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College of Arts and Sciences

Public Administration

Increase Your Power for Public Good With an Online MPA

Gain momentum in your public service career, expand your professional network and become a trusted authority in your workplace with a Kent State University online Master of Public Administration.

Course Delivery
100% online
Total Credits
36*
Approximate Cost per Credit
$676 in state
$686 out of state
Time to Completion
Graduate in as few as 2 years
*Those without substantive full-time administrative experience in a public service organization (as assessed by the MPA program coordinator) must complete at least three credit hours of an internship in addition to the required 36 credit hours of coursework.

What Can You Do With an Online MPA Degree?

professionals in a meeting

An online MPA from Kent State will help prepare you for a leadership role in organizations focused on serving the public, including:

  • Government (all levels)
  • Nonprofit sector
  • Private sector
  • Military

Top-Ranked Military Friendly® University

We’re proud to be recognized with the Military Friendly® gold designation.

Our ranking reflect our commitment to helping you reach your goals. Kent State has been helping students create their success since 1910, and we launched our first online course almost 20 years ago.

Military Friendly School '22-23 Gold

I have years of experience in the public sector, but I was surprised by how much I still had to learn—things I could not have learned on the job.
leslie-b.webp
Leslie B. MPA ‘19
Sample job titles and average salaries for MPA graduate roles
Non-Profit Executive Director
$109,5931
Public Policy Analyst
$96,0082
County Administrator
$91,3743
NASPAA logo

Move Your Career Forward With Kent State

Kent State’s online Master of Public Administration (MPA) is one of only a select number of online MPA programs in the United States that is accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA).


NASPAA accreditation assures employers that your degree meets the standards of the public service education field, helping you move forward in your public leadership career.

A Degree Program That Fits Your Life

Here’s another compelling reason to earn your master’s in public administration online: Our program is designed for busy working professionals who want to gain the knowledge, skills and credibility necessary to advance a career in the public sector.

Using learning techniques that help you apply what you learn in real time, this program positions you for senior management positions in local, state and regional governments, as well as in nonprofit organizations, the military and the private sector.

What is an Online Master of Public Administration?

Kent State’s online MPA will help you develop the advanced expertise required of senior management in nonprofit organizations and local, state and regional governments. Our expertise in online learning is evident in the convenience and relevance of the coursework design.

  • Three start dates: January, May, August
  • No GRE requirement
  • 100% online coursework
  • 36 credits total* (12 three-credit courses)
  • Courses last seven weeks each, with two courses taken sequentially each semester
  • Graduate in as little as two years

The best online MPA programs give students the opportunity to put their learning into practice. The Capstone Seminar that you will take during your final semester allows you to integrate everything you’ve learned in a comprehensive project that reflects current public administration best practices.

*Students without substantive full-time administrative experience in a public service organization (as assessed by the MPA program coordinator) must complete at least three credit hours of an internship in addition to the required 36 credit hours of coursework.

I have an undergraduate degree in social work, but have always been pulled more toward community-level work. The MPA is a perfect fit for this.
Jessica G. MPA ‘19

A Rewarding Career In a Large, Stable Field

Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that the public service field accounts for about 30% of the jobs in this country, with steady growth for all but the federal sector through 2031.4

Percentages of workers employed in individual sectors within the category are:

  • Educational services, 2.3%4
  • Healthcare and social assistance, 12.7%4
  • Federal government, 1.8%4
  • State and local government, 12.1%4

Job titles are diverse across public service segments and Kent State’s online master of public administration helps you prepare for a personally fulfilling and financially rewarding career in this robust segment of the economy. Nationally and across fields, workers with a master’s earn an average of 18% more than those whose highest degree is a bachelor’s.5

The Private Sector Value of an MPA

There are many ways your online MPA degree is similar to an MBA, and one key difference that sets you apart and adds to your value in the job market. Like an MBA, your coursework will give you skills in leadership, along with knowledge of finance, management and strategic planning. The added value lies in your knowledge of public policy formulation and program management practices. These insights can make all the difference in business success for companies that interface with government agencies, whether it’s in the context of a regulated industry or a government supplier. Read more about employment opportunities for online MPA graduates.

