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Best Graduate Public Administration Programs for 2013-2014

Public administration is the bridge between government policy and the public. Public administration professionals work in a wide range of positions – and not all of them are in the government field. Some career path examples include research manager at a university, director of health services at a government agency, project director at a non-profit, city director, deputy director, faculty position at a university, county commissioner, CEO, and many HR positions. The best way to get a jump start in this field is with a Masters in Public Administration (MPA). While many professionals stop at a Bachelor’s degree and work their way up from entry level positions, a Master degree will open the door to better jobs with higher pay. Here are the high end salaries for common MPA positions: Executive Director ($107,000/ year), Executive Director at a non-profit ($118,000). Human Resource Director ($170,000), Director of Development ($87,000). Professionals who are ready to take their next step in the Public Administration field with an MPA should consider these three things when choosing a school.

Broad View and Specialization

Studying for an MPA should be a delicate balance between macro theory and study as well as an emphasis on the student’s chosen specialization. Specializations include public and nonprofit management, public policy, global management, and more. Prospective students should consider their career goals including if they’d ultimately like to go nonprofit, international, or into government, and find a program which offers this specialization.

Program Flexibility

Even the top ranked MPA university programs are learning that public administrators are busy professionals interested in keeping their day job while going back to school. Part-time, night classes,
and at least partial online courses are offered by many well-ranked school. By taking classes online or at night, professionals don’t have to stop the forward momentum of their careers by taking a time out for school. Instead, education supplements their career and will most likely end with a diploma and a promotion. Alternatively, taking a sabbatical from work to focus full time on a MPA could mean better networking and a more engaging education experience.

In the Field Opportunities

Assistantships and internships are an excellent way for MPA students to get real world experience while
studying. Even if students have worked in the public administration field, an MPA internship will most likely put them in a new position of interest and likely result in opportunities for career growth. Top ranking programs offer substantial placement assistant for professionals looking to get their foot in the door in big companies.

The following list is of the universities offering the best Masters of Public Administration degrees. These rankings were determined through student surveys, an analysis of graduate results, independent review, and more. Data was compiled to rank schools based on the success of their graduates, the rigor of the program, and the reputation of the school among peers.

University of Kansas

University of Kansas offers students some of the best graduate programs in Public Administration. Offering Master's and Doctoral degrees, the school is nationally ranked for its quality graduate programs. Almost 50 programs are recognized for quality of teaching and employment prospects. Graduate students also get the chance to study abroad, conduct research and participate in policy analysis.

George Washington University

George Washington University offers some of the best graduate degrees in Public Administration in the eastern United States. Providing students with both Master's and Doctoral programs, the school lets students learn Public Administration through classwork and field experience. Internships and practicums help students gain real-world experience while helping communities become better places to live.

California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

California State Polytechnic University, Pomona offers a Master's in Public Administration for students interested in careers within local, state or federal government. Students design their curriculum to fit their interests, taking classes in community development and organizing, environmental issues, educational administration, public financing and more. Ranked among the top universities in the western United States, Cal Poly helps students solve tomorrow's problems today.

Morehead State University

Morehead State University, fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, offers a Master's degree in Public Administration. Students who want a degree that combines classroom learning with internships and research will find this program very stimulating. Graduates of the program seek employment in nonprofit organizations, government, education and other related field.

Bridgewater State University

Bridgewater State University offers students a Master's in Public Administration degree that opens up a world of opportunities. Students can choose from concentrations including Public Administration, Sustainable Community Development and Civic and Nonprofit Leadership and Administration. Internships are available for students with no prior work experience, allowing students to gain skills and valuable insight.

Notre Dame de Namur University

Notre Dame de Namur University, located in California's Silicon Valley, offers students an education rich in Catholic tradition. Designed for working professionals, the program has been recognized for its dedicated faculty that are excellent at preparing future administrators for top jobs in government and nonprofit organizations. Classes are scheduled in the evenings to accommodate work schedules, can be started year-round and can be completed in two years.

Florida Institute of Technology

Florida Institute of Technology offers students a Master's of Public Administration degree that prepares them for exciting and important jobs with many organizations such as NASA, FEMA and the Small Business Administration. FIT's program is highly-regarded by employers for its emphasis on diversity, ethics, teamwork and decision making. Students can choose how to take many of their classes, including online, on-campus and at off-campus locations throughout the school's service area.

Hamline University

Hamline University, located in St. Paul, has been ranked as the top college in Minnesota by U.S. News and World Report. Offering Master's and Doctoral degrees in Public Administration, students who study at Hamline are studying at the state's oldest university while guided by expert faculty. With small classes and individualized attention, it's a great place to earn a degree.

