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The 96 Most Affordable Online MPA Programs

Rankings of online MPA programsIf you are interested in a career in government, policy, budgeting, development or organizational operations consider an online MPA from an accredited university. Online MPA programs prepare you for the leadership roles that require critical thought and decision-making all throughout the public and private sectors. These professionals tend to work behind the scenes, but their salaries are at the forefront of the US national earnings. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, political scientists alone make a median annual salary of $125,350. Most public administration careers require applicants to have completed online MPA programs and have the demonstrable skills and knowledge to keep society functioning and operations effective.

An online MPA can spark a rewarding career but can cost a small fortune—as much as $82,000! Clearly, it pays to do your research before choosing an online master’s in public administration. Thankfully, GetEducated has done a big portion of this research so you can make an informed decision about one of the biggest purchases of a lifetime.

GetEducated compared 179 master’s degrees in public administration from 143 regionally accredited online schools to create this ‘Best Buy’ list. Our rankings reveal the most affordable options in the United States—96 online MPA programs for under $25,100.

ARTICLE NAVIGATION: Rankings Table | Career Guide

Average Cost (In-state): ~$25,100
Least Expensive: University of North Carolina at Pembroke ~$10,746.12
Most Expensive: University of Southern California ~$81,817

Our data-driven research creates a truly reliable system of scientific rankings. There’s no fancy formulas here. We meticulously calculate total full-time tuition—including any fees—for the most accurate total cost. Our rankings cannot be bought, and therefore factually showcase the cheapest online MPA programs. The online degrees listed above the gray dividing line are official 2022 “Best Buys” and cost less than the national average.