What is public administration?

National, state, and local legislatures pass laws that allocate money for public services or set priorities for public health, safety, and well-being. Public administration professionals are the managers, supervisors, analysts, planners, and other on-the-ground workers tasked with translating these priorities into reality. The academic field of public administration trains students in policy implementation, project and program management, human resources, public finance management, communications, and strategic planning to help them better perform their roles.

What skills do I need to succeed in this program?

Students will need to be strong writers, researchers, and critical thinkers. They will also benefit from an interest in government, politics, and social welfare.

What are the differences between those working in the public and private sectors?

Public sector jobs are more stable and offer excellent benefits; however, public sector employees often earn less than their private sector counterparts and must navigate more bureaucracy. Because of the latter, public sector jobs are also often slower paced: a project may take months or years to complete instead of weeks or months in the private sector.

What is the difference between an MPA and an MBA?

The contrast between an MBA and an MPA is usually framed as that between profit-driven, private-sector employment (MBA) and mission-driven, public-sector employment (MPA). Read more.

Who is the MPA program for?

Mid-career administrative professionals (like project managers or assistant directors) looking to gain the skills and experience to advance their careers, career-changers or recent college graduates who want the experience and credentials to be able to apply for administrative positions, anyone working in the nonprofit sector.

What can I do with a Master’s Degree in Public Administration?

  • Chief executives
  • Legislators
  • Postmasters and mail superintendents
  • Social service administration
  • Project manager
  • Fundraiser
  • Policy Analyst
  • Public health administrator
  • Urban planner
  • Nonprofit manager
  • City/county manager
  • Military administration
  • Healthcare administration

What will I learn in Kent State Online’s Master’s Degree in Public Administration?

Courses include personnel administration, public budgeting and financial management, program evaluation, project management, electronic governance, strategic planning, personal accountability in public service, labor management, nonprofit advocacy, and nonprofit law.

university faculty meeting
Well-Rounded, Expert Faculty
Professors for the Kent State online Master’s in Public Administration are connected, engaged practitioners and researchers with expertise in diverse areas.


Faculty interests and experience include policymaking and policy implementation, political systems and public management, city planning, professional ethics, nonprofit governance and advocacy, quantitative research methods, international business, and public sector IT management.



With their varied interests, experiences and connections, our faculty can help you chart your course to a successful public administration career.

Master of Public Administration Tuition and Financial Aid

Ohio ResidentsOut of State
Per Credit Hour$676$686
Approximate Program Cost $24,336$24,696

An additional distance learning fee for all students enrolled in a distance learning course is $15 per credit hour. Program tuition and costs are estimated and subject to change. For a complete listing of tuition rates for approved online programs, please contact Kent State’s Financial, Billing & Enrollment Center at 330-672-6000 or via our website Contact Us link.

We recognize that pursuing a graduate degree is a significant investment. Your Admissions Outreach Advisor can answer your questions on program costs, discuss how a Kent State degree compares to others and connect you with financial aid representatives when you are ready to discuss your financial options.

Please contact an Admissions Outreach Advisor for more information on tuition and fees by email at online@kent.edu.

Exclusive Opportunity for KSU Undergraduates: The Accelerated MPA Degree Option

Launch your career sooner than you expected to. In Kent State’s public administration program, juniors and seniors with qualifying GPAs can apply up to 12 credit hours of coursework toward the public administration bachelor’s and master’s degrees. By earning double credits, you’ll earn your online MPA earlier than anticipated, save money on tuition and fees, and be prepared to dive into your career ahead of your classmates and ahead of schedule. For more information, please contact an Admissions Outreach Advisor at online@kent.edu or call us at 330-672-8671.

