Good government and nonprofit leadership requires experienced and knowledgeable people to create and implement policy, make decisions that serve the community, and solve problems in public administration. Many people with backgrounds in civil service, the military, or social services decide to attain that higher level of knowledge by getting a Doctor of Public Administration online. An online DPA degree can allow you to continue working in your profession and managing family responsibilities while attaining the highest credential in public administration.
ARTICLE NAVIGATION: What is a Doctorate of Public Administration Online Degree? | Who Gets a Doctor of Public Administration Online? | DPA vs. PhD in Public Administration | How Long Does It Take to Get a PhD in Public Administration? | Careers with a Doctorate of Public Administration Online | Most Affordable 3 Online DPA Programs
What is a Doctorate of Public Administration Online Degree?
A Doctor of Public Administration degree, also known as a DPA or D.P.A., is the top level of education for public affairs and administration. The DPA is an applied research degree for people with experience in government, social work, law enforcement, non-profits, education, public policy research, consulting, and many other related fields. When you think of what skills are needed for government and public administration, this is what will be taught and practiced in online DPA programs. Students will learn quantitative and qualitative research methods, strategic management, applied theories of public policy, financial decision making, and advocacy. A Doctor of Public Administration is a prestigious degree which requires the dedication, commitment, and hard work that you would expect from doctoral education. Students will be required to complete advanced coursework, a dissertation that includes applied research, and, for some programs, pass comprehensive exams. This online public administration degree will allow graduates to ascend to the highest levels of their chosen area in public administration.
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Who Gets a Doctor of Public Administration Online?
People who enroll in online DPA programs come from many different fields. Some come from working in local, state, or federal government jobs, while other may have a background in law enforcement. Social workers, research analysts, educators, non-profit workers, health care professionals, public utility and recreation officials, community development workers, and more may be interested in raising their skills to serve in the highest levels of public administration. Some people may go straight from a related master’s degree program to a doctor of public administration online, but most will be pursuing the degree alongside work in their profession, which makes getting a doctor of public administration online degree a convenient way to study while keeping up with professional and personal commitments.
DPA vs. PhD in Public Administration
Both a DPA and a PhD Public Administration degree are considered terminal degrees for public service careers. Essentially, they are equivalent degrees with research and dissertations required. The main difference is that a DPA is more directed at applying research and theory to real-world problems, while the PhD in public administration is better for discovering new ideas through research and scholarship. They cover many of the same topics, but the PhD is perhaps the better degree if you want to teach in a university. Otherwise, the degrees can help you advance your public administration career in similar ways.
How Long Does It Take to Get a PhD in Public Administration?
Both PhD and DPA programs take about three years to complete on an ambitious schedule. Doctorate of public administration online programs are designed with the working professional in mind, and often allow students to choose whether to take fewer courses at a time to accommodate a busy life, or compress the degree program into as little a two-and-a-half years of study. Most programs will allow for asynchronous study, which means students can sign on at any time of the day or night to complete assignments and interact with peers and instructors by email or in forums.
Online public administration degree programs will have core courses in strategic management and leadership, theory and practice of public policy, ethics, information and financial management. With the emphasis on research and using data to inform public policy decisions, doctorate of public administration online programs also feature a number of courses in research methods and design. Students will be able to choose elective courses that support their specialty within public policy, usually decided in consultation with a faculty advisor. The culmination of a public administration degree is a series of seminars that help develop and support the writing of a research-based dissertation.
Because there are so many facets to public policy and administration, there are a number of public administration majors, or concentrations, that students may choose. Specialty areas can include an emphasis on law enforcement, data analysis, health care policy, government policy, non-profit management, education administration, financial management, sustainability, urban planning, and more. Most programs allow students to design their public administration majors to fit with their experience and interests, and these often involve interdisciplinary topics within public sector organizational management.
The cost for an average doctor of public administration online be as high as $60,000 or more, but we have chosen the most affordable DPA degree programs that will cost you under $30k, with the most affordable program coming in at around $18,000. There are many ways to reduce these costs even further, including financial aid, scholarships, military tuition discounts, employer education benefits, and even by getting credits for previous courses or work experience.
Careers with a Doctorate of Public Administration Online
If you are wondering “What can I do with a PhD in public administration?”, there are so many choices. The average doctor of public administration salary for government management occupations isaccording to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many different government management areas, such as education, training and development, computer and information, administrative services, human resources, recreation, and more can pay in the range of $100k salaries, give or take a few thousand dollars. Public administration salary rates for financial managers average $129,890 per year, while architectural and engineering managers who work for the government can earn an average of $133,320 per year. For anyone who wants to enter the highest levels of administration in public policy, the compensation can be an attractive feature. Getting a DPA can be the ticket to ascending to highly responsible and important public administration positions where you can have a positive impact on the community while making a very healthy salary.
