In a traditional workforce, civil service has always been one of the most stable occupations in the country that provides eligible professionals with careers marked by good benefits, reasonable pay, and stability.
Public administration/service is defined as policy implementation by civil servants. A graduate program in public service lays the foundation and offers academic knowledge for students who want to land a job in public service/administration in non-profit or non-governmental organizations and governmental sectors. An online Master of Public Service degree is suitable for graduates interested in becoming industry leaders and experts in the public sector.
Like other professions, public service is becoming more competitive than before. Civil service professionals who want to advance in their careers and into higher leadership and managerial positions require the credentials to set them apart and become eligible for the job. The Master of Public Service is one of the highly sought-after degrees nowadays, becoming more popular among colleges and universities.
One of the unique aspects of the online Master of Public Service degree is its flexibility and versatility. MPS-related careers exist across various industries, and completing an MPS degree puts graduates in an excellent advantage to more lucrative opportunities.
While an MPS degree focuses on non-profits and public sectors, numerous MPS-related careers are also available in private sector industries. Regardless, completing a graduate program in public service is one of the best options to expand your career prospects. That is why we have made our comprehensive guide of the Best Online Master of Public Service Graduate Schools to start your venture.
In selecting the most suitable Master of Public Service and Administration program that is delivered online, every graduate student must rethink their choices! While all graduate degree programs in this specific field point to the same objectives and desired results, not all of them are created equal!
The 10 Best Online Master’s of Public Service and Public Administration Graduate Schools on our list are the standouts because of their program features. Each of the degree programs was picked based on these factors:
Delivered fully or partly online or in a blended format to emphasize convenience for students, most of whom are professionals seeking more, enhanced, and up-to-date Public Service knowledge and skills for career advancement.
- A rigorous coursework that emphasizes the principles of Public Service degree in the graduate level as they apply to real-world applications for the primary purpose of establishing career competence,
- Financial assistance offered to qualified graduate students,
- Easy-to-access support and resources,
- Credit transfers and fast-track degree completion, as applicable,
- Positive grad school or grad program reputation because of the high-quality learning experience they offer, as evidenced by favorable feedback from students and alumni,
- Active membership in industry organizations,
- University and graduate program accreditation (regional and/or national) from official academic agencies.
Best Online Master’s of Public Service and Public Administration Graduate Schools
Texas A&M University
: College Station, TX 77843-4220
: 979 862 3469
Headquartered in the Houston-Dallas-Austin triangle, Texas A&M University is located strategically in College Station, home to 69,000+ students. It is considered Texas’s first public higher learning institution and is also one of the country’s biggest universities. TAMU offers more than 130 undergraduate, 170+ master’s, 90+ doctorate, and five professional degree programs across its colleges and departments.
- Texas A&M University’s online Executive Master of Public Service & Administration program requires 39 credit hours for degree completion.
- Although courses are completed 100% online, students must complete two 7-day residency programs every year.
- Depending on the students’ schedule, the EMPSA program can be earned within 24 to 36 months.
- Students can pursue a track in Public Management, Nonprofit Management, or Homeland Security.
- The program requires completion of an Applied Capstone Project with governmental or industry partners.
Standout Features of Texas A&M University’s Online Executive Master of Public Service & Administration Program:
The online Executive Master of Public Service at Texas A&M University is offered through the Bush School of Government and Public Service. It is one of the first programs offered in Texas and the US, offering a combination of public service and administration. In the 2021 rankings for the Best Public Affairs Schools, Texas A&M University lands in the 18th spot. The university has partnered with Acclaim to provide the EMPSA Digital Credentialing or digital badge. The digital image contains verified metadata describing your qualifications and the process taken to earn them.
Texas A&M University has several prestigious rankings from different well-known publications, including Institute of International Education, Money Magazine, and Fortune. All three rankings have made TAMU the #1 school for the number of public university students studying abroad, Best Value in Texas, and most graduates servings as CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, respectively.
