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Most Affordable Online Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) Programs

Getting your MPA doesn’t have to break the bank. Learn about top-tier online programs you can afford and discover more college cost-savings tips.

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A woman leads students in a discussion about the most affordable online master's in public administration programs.

An MPA degree can equip you with the skills to become a leader in managing programs, offices, and employees in various settings such as federal government, nonprofit organizations, global nongovernment organizations, and private companies. Pursuing an affordable and accredited MPA program online can help alleviate the financial burden that often comes with graduate school. This webpage aims to provide practical advice and highlight the most affordable MPA programs available to help you achieve your goal.

50 Most Affordable Online MPA Programs in 2024


Program emphasis, curriculum content, and the quality of the faculty are significant in choosing an MPA program. For many students, though, affordability is the most important factor. Using data provided by the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), the following rankings of the most affordable MPA programs tell you which schools have ideal combinations of affordability and quality. See the “About the ranking” button below for full details on how we calculate rankings.

About the ranking

College Ranking Methodology

Generate List of Eligible Schools and Programs

To be eligible for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on government data provided by The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

  • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • At least one program in the subject area offered partially or fully online.
  • Career placement and academic counseling services.
  • Maximum tuition of $15,000 per academic year.

Assign Weightings

After generating the list of eligible schools, the STEPS data team then assigned weights and ranked schools based on their performance in a variety of key categories. Affordability metrics received the heaviest weightings.

Online Learning

  • Number of online programs in subject area self-reported by school to the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Percentage of graduate students at the school taking at least one class online

Affordability

  • Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list. Based on in-state tuition for undergraduates per academic year.

Academic Quality

  • Student-to-faculty ratio: Schools with lower ratios ranked higher.
  • Percentage of students admitted. More selective schools ranked higher.

About Our Data

All STEPS rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: August 2023

Accreditation Glossary

ABHE: Association for Biblical Higher Education, Commission on Accreditation

ABHES: Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools

ACCJC: Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges

ACCSC: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges

DEAC: Distance Education Accrediting Commission

HLC: Higher Learning Commission

MSCHE: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

NECHE: New England Commission of Higher Education

NWCCU: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

SACSCOC: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

TRACS: Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, Accreditation Commission

WSCUC: Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

The Master of Public Administration at Texas A&M International University prepares individuals to advance their career or to seek employment in public and nonprofit sectors. Students are also prepared to lead and manage public agencies, programs, and projects. Coursework provides the knowledge, skills, and abilities students need for leadership and management roles in a culturally diverse society, teaching students to value public service, think analytically and critically, and communicate effectively. The program and its faculty are committed to innovative teaching, research, and community engagement. The program is fully online with no choices for a minor, but students can take electives that fit their professional interests. They can also choose to complete the Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership & Management, which consists of 12 hours.

Program Highlights:

Master of Public Administration

  • Credits: 42
  • Length: Varies
  • Cost: $3,686 per semester (Resident); $9,572 per semester (Nonresident)
  • Mode: Online
  • Accreditation: NASPAA
Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to-Faculty Ratio 21:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Accreditation SACSCOC
Online Students 82%

2

Tarleton State University

Stephenville, Texas

Tartleton State University's Master of Public Administration equips students with the knowledge, skills, and values needed to pursue careers in public service careers and nonprofit management. Curriculum components are designed to develop leadership capacity and encourage critical thinking and ethical decision making, with emphasis on hands-on learning grounded in real-world experiences. Example of coursework includes Intergovernmental Relations, Organizational Behavior, Human Resource Management, Budgeting and Finance, Public Policy, Organizational Behavior, and Advanced ethics in public administration. Students can complete the program in as few as 18 months and can choose from in-person, hybrid, or online options and between a thesis and non-thesis track.

Program Highlights:

Master of Public Administration

  • Credits: 36
  • Length: 2 years
  • Cost: $509.27 per credit hour (Resident); $775.37 per credit hour (Nonresident)
  • Mode: In person, Hybrid, or Online
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC
Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to-Faculty Ratio 21:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Accreditation SACSCOC
Online Students 97%

The University of Texas Permian Basin's Master of Public Administration program is designed for students who want to begin or advance within a public or nonprofit sector career. Coursework teaches students to address organizational issues and policy questions in a practical, proficient, ethical, legal, and diplomatic manner while supporting the public interest. Graduates seek careers in criminal justice, economic development, fine arts, healthcare, human services, parks and recreation, public safety, and transportation.

Program Highlights:

Master of Public Administration

  • Credits: 36
  • Length: Varies
  • Cost: $14,075.64 program tuition
  • Mode: Online
  • Accreditation: AACSB
Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to-Faculty Ratio 13:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Accreditation SACSCOC
Online Students 87%

4

University of West Georgia

Carrollton, Georgia

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to-Faculty Ratio 19:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Accreditation SACSCOC
Online Students 92%

5

Arkansas State University

Jonesboro, Arkansas

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to-Faculty Ratio 14:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Accreditation HLC
Online Students 83%