Online MBA in Public Administration Programs

Why might someone consider an online MBA in public administration? For those who have worked in public administration or may be considering it as a career, the skills and knowledge gained from these programs prepare graduates for leadership roles in public administration, which can result in higher salaries and better job opportunities.

However, unlike some public administration master’s degree programs taught by schools of government that focus on political science, the core courses in an MBA program with a public administration specialty focus on the disciplines needed in the corporate world. As we explain below, those comprise fields like finance, economics, and marketing.

Although a public administration MBA prepares graduates for high-level positions in government, private businesses that work closely with public regulatory agencies or operate in regulated market sectors also hire these graduates.

In California, classic employer examples include local wired phone service providers like AT&T, cable TV vendors like Comcast, and power companies like Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E). But these days, examples include mobile carriers (e.g., Verizon Wireless, Sprint), satellite TV providers (e.g., Dish Network), and newer electricity providers that harness geothermal or wind power.

Moreover, for those who haven’t settled into a specific career track, graduates with a public administration MBA might find themselves with a broad range of job options in both the public and private sectors. Graduates who gain early on-the-job experience with organizations that might provide viable long-term career options find themselves better able to refine their choices and set objectives for their long-range careers.

In general, MBA programs initially teach business management fundamentals while challenging students to think strategically. Students first explore fundamental business concepts in general “core” courses focusing on marketing, accounting, business ethics, finance, statistics, project management, leadership, and other business administration cornerstones. Especially among the AACSB-accredited schools, only minor differences exist in these standardized core courses.

Upon satisfying core requirements, students then take courses focusing on public administration, which the programs organize into majors, fields of concentration, specializations, or simply offer electives. These courses typically examine topics such as government budgeting, policy development, administrative law, or intergovernmental relations and can vary widely from one school to another.

Featured Public Administration Programs
Southern New Hampshire University Online MBA In Public Administration View Full Profile
Strayer University MBA - Public Administration View Full Profile

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Innovative online MBA programs in public administration providing online curricula, like those in the following profiles, offer students tremendous flexibility. In addition, recent instructional technology advances now provide an online educational experience equivalent to instruction on campus, yet unconstrained by distance or time. As a result, these online programs offer tremendous opportunities to students who cannot leave jobs to attend classes on campus or who wish to attend better out-of-state universities without the expense and hassle of relocation.

Plus, personalized online education provides an attractive alternative for students who want to learn at their own pace; motivated and gifted students, in particular, can thrive at the accelerated pace made possible by these online programs.

Online programs also save students money. Even when tuition rates are identical, online MBA programs can present more cost-effective alternatives to on-campus programs because of savings on costs like relocation, childcare, and transportation.

The following guide presents seven public administration MBA degree programs offered online.

Featured Online MBA Programs in Public Administration

Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) offers an MBA in public administration, combining the business core with three public administration courses: strategic management in public service, intergovernmental relations, and a foundation course, either in public administration or public policy. The school also requires a capstone project.

SNHU may require students with non-business academic backgrounds to take a series of foundation courses (up to five) before enrolling in the MBA core courses. No GMAT or GRE is required for admission. SNHU’s program is highly affordable and offers veterans an additional 25 percent tuition discount. In addition, SNHU offers an online bachelor of science in business administration with a concentration in public administration for those looking for an undergraduate program.

Location: Manchester, New Hampshire
Tuition: $637 per credit, $22,932 for the degree
Time to Completion: 15 months minimum
Accreditation: Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)

Strayer University provides an online MBA with 15 concentrations, including one in public administration. To apply, prospective students must have a bachelor’s degree with at least a 2.5 GPA. No test scores (GRE or GMAT) or work experience are required.

The Strayer University online MBA in public administration includes core instruction in financial accounting for managers; leadership and organizational behavior; strategic management; business communications; managerial economics and globalization; financial management; business statistics; law, ethics, and corporate governance; and marketing management. In addition, the concentration courses include project management; project management leadership; and project risk management.

Location: Washington, D.C.
Tuition: Please view full profile for details
Time to Completion: Please view full profile for details
Accreditation: Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)

Belhaven “integrates the sophisticated academic world, the practical and technologically dependent career world, and the eternal world of Christian faith” into its MBA curriculum to develop discernment in students. The school requires 12 cross-disciplinary core courses; by illustration, courses on business principles integrate topics from financial accounting, mathematics, economic statistics, and economics.