Most Affordable Online MPA Programs

RankSchool / DegreeStatePriceNote
1
University of North Carolina at Pembroke
(NC)
$10,746.12
$37,946.28
In-State
Out-of-State
2
Arkansas State University
(AR)
$11,412.00
All Students
3
Valdosta State University
(GA)
$11,988.00
All Students
4
University of Montana
(MT)
$12,068.00
$23,228.00
In-State
Out-of-State
5
University of North Georgia
(GA)
$12,108.00
All Students
6
Columbus State University
(GA)
$12,524.00
$38,156.00
In-State
Out-of-State
7
University of West Georgia
(GA)
$12,632.00
All Students
8
The University of Texas Permian Basin
(TX)
$12,815.64
All Students
9
Georgia College & State University
(GA)
$12,848.00
All Students
10
Florida Gulf Coast University
(FL)
$13,441.68
All Students
11
University of Central Florida
(FL)
$13,747.44
$48,372.24
In-State
Out-of-State
12
Southeast Missouri State University
(MO)
$13,914.00
All Students
13
University of South Dakota
(SD)
$14,113.50
All Students
14
Ball State University
(IN)
$14,352.00
$20,802.00
In-State
Out-of-State
15
American Public University System
(WV)
$14,450.00
$9,350.00
In-State/Out-Of-State
Military
16
University of North Carolina-Wilmington
(NC)
$14,588.64
$42,246.72
In-State
Out-of-State
17
Tarleton State University
(TX)
$14,775.12
$29,499.12
In-State
Out-of-State
18
Barry University
(FL)
$14,976.00
All Students
19
Clayton State University
(GA)
$15,088.00
All Students
20
University of Southern Indiana
(IN)
$15,196.72
All Students
21
Marshall University
(WV)
$15,336.00
All Students
22
Southern Utah University
(UT)
$15,480.00
All Students
23
Stephen F. Austin State University
(TX)
$16,054.00
$30,742.00
In-State
Out-of-State
24
Indiana State University
(IN)
$16,152.00
$20,832.00
In-State
Out-of-State
25
Adams State University
(CO)
$16,300.80
All Students
26
Lincoln Memorial University
(TN)
$16,350.00
All Students
27
Jacksonville State University
(AL)
$16,450.00
$11,050.00
In-State/Out-Of-State
Military
28
University of Central Oklahoma
(OK)
$16,522.92
$31,531.32
In-State
Out-of-State
29
The University of Texas at Arlington
(TX)
$16,575.00
All Students
30
Wichita State University
(KS)
$16,613.22
All Students
31
Murray State University
(KY)
$16,884.00
All Students
32
Montreat College
(NC)
$16,900.00
All Students
33
University of Nebraska at Omaha
(NE)
$17,225.05
$26,663.05
In-State
Out-of-State
34
Delaware State University
(DE)
$17,364.00
All Students
35
University of Louisiana at Monroe
(LA)
$18,000.00
All Students
36
Touro University Worldwide
(CA)
$18,200.00
All Students
37
West Texas A & M University
(TX)
$18,219.60
$33,558.84
In-State
Out-of-State
38
University of Illinois at Springfield
(IL)
$18,344.40
All Students
39
Southern University and A & M College
(LA)
$18,401.00
All Students
40
Wayland Baptist University
(TX)
$18,504.00
All Students
41
SUNY College at Brockport
(NY)
$18,585.00
$21,975.00
In-State
Out-of-State
42
Troy University
(AL)
$18,900.00
All Students
43
University of Colorado Denver
(CO)
$18,936.00
$22,716.00
In-State
Out-of-State
44
University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh
(WI)
$19,332.00
All Students
45
Northern Michigan University
(MI)
$19,620.00
All Students
46
Texas Tech University
(TX)
$19,691.00
All Students
47
San Diego State University
(CA)
$19,836.00
All Students
48
Sam Houston State University
(TX)
$19,866.60
All Students
49
Florida State University
(FL)
$19,991.70
$48,404.70
In-State
Out-of-State
50
Anderson University - SC
(SC)
$20,060.00
All Students
51
Lindenwood University
(MO)
$20,105.00
All Students
52
University of North Dakota
(ND)
$20,114.28
All Students
53
Indiana Wesleyan University
(IN)
$20,124.00
$15,093.00
In-State/Out-Of-State
Military
54
Trevecca Nazarene University
(TN)
$20,268.00
All Students
55
Colorado Christian University
(CO)
$20,340.00
All Students
56
Aurora University
(IL)
$20,440.00
$9,100.00
In-State/Out-Of-State
Military
57
Metropolitan State University
(MN)
$20,495.20
All Students
58
Strayer University - Online
(DC)
$20,700.00
All Students
59
East Tennessee State University
(TN)
$20,844.00
All Students
60
Excelsior College
(NY)
$20,850.00
$9,450.00
In-State/Out-Of-State
Military
61
California State University-Dominguez Hills
(CA)
$20,874.00
All Students
62
Florida International University
(FL)
$20,987.83
All Students
63
University of Idaho
(ID)
$21,024.00
All Students
64
Upper Iowa University
(IA)
$21,310.00
$9,070.00
In-State/Out-Of-State
Military
65
Liberty University
(VA)
$21,436.00
$10,000.00
In-State/Out-Of-State
Military
66
Los Angeles Pacific University
(CA)
$21,675.00
$19,515.00
In-State/Out-Of-State
Military
67
California State University-San Bernardino
(CA)
$21,780.00
$36,036.00
In-State
Out-of-State
68
Eastern Kentucky University
(KY)
$21,996.00
$11,700.00
In-State/Out-Of-State
Military
69
Belhaven University
(MS)
$22,100.00
$14,540.00
In-State/Out-Of-State
Military
70
Cornerstone University
(MI)
$22,200.00
All Students
71
Park University