Seton Hall University
: 400 South Orange Avenue, South Orange, New Jersey 07079
: 844 823 1198
Seton Hall University was established in 1856. Founded by Bishop James Roosevelt Bayley, it is one of the United States’ leading Catholic universities, home to more than 10,000 graduate and undergraduate students. Seton Hall is also considered one of the oldest diocesan universities in the country. With a 13:1 student-to-faculty ratio, students can receive exclusive, high-quality learning, with 90+ majors and programs to choose from.
- Seton Hall University’s online Master of Public Administration program features a 21-credit hour Non-profit Concentration.
- To enroll, students aren’t required to submit their official GRE scores.
- Admission requirements include a completed application form, an undergraduate degree, statement of purpose, resume, three letters of recommendation, and a GPA of at least 3.0.
- Students may apply a maximum of six previously earned credits toward their degree.
- The 100% Online MPA program can be completed within 24 months.
Standout Features of Seton Hall University’s Online Master of Public Administration Program:
Seton Hall University’s online Master of Public Administration program is one of the few programs that earned the official accreditation of the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administrations. Students will receive a high-quality program that meets the national standard for non-profit management and public service. The program’s curriculum is the first to follow curricular guidelines from the NACC or Non-profit Academic Centers Council. Students pursuing the Online MPA program will be paired up with a small cohort of MPA candidates, providing valuable insights and support throughout students’ academic journey.
Seton Hall University receives consistent awards and rankings from various organizations and publications, including BuzzFeed, Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, PayScale, and Bloomberg Businessweek. Forbes recognized the university as one of the Best Value Colleges and Top Colleges in America. Zippia has also recognized Seton Hall as the best private university in New Jersey for jobs.
: 800 E. Lancaster Avenue, Villanova, PA 19085
: 855 300 1473
Villanova University preserves its Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition and is considered the cornerstone of an academic community where learners think critically and act compassionately while serving others. The university has more than 10,000 law, graduate, and undergraduate students across six colleges: the College of Professional Studies, the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law, the M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing, the College of Engineering, the Villanova School of Business, and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
- The Villanova University – Online Master of Public Administration program, can be earned in two years, depending on the students’ learning preferences.
- Ideal candidates of the program are students with a minimum of three years of work experience in private, public, military, or non-profit sectors.
- To enroll, applicants must submit an accomplished application, official transcripts, three academic or professional letters of recommendation, CV/resume, and Statement of Goals.
- The program offers 10% savings per course to active-duty service personnel, reservists, guardsmen, veterans, and their spouses and dependents.
- Students can tailor a graduate certificate as a standalone credential or part of specialization within their degree, including a certificate in City Management, Nonprofit Management, or Public Administration.
Standout Features of Villanova University’s Online Master of Public Administration Program:
Villanova University’s online Master of Public Administration is accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration, with a curriculum aligned with the rigorous standard of public affairs education. Military students are qualified to receive 10% savings for each course upon verification of their military status, making Villanova’s MPA program one of the best programs for veterans.
Villanova University’s Master of Public Administration program has produced public figures who work as law enforcement professionals aspiring to higher positions in their industry. MPA graduate Ricardo Hayes said his degree at Villanova has made him excel as a Training Coordinator at the Duke University Police Department.
Utah Valley University
: 800 West University Parkway, Orem, UT 84058
: 801 863 8888
Founded in 1941, Utah Valley University was formerly known as Central Utah Vocational School, with the primary role of providing war production training. Throughout the university’s tradition, it has responded to its service area’s business and industry needs and population changes in Summit, Wasatch, and Utah counties. Today, the university is an open-admission institution of higher learning with a commitment to students’ academic success. Averaging 23 students per class, UVU offers more than 208 degree options in the undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs.
- Utah Valley University’s Master of Public Service program requires 36 semester hours of graduate coursework offered 100% online.
- Students will be enrolled in a cohort group of 25 students, attending core courses together on the first academic year.
- Students will enroll part-time in two courses per semester in the fall, spring, and summer.
- The 36-credit hour program accepts up to nine transfer credits of graduate courses from an accredited institution.