Moreover, several classes discuss applications of the Christian worldview to the field of business. For the public administration concentration, students choose three courses from a selection, including the administration of financial resources, economics and public policy, public and administrative law, and ethics and society.

Belhaven requires a minimum 2.8 cumulative undergraduate GPA or nine credits of graduate work with at least a B in each course and specifies at least one university math course with a C or better grade. Also, the school offers conditional admission to some applicants not meeting these requirements who otherwise demonstrate the potential for success in their MBA program.

Location: Jackson, Mississippi
Tuition: $605 per credit
Time to Completion: Two years
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Concordia says their online public administration MBA concentration “is for those in government service looking to delve deeper into the business side of their career.” This Lutheran university encourages government or government-related personnel (e.g., police officers, firefighters, nonprofit community agency employees) who seek promotions into management to consider their program. The specialization emphasizes how to connect departments within the government to accomplish initiatives.

The degree requires nine core courses and concentration courses in administrative law, budgeting, public human resources, and intergovernmental relations. Instead of a capstone project, the specialization requires an on-site internship of at least 120 hours. Admission requires an undergraduate degree but no GMAT scores.

Location: Mequon, Wisconsin
Tuition: $699 per credit
Time to Completion: Two years
Accreditation: International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE)

Liberty’s public administration MBA prepares graduates for business leadership positions. In addition, students gain insights into financial, professional, and administrative issues related to the federal, state, and local levels of government and non-profit organizations.

Students also enhance their analytical capabilities concerning political and economic decision-making on local and international initiatives. Moreover, they acquire capabilities for business leadership while developing strategic, managerial, and financial skills. Courses emphasize the application of ethics to management practices and integrating the Christian faith.

Admission requires an accredited bachelor’s degree with at least a 3.0 GPA; Liberty may consider students with a GPA less than 3.0 for conditional entry, but they must also pass an additional graduate writing course. The school waives the GMAT for students who meet admission requirements. In addition, liberty claims almost 90 percent of students receive financial aid and extends tuition discounts to several groups, including veterans, military, and emergency response personnel.

Location: Lynchburg, Virginia
Tuition: $565 per credit
Time to Completion: 2.5 years
Accreditation: Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
6The University of Mary, Gary Tharaldson School of Business

The online public administration MBA from the University of Mary requires 13 core courses plus three concentration courses in public administration foundations, leadership in the public sector, and budgeting in public finance. The core courses include human resources, management and organizational behavior, the legal environment of business, and ethics, among others.

The school requires applicants to have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with an undergraduate GPA of 2.5 overall and GMAT scores with a minimum score cutoff (550) before students can take “MBA specific courses.” The school will drop the GMAT requirement for students who take three additional foundation courses in finance, accounting, and economics.

Location: Bismarck, North Dakota, with other branches in Arizona, Montana, Minnesota, and Kansas
Tuition: $560 per credit
Time to Completion: 20 months minimum
Accreditation: International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE)

With more than 20 concentrations, students can complete an online MBA through the Penn State World Campus in various subjects, including public administration. Students must complete 48 credits of coursework, of which at least nine must be in their chosen concentration. For public administration students, these courses include public organization and management, government fiscal decision-making, and an introduction to public policy analysis.

This program follows an ICE framework for teaching, which stands for integration, collaboration, and engagement. Therefore courses are interactive and aimed at integrating siloed business disciples by unifying key business concepts. Admission requirements include completing a bachelor’s degree and submitting a completed application. While a GMAT or GRE is required, there are waivers for students who meet specific requirements.

Location: University Park, PA
Tuition: $1,248 per credit
Time to Completion: Two years
Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)

Online MBA students at the University of the Southwest College of Business Administration can specialize in public administration. Should the specialization in public administration not fully meet a student’s desired curriculum, students can create their own specialization. Since this program is offered online, students can complete their degrees without relocating. Even textbooks are delivered in e-book formats.

The practical application emphasis of this program means many courses are taught by practitioner-scholars who expertly straddle academia and work in the industry. As a result, graduates of this program are prepared for leadership and management roles in government, non-profits, and non-government agencies.

