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What’s it like to study public administration online?

June 24, 2021
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In 2020, the nature of work changed rapidly. The pace of change has only continued to accelerate in 2021, with many companies keeping hybrid work schedules—a reality that seemed a distant dream prior to the pandemic.¹ Fortunately for many learners hoping to achieve greater economic prosperity, higher education is changing, as well. Taking master’s courses online is becoming a more viable option, and for good reason.

People with master's degrees earn an average of $250 more per week than those with bachelor's degrees.² For many prospective graduate students, though, giving up work or family time to commute to a far-away campus for in-person instruction is a cost that is simply too high. So how can people who hope to earn a master’s degree complete their educational goals while continuing to work and possibly support a family? For many, the answer is remote learning.

An online Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree can be a great option for those seeking a graduate-level, remote learning experience that will be personally and professionally fulfilling. In this post, we explore the course details that make up an online MPA so you can begin planning to complete your degree.

Master of Public Administration: An Overview

An MPA is a graduate-level degree that trains students to become executive leaders in government agencies or the nonprofit sector. The government workforce is expected to shrink dramatically, with one-third of government workers reaching retirement age, by 2025.³ That’s why it is critically important for a new generation of career-minded public servants to begin preparing for leadership roles now.

Required Courses for an Online MPA

Typically, a public administration graduate program requires a core set of courses plus electives, which will depend on the concentration or specialty you choose. The core usually consists of an introduction to graduate studies class, leadership, management, evaluation, planning and ethics classes, as well as a capstone class.

In general, each public administration course is geared toward students who already have substantial administrative experience in a public service organization. Those who don’t have this prior experience may be required to complete additional coursework, such as an internship, in order to meet program requirements.

Online Public Administration Course Details

An online MPA curriculum covers the same material as a face-to-face program would. The platform and method of communication, however, function differently to accommodate for the remote learning environment.

A Learning Management System functions as the classroom.

Online coursework takes place in an interactive learning management system (LMS) instead of a physical classroom. The LMS includes traditional course elements, such as a syllabus and course outline, as well as online communication tools, self-check quizzes, assigned readings and printable presentations.

Videos, forums and private messaging replace face-to-face communication.

Another way an online MPA course functions differently from a traditional face-to-face course is the way that students communicate with each other and with the professor. Online MPA courses include video lectures and transcripts, guided discussion forums, peer-to-peer forums, live check-ins scheduled with the professor and private messaging to connect securely with anyone in the course.

What about the syllabus?

Many online graduate students may have questions concerning the course syllabus. Unlike most traditional college courses, the syllabus for an online course is not a thick stack of pages printed front and back. Instead, the syllabus is presented as part of an interactive module in the LMS. The online syllabus will link directly to weekly assignments, discussion forums, and even multimedia tools and learning content which you can access on-demand.

Make a positive impact on the world around you.

Designed for working professionals looking to advance their public service careers, Kent State’s online MPA program is fully accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA). Contact an Admissions Advisor or start an application today.