(MO)
$22,265.00
$16,181.00
In-State/Out-Of-State
Military
72
Post University
(CT)
$22,460.00
All Students
73
Purdue University Global
(IN)
$22,560.00
$24,870.00
$18,800.00
In-State
Out-of-State
Military
74
University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth
(MA)
$22,692.00
All Students
75
Old Dominion University
(VA)
$22,703.00
$24,419.00
In-State
Out-of-State
76
Northern Illinois University
(IL)
$22,882.08
All Students
77
Colorado State University
(CO)
$22,982.00
All Students
78
Grand Canyon University
(AZ)
$23,016.00
$17,050.00
In-State/Out-Of-State
Military
79
Bellevue University
(NE)
$23,060.00
All Students
80
University of Colorado - Colorado Springs
(CO)
$23,092.00
$26,572.00
In-State
Out-of-State
81
Northern Arizona University
(AZ)
$23,257.00
All Students
82
Northern Illinois University
(IL)
$23,468.80
All Students
83
CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice
(NY)
$23,652.50
All Students
84
National University
(CA)
$23,868.00
All Students
85
Lynn University
(FL)
$24,050.00
All Students
86
Morehead State University
(KY)
$24,060.00
All Students
87
West Chester University of Pennsylvania
(PA)
$24,064.56
$26,154.00
In-State
Out-of-State
88
Franklin University
(OH)
$24,205.00
$19,381.00
In-State/Out-Of-State
Military
89
California Baptist University
(CA)
$24,210.00
All Students
90
University of Massachusetts Global
(CA)
$24,480.00
$14,400.00
In-State/Out-Of-State
Military
91
Walden University
(MN)
$24,560.00
$20,996.00
In-State/Out-Of-State
Military
92
Hilbert College
(NY)
$24,580.00
All Students
93
Anna Maria College
(MA)
$24,660.00
All Students
94
Saginaw Valley State University
(MI)
$24,758.40
$45,570.00
In-State
Out-of-State
95
Kent State University
(OH)
$24,768.00
$25,128.00
In-State
Out-of-State
96
Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College
(LA)
$25,092.00
All Students
NOTE: The following schools did not make our Best Buy ranking but are also great online options.
School / DegreeStatePriceNote
Claremont Lincoln University
(CA)
$25,200.00
All Students
Drake University
(IA)
$25,200.00
All Students
Florida Institute of Technology
(FL)
$25,641.00
$23,076.90
In-State/Out-Of-State
Military
Azusa Pacific University
(CA)
$25,660.00
All Students
Washington Adventist University
(MD)
$25,885.00
All Students
Central Michigan University
(MI)
$26,184.00
All Students
Marywood University
(PA)
$26,745.00
All Students
Roger Williams University
(RI)
$26,871.00
All Students
Regent University
(VA)
$26,900.00
$20,825.00
In-State/Out-Of-State
Military
Capella University
(MN)
$27,300.00
$24,660.00
In-State/Out-Of-State
Military
Norwich University
(VT)
$27,534.00
All Students
Belhaven University
(MS)
$27,590.00
$18,140.00
In-State/Out-Of-State
Military
California State University-Northridge
(CA)
$27,947.00
All Students
Northcentral University
(CA)
$28,122.00
All Students
Texas A & M University-Corpus Christi
(TX)
$28,124.00
$67,660.00
In-State
Out-of-State
Webster University
(MO)
$28,180.00
$13,780.00
In-State/Out-Of-State
Military
University of Kentucky
(KY)
$28,562.00
All Students
Ohio University
(OH)
$28,944.00
$29,628.00
In-State
Out-of-State
Johnson & Wales University
(RI)
$29,412.00
All Students
Texas Southern University
(TX)
$29,999.88
All Students
Golden Gate University
(CA)
$30,140.00
$17,540.00
In-State/Out-Of-State
Military
DeVry University
(IL)
$30,264.00
$22,425.00
In-State/Out-Of-State
Military
Clemson University
(SC)
$30,899.00
All Students
Indiana University Online
(IN)
$31,649.60
$63,758.24
In-State
Out-of-State
Albertus Magnus College
(CT)
$32,832.00
All Students
Adler University
(IL)
$33,280.00
All Students
Marist College
(NY)
$34,130.00
All Students
Pennsylvania State University
(PA)
$34,200.00
All Students
University of Delaware
(DE)
$34,200.00
All Students
Villanova University
(PA)
$34,200.00
All Students
Sacred Heart University
(CT)
$34,600.00
All Students
University of New Haven
(CT)
$36,240.00
All Students
Presidio Graduate School
(CA)
$36,600.00
$600.00
In-State/Out-Of-State
Military
DePaul University
(IL)
$37,908.00
All Students
Northeastern University
(MA)
$38,080.00
All Students
Pace University
(NY)
$38,350.00
All Students
University of Baltimore
(MD)
$38,437.00
$38,164.00
In-State
Out-of-State
Tulane University
(LA)
$40,668.00
All Students
Nova Southeastern University
(FL)
$40,944.00
All Students
Rutgers University
(NJ)
$42,762.00
All Students
Texas A & M University
(TX)
$44,559.71
$65,210.60
In-State
Out-of-State
Northwestern University
(IL)
$49,699.00
All Students
Syracuse University
(NY)
$52,020.00
All Students
Johns Hopkins University
(MD)
$52,332.00
All Students
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
(NC)
$54,405.00
All Students
Seton Hall University
(NJ)
$54,639.00
All Students
American University
(DC)
$65,392.00
All Students
University of Miami
(FL)
$79,768.00
All Students
University of Southern California
(CA)
$81,817.00
All Students