- Applicants must attend an info session with MPS Admissions Staff, accomplish an online application, submit official university transcripts and current CV, and provide answers to essay questions and two letters of recommendation to enroll in the Online MPS program.
Standout Features of Utah Valley University’s Online Master of Public Service Program:
Utah Valley University’s online Master of Public Service program is approved to participate in the WRGP or the Western Regional Graduate Program, allowing eligible learners from WICHE states to pay resident graduate tuition fees for approved programs.
Utah Valley University is known for offering some of the country’s most affordable undergraduate and graduate programs. It has 15% lower tuition fees than the average tuition in Utah and 42% lower than the average US. The university ranks in the 1st spot in Utah for alumni earnings and the 3rd spot for return on investment in the US.
: Anderson, South Carolina
: 864 231 2000
Anderson University is headquartered in the vibrant, rapidly growing region of South Carolina. The university is a selective, comprehensive Christian liberal arts institution of higher learning that offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate programs. Both undergraduate and graduate students can choose from eight certificate programs, 18 master’s and Ph.D., 48 minors, 29 concentrations, and 50 major degree programs. The Chronicle of Higher Education Almanac, along with the US Department of Education, asserts that Anderson University is one of the nation’s fastest-growing private universities.
- Anderson University’s online Master of Public Service and Administration has three available start dates, allowing students to enroll anytime they are ready to start.
- The 100% Online MPSA program features 7-week courses.
- The program has a 3-credit hour Capstone in Advanced Concepts and Applications in Public Administration course as a culminating requirement.
- To graduate, students must accomplish 36 credit hours as part of the degree completion requirements.
- It is one of the newest MPS programs offered in the country, launched in Fall 2021.
Standout Features of Anderson University’s Online Master of Public Service and Administration Program:
As an Apple Distinguished School, Anderson University offers an online Master of Public Service and Administration program through its Mobile Learning Initiative. Through the initiative, the university earned its distinction for the 2nd consecutive time in 2017-2018 as an Apple Distinguished School. It is an extremely rare opportunity for a university to receive the distinction a second time. Since the start of this recognition, less than 200 out of 140,000 schools in the US have received the Apple Distinguished School award.
Anderson University is a premier institution of higher learning and is considered a leading regional university in the South, according to the US News & World Report. The university is ranked as one of the Best Value universities among regional schools in the South from the same publication. The Wall Street Journal has also ranked Anderson University in the 26th spot for Best Student Engagement among all universities in the country.
Kent State University
: 120 N. Lincoln St., Kent, OH 44240
: 330 672 3000
In 1910, Kent State University began as a teacher-training school. Since then, the university has become one of the region’s driving workforce, cultural, and economic development factors. As a premier institution in Ohio, Kent State is the highest-ranking public university in Northern Ohio. In 2019, the university was recognized as the biggest employer in Portage County.
- Kent State University’s online Master of Public Administration program can be completed in as little as 24 months.
- Thirty-six credit hours will be required for degree completion.
- The online MPA program consists of eight core required courses, three elective courses, and one final capstone project.
- Students with an undergraduate degree can enroll in the program regardless of their area of study.
- Each course has a 7-week duration, with two courses completed sequentially per semester.
Standout Features of Kent State University’s Online Master of Public Administration Program:
The online Master of Public Administration degree program at Kent State University is one of the few that received accreditation from the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration. It is primarily designed for busy working professionals who want to gain the credibility, skills, and knowledge to advance their careers in the public sector.
The National Council for Home Safety & Security recognized Kent State University as “the state’s “safest big college campus” and the 25th in the same category in America. Kent State has full-time, certified police personnel of 30+ sworn officers protecting the campus. The university is one out of the 91 public doctoral universities with considerable research activity, says Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.