Location: Hobbs, NM
Tuition: $22,000 total
Time to Completion: As little as 12 months
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

In a little less than two years, students can earn an online MBA with a concentration in public administration from Adams State University. This accredited distance learning program is ideal for working professionals looking to work in the public sector but needing additional education or skills. The key skills students will acquire in this program include problem analysis, assessment, diagnosis, and solution. Students will also learn to design and formulate comprehensive strategies to address the needs of their organization.

Admission requirements to this program include two letters of recommendation, a personal statement, proof of a bachelor’s degree, and a current resume. There are no standardized test requirements for this program.

Location: Alamosa, CO
Tuition: $420 per credit
Time to Completion: Two years
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Admission Requirements: Online MBA Programs in Public Administration

From the programs above, here are typical, common application requirements to earn admission to these online MBA programs in public administration:

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  • A GPA from an undergraduate university above each school’s specified minimum level
  • Some schools ask for GMAT or GRE scores but often waive testing for students meeting specific requirements
  • A personal statement of objectives
  • Letters of recommendation
  • International students must complete the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

MBA Program Accreditation

Educational accreditation means a university offers a curriculum that adheres to quality assurance standards in academic disciplines. In the United States, external private, non-profit organizations evaluate educational institutions and certify that the schools comply with applicable standards by awarding accreditation status. For example, several organizations confer accreditation for online MBA programs in public administration.

Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)

The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), formerly known as the American Association of Collegiate Schools of Business, has provided quality assurance services to accredited business schools since 1916. In general, AACSB-accredited schools have the highest-quality faculties, deliver relevant and challenging curricula, and provide educational and career opportunities unavailable at other schools. In addition, the organization emphasizes faculty research in providing students with solid knowledge foundations.

The AACSB has awarded accreditations to more than 1,000  schools in 50 countries, mainly those affiliated with major research universities, and awarded specialized accounting program accreditations to an additional 185.

Only about 5 percent of the 16,000 schools worldwide granting business degrees have met the AACSB’s rigorous accreditation standards, and AACSB-accredited institutions offered 93 percent of The Economist’s top 100 full-time MBA programs. Accredited schools include the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University, and the Harvard Business School.

Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)

The newer Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) was founded in 1989 to accredit schools, including two-year institutions like community colleges, with an emphasis on teaching instead of the research emphasis common to the AACSB-accredited institutions. The ACBSP focuses on tangible learning outcomes and quality improvement, especially as the workforce demands change. Nearly 3,000 ACBSP-accredited programs exist worldwide.

International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE)

A third agency, the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE), believes academic quality and business education excellence are best evaluated in terms of the educational outcomes of an academic business entity relative to its mission, rather than by rigid standards relating to academic resources.

Professors to Know from Schools with Online MBA Programs in Public Administration

  • David Arnold, DM University of the Southwest College of Business Administration

    Dr. David Arnold is a professor and campus steward at the University of the Southwest College of Business Administration. He has 15 years of experience teaching at the undergraduate level and more than six at the graduate level. He primarily teaches courses in accounting, finance, management, and marketing. He also has extensive experience in the private sector and owned his own oil field construction business.

  • Janet Duck, PhD Penn State, World Campus

    Dr. Janet Duck is an assistant professor in management at Penn State, World Campus, and the online MBA faculty director. She earned her PhD in workforce development from Penn State and her MBA from Lebanon Valley College. She teaches a number of courses, including leadership communication, organizational management, and the facilitation of groups and teams.

    With over 15 years of industry experience and extensive teaching background, she is a stellar educator and was awarded the Outstanding Faculty Award for the iMBA.

Douglas Mark
Douglas Mark

While a partner in a San Francisco marketing and design firm, for over 20 years Douglas Mark wrote online and print content for the world’s biggest brands, including United Airlines, Union Bank, Ziff Davis, Sebastiani, and AT&T. Since his first magazine article appeared in MacUser in 1995, he’s also written on finance and graduate business education in addition to mobile online devices, apps, and technology. Doug graduated in the top 1 percent of his class with a business administration degree from the University of Illinois and studied computer science at Stanford University.