Public Administration Degree Online

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An online public administration degree studies social issues and how to implement policy to meet the goals of local, state or federal gov’t or other non profit agencies.

Online public admin degree programs are available at all levels. But the most common are the bachelor’s and master’s degree levels. Bachelors programs often cover basics. Like how to manage people, projects and operations. Master of Public Admin programs go deeper. They look at the skills that you may need in order to run public programs or drive policy changes.



Associate of Applied Science in Public Administration

This AAS program shows you the legal, ethical, political and social context of public admin and its processes.

Course Examples:

  • Ethics in the Public Sector
  • Public Sector Management
  • Public Relations for the Public Sector

Bachelor of Science in Business Administration – Public Administration

The BSBA program covers the basics of business management and leadership. In other facets, you will learn key aspects of finance, accounting, and statistics. The program also looks at how to manage teams in a global market place. With a choice of ten fields of study, you have the option to focus on your interests.

Course Examples:

  • Grant Writing Basics
  • State and Local Gov’t
  • Administrative Law

Master of Science in Organizational Leadership – Public Administration

This program can help prep you for leadership positions in a variety of agencies by prepping you to manage gov’t relations, policies and urban planning.

Course Examples:

  • American Gov’t
  • Business Communication
  • State and Local Gov’t


At the bachelor’s level, a public admin degree is often a business program. For instance, a BS in business admin with a public admin focus. When this is the case, the main part of the study plan may cover all aspects of business. These may be basic courses at first that look at the day to day functions of corporate life.

On top of manager themes, you also may learn how the gov’t operates. This means you may learn politics and the legal process in the U.S. Some programs also cover policy analysis and administrative law.

Here are a few examples of public admin classes. The names will change from school to school. But you can extract some common themes.

  • Intro to Public Policy
  • Social Science Research Methods
  • Fundamentals of Policy Analysis
  • Group Communication
  • Management Skills Development

Bachelor’s of Arts – Public Sector Management (PSM)

A bachelors in PSM program may draw on analytics, concepts and practical methods. It may also lead to an internship or field study. Some of the courses relate to management. Like how to deal with staff and organizational issues. Yet others tackle politics, public policy and how to implement policy.

Bachelor of Science – Public Administration

A BSPA program helps you to learn about how to manage at the local, state, or federal levels. At the core of the program, you will often find many topics relating to analysis. These deal with the economy and finance. You will also often learn the nature of politics and policy making.

Master of Public Administration

The MPA is a professional master’s degree. It is for those who want to grow as leaders. Most seek to work in local and federal gov’t and the non profit sector.

The focus of the courses is on building your manager skills. For instance, how to be good at being able to manage people, projects and resources. You may also learn business courses like economics, finance and the use of data for decisions.

But most programs cover other topics too. These may inform you how to translate community needs into policy solutions. So, to round things out, you will often learn regional and urban planning. You may also learn political science and public policy as well.

Course names vary between schools. Yet the following sample MPA degrees give you a peek inside a study plan.

  • Public Admin and Management
  • Leadership in the Public Sector
  • Finance and the Administration of Public Funds
  • Human Resource Management in the Public Sector

MPA grads might continue to study at the PhD level. A Doctor of Public Administration (DPA) is a terminal degree for professionals. It may help you apply what you know. For instance, to create change in gov’t, non profits, or other policy organizations.

Master of Science in Criminal Justice – Public Management and Leadership

This program exposes you to the field of criminal justice. You will likely look at law enforcement, the courts and corrections. How they function, and how they interact at local, state and federal levels. While you learn the ways criminals behave, you may build certain manager skills. Topics like victimology and homeland security may also be key.


Some courses include:

American Politics: Build on your knowledge of how the U.S. gov't works. This course may cover branches of power, political parties, and the Constitution.

Policy Analysis: Explore how policy is made and the role it plays in public admin. In this course, you may learn how to use policy to make decisions.

State and Local Community Development: A course like this looks at ways public policy can make life better. You could learn how to build and improve places where people live, work, and play.

Public Fiscal Management: This course touches on how to handle public money. You may learn about oversight committees, audits, and how to handle funds with care.

Introduction to Project Management: Dive into the life cycle of a project – and how to run it like clock work. This course may cover how to manage a project’s time, cost, risk, and more.

Strategic Planning: Learn how to create plans that lead public organizations into the future. This course may cover how to budget, plan, and get results.