Most Affordable 3 Online DPA Programs
Getting a well-respected doctorate in public administration is important if you want to achieve your career goals. But it doesn’t have to cost you a mint to get that degree. We have found the best affordable online DPA programs that each have a strong curriculum, outstanding faculty, and the flexibility of studying online.
Valdosta State University
In-State & Out-of-State Cost: $17,982
The doctor of public administration online from Valdosta State University is a 54 credit program that takes a minimum of three years to complete. Designed to meet the needs of professionals looking for advanced training, the program offers a wide array of concentration areas related to various careers in public administration. Students can choose to take nine, six, or three credits per semester, with the most common workload being six credits, which is considered full time study for this program. Courses are offered in the fall and spring semesters only, with a weekend on-campus residency required at the beginning of each term. Admission is competitive, and students are only admitted in the fall. There is flexibility within the program for students to take more or fewer courses in different semesters, and the program does not operate on the cohort model, which allows students more freedom to adjust their schedule to changing work or family needs.
The curriculum includes 15 credit hours of core coursework, nine hours of methods classwork, 15 hours in the chosen concentration area, six credits of guided electives, and nine credits of the final project which includes the capstone and dissertation. Students are expected to complete the program within seven years, with the possible allowance of one year of extension with permission. All the courses last for full semesters. Students will work with their advisor to design appropriate concentration coursework, and with the dissertation committee and program chair to choose a dissertation topic.
All students accepted into the Valdosta DPA program pay the same low in-state tuition rate, making this a very affordable degree. In addition, it is possible to transfer in up to 15 credits from another program. Military coursework may also be counted as transfer credit where appropriate. Most students in the DPA program are already working in their chosen career, but the diversity of interest and professional specialties among students allows for different concentrations related to the student’s main focus. For instance, students may come from education, law enforcement, local government, non-profit, research, or military backgrounds. The program focuses on practitioners, yet it turns out a high output of relevant research in the many sub-specialties within public administration.
The admission deadline for the DPA program at Valdosta State is April 15th, by which all application materials need to be in. Applicants need to provide all graduate transcripts, GRE scores, recommendations, written statement and resume by this date for consideration to this in-demand program. A minimum graduate GPA of 3.5 and minimum acceptable scores on the GRE are recommended, though they do not guarantee admission. Very motivated applicants with a GPA above 3.25 may petition for admission by exception. Previous graduate degrees or coursework does not obviate the need for a GRE score, though the university has waived the requirement temporarily due to exceptional circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic.
With a variety of professional peers and a respected faculty, the Valdosta online DPA program offers the challenge of working with highly talented and committed public administrators. The flexibility to proceed through coursework on a student’s own schedule, along with the very affordable tuition price, make the Valdosta program a solid choice for committed administrators who want to keep their tuition budget within reasonable bounds. For students from all different areas of administration, the Valdosta program offers the guidance to complete an advanced degree that will apply directly to the practices of a career.
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In-State & Out-of-State Cost: $28,660
For advanced training to make a difference in the world, the online DPA from Liberty University is a flexible, affordable, and respected option. Courses are scheduled in 8-week blocks with eight different start dates per year, making it easy to begin whenever you are ready. All courses are online and asynchronous, so studying can easily be arranged around your job, family, and community commitments. The program is 48 credits long, and takes students an average of two-and-a-half years to complete. For those who have started a degree elsewhere, up to 50% of the credits for this degree may be transferred in, making this an excellent way to complete your degree.
In addition to flexibility in scheduling, Liberty University offers low tuition that has remained unchanged for the past five years, plus there are many possible ways to pay for your education. Special military rates are available for active duty, veteran, or retired members of the US Armed Forces or Reserve/National Guard and their spouses, along with current DOD employees. First responders enjoy a 25% discount on tuition, and can get a free evaluation of their training and experience for transfer credit. Liberty has also instituted at discount for small business owners and employees to help them recover from the economic impact of Covid-19. Federal financial aid is available, in addition to the replacement of lost state tuition assistance for Virginia residents. For those who have employers who will reimburse students for tuition after coursework is complete, Liberty can defer the tuition payments until grades are in and the employer can pay. Liberty also allows for stacking of benefits, so first responders who also have military benefits may receive both types of aid to make education affordable.