Master of Public Administration Courses

The Master of Public Administration degree is comprised of three major components:*

  • Eight core courses
  • Three elective courses
  • One Internship requirement
  • One final capstone project

*Those without substantive full-time administrative experience in a public service organization (as assessed by the MPA program coordinator) must complete at least three credit hours of an internship in addition to the required 36 credit hours of coursework.

Master of Public Administration Required Courses

27 credits

PADM 60371 Graduate Introduction to Public Administration

This course is designed to introduce students in the MPA program to the theory and study of public administration. Topics include: evolution and characteristics of the modern nation state, the critical role that public bureaucracies play in any nation-state, intergovernmental relations, formal and informal groups and their role in policy, legal-regulatory processes, historical evolution of public administration as an academic field, major paradigms in public organizational theory and internal organization dynamics. This course has no prerequisites and does not assume any previous knowledge of the subject matter.

PADM 60375 Public Personnel Administration

This course provides a foundation for leading and managing people in public organizations. This includes an examination of public personnel systems, and the public service values that underlie these systems. The emphasis is on skill development and techniques for public personnel managers, which include recruitment and selection, motivation, performance appraisal, diversity management, and cultural competence.

PADM 60377 Public Budgeting and Financial Management

This course focuses on two aspects of public finance: budgeting and financial management. Relative to budgeting, students are taught about budgets as mechanisms for resource control and allocations, as legal documents, different formats and cross-walking of formats, budget preparation, legislative review, budget implementation, and auditing. Relative to financial management, students are taught budget analysis, debt management, fund accounting, and forecasting.

PADM 60379 Program Evaluation I

Introduction to evaluation of government programs. Emphasis on familiarizing students with the theory and, specifically, the techniques utilized under different evaluation formats.

PADM 60381 Methods in Public Administration

This course is a graduate-level introduction to statistical methods and their use in public administration.

PADM 60574 Strategic Planning

This course is designed to introduce students to the practice of strategic planning as it relates to program design and implementation by public and nonprofit organizations. Consideration is given to concepts, frameworks, and methods of program/policy analysis; as well as understanding the institutional context, agency-environment linkages, and internal dynamics of organizations.

PADM 60470 Personal Accountability in the Public Service

This course is concerned with basic issues of morality and ethics associated with public service roles in a democratic society. The focus is on students internalizing their role in the public sector as stewards of the public trust. Topics covered include the dimensions of stewardship, maintaining personal honor, protecting the dignity and liberty of citizens, the dimensions of justice, anti-corruption devices and incorporating these dimensions as managers in their personal decision-making and throughout the organization.

PADM 60386 Public Sector IT Management

This course focuses on the management of information technology (IT) systems in public sector agencies. Specific topics covered include planning and acquisition of hardware and software and networks, organizational governance and implementation, information security and privacy legal issues surrounding IT management, service delivery and emerging enterprise technologies.

PADM 60475 Capstone Seminar

Taken in the last semester of study, the capstone course is a decision-making exercise in which students demonstrate their ability to integrate what they have learned in the MPA program in order to make administrative decisions that reflect a public service orientation. The course is offered over a 7-week format, and consists of a problem statement; a literature review and guiding framework; recommendations; and an implementation plan that addresses actions steps, timeline, personnel and budgetary issues, legal and ethical concerns, and a methodology for assessing the effectiveness of the proposal. At the conclusion of the course, students present their work electronically via web-conferencing technology.

PADM 60375 Public Personnel Administration

This course provides a foundation for leading and managing people in public organizations. This includes an examination of public personnel systems, and the public service values that underlie these systems. The emphasis is on skill development and techniques for public personnel managers, which include recruitment and selection, motivation, performance appraisal, diversity management, and cultural competence.

PADM 60377 Public Budgeting and Financial Management

This course focuses on two aspects of public finance: budgeting and financial management. Relative to budgeting, students are taught about budgets as mechanisms for resource control and allocations, as legal documents, different formats and cross-walking of formats, budget preparation, legislative review, budget implementation, and auditing. Relative to financial management, students are taught budget analysis, debt management, fund accounting, and forecasting.