Administrative Law and Management: This course dives into the laws that govern the public sector. You could learn things from worker rights to making lawful decisions.

HR Management: How to manage workers in the public sector can differ from the private sector. This course may cover must know HR laws and practices.


A Bachelor’s degree in public admin often entails 120 credits and four years. This is the average for students who pursue their degree full time.

But since many online programs omit summer breaks, one may earn their degree sooner. Transfer credits from an associate degree can help in this goal too. For instance, a Bachelor’s degree completion program might include 60 credits. As such, it may take two and a half years.

If you are going for an MPA degree, it may take about one to two years to complete an average of 36 credits. Here too, some schools offer faster paced and part time formats.



School# of Credits RequiredStart DatesMinimum Months to Complete
California State University Northridge60Multiple30
UMass Online120Multiple48
Colorado Technical U180Multiple18


The cost of public admin degrees varies. Some schools offer two tuition rates. One for in state students, the other for out of state students. At present, the average in state tuition is $7,591 .The average out of state tuition is $34,290.

School# of Credits RequiredCost Per CreditTotal Tuition Cost
Colorado Technical U180$325$58,500
California State University Northridge60$661$39,660
UMass Online120$332$39,840


As per DataUSA, there were 522 schools that offer public admin degrees or programs.  From those schools there were 15,999 public administration degrees or programs awarded to students. Most of these programs were master’s degrees.

School2022 Degrees awarded2023/24 Tuition (out of state unless *)
Indiana University Bloomington612$40,482
Columbia University in the City of New York241$69,045
California State University Northridge265$18,975
Harvard University310$59,076*
Syracuse University292$63,061*
CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice219$15,420
CUNY Bernard M Baruch College196$15,414
New York University178$60,438*
Walden University274$12,498*
Rutgers University Newark134$35,348

Estimated for full time, beginning undergrad students


Many schools with regional accreditation offer public admin degree programs. If you choose to pursue your degree at one of them, you may enable you to use transfer credits. This can be important if you want to continue your education later. Regional accreditation also means you may be eligible to apply for federal aid to study at that school.

The process of being accredited involves an external agency which sets certain standards. These enable the agency to see how the school measures up. Then, relay that info to the public. An agency’s rubber stamp is good for a certain period of time. After that, the school has to once again volunteer to have the agency review it. It must then show it is keeping up with or improving upon the criteria. If so, the school gets to renew its status.

In some cases, a public admin degree comes from a business school. In this event, there are three main agencies that accredit them. There is also one agency that accredits MPA programs only, called NASPAA. As a consumer, it is useful to know where you can check the status of a school or program. The accreditors below maintain data bases on their websites.

  • Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
  • International Assembly for Collegiate Education (IACBE)
  • Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
  • Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPPA)

Program accreditors decide which concepts public admin or business admin degrees should cover. It is much the same process as regional accrediting. That is, there is a review, report and possible renewal (about every seven years).


There are 815,828 people working in public administration, and this is going up by 3.54%. The average age of a person in the work force with degree in public admin and social service is 43.2. Most of them are female.


The table below is for Administrative Service Managers.

StateEmploymentAnnual Mean Wage
New Jersey9,150$146,190


Administrative Service Managers

Administrative Service Managers ensure the efficient functioning of a company by planning, coordinating, and directing diverse activities. Their responsibilities range from providing office support to overseeing business operations. Some hold job titles such as Office Manager or Business Manager.

According to 2023 BLS data:

Median Salary: $104,900 per year

Job Growth Through 2032: 5% (Faster than average)

Typical Entry level Education: Bachelor’s degree

Urban and Regional Planners

Urban and Regional Planners assess community needs and devise both short-term and long-term land use plans and programs. These initiatives aim to enhance and foster the development of specific areas. Their role often involves engaging with public officials, developers, and residents to craft effective solutions.

According to 2023 BLS data:

Median Salary: $81,800per year

Job Growth Through 2029: 4% (As fast as average)

Typical Entry level Education: Master’s degree

Social and Community Service Managers

Social and Community Service Managers oversee social and human service programs, managing the staff delivering these services to the public. Depending on the agency’s size, they may have specific roles, such as running a particular program or working with a specific population, such as the homeless, individuals dealing with substance abuse, or those facing chronic hunger.

According to 2023 BLS data:

Median Salary: $77,030 per year

Job Growth Through 2032: 9% (Much faster than average)

Typical Entry level Education: Bachelor’s degree

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Sources for school statistics is the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.

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