Choose an Established Online Master of Public Administration Program
Do you want to improve life for the people in your community—especially those who are underserved? Get ready to effect change at a higher level with Walden’s online Master of Public Administration (MPA) program. We’ve been cultivating bold, innovative public administration leaders since 2002.
Our program is grounded in real-world application and features immersive learning experiences that bring course content to life. Build your confidence and find your voice as you gain skills that empower you to move the needle on critical societal issues. An online master’s degree in public administration prepares students to translate policies into programs that support the public good.
Why Choose Walden?
Choose a degree program that’s rooted in social change and use what you learn to improve the lives of those around you.
Walden has been serving distance learners for more than 50 years and has offered an online MPA program for 20 years.
Through simulations and story-based learning, you’ll master valuable skills you can apply immediately in the workplace.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are woven into our curriculum—so you graduate knowing how to work with people of all backgrounds.
You may be eligible to transfer some prior credits into one of Walden’s two public policy and administration doctoral programs.
Curriculum – General Program Specialization
Foundations of Graduate Study
This course introduces students to graduate-level expectations and protocols for scholarly research and academic writing. Reflecting Walden's mission and vision of promoting positive social change, this course helps students build a foundation for success as scholar-practitioners and social change agents. Course assignments focus upon students' professional goals, strategies for online student success, research skills, and academic integrity. Assignments are designed to build critical thinking skills and provide opportunities to apply academic lessons to real-world practice. Students are encouraged to take advantage of Walden's wealth of student support systems, especially the Walden Library and the Writing Center.
Principles of Public Administration
Public administrators work to increase the efficacy of public organizations on a local, regional, national, and international level. In this course, students actively collaborate on a team final project that facilitates their use of real-world tools, technologies, and communication formats needed in the profession of public administration. They engage in hands-on practice to enhance their aptitude in professional skills (e.g., research, critical reasoning, creative and flexible problem-solving, technology, responsible leadership, intercultural awareness, negotiation/conflict resolution, and collaboration). They explore the diverse political, social, and economic contexts within which public administrators carry out their responsibilities. Spring boarding from the American democratic model, students examine emerging topics and trends in global public administration, including governance, fiscal issues, ethics, and positive social change. They also examine the history, foundations, and theories of public administration as well as public policy and organizational environments.
Ethics and Social Justice
Ethics is a fundamental element of leadership. In this course, students consider some of the leading philosophical bases of ethics as well as foundational social justice themes upon which public service rests. The course uses seminal texts and case studies to illuminate the tasks leaders face as they seek to serve diverse constituents. Students confront the challenge of ethical decision making and moral action in a world characterized (among other things) by economic disparity, power imbalances, social privilege, and division due to race and/or religion. Applying concepts presented in the course, students engage in an in-depth assessment of emerging or persistent ethical and social justice issues, with the objective of demonstrating an ability to make recommendations which lead to positive social change.
Public Policy Analysis
Government officials, research programs, and NGOs are increasingly expected to make better and more transparent use of evidence in producing viable policy options within highly complex policy environments that are heavily influenced by power and politics. Policy analysis requires several distinct skill sets: an understanding of the policy context, technical knowledge and analytical tools to identify and apply evidence ethically and with professional judgment, appreciation and engagement with the concerns and contributions of diverse stakeholders, and the ability to develop and communicate practical policy advice.This course is framed around Bardach and Patashnik's eightfold path, which lays out steps to follow when analyzing a policy issue and uses design thinking to guide the process. Students examine key concepts of public policy analysis through evidence-based research to locate issues in relation to theory and current trends. This course provides project-based opportunities to practice and gain the skills and knowledge to use evidence to shape policy more effectively.