Applicants for the doctor of public administration online are not required to submit GRE or other test scores, and the minimum GPA for admission is 3.0. The application fee is waived for service members, and deferred for other students, and a quick and easy online application can allow students to get started while they are completing their master’s degree with a preliminary acceptance program. The application and financial aid process is designed to help students from all walks of life easily access benefits, discounts, and receive credit for previous study or life experience.
When you consider what skills are needed for government and public administration, Liberty University’s online public administration degree covers all of the topics needed to take your career to the next level while serving your community and the world. Grounded in the ethics and perspectives of a Christian world view, the Liberty University program trains students in strategic planning, advanced management, results-based leadership, and program implementation, among other topics around governance, policy, and administration. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), the regional accreditation body for this area of the United States, Liberty’s programs are recognized and respected by potential employers and academic institutions alike.
Prospective students who are interested in applying ethics in their leadership and administration of any organization—be it government, educational, faith-based, military, or non-profit—will benefit from the strong academic program that Liberty University provides to their DPA students. Liberty University is especially great for students who have many credits to transfer, prefer short course lengths, or who seek to apply a biblical perspective to leadership. Liberty University is a non-profit with a mission to serve, and they support their students who are on a mission to serve the community and the world through leadership and administration at all levels.
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West Chester University of Pennsylvania
In-State Cost: $28,845
Out-of-State Cost: $29,2275
Public administration is inherently an interdisciplinary field of study, and with the online DPA from West Chester University of Pennsylvania, you can tailor the concentration for your doctorate to match your career interests. With an advisor, students can choose an area of specialty from among the departments of Public Policy & Administration, Criminal Justice, Geography & Planning, or Social Work. Research projects include students working alongside faculty to tackle real-world problems to find solutions that improve the lives of people in the local or global community. The DPA program is part of the College of Business and Public Management, which carries accreditation by the AACSB, the largest business education alliance in the world. With the focus on research that supports positive change in organizations as varied as local government and international non-profits, the practical education aligning with business can help graduates be more effective in whatever industry they choose. Faculty for this highly-regarded program are also practitioners, allowing them to best help students formulate and apply research-based solutions to on-the-ground public policy problems and issues.
West Chester University’s doctor of public administration online is 100% virtual and comprises 45 credit hours of coursework. The credits are divided among administrative core courses, methods sequence, concentration electives, and culminating in 12 credits on the dissertation. Students are required to pass a comprehensive exam before they can complete the final two courses in their dissertation sequence. Students who show weaknesses on the written portion of the comprehensive exam may be required to take an oral exam to demonstrate their knowledge. Interdisciplinary concentrations are possible, with individualized public administration majors an appealing feature for this advanced degree program. Students without a master’s degree or work experience in public administration may be required to take additional coursework.
Core courses in the program include advanced practice and applied theory, strategic management and governance, economic and financial decision making, and advocacy and leadership. The method curriculum covers research design, plus qualitative and quantitative policy evaluation skills. As students choose their concentration area, they can look forward to an individually designed dissertation research project. Recent dissertation topics have included affordable housing, motivation and values in law enforcement, long term health care issues, collaborative government, and university/community partnerships. Many West Chester students present their research at regional and national conferences.
Students may begin their studies in the fall or spring, and can submit their applications for the priority admissions deadline for first consideration. After that, applications are considered on a rolling basis. There is no GRE requirement for application, and students may also apply for graduate assistantships to help defray the cost of their degree program, as well as to work more closely with faculty on research or service-oriented projects. Students can complete the program in three years if they take nine credits per semester, or four years if they enroll in six credits each term.
With a strong curriculum for administration based on leadership values and research expertise, the West Chester University of Pennsylvania doctor of public administration online prepares students to apply their skills in areas as varied as behavioral health, politics, federal law enforcement, non-profit administration, and education administration. West Chester’s program makes an excellent choice for students who aspire to the highest levels in public affairs and administration, who want to present interdisciplinary research, and who seek and affordable and flexible program that fits their budget.
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Apply to a Doctorate of Public Administration Online Today!
After reading about these terrific and cost-effective doctor of public administration online programs, you have a good idea of not only what is a DPA, but also what you will study. A DPA degree will make you more effective as an administrator so you can serve the world with your skills, knowledge, and talent. If you choose one of these top online DPA programs, you can get started on your advanced degree and be on your way to a high-paying public sector career in no time.