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Best Online Master of Public Administration (MPA) Programs in Texas for 2024: Online & On-Campus

If you’re looking to advance in your policy career after you earn a bachelor’s degree or you want to make a career change, an MPA can help you break into the upper levels of Texas public policy careers. Read on to find the best on-campus or online MPAs Texas can offer you in 2024.

Author: Ellery Weil
Editor: STEPS Staff

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One of the largest of the 50 states, both geographically and in population, you may have heard that “everything is bigger in Texas.” While that’s up for debate, one thing you can count on being big in Texas – and full of opportunities – is state and local government. With more than 440,000 state employees as of 2024, public administration is big business in the Lone Star State.

If you want to take advantage of this opportunity, a master’s degree in public administration, or MPA, can help you make a career change or advance in your public policy career. With plenty of on-campus and online MPA programs in Texas, you can read on to see which one might be right for you.

Best Colleges to Earn a Master of Public Administration (MPA) Degree in Texas: Campus-based

Before you start applying for your MPA, you’ll need to do your research on the different options available to you. For students who want a traditional campus-based MPA program, we’ll have a full ranking list of the best MPAs in Texas later in 2024. In the meantime, below are some high-quality on-campus Texas MPA programs to consider.

While only you know which program is the best fit for you, these schools combine high-quality academics with student support and resources, so have a look and see if any of these might sound right to you.

At the University of Texas at Dallas, you can complete an MPA, which they refer to as a Master of Public Affairs, through their School of Economic, Political, and Policy Sciences. It’s one of the top 75 national programs in public affairs according to US News and World Report and a top MPA program in Texas. This degree can be completed over two academic years with a minimum of 36 credits. Classes are a mix of core coursework and electives, as well as a dissertation which you will defend. UTD also boasts a convenient location, with access to jobs and internship opportunities in the Dallas area during the program and after you earn your degree.

To apply, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. You’ll also need to submit GRE scores and letters of recommendation, in addition to your online application.

Delivery:

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

Graduate Programs:

  • Master of Public Affairs (MPA)
  • PhD in Public Affairs

The Master of Public Administration program at the University of Houston is an interdisciplinary, 38-credit degree course that can be completed in two to three years. With full-and-part-time study plans, multiple start date options and a campus in one of Texas’ largest and most populated cities, working professionals may find this degree convenient to fit into their schedules. It’s ideal if you need to take a break from working to complete a full-time graduate degree or plan to study part-time while also holding down a paid job.

In this program, you’ll be studying policy, law, and your choice of electives, as well as completing a required capstone project. To apply, you must submit your GRE scores, which are an optional requirement if you have an undergraduate GPA above 3.3. All applicants must submit official transcripts in addition to an application.

Delivery:

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

Graduate Programs:

  • Master of Public Administration (MPA)

Specialization Options:

  • Master of Arts in Applied Economics/Master of Public Policy (MAAE/MPP)
  • Master of Social Work/Master of Public Policy (MSW/MPP)
  • Juris Doctorate/Master of Public Policy (JD/MPP)

For more than 50 years, the Master of Public Administration (MPA) program at Texas State university has trained the state’s students for high-level careers in public service. The program has taken part in a variety of initiatives to promote inclusivity and sustainability, with an emphasis on public service. If you enroll in Texas State’s MPA course, you’ll be completing a three-part curriculum including traditional coursework, an applied research project, and a final oral examination. You may also choose between thesis and non-thesis tracks for your degree. Texas State’s MPA has online and hybrid options available.

Prospective students need to apply through the Graduate College at Texas State and meet the university’s general requirements for graduate study. These include a minimum GPA of 3.0 or higher in your last 60 credits of undergraduate study and either prior public sector work experience or a mandatory public sector internship course.

Delivery:

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

Graduate Programs:

  • Master of Public Administration (MPA)

Specialization Options:

  • Thesis Track
  • Non-Thesis Track

Top Online Master of Public Administration (MPA) Programs in Texas

If you prefer to study for your MPA online, Texas has you covered. Many of the state’s universities offer online or hybrid MPA programs where you can earn your degree by studying full-or-part time from home. Online MPA programs in Texas can be ideal for students with paid jobs who want to work while studying, or if there are personal or family responsibilities that make relocating to campus difficult. If you’re interested in studying online, but also enjoy the resources and networking opportunities of a campus, you might also consider a hybrid program. We’ll have a full ranking list of the best online MPAs in Texas later in 2024, but for now, check out these three high-quality programs.

Texas A&M University, one of the largest and most prestigious public universities in the state, offers a mostly online degree through its Executive MPA program. This MPA program at Texas A&M features 39 credits that can be completed fully online, minus a single mandatory two-week residency on campus. You will have the option to specialize in one of three tracks and can complete the program in two to three years depending on your schedule and if you can transfer any credits.