Illinois Institute of Technology

Illinois Institute of Technology offers a Master's of Public Administration degree that's proven to be very popular with working professionals in the Midwest. Offering tuition discounts to Chicago Police and Fire Department personnel, the program is designed to meet the needs of today's working professionals. Classes meet one evening per week, and have no residency or thesis requirements. Students can look forward to small classes and the ability to personalize their degree based on their interests due to the program being closely connected with the MBA program in the School of Business.

University of Washington

University of Washington offers students graduate degrees in Public Administration specializing in a number of interesting areas. Students can choose from specialties in Executive Administration, Public Policy and Analysis, Basic Public Administration and a Peace Corps International Master's degree. With the continuing internationalization of today's world, students interested in a better understanding of other nation's governments and policies will benefit greatly from this program. A study abroad option is also available with this degree, giving students an additional opportunity to explore their world.

University of Nevada

University of Nevada provides students the opportunity to gain a Master of Public Administration degree in one of the most interesting areas of the United States. Nevada is a state that is constantly changing, and students who earn their MPA from the school have opportunities to work for major think tanks and government agencies throughout the country. Students can choose from three specialties including Public Management, Policy Analysis and Environmental Policy.

Georgia State University

Georgia State University has a Master of Public Administration degree that provides students with many concentrations from which to choose. Among these are Criminal Justice, Economic Development, Public Health, Policy Evaluation and many others. The program is fully accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration, and recently rankings have placed it among the top 15 schools of nonprofit management, public finance and urban policy development and analysis.

American University

American University, a school with a true international flavor, provides students the chance to earn a Master of Public Administration degree that can be the beginning of a stimulating worldwide career. Students who have acquired prior experience before beginning graduate studies are often able to waive up to six credit hours of classes by submitting a statement of professional experience. By studying in Washington, D.C. students are exposed to everything public administration has to offer, with a wealth of internship opportunities available to students.

Minnesota State University

Minnesota State University offers a Master of Public Administration degree to students at its campus in Mankato and the off-campus location in Edina. Students can choose from specializations in American or International Administration. A total of 34 credits are needed for graduation, and students can prepare for entry into public service with confidence they have been prepared by award-winning faculty with years of experience in government service and nonprofit management.

SUNY College at Brockport

SUNY College at Brockport offers a Master's degree in Public Administration that's one of the best in the Northeast. Graduates of the program have gone on to careers managing everything from government agencies to zoos, allowing students to tailor the program of study to their interests. The program is fully accredited and a member of the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration, and has been in existence since 1974. Most classes are scheduled once a week in the evenings for working professionals, with some classes even being offered online.

North Carolina Central University

North Carolina Central University provides students interested in Public Affairs and Administration the chance to earn a graduate degree in the field. Offering an MPA as well as an Executive MPA, the school is well-known within the state for its excellent graduate studies programs. The emphasis on diversity and innovation has resulted in the school receiving the highest of marks from accreditation agencies, and is known for cutting-edge technology and resources being made available to students who are conducting research projects.

Lindenwood University

Lindenwood University in Missouri offers students an evening program of study leading to a Master of Public Administration degree. The school, promoting an interest in Christian values as they relate to education, teaches students how to make a difference in people's lives with their work. The goal of the Public Administration degree is to help students develop their passions and eventually get paid for them. Graduates of the program have gone on to such diverse jobs as executive director of an animal shelter, working with at-risk children and as social workers in nursing homes and hospitals.

University of South Carolina

University of South Carolina offers students a Master of Public Administration degree on one of the most dynamic and energetic campuses in the southeastern United States. With a variety of opportunities to choose from, including study abroad experiences and internships, the Gamecocks offer students numerous chances to grow both personally and professionally. Known for award-winning faculty and innovative research opportunities, South Carolina is the place to be for students who thrive on challenges.

Northern Illinois University

Northern Illinois University offers a Master of Public Administration degree for students who desire exciting careers in public service. The 39 semester hour program of study lets students specialize in a variety of areas including Public Leadership, Fiscal Management, Nonprofit Management and more. Students can also participate in internships if they have no prior professional experience, or can gain up to six hours of credit by providing a statement of professional experience.

University of Wisconsin

University of Wisconsin offers students a Master of Public Administration degree with an emphasis on Public Affairs. Students are provided numerous opportunities within the state to put their skills to the test, as the university is well-known for its internships and other field experiences. Research is also a key component of its MPA, and students are expected to develop their own projects prior to graduation as well as assist faculty on projects.

Belhaven University

Belhaven University, considered one of the outstanding Christian colleges in the United States, offers a Master's degree in Public Administration that students come away from with a level of knowledge unlike many other degrees. The program is designed for working adults, and allows students to integrate their faith with their career. Students learn how the process of public administration relates to their Christian beliefs, and how such factors as economic development and community organizing are critical to the success of an area or organization.