University of Texas at Arlington
: 701 S. Nedderman Drive, Arlington, TX 76019
: 817 533 3118
The University of Texas at Arlington, the second biggest in The University of Texas System, is the largest in North Texas. It is headquartered in the center of Dallas-Fort Worth. It is a comprehensive research, public service, and teaching institution that offers state-of-the-art facilities, encouraging students to be critical thinkers. UTA has 180+ doctoral, masters’, and baccalaureate degree programs. The university was granted R-1: Doctoral Universities-Very High Research Activity distinction by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.
- The University of Texas at Arlington – Online Master of Public Administration program emphasizes some special challenges managers encounter in urban areas.
- Although the courses are completed 100% online, an internship will be required for students with less than one year of work experience in the public sector.
- Applicants with a minimum of one year of professional experience can apply for the internship waiver.
- Admission requirements include official GRE scores, minimum of 3.0 undergraduate GPA, three letters of recommendation, 250-word essay, official transcripts, and completed online application.
- Students must complete 39 credit hours to earn their graduate degree in public administration.
Standout Features of The University of Texas at Arlington’s Online Master of Public Administration Program:
Another NASPAA-accredited in Texas is the online Master of Public Administration program offered at the University of Texas at Arlington. The program offers an exciting opportunity for individuals with less than one year of professional experience through an internship program. No prerequisites are required before entering the internship. Students can immediately start their internship within the first semester.
The University of Texas at Arlington has a variety of awards and distinctions from different publications and organizations, including the Military Times, Winds of Change, Hispanic Outlook on Education, and Times Higher Education. In 2020 alone, UTA was granted 23 patents, significantly contributing to the UT System’s overall 4th spot in the Top 100 Worldwide Universities – Granted US Utility Patents list.
Eastern Kentucky University
: Commonwealth Hall 1711, 521 Lancaster Avenue, Richmond, KY 40475
: 859 622 4455
As a brick-and-mortar accredited university, Eastern Kentucky University takes pride as a School of Opportunity. With its steadfast commitment to more affordable and accessible education, the university is proud to offer the EKU Advantage. It is a toolbox of initiatives, programs, scholarships, and incentives to help learners with educational attainment. EKU derives its regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
- Eastern Kentucky University’s online Master of Public Administration program allows students to complete their degree with a specialized certificate of their choice, namely Certificate in Nonprofit Management, Certificate in Interdisciplinary Studies, Certificate in Emergency Management and Disaster Resilience, or Certificate in Community Development.
- The program doesn’t require any GRE scores for students with a GPA of 2.75 or higher on a 4.0 scale.
- The 36-credit hour MPA program features accelerated 8-week terms.
- For active-duty military members, they can enjoy reduced tuition fees.
- Students can personalize their graduation plan with the approval of an academic advisor.
Standout Features of Eastern Kentucky University’s Online Master of Public Administration Program:
EKU’s online Master of Public Administration program offers one of the most generous transfer policies, allowing students to transfer a maximum of 12 credits. Students pursuing this degree can enjoy free career services assistance and online tutoring services. The program adheres to the highest standards set by the American Society for Public Administration. It also follows the rules of the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration. The Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs & Administration accredits EKU’s online grad program n Public Administration.
With Eastern Kentucky University’s EKU Advantage, fewer tuition expenses will never hinder students’ academic attainment. At the start of Fall 2021, EKU BookSmart makes it possible for undergraduates to receive free textbooks and required course materials. As part of the initiative, no application fees, more scholarships, and free textbooks make the university more accessible and affordable.
Arizona State University
: 1151 S. Forest Avenue, Tempe, AZ 85281
: 855 278 5080
Arizona State University is recognized nationally and globally as a top-tier knowledge institution focused on solutions and innovations to society’s greatest challenges. For the past decade, the university has been a top-producing university for elite scholars. The impressive list consists of 192 Fulbright Scholars, 14 Udall Scholars, 262 Gilman Scholars, and 4 Truman Scholars.
- Arizona State University’s online Executive Master of Public Administration is suitable for public sector leaders with five years of leadership experience. It is also designed for non-profit and private sector leaders who deal extensively with government officials.
- Thirty credits must be obtained for students to graduate with an EMPA degree.