Finance and Budgeting for the Public Sector
Sound financial practices are crucial to managing scarce funds in both public and nonprofit operations. In this course, the term "public" is synonymous with government. Nonprofit organizations are included because they rely on special tax-exempt status conferred by the government and often receive government funding. Students in this course examine finance and budgeting concepts, policies, and practices related to organizations as well as the fiscal climate within which they operate. They assess theories for motivating major fiscal-policy debates, and they explore and discuss auditing practices, tax systems, financial management, budgetary reform, financial technology systems, the use of dashboards for financial reporting, and the impact of globalization on finance and budget. Students read and analyze budgets, financial statements, and reports. They contextualize their learning as they apply knowledge gained from their analysis to develop a new budget and financial plan for either a public or nonprofit organization.
Human Resources Management and Strategic Planning
In the public and nonprofit sectors, human resource management and strategic planning are often driven by legislative mandates, delineated by codified requirements, and defined by the challenges of managing a diverse workforce. In this course, students learn about the fundamentals of managing human resources in the public and nonprofit sectors, including how jobs are classified in the public sector and how the volunteer workforce is managed in the nonprofit sector. In addition, students learn how strategic planning in this context is differentiated by the fact that there is no profit motive driving strategic management, vision and mission development, and organizational leadership in the public and nonprofit sectors.
Evidence-Based Evaluation Methods
Nonprofit and public/government organizations need to be able to show positive evidence related to their mission and ability to effect social change to remain viable. By developing performance improvement evaluation plans that are structured with metrics, leaders can disseminate an organization's progress to build stakeholder engagement and collaboration. Students in this course will be introduced to a critical appraisal of levels of evidence, performance improvement and evaluation methods, and the importance of dissemination of organizational outcomes to help contribute to a positive future for social change.
ELECTIVE 1 (choose from MPA specialization courses)
ELECTIVE 2 (choose from MPA specialization courses)
In this course, students have the opportunity to reflect on and demonstrate integration, synthesis, evaluation and application of the knowledge, skills, and abilities developed over the course of the Master of Public Administration or Nonprofit Management and Leadership programs. Students complete a capstone paper designed to maximize the application of concepts and skills learned during their program of study, with particular emphasis on the knowledge base and literature of public administration, public policy, and/or non-profit management and leadership. The capstone paper documents the results of a literature review addressing a research question related to a specific public policy or nonprofit management issue. The course also challenges students to reflect on how this program has and will, impact their personal, scholarly, professional, and positive social change agent growth.
|VIEW ALL COURSES Less Courses|
Program Admission Considerations: A bachelor's degree or higher.
General Admission Requirements: Completed online application and transcripts. Please note that the materials you are required to submit may vary depending on the academic program to which you apply. More information for international applicants.
Tuition and Fees
General Program Specialization
|Tuition||48 quarter credit hours||$507 per quarter hour||$24,336|
|Technology Fee||Per quarter||$165||$825|
*Note: Time to completion and cost are not estimates of individual experience and will vary based on individual factors applicable to the student. Factors may be programmatic or academic, such as tuition and fee increases; transfer credits accepted by Walden; program or specialization changes; unsuccessful course completion; credit load per term; part-time vs. full-time enrollment; writing, research, and editing skills; use of external data for the doctoral study/dissertation; and individual progress in the program. Other factors may include personal issues such as the student’s employment obligations, caregiving responsibilities, or health issues; leaves of absence; or other personal circumstances. For a personalized estimate of the number of your transfer credits that Walden would accept, call an Enrollment Specialist at 855-646-5286.
Tuition and fees are subject to change. Books and materials are not included and may cost between $1,000 and $1,400.
Many Walden degree-seeking students—67%—receive some form of financial aid.* Create a customized plan that makes sense for you.
*Source: Walden University’s Office of Financial Aid. Data reports as of 2018.Find Ways to Save
Gain cross-sectoral management and communication skills that can be applied domestically and globally.
Explore the social and organizational benefits of emphasizing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in public service agencies.
Examine vital emergency management issues and contingency planning.
Explore the relationship between statutes and case law and the impact that legislation and court systems can have on public policy.