PADM 60379 Program Evaluation I

Introduction to evaluation of government programs. Emphasis on familiarizing students with the theory and, specifically, the techniques utilized under different evaluation formats.

PADM 60381 Methods in Public Administration

This course is a graduate-level introduction to statistical methods and their use in public administration.

PADM 60386 Public Sector IT Management

This course focuses on the management of information technology (IT) systems in public sector agencies. Specific topics covered include planning and acquisition of hardware and software and networks, organizational governance and implementation, information security and privacy legal issues surrounding IT management, service delivery and emerging enterprise technologies.

PADM 60392 Internship in Public Administration

Provides an opportunity for students to gain practical experience and be exposed to processes of public decision making and policy development.

PADM 60470 Personal Accountability in the Public Service

This course is concerned with basic issues of morality and ethics associated with public service roles in a democratic society. The focus is on students internalizing their role in the public sector as stewards of the public trust. Topics covered include the dimensions of stewardship, maintaining personal honor, protecting the dignity and liberty of citizens, the dimensions of justice, anti-corruption devices and incorporating these dimensions as managers in their personal decision-making and throughout the organization.

PADM 60475 Capstone Seminar

Taken in the last semester of study, the capstone course is a decision-making exercise in which students demonstrate their ability to integrate what they have learned in the MPA program in order to make administrative decisions that reflect a public service orientation. The course is offered over a 7-week format, and consists of a problem statement; a literature review and guiding framework; recommendations; and an implementation plan that addresses actions steps, timeline, personnel and budgetary issues, legal and ethical concerns, and a methodology for assessing the effectiveness of the proposal. At the conclusion of the course, students present their work electronically via web-conferencing technology.

PADM 60574 Strategic Planning

This course is designed to introduce students to the practice of strategic planning as it relates to program design and implementation by public and nonprofit organizations. Consideration is given to concepts, frameworks, and methods of program/policy analysis; as well as understanding the institutional context, agency-environment linkages, and internal dynamics of organizations.

MPA Internship Requirement

0-3 credits

Students without substantive full-time administrative experience in a public service organization (as assessed by the MPA program coordinator) must complete at least three credit hours of an internship in addition to the required 36 credit hours of coursework.

PADM 60392 Internship in Public Administration

Required of all students without prior full-time administrative experience in public or nonprofit organizations (pre-service students). Formal field placement of 300 hours in government or nonprofit agency setting. Provides opportunity for students to gain professional experience and apply coursework via direct exposure to management and policy processes. Students with substantive full-time administrative experience in a public service organization (in-service students) are waived from this requirement with permission of the MPA Coordinator.

MPA Electives

9 credits

Students without substantive full-time administrative experience in a public service organization (as assessed by the MPA program coordinator) must complete at least three credit hours of an internship in addition to the required 36 credit hours of coursework.

PADM 60200 Nonprofit Advocacy

This course explores the U.S. public policymaking process as it applies to nonprofit organizations. Nonprofits influence policymaking or “advocacy” through a variety of methods, such as lobbying, campaigning, protesting and policy monitoring. The course explores how nonprofit organizations both shape and are shaped by public policy.

PADM 60310 Leadership in the Nonprofit and Public Sector

This course teaches students theory, practice and skills for leading nonprofit and public organizations. Topics include organizational theory and behavior, organizational culture, integrity and ethics, group dynamics, conflict management, and creating an environment that promotes diversity and inclusion.

PADM 60376 Labor Management Relations in the Public Sector

Prerequisite: PADM 60375

This course focuses on issues peculiar to public sector labor relations, including the impact of public employee unionism on traditional merit systems and personnel policy decision processes.

PADM 60382 Seminar in Public Administration

Study of selected problem areas in public service organizations with emphasis on understanding the factors contributing to them, their solution and literature bearing on the problems.

