Legislators conversing in a courtroom

Master of Public Administration

Transfer up to
27 Credits
Receive credit for prior coursework; No GRE required

Expand Your Professional Impact with a Master of Public Administration Online

The online Master of Public Administration (MPA) program provides you with skills in the management and administration of nonprofit organizations and public agencies, and prepares you for career advancement in federal, state, and municipal government, or local or global community service organizations.

Courses in this program teach you how to communicate with stakeholders and team members, how to respond to ethical issues in the workplace, how to collaborate and use constructive influence with coworkers, how to manage staff and human resources responsibilities, and how to conduct employee performance evaluations. You will also hone your presentation skills, learning how to tailor presentations to multiple audiences to promote positive social change.

You also learn how to use information technology applications to operate and manage the business side of public and nonprofit service agencies. Course assignments give you practical experience developing strategic plans; creating public budgets, financial reports, and accounting spreadsheets; and analyzing data to improve public policy and make informed business decisions. You will leave the program with a complete professional portfolio you’re ready to present to prospective or current employers to enhance your career goals.

MPA graduates become skilled public service leaders who work toward the improvement of societal well-being. Incoming students typically have backgrounds in management, political science, psychology, sociology, and economics, and want to work in administrative jobs in the nonprofit or public sector.

Fast Facts:

Master’s degree holders earn on average $1 million more over a lifetime than those with only a bachelor’s degree (Source: Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce)

The average median political scientist salary is $98,350 (Source: BLS)

MPA holders can work in health policy, urban planning, and government affairs (Source: Indeed.com)


credit hours

Online MPA Program Details

Of the 30 credits required for the Master of Public Administration, students take 21 credits of core courses. complete 6 credits of elective courses, and take a 3-credit capstone course.

Core Public Administration Courses: 21 Credits

Introduction to Public Administration Theory and Practice

This course is an introduction to the study and practice of public administration. It provides an overview of the field of public administration, focusing on the function roles of public administration in the political process. It introduces students to concepts and practices in public administration, focusing on accountability and performance. Additionally, this course explores practical application of concepts to current issues to the field of public administration.

Public Management in a Political Environment

Develop your public management and leadership skills by studying the concepts, methods, and procedures involved in managing public organizations. Learn how to diagnose organizational problems and recommend feasible solutions, and increase your understanding of individual, group, and agency politics in the public sector. Course assignments cover: strategic planning; teamwork and group management; stakeholder communication; implementation of leadership initiatives; accountability; employee values; ethical practices in diverse organizations; information technology management; and public administration reforms and privatization.

Strategic Public Personnel Management

This course provides an overview of the legal and political context of public personnel management, and government human resources management in practice. Learn how to develop and communicate policy recommendations and devise effective strategies to motivate your staff. Topics include: job classification and compensation; recruitment, selection, and retention; employee performance evaluation and career development; diversity management; unions and government-labor relations; collective bargaining; laws governing public-sector and nonprofit workplaces; federal equal opportunity laws; and employee protections.

Ethics and Personal Leadership Development

Identify your personal leadership style, and learn how to lead diverse teams, resolve ethical dilemmas, and conduct yourself with professionalism in public and political environments. This course prepares you to address issues of administrative accountability and managerial responsibility in public sector organizations. Course material covers approaches to ethical decision making; responsible use of social media; employee whistleblowing; diversity and discrimination in the workplace; and multi-generational team leadership.

Public Budgeting and Financial Management

Students examine the key aspects of a public sector budget, from identifying and securing key stakeholder support to identifying state and local funding sources to be allocated based on the needs of an organization. Students also study the theory of budgeting from the public sector perspective, with an emphasis on understanding and applying the principles of financial management.

Economics for Public Policy

Learn about tools and concepts policy makers use to analyze market supply and demand, and how government policies can help the economy. Instruction covers taxes and subsidies; externalities, public goods, and common resources; microeconomics; firm behavior and profits in competitive markets; costs of production and taxation, monopolistic competition; income equality and poverty; and behavioral economics for policy making. Course assignments dive into topics such as surge-pricing, junk food taxes, pollution control, diamond cartels, agricultural subsidies, rent control, universal health care, and minimum wage increases. Students choose this course or Statistical Analysis for Decision Making.


Statistical Analysis for Decision Making

Gain experience using statistical methods and analytic tools to support public policy decision making and problem solving. Learn to how to organize, analyze, and interpret data in Microsoft Excel, and generate easy-to-read reports that clearly communicate quantitative and qualitative data and research conclusions. This course teaches you how to create hypotheses, conduct sampling for analysis, control for variables, use survey data, identify correlations and causations, forecast trends, present information to diverse audiences, and use statistical findings to formulate public policy recommendations. Students choose this course or Economics for Public Policy.

Public Sector Technology

Explore the ways new technologies are transforming the public sector and learn how to identify needs, develop solutions, and deliver technology services more effectively in government organizations. Topics include uses of technology in citizen engagement and digital participation, diffusion of innovation, e-government ethics, public IT investment and risk assessment, electronic privacy and information security, and technology applications in public safety, education, transportation, economic development, finance, administration, and health and human services.

Choose two of the following courses for a total of 6 credits:

  • Conflict Management and Alternative Dispute Resolutions
  • Mediation
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Business Communications
  • Change Management
  • Risk Assessment in Homeland Security
  • Contemporary Issues in Nonprofit Management
  • Communication Strategy for the Health Care Leader
  • Contingency Planning
  • Critical Issues in Public Health
  • Grant Writing


Capstone in Public Administration: 3 Credits

In this eight-week master’s culmination course, you integrate your academic knowledge and practical skills by solving real problems for public and nonprofit organizations and developing recommendations for a specific project design, implementation, and evaluation. You will build toward a final project and presentation showcasing your evaluation and decision-making skills applied to a real-world issue, and leave the program with a complete professional portfolio.

Integrate fundamentals of leadership and management theory and practice within public administration.

Interpret and analyze data to formulate and influence decision-making.

Evaluate financial data and budgets to make sound fiscal decisions for the public sector.

Assess the use of technology to assist in solving complex problems and optimizing resources.

Apply ethical behaviors and social responsibility to positively influence the public sector.

Apply effective communication techniques to address issues and multiple paths for solutions.

View additional details about programs and courses:

Download the Graduate Studies Catalog

Common Careers with an
Online MPA

Federal, State, or Municipal Positions

City Manager

Human Resource Manager

IT Administrator


Marketing Manager

Policy Analyst

Program Manager

“Core subjects like Ethics and Public Administration and Theory have made me a better manager; others like Public Management in a Political Environment and Statistical Analysis for Decision Making have prepared me to participate in senior management teams.”
Craig Breverman
MPA Student


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Institutional Accreditation

Excelsior College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, 3624 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104. (267-284-5000).

All of Excelsior College's academic programs are registered (i.e., approved) by the New York State Education Department.

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