Explore best practices for navigating through budgeting and finance issues and cultivating stakeholder relationships.
An MPA Degree Centered on Practical Skills
In our MPA degree online program, you’ll learn how to deliver effective public services through policy analysis, program evaluation, and strategic planning. Explore how to balance budgets, write and negotiate contracts, manage conflict, and cultivate partnerships. Build the organizational capabilities you need to effectively administer and oversee diverse and complex agencies. You’ll also have the chance to create your own professional portfolio to share with potential employers.
Be Immersed in Experiential Learning
Walden’s MPA degree online program blends a practical curriculum with engaging classroom experiences such as case studies, TED Talks, and decision trees. Develop valuable skills and instincts in safe—yet highly authentic—scenarios. Build confidence as a public administration leader while learning how to apply your new knowledge and competencies to your current and future roles.
You’ll also use innovative tools such as Walden Heights, a virtual city that allows you to visit different locations (e.g., City Hall) to find resources and complete assignments. In addition, virtual simulations allow you to gain hands-on practice in a low-stakes environment (e.g., presenting to a city council).
Whether at the local, state, or federal level, providing effective public service increasingly relies on collaboration with multiple government agencies and private and nonprofit organizations. With an online master’s degree in public administration, you’ll be academically prepared to lead and manage public programs while fostering cross-sectoral partnerships. This highly versatile degree can help pave the way to opportunities in the government, education, legal, and nonprofit sectors.
An online Master of Public Administration degree can academically prepare you to work in settings such as:
- Government agencies
- Nonprofit organizations
- Education organizations
- Healthcare organizations
- Law enforcement and the military
Career options may require additional experience, training, or other factors beyond the successful completion of this degree program.
Graduates of our online Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree program will be prepared to:
- Explain the processes of public policy development, implementation, and evaluation to meet the goals and needs of diverse stakeholders.
- Critically assess major theories and concepts associated with the development of public policy and public administration.
- Assess major theories and concepts of public policy and public administration.
- Apply methods of scholarly research and data analysis to study public policy issues.
- Assess ethical strategies for implementing organizational change and development.
- Design strategies for diverse and inclusive collaboration across the research, policy, and practice sectors to address complex social problems.
- Evaluate best practices of inclusive public policy and administration that promote diverse perspectives in local, state, national, and international agencies.
Jim CastleberryAssociate Dean
Dr. Castleberry’s legal and professional experience has focused on criminal law, regulatory law, and administrative law. He has held administrative positions in both the public and private sectors and worked as a legal officer (JAG) for the Coast Guard and Navy until he retired in 2003 and began teaching.
Rebecca StoutProgram Director
Dr. Stout joined Walden’s School of Human Services in 2017 as the research coordinator. In 2019, she became program director for the MPA, overseeing this and the MS in Nonprofit Management and Leadership program. Dr. Stout became the program director for the School of Public Policy and Administration in 2020.
Jason LumSenior Core Faculty
Mr. Lum has served in senior positions in local, state, and federal agencies and has practiced law at multiple large, multinational law firms before working as a civil rights attorney. He is the recipient of many awards, including the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship in Public Policy and International Affairs.
Barrett MinceySenior Contributing Faculty
Dr. Mincey is an award-winning educator with more than 20 years of teaching experience and a background in business management, finance, educational leadership, and psychology. His teaching philosophy centers on facilitating, empowering, and fostering learning that is humanistic and purposeful.
Bruce LindsayContributing Faculty
With deep expertise in federal emergency management policy, Dr. Lindsay lives and works full time as a policy specialist in Washington, D.C. As a policy specialist, he advises members of Congress and their staffs on a wide range of topics related to domestic disaster policy.
Having completed my master’s and doctoral degrees with Walden University, I have a scholarly foundation on which to build.
Rachel Ivory Master of Public Administration (MPA) Graduate
I wanted to enhance my education, and Walden was my key.
