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The Top Bachelor of Public Administration Online Programs for 2024

Looking to start a public policy career from the convenience of your own home? A bachelor’s degree in public administration is a great place to start. Read on for 2024’s best online bachelor of public administration programs, which can save you time and money earning your degree.

Author: Ellery Weil
Editor: STEPS Staff

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A woman, likely a recent bachelor's graduate, sits on a yellow sofa in a modern, well-lit room with wooden elements, using a laptop. She is smiling and appears focused on her work. The background features sleek architectural design with circular lights and a blurred shelf or cabinet.

Choosing your major is a pivotal moment, and for many students, it’s common to be torn between different disciplines as you contemplate your future career. For instance, if you’re considering work in government or public policy, there are several majors you can choose, but public administration stands out. Studying public administration means you’ll be learning the ins and outs of multiple disciplines, including political science, economics, and even philosophy.

Public administration is a popular course of study — US News and World Report lists 149 colleges offering it as a bachelor’s degree. But what if you’re interested in studying online? Earning a bachelor’s in public administration online has many advantages, from lower costs to the convenience and flexibility of studying from home. But which online bachelor’s in public administration, if any, is the best fit for you? Read on for a comprehensive look at what you might expect.

Spotlight on Online Public Administration Bachelor’s Degree Programs

Interested in an online bachelor’s in public administration, but not sure where to start? There are plenty of programs to choose from, and a lot of factors you’ll have to consider, including whether you’re looking for a fully online or hybrid program, a traditional or flexible schedule, synchronous or asynchronous classes, and more. While only you can determine which program is right for you, we’ve highlighted a few schools below with online bachelor’s programs in public administration that combine academic rigor, affordable costs, and strong student services to help get you started in your research.

At CU Denver, the fully-online BA in Public Administration can be completed through their School of Public Affairs. This 120-credit degree program includes a 45-credit minimum for courses within the major, along with general education requirements and electives. There is also an option to add a specialization in nonprofit management and earn a Certified Nonprofit Professional (CNP) credential, approved by the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance. You will also need to complete a three-credit internship, unless you have sufficient previous experience in public service.

Course start times and enrollment requirements vary significantly, and CU Denver encourages transfer students to apply. Individual courses have three start dates per year, with some courses only available during certain semesters. You’re encouraged to reach out to the enrollment team with any questions regarding dates and requirements.


  • Online
  • On-Campus
  • Part-Time
  • Full-Time

Undergraduate Programs:

  • BA in Public Administration

Specialization Options:

  • Nonprofit Management

At the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, you can complete a BA in Public Administration entirely online. This degree program is transfer-friendly, with a generous policy of permitting up to 90 transfer credits, meaning graduating can take anywhere from 2-4 years of full-time study, including a for-credit internship. Once enrolled, you will have some flexibility in how you schedule your courses, including a large number of asynchronous class options, making this program well suited to working students.

This program is designed for those who wish to work in the public sector, as course requirements reflect. In addition to core courses, you will need to take required electives in English, economics, and political science. You will also have the opportunity to take general electives in subjects outside of your major, including fine arts and natural sciences. Financial aid may be available.


  • Online
  • On-Campus
  • Full-Time

Undergraduate Programs:

  • BA in Public Administration Online

The Bachelor’s in Politics, Policy, and Public Administration at Eastern Oregon University is an online-only, transfer-friendly, 180-credit degree program which can be completed in as little as two years depending on whether or not you enter the program with transfer credits from prior studies. You can take advantage of the unique rural focus offered at Eastern Oregon, with elective coursework in rural governance, among other core courses. You will also have the opportunity to complete a capstone project.

Eastern Oregon accepts applications year-round and has an automatic “admissions estimator” on their website to determine your likelihood of a successful application. Tuition is reduced for Oregon students, but is under $400/credit regardless of residency status. Over 90 percent of online students at Eastern Oregon receive financial aid in some form.


  • Online
  • Part-Time
  • Full-Time

Undergraduate Programs:

  • Bachelor’s in Politics, Policy, and Public Administration

What You’ll Learn in an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration

Once you’ve found the right school for you, it’s time to hit the books. But what kind of classes can you expect to take in your online bachelor’s in public administration? Your class schedule will likely include a mix of general education classes, like English and the natural sciences, and public administration courses for your major. Within your major, you can expect core courses and electives. While every school’s curriculum is unique, here are a few courses you might find in your core curriculum as a public administration major.

Common Courses in Bachelor of Public Administration Programs

Management for Public Service

Whether you’re working in federal, state, or local government, or for a nonprofit, there may be a time in your career where you’re managing a team or division. This course will teach you the basics of public sector management and how it differs from management in a for-profit field.

Introduction to Political Science

An understanding of political science is foundational to a career in public administration, so you’ll likely have this class in your core coursework. You’ll learn the essentials of “poli sci,” including American and international government, elections and campaigning, political economics, and more.

Intro to Budgeting

One of the most complex and critical functions of public administration is to set, allocate, and analyze the budget of a public sector office or program. This course combines political science with economics to teach you the foundations of how budgets are set and implemented.

Research Methods in Social Sciences

For many students, college is the first time you’ve encountered or been expected to conduct higher-level social science research. This class is designed to teach you proper research methods, including source gathering, theory design, and citation to ensure your work is ethical and accurate.

Public Administration Internship

Many schools require a mandatory internship as part of a bachelor’s in public administration. In your online degree program, this will likely be completed at a public sector site near you, such as a local government office, once approved by a supervisor at your school.