Accreditation & Program Notes

To qualify for a ranking, a program must be regionally accredited. Additional programmatic accreditation is noted in the rank table.

14  Program is no longer accepting new students.
17  Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
22  National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA)

Rankings Note

These online college rankings are based on a GetEducated Winter 2021 review of regionally accredited online MPA programs. Total cost includes full-time tuition and fees and was valid at the time of collection and specific to the online learning program. School profiles for the online master degree programs in our directory may reflect a slightly different cost based on different editorial update schedules.

The published cost is an estimated sticker price for the entire online degree including fees. Actual costs may vary by student. Factors such as transfer credits, prerequisite courses, professional licensing and financial aid availability will affect final cost.

Editorial Note

Online schools do NOT pay to be included in any GetEducated online degree ranking. These rankings are editorially independent, open to any regionally accredited or candidate college that offers a master’s degree that is available at least 80 percent through online learning and that is open to enrollment by the public. If your online college is regionally accredited and not currently reviewed by GetEducated, please contact us for inclusion.

These rankings of the cheapest online schools for public administration may NOT be re-posted online or reprinted in any format without a license from GetEducated ®. Consumer finance bloggers and writers can contact our editors for a free custom article on the best online MPA for use on your website. Our mission: Help consumers GetEducated ® about the best online colleges for cost and credibility.

Career Guide: Online MPA Programs

If you want to contribute to some of the most important organizations in the country, including government agencies and nonprofit groups, these online MPA programs are a great choice. These programs teach you advanced methods in organization, public policy, and everything else you need to be an important member of these essential groups.

What to Expect from an Online MPA Program

An online MPA is a high-level degree that teaches you how to lead in public service and be-come an important member of your local community. If you are ready to step into a role where you can have a significant impact, this is a great education for you.

MPA stands for “Master’s of Public Administration”. It’s a degree that prepares you for careers in government, which doesn’t mean being an elected official (although that is possible), but instead means careers as a government employee, working for agencies and offices that implement policy and services created by elected officials.

To gain entry into these master’s programs, you’ll first need the right bachelor’s degree, as well as strong grades from your previous studies. Your bachelor’s degree could be in public administration, political science, management, social services, or another area that deals with government, nonprofits, and community service.

The curriculum in these degrees can be both challenging and rewarding. You’ll likely take classes that include the fundamentals of public administration, public policy analysis, and budget-ing for governments. You may also need to take classes on administration law, policy economics, the ethics of government.

Many classes will deal with math, research, and statistics. While these are not science degrees (they are often taught by the humanities or liberal arts departments), they will require a basic knowledge on objective research and analysis of government policy.

Potential Careers with an Online MPA

This education prepares you for many different careers, including…

Administrative Services Manager

  • Salary: $98,890
  • Education: Bachelor’s degree
  • Experience: Five years or less

An administrative services manager serves many different roles for a company, but most of all they help a company run more efficiently and effectively. There is a wide variety of tasks, and much will depend on the specific position, but these professionals will supervise clerical staff, monitor records, set goals for administrative departments, and recommend policy changes to improve a company.

The potential pay in this career is excellent, and the top 10% can earn over $169,000 a year. The expected growth is strong as well. This career is expected to grow by 9% between 2020 and 2030, adding over 28,000 jobs in that span.

Political Scientist

  • Salary: $125,350
  • Education: Master’s degree
  • Experience: None

A public administration degree focuses heavily on political policy, which is why a career as a political scientist is a possible career after completing an online MPA. In this career, you would be responsible for researching political topics, analyzing data, and evaluating the effectiveness of policy changes. Overall, you would study government, policy, and political trends in the U.S. and across the globe, making this an exciting option for anyone interest in politics.

This career is also expected to grow by 9% between 2020 and 2030. Political scientists will be in high demand, and the top 10% can expect annual earnings over $170,000.

Licensing & Certifications for Public Administration Professionals

For most of these careers, you will not need licensing of any kind. There are no legal requirements for testing and licenses for most administrative careers, which is an advantage for these professions.

Voluntary certification, on the other hand, could be a significant boost to your career. Certification will not only make you more skilled in your chosen profession, it will give you a competitive edge in the hiring process. If an employer is looking at two job candidates, both with equal education, skills, and experience, it’s possible that they will favor the applicant who has professional certifications.

These certifications can come from many different organizations. For administrative managers, groups like the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) could be a good choice for improving your career. Other groups of interest may be the Society for Human Resource Management, which specializes in HR and benefits professionals, or the Certified Fund Raising Executive program, which educates leaders of nonprofit organizations.

Regardless of licensing and certifications, you’ll likely need experience to work in a management or leadership role. If you want to be a department head or leader of some kind in public administration, government, or a nonprofit, you’ll likely need about five years of experience be-fore you are hired.