The Master of Public Administration is a competitive 16-month online degree program offered to experienced professionals who currently work in government and nonprofit agencies. The rigorous format has been designed for working professionals who are currently employed in managerial positions in public administration, nonprofit administration, urban planning, criminal justice or related fields. Past experience in these fields will be considered for applicants who are not currently working in the public or nonprofit sector. The 36-unit curriculum of the Master of Public Administration degree is the same as the campus-based program; however, the fast-track, online program is taught in six, two-month modules.
SDSU’s online Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree program is designed to teach leadership skills to professionals who work in the public sector. You’ll be able to earn a graduate-level degree in public administration from an MPA program that’s ranked #1 in all the CSU schools and #5 in California.
About the Program
Now more than ever, the nation needs effective and competent leadership in the administration of public affairs at the local, state, and federal levels. As government programs and public service organizations have grown in size and scope, they’ve taken on more responsibilities and more complex roles in our society. This growth has led directly to the need for more capable public administrators. SDSU’s online Master of Public Administration program is structured around meeting this need.
Total Estimated Cost
$551 Total Cost/Unit
As short as
Online + Asynchronous
Created in collaboration with SDSU’s School of Public Affairs, the Master of Public Administration program is an intensive 16-month online degree program designed for experienced professionals who currently work in managerial positions in a variety of government and nonprofit-related fields. This online MPA program has the exact same 36-unit curriculum as the on-campus program, taught by the same instructors, with the same academic expectations and outcomes.
Your courses are taught by experienced faculty at SDSU’s School of Public Affairs who are passionate about helping you acquire the in-demand skills that employers are looking for. When you apply for the online Master of Public Administration program, you’re making a solid investment in your career and your future.
The MPA program is fully accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA).
Is This Program Right for Me?
SDSU’s online Master of Public Administration program is designed to equip students with skills and techniques that enable them to assume leadership roles in changing political and social environments in the United States and internationally. It’s ideal for career-driven professionals with some managerial experience who want to take on leadership roles and drive policy throughout the public or private sector, including:
- Public Administration
- Nonprofit Administration
- Urban Planning
- Criminal Justice
- Fiscal Management
- Public Policy
The program will also prepare you for post-graduate education and doctoral programs in public affairs.
Many graduates have used the knowledge they gained from the program to attain high-level positions with state and local government agencies, non-profits, and other organizations. Of the 38 MPA students who graduated in 2020-2021, 97% of survey respondents were employed within 6 months of graduation. Of all survey respondents:
- 86% work in either state, local, or federal government
- 6% work in nonprofits
- 12% work in both the private sector and in research/consulting
Since the program is entirely online and can be completed in 16 months, you’ll be able to earn your master’s degree in your busy schedule. Best of all, upon graduation, you’ll have earned a valuable graduate degree from a reputable university: a Master of Public Administration from San Diego State University.
What Can I Learn?
This online MPA program can help you develop the skills you need to drive change in the public and private sectors. Your curriculum is based on five distinct learning outcomes:
- Lead and manage in public governance
- Participate in and contribute to the policy process
- Analyze, synthesize, think critically, solve problems, and make decisions
- Articulate and apply a public service perspective
- Communicate and interact productively with a diverse and changing workforce and citizenry
The program is taught in six, eight-week modules. In each module, you’ll take two courses as part of an online peer cohort, followed by a brief break (generally two weeks) between modules. The final module consists of a capstone research course where you’ll develop an applied research project.
The online courses cover the same topics as the campus-based degree program. You’ll need to take nine (9) core courses, including your capstone, that cover key public administration topics, including:
- Public Administration Theory
- Research Methods
- Administrative Theory
- Public Personnel Administration
- Public Finance Management
- Public Policy
You’ll supplement these courses by taking three (3) electives that are tailored to the interests of each cohort. Examples of some of the electives this program has offered in the past include:
- Urban Government Administration
- Employer/Employee Relations
- Nonprofit Relations and Government
- Administrative Behavior
- Comparative Public Administration
The final module consists of a capstone research course, where you’ll develop an applied research project that addresses a challenge at your place of employment. You’ll present your capstone research project to a panel of professional practitioners and faculty.
Job postings in the last 12 months
Projected job growth in the next 10 years
Average salary of graduates
Source: Burning Glass/Emsi, 2022
The outlook for individuals who hold a Master of Public Administration is positive, with over 8,000 jobs posted over the past year — over 1,200 jobs in California alone. It’s a versatile degree, with job postings for a variety of positions as project managers, program managers, healthcare administrators, HR and labor relations specialists, urban planners, and more. Public Administration is also a fast-growing field of study, with employment numbers expected to grow by more than 10% over the next decade.
Why Should You Choose Us?
For nearly 50 years, SDSU has developed a reputation for excellence in public administration. Thousands of program alumni have served in leadership positions throughout the United States. In fact, SDSU’s MPA program is ranked #1 in all the CSU schools and #5 in California by U.S. News & World Report, and we’re the 6th-best Public Administration program in the country according to BestValueSchools.com.
When thinking about the cost of a graduate program, you need to consider the cost of room and board, travel, and other expenses associated with a traditional degree. SDSU’s online Master of Public Administration program is different. By taking your courses online, you don’t have to put your professional life on hold in order to earn a degree.
As a public administration professional, you need lessons that you can immediately apply to your office. Your instructors bring years of real-world public policy experience to every lesson, which means that you’ll learn about real-world solutions to the problems that all local governments face on a daily basis. You’ll even have access to comprehensive and personalized career advising and professional development services. By the time you earn your degree, you’ll have acquired the ability and the knowledge you need to improve your career and your community.