Accreditation for your Online Public Administration Program

It’s essential that you choose a properly accredited online bachelor’s degree in public administration. Accreditation means that your school and/or your specific degree program have met a set of standards of rigor as defined by a recognized third-party accreditation body. Some examples of accreditation bodies that accredit colleges and universities include the Higher Learning Commission and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

Accreditation is important for a few reasons, but they’re all related to the fact that accreditation is what gives your school and your degree legitimacy. This means that after you’ve graduated, your credentials will be recognized by potential employers and grad schools if you decide to pursue further studies. If your degree is not from an accredited school, it can also impact your ability to get financial aid, including federal student loans and private scholarships, as many organizations don’t fund degree programs that don’t have proof of legitimacy.

FAQs About an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration

Still wondering about a few things before you start applying to schools? Don’t worry – you’re in good company. Below are a few of the most commonly asked questions about online bachelor’s programs in public administration, along with some answers to help you out.

How long does it take to earn a bachelor’s in public administration degree online?

Generally speaking, earning your bachelor’s in public administration will take four years, whether you study in person or online. However, many online public administration programs are designed to be accessible to transfer students, with some allowing you to transfer up to half of your required degree credits. If you transfer enough credits, it’s possible to finish your degree in as little as two years.

How much does an online public administration bachelor’s degree cost?

Depending on whether you’re attending a state or private school, and whether you’re eligible for in-state tuition, tuition for an online bachelor’s degree in public administration can vary significantly. Be sure to research your particular school’s costs, as well as checking our financial aid guide for advice on how to pay for your bachelor’s degree education. Check out the price comparisons for the schools profiled above.

School Nameof CreditsCost/CreditTotal Tuition
University of Colorado at Boulder120$465$55,800
UMass Dartmouth120$352$42,240
Eastern Oregon University180$286.40 (in-state)$51,552

What are the admissions requirements for online public administration degrees?

Every school has its own admissions requirements, whether you’re studying on campus, or online. Generally speaking, an online bachelor’s in public administration will have typical undergraduate admissions requirements. You will need to submit official high school and any college transcripts, a personal statement, letters of recommendation, and potentially SAT or ACT scores with your application. Check with the school you’re interested in for GPA requirements, test score policy, and any other details you need to know.

Can I earn my bachelor’s in public administration 100% online?

Yes, you can earn your bachelor’s in public administration entirely online. As a social science, public administration does not typically require labs or other hands-on classes that would require you to attend on campus. Even though some online programs have a mandatory internship, this work can usually be done in your local community, sparing you the need to relocate. Online programs will occasionally offer asynchronous classes for even greater flexibility in your fully online degree.

How much can you make with a bachelor’s degree in public administration?

Salaries for graduates of public administration bachelor’s programs vary heavily, especially as graduates can choose to work in the public or private sector, where salaries are typically higher. You can check the national salary average for the jobs you’re interested in on the BLS website, but be sure to check regional data and national averages, as salaries can vary significantly for the same job in different parts of the country.

Are there any certifications or licenses that you need to work in public administration?

Generally, public administration does not have any required licenses or certificates that you need to work in the same way that medicine or highly technical fields do. However, many public administration jobs will want you to have completed your bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, and some have GPA requirements. Prior work and/or internship experience, especially for roles with more responsibility, may also be required.

Similar Programs You May Be Interested In

Additional Resources for Public Administration Students and Professionals

Even if you’re already keen on earning a bachelor’s in public administration online, it’s natural to want to know more. That’s fine–and there’s plenty to learn! To help get you started, below are a few resources to help you before, during, and after your application process, and during your studies:

  • All About Change Podcast
    This podcast is focused on different ways to build a more inclusive world. Aspiring public administration professionals take note of the real-world stories shared; special guests include mental health advocates, women’s health nonprofit CEOs, and more!
  • American Society for Public Administration
    The American Society for Public Administration, or ASPA, is a professional organization for those studying or working in public administration. They have chapters and sections across the country, and provide networking opportunities, an annual conference, and more.
  • Financial Aid for Public Administration Students
    Check out this page, which is full of scholarships for public administration students across the country and at different levels of study. Check which ones you might be eligible for, and be sure to apply well before the deadline for your best chance of winning funding.
  • Geeking After Dark
    Looking for a public administration podcast with a kick? Geeking After Dark is a variety podcast, which can discuss technology, urban policy, startups and culture, and more. Check them out for a take on public policy from a generalist perspective.
  • Gov Love: A Podcast About Local Government
    Possibly the best-loved public administration podcast out there, Gov Love is just what the subtitle says: a podcast about local government. Tune in for bi-weekly updates on local government across the nation and how it impacts issues from climate to racial justice.
  • International City/County Management Association
    The International City/County Management Association, known as ICMA, is a worldwide association for professionals, students and others interested in local management at the city and/or county level. They provide networking and other resources around the world.
  • Public Administration: A Very Short Introduction
    Looking to get down to basics? This book, published by OxfordUniversity Press, is an approachable introduction to the foundations of public administration. Take a look to get a handle on the basics before classes even start.
  • Public Administration: The Essentials – First Edition
    Another classic text introducing public administration. The University of Minnesota has made the first addition of this textbook free to all through their open access Open Textbook Library program, so you can hit the books without paying a dime!
  • The Government Finance Officers Association
    Considering the economic side of public administration? The Government Finance Officers Association, or GFOA, is a professional organization for students and professionals in government finance. Check out their networking and scholarship opportunities and their annual conference.
  • What Can You Do With a Public Administration Degree?
    Wondering what comes after graduation? Check out our page on career opportunities a public administration degree can lead to, including job titles and average salaries, plus look over potential opportunities for further study in grad school.