University of Dayton

University of Dayton is home to the region's oldest Master of Public Administration program, one of many reasons why the university is considered to have one of the best MPA degrees in the nation. The program offers faculty who are experts in their respective fields, and provides students with academic mentors who are there for guidance and support. Students seeking a collaborative, community-based learning environment will find that and more at one of Ohio's greatest schools.

Seattle University

Seattle University, ranked in the top 10 of western regional universities, provides students the chance to earn a Master of Public Administration degree that's convenient for working professionals. With more than 50 years as a leader in graduate education, the school emphasizes ethical leadership while offering day, evening and weekend classes for students.

Southern Illinois University

Southern Illinois University offers a Master of Public Administration degree that's one of the best anywhere. Students can earn a concentration in General Administration or Aviation Administration, one of very few schools in the country to offer this specialization for those students wanting a career in airport management.

Old Dominion University

Capella University is one of the finest online schools in the world, with its programs perfectly suited for working adults. Fully accredited, it offers graduate degrees on both Master's and Doctoral levels in Public Administration for working professionals seeking new careers or job promotions.

Ohio University

Ohio University offers a Master of Public Administration degree that's filled with opportunities for students to expand their knowledge and test their skills in the real world. Through research and internships, students learn how much of an impact economic development and policy formation and analysis have on communities.

Virginia Commonwealth University

Virginia Commonwealth University offers three excellent Public Administration graduate degree programs. First is the basic Master of Public Administration, while next is the accelerated Bachelor's to Master's program. Perhaps the most interesting option is the combined program of an MPA and Juris Doctor degree, opening up numerous opportunities in either Public Administration or Law.

University of Central Florida

University of Central Florida is growing by leaps and bounds. With former presidents like Bill Clinton speaking at commencement exercises, it's easy to see how the school is quietly becoming an academic leader. Offering graduate degrees in Public Administration, it requires 42 credit hours to graduate and emphasizes nonprofit management.

Long Island University

Long Island University offers a Master of Public Administration degree that can be completed through a combination of online and in-person classes. Considered one of the nation's largest and most comprehensive universities, LIU provides students with a first-class education.

Brigham Young University

Brigham Young University is one of the most well-known schools in the world. Offering a Master of Public Administration, it requires 57 credits for graduation and emphasizes financial analysis, local government management and human resources through classes, seminars and workshops.

James Madison University

James Madison University, ranked number two among grad schools by the Chronicle of Higher Education, offers a Master of Public Administration degree at both the main campus in Harrisonburg, VA and off-site in Roanoke, VA for students wanting the JMU degree without the travel.

Pace University

Pace University is an independent university in New York offering an MPA degree that's one of the Northeast's best. Requiring 45 credit hours for graduation, it can be completed in no more than three years of study, and has an excellent internship program with nonprofit and government agencies.

Arkansas State University

Arkansas State University offers students an MPA program that can be completed through traditional means or entirely online. Requiring 36 hours for graduation, it lets students specialize in one of several areas including nonprofit management, economic development and policy analysis.

Kean University

Kean University in New Jersey has an excellent Public Administration graduate program. Students can choose to specialize in many areas including environmental management, health services management or nonprofit management. Fully accredited, it can be completed on a part-time basis.

University of Southern Indiana

University of Southern Indiana offers a Master of Public Administration degree that's very popular on campus. Accessible to working adults with evening, weekend and online classes, it also has a great job placement rate for graduates, with many finding jobs at the university itself.

University of Houston

University of Houston has some of the highest-ranking graduate programs in the country, and the MPA degree is no exception. Focusing on the issues facing major metropolitan areas like Houston, the program is a perfect fit for those students wanting careers in civic management.

National University

National University offers a Master of Public Administration degree that's one of the best in California. Utilizing case studies, oral arguments and research papers students gain an understanding of how communities and organizations are related to and can help one another succeed.

Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania

Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania provides a great learning environment for its graduate program in Public Administration. With small classes and online or evening classes, the MPA degree is taught by faculty with years of experience in various areas such as nonprofit, government and healthcare.

Sam Houston State University

Sam Houston State University provides an MPA degree that can be completed totally online. Needing 36 credit hours to graduate, students choose concentrations in such areas as emergency management, international politics and state government. Students can enroll year-round, and must complete an internship if having no previous work experience.

Florida Gulf Coast University

Florida Gulf Coast University offers students graduate degrees in Public Administration that can be completed through distance learning. Concentrations are available in General Administration, Management and Environmental Policy. Fully accredited, the program offers an MPA combining classroom work with field experience to create a well-rounded education.