PADM 60387 Electronic Governance

An introduction to electronic governance with an emphasis on public administration. Examines the implications of information and communication technology in public organizations with regard to democracy, civic engagement, and performance improvement. Through case studies from the United States and across the world, students will become familiar with the factors and issues surrounding the implementation of electronic governance on a comparative basis.

PADM 60471 Nonprofit Law

Introduction to legal issues for nonprofit organizations in the United States, including types of IRS tax-exempt status; basic requirements for establishing/operating nonprofit organizations specifically in Ohio.

PADM 60472 Nonprofit Board Executive Relationships

Key aspects of effective nonprofit governance, major roles of nonprofit board members and their responsibilities, and governance structures.

PADM 60477 Nonprofit Financial Resource Development

Successful strategies for fundraising and resource development for nonprofit organizations. Students will be exposed to fundraising in practice and will write a resource development plan.

Master of Public Administration Admissions Requirements

To be considered for admission, students must have completed a bachelor’s degree with a GPA of 2.750 or higher. Applicants with a GPA lower than 2.75 may be considered for conditional admission. Contact an Admissions Outreach Advisor for more information about this process. The bachelor’s degree may be in any area of study.

Further admissions requirements include:

  • Completed online application
  • Three letters of recommendation from professors and/or employers
  • Application fee: $45
  • Official transcript(s)
  • Goal Statement
  • Writing sample
  • Resume/CV
  • No GRE required for admission
Important Dates
Dec
1
Application Deadline
Spring 2024 Term
Jan
16
First Day of Classes
Spring 2024 Term
May
1
Application Deadline
Summer 2024 Term

Application FAQs

Create an account in the online application system to save your work and track the progress of materials submitted via the application system.

I am a U.S. citizen. Where should I send my application materials?

If you are a U.S. citizen or permanent U.S. resident, all required application materials should be sent to the Division of Graduate Studies at gradapps@kent.edu or by mail to:

Division of Graduate Studies
Kent State University
Cartwright Hall
P.O. Box 5190
Kent, OH 44242

Please be sure to include your full name and Kent State ID (9-digit number starting with 8) on all submitted documents. For questions, contact Graduate Admissions at +1 330-672-2661 or gradapps@kent.edu.

I am not a U.S. citizen. Where should I send my application materials?

If you are not a U.S. citizen or permanent U.S. resident, all required documents should be submitted to the Office of Global Education at intladm@kent.edu or by mail to:

Office of Global Education
Kent State University
106 Van Campen Hall
625 Loop Rd.
Kent, OH 44242
USA

For questions, contact International Admissions at +1 330-672-7970 or intladm@kent.edu.

The online MPA program application process is simple and we’re here to guide you through it.

Our Admissions Outreach Advisors are available to answer your questions regarding admissions requirements for the program. If you have questions, please email us at online@kent.edu or call us at 330-672-8671.

Technology

Courses are delivered through Canvas, our course management system. Course content consists of text, narrated PowerPoint presentations, video and audio, live chats, discussion groups, and other learning enhancements. To participate in this online program, you will need a computer and broadband internet connection. Your program may have further requirements that include the ability to record video and audio. If you have questions regarding technology requirements for the program, please contact your Admissions Outreach Advisor at online@kent.edu or call us at 330-672-8671.

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Related Reading from the Kent State Online Blog

Check out one of our featured blog posts below
Kent State University’s Online Master’s in Public Administration has moved up in the U.S. News rankings! The program is currently ranked 135 (out of 270) in the U.S. News 2024 Best Public Affairs Programs. The program is also tied for 4th place in Ohio and second place in Northeast Ohio.
Watch Dr. Daniel Hawes speak to Sage Publications about a paper he presented at the American Political Science Association conference in Montreal 2022. The paper also won the Herbert Kaufman Best Paper award from the Public Administration Section in 2023.