In order to earn your Master of Public Administration, you’ll need to complete 36 units of courses, which consist of:
- Core Courses — 27 Units
- Elective Courses — 9 Units
Tentative Online MPA Schedule: 16-month program with eight-week modules and breaks
|Spring 2023 Block 1
|PA 600: Scope of Public Administration
PA 604: Methods of Analysis
|Spring 2023 Block 2
|PA 606: Quantitative Approaches
PA 630: Public Personnel Administration
|PA 650: Public Financial Management
PA 640: Policy Design and Analysis - Elective 1 of 3
PA 642: Administrative Theory
|Fall 2023 Block 1
|PA 640.02: Seminar: Assessing Government and Nonprofit Performance Elective 2 of 3
PA 660: Administration and Public Policy Development
|Fall 2023 Block 2
|PA 605: Seminar in Applied Research
|Spring 2024 Block 1
|PA 795: Capstone Seminar in Public Affairs (16 weeks/2 sections)
PA 501: Nonprofit Organizations and Government - Elective 3 of 3
Core and Elective Courses List
Attend an Application Workshop for tips on successfully applying to SDSU Global Campus.
While we welcome out-of-state students, SDSU Global Campus currently cannot accept applications from students residing in some specific states. Please check back often, as this list of approved states does change. View the list of authorized states here.
Please click here for detailed guidance on how to submit your transcripts.
To be eligible for admission to the online Master of Public Administration program, you’ll need to hold a bachelor's degree in any major from a regionally accredited university. Your competitiveness in the application process will be largely based upon your professional and past academic accomplishments in the field of public administration. You should also have:
- A minimum overall 2.85 GPA
- TOEFL (target score of 80) or the IELTS (score of 6.5) if you’re an international applicant
We understand that every student's academic journey is unique, and we encourage you to contact one of our Student Service Representatives to find out what you'll need to successfully apply to the program.
- Apply to the University via Cal State Apply
- After submitting your application to Cal State Apply, you’ll receive an email from SDSU Global Campus Evaluations confirming receipt of your application along with instructions for required documents. Within 48hrs of receiving your application, you’ll also receive an email from SDSU that includes your SDSUid. You’ll use your SDSUid to log into my.SDSU, where you can track your application status.
- Send official transcripts to Graduate Admissions.
- Official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended.
- English language scores (TOEFL), if your medium of instruction was in a language other than English
- Students with international coursework should submit both the official transcript and proof of degree. If documents are in a language other than English, they should be accompanied by a certified English translation.
- Visit Interfolio and look for SDSU’s Public Affairs department, where you will upload the following:
- Names and email addresses for two recommenders (recommenders should be professors, employers, or others familiar with your abilities and accomplishments)
- Unofficial transcripts
- Current résumé
- Internship waiver and supervisor letter
- Personal statement: Your personal statement should have four sections that correspond to the points below. The entire statement should be no more than 750 words.
- Your personal commitment to public service and social equity
- Any personal experiences that have prepared you for graduate study
- Your professional goals and how you believe this degree will help you attain those goals
- Any important information you think would help the committee better understand your academic performance or personal history
The School of Public Affairs requires all applicants to submit their supporting documentation through Interfolio no later than the stated application deadline. Your application will not be considered complete until your application and all supporting documentation are submitted. For an overview of the admission process, please refer to our Road Map.
This program is approved for financial aid. To begin the financial aid process, visit the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships website. There, you'll be able to access the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
We encourage you to apply for financial aid as soon as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
No, it won’t. Upon graduation, you’ll have earned the same business degree as SDSU’s on-campus students — a Master of Public Administration from San Diego State University.
Elective courses will be decided at the beginning of each cohort based on cohort interest, faculty availability, and department approval. There is a list of current elective courses offered in the Courses section of this page; however, all elective courses are subject to change.
Our Masters of Public Administration is fully online and mostly asynchronous, which means you can study and learn mostly on your own schedule. The program consists of required courses and electives that can be completed in as short as 16 months.
For each course, you can expect to spend 135 -180 hours per course (17-23 hours per week for 8-week courses and 23-30 hours per week for 6-week courses) on coursework and lessons.
Courses in our online Masters of Public Administration program feature a mostly asynchronous virtual instruction (MA) learning modality. This means:
- Unless otherwise noted, instruction is provided through a combination of recorded and limited direct instruction with academic activities, quizzes, etc., at the arranged times and dates described in the footnotes and syllabus. Content may be open for restricted periods of time.
- Students may be expected to attend any live sessions necessary to complete the course.
- Final exams or assignments will be listed in the course syllabus and may need to be completed at a set time and date.
- Faculty and instructors are available for office hours and instructional support when needed.
Mostly Asynchronous courses may be preferable for students in different time zones as they provide the flexibility to do work on your own schedule at your own pace. However, these courses may require group activities and arranged meetings with faculty.
When you enroll in an academic program at SDSU Global Campus, you’re joining the San Diego State University community even if you’re not on campus. This means that you’ll have access to many of the same services, programs, cultural centers, clubs, and resources that SDSU’s on-campus students enjoy. Click here to learn more.
Want to Learn More?
Submit this web form and we’ll be in touch to answer all your questions and explain the next steps in the process. Or, you can reach a program recruiter by emailing email@example.com or by calling (619) 594-7700.