administration?

It may seem confusing. Most people think of public service and public administration as relatively the same. Both aim to improve the management and administration of public services. However, there are some differences, especially if we put it in the context of degree programs.

A public service degree program is mostly designed for a more diverse setting, encompassing industry, military, health, and human services, government and so much more.

It helps with the advancement of the nonprofit sector as it strives to meet increasing demands with decreasing philanthropic and government funding. Courses in Public Service include public administration, public policy, an overview of the nonprofit sector, public budgeting, the vocation of public service, and so much more.

A public administration program, on the other hand, is a good learning foundation if you aim to serve as a manager in the executive arm of various sectors, including the government, nonprofit, and nongovernmental organizations.

A master’s in public administration requires you to complete courses that tackle public administration theory, financial management, organization theory, human capital management, applied data analysis, and leadership ethics, among many others.

Both programs often require the completion of a capstone project or a thesis, depending on the program requirements from university to university.

Key Takeaways

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