The program has three start dates per year. To apply, you will need to submit official transcripts and three letters of recommendation. GRE or GMAT scores are optional, but students with undergraduate GPAs below 3.2 are encouraged to submit them.

Graduate Programs:

  • Executive Master of Public Administration (MPA)

Program Options:

  • Part-Time
  • Full-Time
  • Fully-Online
  • Partially-Online

Specializations Offered:

  • Homeland Security
  • Nonprofit Management
  • Public Management

The College of Liberal Arts at the Rio Grande Valley campus offers an accelerated online MPA that can be completed in as little as one year depending on your schedule. This 36-credit accelerated online MPA program is broken down into 7-week modules for increased scheduling flexibility. You can design a schedule that works for you, whether on a one-year track or over two years. In addition to core courses and electives, you will have the option to complete a final capstone project.

UTRGV offers extensive financial aid opportunities, including options for online graduate students. You can apply online for the accelerated online MPA at UTRGV, and the school encourages you to email the program director if you have any questions.

Graduate Programs:

  • Master of Public Administration (MPA)

Program Options:

  • Part-Time
  • Full-Time
  • Fully-Online

The College of Architecture, Planning, and Public Affairs at UTA offers students a 100% online MPA program. This program is career-focused, since it prepares you to work in the public or private sector upon graduation. The program also has a unique urban focus with an emphasis on challenges faced by city governments.

Once enrolled in the online MPA at the Arlington campus, you’ll be expected to complete 39 credit hours with the ability to graduate in as little as two years. Applicants with undergraduate GPAs below 3.25 must submit GRE scores, and a combined verbal and quantitative score of 1,000 or higher is preferred. You are also expected to have an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher and must submit three letters of recommendation with your application.

Graduate Programs:

  • Master of Public Administration (MPA)

Program Options:

  • Part-Time
  • Full-Time
  • Fully-Online

Financial Aid and Scholarships for MPA Students in Texas

It’s a valid concern before you start one of the best MPA programs in Texas to know how you’ll pay for it. While you can shop around for cost-saving measures like in-state tuition, and studying online can save you money on relocation costs, it’s also a good idea to apply for financial aid through your school and from external scholarships.

The State of Texas has compiled a list of scholarship opportunities for graduate students, potentially for Texas online MPA students, and there are also private foundations that offer MPA-specific scholarships. You may also want to see if you’re eligible for other forms of private scholarship funding such as those for historically marginalized students. These are smaller scholarships with more specific eligibility requirements, but they can be great opportunities since there are often fewer applicants than general funding sources, improving your odds of getting a grant.

Job Outlook and Earnings Potential for MPA Graduates in Texas

Once you’ve graduated from an in-person or online MPA, Texas has plenty of job opportunities for you. As you can see in the table below, many popular jobs for Texas MPA grads are growing fast, and they can be very lucrative with regular six-figure salary averages. There are many opportunities now for MPA holders, and job openings are only projected to increase over the next decade. As a new graduate from one of the best MPA programs in Texas, you’ll be a particularly good candidate for the following opportunities.

Job Growth Rate
(2020-2030)
Average Annual Openings (2020-2030)Annual Mean Wage (2023)
Management Analyst25.1%6,030$106,600
Data Scientist49.6% 560$109,000
Financial Specialist21.2% 3,950$79,020
Database Administrator19.1% 1,320$100,490
Budget Analyst14.2% 390$82,980

Sources: Projections Central; Bureau of Labor Statistics

Texas Public Administration Professional and Student Resources

If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed at the prospect of starting your MPA, you’re not alone. Don’t worry, though – there are plenty of resources to help you connect with other top Texas MPA students and professionals from all over the country, both during and after your studies. Here are a few organizations worth checking out,

  • Pi Alpha Alpha
    Pi Alpha Alpha is a national honor society for public affairs and public administration. They have chapters across the nation and around the world, including 14 chapters at different Texas institutions, and provide networking opportunities and public service volunteering through your chapter.
  • American Society for Public Administration
    The American Society for Public Administration, or ASPA, is a professional membership organization with a mission to promote public service. Both students and working professionals can join ASPA, making it a valuable networking resource. While they are an American organization, they also collaborate with international organizations.
  • National Academy of Public Administration
    The National Academy of Public Administration is an academic fellowship organization with a mission to promote effective governance at national, state, and local levels. They publish research, fund fellows, and create networking opportunities. These include online forums as well as panels, working groups, and annual events.
  • Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration
    The Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration, or NASPAA, is an organization that describes itself as “the global standard in public service education.” They have 317 member schools across 25 different countries and encourage collaboration and networking among member schools.
  • International City and County Management Association
    The International City and County Management Association, or ICMA, is a professional organization dedicated to local government. They have more than 11,000 members and a mission to identify the most effective forms of local government and initiatives and encourage their implementation.