- It is a 19-month online program that also features 3-day face-to-face executive sessions in Washington DC and Phoenix.
- Students will participate in the program as part of a cohort learning format, featuring a one-course-at-a-time online structure.
- ASU collaborates with McCain Institute for International Leadership and the School of Public Affairs to offer this online graduate program.
Standout Features of Arizona State University’s Online Executive Master of Public Administration Program:
ASU’s online Executive Master of Public Administration program is ranked as one of the top 5% programs nationally by the US News & World Report. It is offered through the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions. The program was developed and launched in collaboration with the McCain Institute for International Leadership.
Arizona State University is hailed by the US News & World Report as a leading institution for innovation. It led to the rankings for this category for seven consecutive years. In the 2020 pandemic, the university’s Biodesign Institute initiated the development of a CLIA-certified COVID-19 testing lab in just two weeks. The team has created the state’s 1st saliva-based test and utilized a robotic system to perform thousands of daily tests.
University of North Dakota
: 3501 University Avenue Stop 8357, Grand Forks, ND 58202-8357
: 701 777 3000
The University of North Dakota officially opened in 1883. Six years before establishing the state, UND gave North Dakota its official name when the former Dakota regions separated into two distinct states. Today, the university is the state’s largest institution of higher learning and has emerged as a front-runner and premier institution in aviation, medicine, law, and engineering. It is a leading research and academic institution top-ranked by The National Science Foundation.
- University of North Dakota’s online Master of Public Administration program requires 36 credit hours for degree completion.
- Students can specialize in their degree with a health administration track.
- A graduate certificate in either Public Administration or Policy Analysis can be added to the graduate program curriculum.
- An independent study, a capstone project, and an internship are required to graduate from the program.
- Students who have had a year of administrative experience can apply for an internship waiver.
Standout Features of the University of North Dakota’s Online Master of Public Administration Program:
The University of North Dakota’s online Master of Public Administration program is one of the unique MPA programs of its kind that offers a track in healthcare administration. Students pursuing this program will have the opportunity to complete their research at the Bureau of Governmental Affairs. UND’s Public Affairs baccalaureate graduates can earn their MPA degree in one extra year in the 5-year combined program to help save time and financial resources. UND’s MPA program has also received accreditation from the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration.
Many acknowledge the University of North Dakota as the most beautiful university in North Dakota. UND is the sole university in the state with medical and law schools. It educates the state’s business professionals, scientists, engineers, lawyers, and doctors. UND’s efforts provide $1.7B in overall economic impact to the region and state.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why should I invest in an online Master of Public Service degree?
Given that it is often an overlooked field of study, many students aren’t familiar with the nature of an online Master of Public Service degree and what the program can bring. It is an area of study that focuses on management, public sector administration, public service, or non-profit. However, an online MPS degree can also be good for for-profit initiatives.
An online Master of Public Service degree offers flexibility and crucial management skills. Although the program focuses on government organizations, non-profits, and public policy, those sets of skills are also applicable to any for-profit business and organization. The online MPS programs put graduates in the advantage to find rewarding career opportunities in both the private and public sectors.
However, graduates must remember that online MPS programs can differ significantly. The benefits of studying public service will also depend on the type of MPS program the applicant enrolls in. While some graduate programs in public service are offered through nationally renowned research schools, other programs are delivered by faculty members within small liberal arts colleges.
What are the standard admission requirements of an online Master of Public Service program?
Online Master of Public Service programs have different admission requirements by college or university. Although many schools require students to complete their undergraduate degree from an accredited institution, most programs require a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.75. Otherwise, the conditional status may be granted to students, requiring them a set of prerequisites or additional requirements to be submitted. Although some schools have higher GPA requirements, students’ professional experience and other relevant credentials can affect the decision of the school to accept their application.
Some online MPS programs will require GRE/GMAT scores. However, many schools also accept a waiver to exempt official test scores once applicants meet certain criteria. Students can also enroll in a graduate school that doesn’t require GRE scores for acceptance into the graduate program in public service. Many programs have waived GRE requirements in most schools; thus, asking for a waiver in the online MPS program enrollment isn’t uncommon.