Jose Alicea Master of Public Administration (MPA) Graduate
My passion for public service initially motivated me to enroll at Walden.
Alexander Boamah Master of Public Administration (MPA) Graduate
FAQ About Walden’s Online Master of Public Administration (MPA) Program
An online master’s in public administration program is a great choice for working professionals who want to develop the advanced competencies required for a range of career options, including those at federal, state, and local agencies as well as in the private and nonprofit sectors. When you enroll in an online master’s program, you can study from home using a flexible learning platform that allows you to continue working full time as you earn your degree. Online degree programs, like the ones at Walden University, offer a schedule that combines the structure of weekly assignments and due dates with the flexibility of choosing times to participate that are most convenient for you. Online degree programs also attract a diverse student body, allowing you to gain different perspectives and collaborate with classmates who offer insights into other business cultures and problem-solving techniques that can inform your own approaches to problems and opportunities. If you have good time management skills and would like to better balance work and family with the demands of going back to school, consider the many benefits of Walden’s online Master of Public Administration program.
Today’s urban communities face a plethora of increasingly complex challenges, including crime and public safety, poverty, homelessness, pollution, and healthcare access. If you plan to pursue a leadership job in public administration, you’ll need to gain the skills and knowledge required to tackle tough problems surrounding these pressing issues. To help aspiring public administration leaders develop good problem-solving skills, many colleges and universities have integrated hands-on learning experiences into their public administration degree programs.
The virtual city used as an interactive teaching tool in the Master of Public Administration (MPA) online degree program at Walden University is a great example of how public administration students learn to solve problems through practice. The fictional city offers scenarios of real-life challenges in public administration faced by local leaders. Community issues involving a high school, businesses, city hall, and a hospital are explored throughout the MPA degree program.
Those with a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree earn an average of $68,408 a year, though there are ranges depending on the position.1 For example, the average annual salary for a government program manager is $90,985, though it ranges from $51,000 to $145,000 and, depending on the company, may or may not include bonuses and profit sharing.2
1Source: www.payscale.com/research/US/Degree=Master_of_Public_Administration_(MPA)/Salary?signedUp (viewed March 3, 2021). National long-term projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, do not guarantee actual job growth, and are subject to change.
2 Source: www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Government_Program_Manager/Salary (viewed March 3, 2021). National long-term projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, do not guarantee actual job growth, and are subject to change.
- Job stability: Unlike private-sector positions, which may be among the first eliminated in an economic downturn, government jobs are generally more stable and many are predicted to be in a strong growth mode over the coming years.
- Making a difference in people’s lives: Some professionals actively seek the opportunity to serve their country as a public employee. Whether you seek a degree that can lead to a public administration career working in homeland security, providing vital services to at-risk populations at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or helping retired or disabled military service personnel at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, a public administration degree can prepare you for a position and professional path that align with this mission.
- Career advancement: There is ample room for advancement in careers in government and public administration. A Master of Public Administration (MPA) is beneficial, if not required, for many leadership roles in federal, state, and local governments. With the critical thinking and decision-making skills and knowledge you’ll acquire in your degree program, coupled with the right use of resources and networking, you can position yourself for success.
Earning a Master of Public Administration (MPA) can prepare you with the critical problem-solving skills needed for leadership positions such as:
- Deputy city manager
- U.S. Foreign Service officer
- Policy researcher
- Senior strategic policy advisor
- Emergency management director
- Budget analyst
- Human resources director
- Public health administrator
- Economic development planner
Should you continue your education and earn a PhD in Public Policy and Administration, you can gain the knowledge and skills to prepare you to pursue a wide spectrum of leadership positions such as:
- Legislative aide
- Policy analyst
- Research director
- Senior-level public executive
- Government affairs officer
- Private consultant
- Senior-level nonprofit manager
Career options may require additional experience, training, or other factors beyond the successful completion of this degree program.
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