Other MPS programs have admission policies that accept transfer credits for students with prior work experience or undergraduate degrees. The curriculum can waive specific courses once applicants have the necessary credentials.
Since every school varies when it comes to matriculation requirements for their online Master of Public Service programs, applicants must take ample time in evaluating which school or program will best fit their preferences, qualifications, and needs.
Lastly, students must not forget to consider scholarship opportunities. Since the demand for civil service professionals is high, many Master of Public Service scholarship programs are available for students.
How long is an online Master of Public Service program?
Like most graduate programs, online Master of Public Service programs vary on the amount they will take to accomplish them. For some graduate schools, students can earn their graduate degree in as little as eight months. Other graduates accomplish their graduate degrees within two years. Neither of the graduate programs is necessarily better than the other.
The length of the program will completely depend on the students’ preferences and the expected learning outcomes they’re looking for. However, most online Master of Public Service programs requires 30 to 45 credit hours for degree completion.
What can I do with an online Master of Public Service and Administration degree?
Graduates with an online Master of Public Service and Administration degree can pursue several rewarding career opportunities in both the public and private sectors, says the Network of School of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration.
Any role that has an outcome between the private and public sectors is suitable for graduates with an online Master of Public Service degree. Due to the flexible nature of the program, many career opportunities aren’t always what people expect. Since there aren’t several barriers to where public administrators can work, graduates must never limit themselves to finding jobs in one sector only. To provide an overview, here are some of the sectors that MPS graduates can find employment:
Education Administrators plan, manage, and coordinate the auxiliary, administrative, or academic activities of secondary, elementary, or kindergarten schools.
Postsecondary Education Administrators manage faculty research, academics, student services, and other educational initiatives at colleges and universities.
Sales Managers often direct every company’s or organization’s sales departments or sales teams.
Management Analysts introduce different ways to improve the efficiency of every organization or business.
Top Executives develop policies and strategies to ensure that businesses and companies have met their objectives.
Community Associations, Real Estate, and Property Managers are responsible for ensuring the compliance, safety, and other essential aspects of industrial, commercial, or residential properties.
Human Resources Managers plan, organize and coordinate the administrative functions of every organization or company.
Medical and Health Services Managers coordinate, manage and plan the business processes, activities, or transactions of healthcare providers or facilities.
Public Relations and Fundraising Managers oversee the creation of materials that will boost their clients’ or employers’ reputation or public image.
Community and Social Service Managers manage and coordinate organizations, initiatives, and programs that support the general public’s wellbeing.
Emergency Management Directors prepare procedures, policies, and contingency plans for responding to natural disasters or other emergencies.
Federal, State, and Local Government:
Urban and Regional Planners develop land-use programs to boost and improve physical facilities, accommodate population development, and create communities.
Administrative Service Managers organize, manage, and plan initiatives and activities that advocate businesses and organizations operating effectively.
Political Scientists study the processes, operations, developments, and origins of political systems.
What is the expected level of graduates with an online Master of Public Service degree?
The salary expectations for graduates with an online MPS degree will depend on the sector where the applicants find employment opportunities. With an online Master of Public Service degree, graduates can earn between $55,000 to $160,000. For graduates working in the management of enterprises and companies, the annual mean wage is $123,730. It is one of the most lucrative-paying careers graduates can pursue with a master’s degree.
Another significant factor that will affect salary potential is the applicants’ location. While there are more career opportunities, employment growth will also change with position, industry, and location. Top tier states or cities for graduates with an MPS degree will provide them with the opportunity to earn more than $100K as median annual wage.
The top cities where MPS jobs are in demand vary according to specific occupations. According to the report from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the metropolitan areas with high demand for MPAs employing administrative services and facilities managers include:
|Metropolitan Area||Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
However, due to the flexibility of an online Master of Public Service program, graduates with an MPS degree can qualify for other positions in other cities where the demand or salaries can be higher.