2023 Best Online Executive MPA Programs [Master of Public Administration]

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For those who have been in certain professional fields for a while and are looking for an edge in their role, earning an Executive MPA could be a beneficial opportunity. This degree path could also be strategic for those who are getting started in leadership and government roles.

Best Online Executive MPA Programs

An Executive Master of Public Administration, or EMPA degree, is an opportunity for those in leadership and decision-making roles to become more acquainted with theory, practice, and procedures for guiding, influencing, and administering policies and resources.

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Read on to determine whether earning an Executive MPA online could help you meet your career goals.

Executive MPA Programs Online

Woman taking Executive MPA Programs online

An Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA) program can be beneficial for many professionals. Those who are new to their field and seasoned professionals alike can gain valuable insight and education in an EMPA program.

An EMPA can be helpful in a variety of professional fields. Students from all sorts of professional and educational backgrounds may consider this degree program. Typically, EMPA students have a background in public sector and government jobs, but this is not always the case.

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Many of the students who apply are managers, directors, or executive-level employees within their field who are looking to increase their knowledge and understanding in areas such as:

  • Leadership skills, methods, and theory
  • Executive decision-making practices and evaluation processes
  • Policy development and administration
  • Collecting, analyzing, and evaluating data
  • Identifying and understanding public issues

Those who complete their EMPA often work in or are interested in roles in government, nonprofit organizations, sales and marketing, public and social service initiatives, or human resources.

The coursework you complete throughout your EMPA studies will focus on ethical codes, fact-based decision-making, and logical, fair administration. Courses will also emphasize information analysis, organizational development, and public policy administration.

Many who complete this program do so in order to fine-tune their skills and strategies as a leader or to qualify for more senior positions in their fields.

Public Administration Careers and Salaries

Public Administration Careers and Salaries

Many individuals who earn their EMPA degree do so to advance their careers within a government, nonprofit, or political field.

These are not the only professional fields that can benefit from an Executive MPA. Some EMPA students simply work in a managerial position and wish to expand their capacity to guide, administer, and develop their subordinates.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are the median salaries of potential career paths related to public administration and related fields.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Chief Executives $189,520
Compensation and Benefits Managers $131,280
Human Resources Managers $130,000
Public Relations Managers $129,430
Political Scientists $128,020
Advertising and Promotions Managers $127,830
Fundraising Managers $107,390
Administrative Services Managers $103,330
General and Operations Managers $98,100
Social and Community Service Managers $74,240

EMPA students often come from a variety of professional backgrounds, and this degree program can help further many different career types.

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Generally, those who pursue their EMPA are looking to further their career or earn a senior role in a particular field or with a certain agency or business.

Executive MPA Curriculum & Courses

students pursuing Executive MPA degree

The courses you take as you earn your Executive MPA online will be unique to the school you choose.

Some common types of core courses for EMPA students include:

  • Introduction to Public Administration: In this course, you’ll examine contemporary global, political, social, and economic situations and concerns.
  • Data Analysis and Decision-Making: This course guides students through the process of gathering and analyzing data when making significant policy, business, or strategic decisions.
  • Policymaking at the Global Level: You can gain an appreciation for how policies and practices can have an impact and be interpreted on a global scale.
  • Micro and Macro Economics: From forecasting to analyzing the foreign market, these courses will provide you with greater insight into the cause and effects of economics situations.
  • Developing Public Organizations: In this course, you’ll gain an understanding for what it means to establish and manage public organizations.
  • Financial Management: This course reviews accounting and financial resource allocations in detail, including debt management and budgeting.
  • Innovation in Management: Students will be encouraged to review existing management practices, strategies, and decision-making processes.
  • Ethics in Public Policy and Affairs: This course concentrates on challenging situations within public administration, ranging from human rights to confidentiality.
  • Human Resources Management: In this course, you’ll consider how to guide direct reports and others within an organization.
  • Urban and Social Policy Development: This course examines the many factors that inspire and impact public policies.

In addition to core classes, your school may also let you select a concentration that enables you to focus on a particular area of public administration.

Admissions Requirements

Man preparing requirements for Executive MPA

Each school will have their own admissions requirements, so it’s a beneficial to carefully review the application process for each school individually.

Just like an MBA in Public Administration online program, some of the more common admissions requirements among EMPA programs include:

  • GRE or GMAT scores (only some schools require them)
  • Educational transcripts
  • Professional resume or CV
  • Statement of intent
  • Letters of recommendation

Some schools ask that EMPA candidates demonstrate their understanding and appreciation for public administration through interviews, essays, or documentation of their work within the community.


University offering Executive MPA

When considering various EMPA programs, you may want to research each school’s accreditation status. Schools can receive accreditation from various organizations based on academic excellence. Regional accreditation is considered the most prestigious. For more information on regional accrediting organizations, you can visit the website of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

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Receiving your EMPA degree from an accredited school can have a number of benefits. For instance, some employers prefer candidates who received their degree from an accredited program, as do some professional organizations. Eligibility for financial aid opportunities can also be contingent on a school’s accreditation status.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Executive MPA Financial Aid

If you are interested in financial aid, it could help to research several potential resources. You could start by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine whether you qualify for needs-based federal financial assistance.

You may also wish to investigate scholarship and grant opportunities. These may be offered by the school you choose, corporations, or private donors. The amounts offered can vary, so it’s strategic to check out several options. Your employer may also offer an educational assistance or tuition reimbursement program.

If you belong to any community or professional organizations, you may wish to inquire about opportunities for tuition assistance.

What Is an Executive MPA Degree?

Chief Executive reviewing documents with PR Manager

An Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA) degree is an opportunity for professional leaders to dive deeper into what it takes to guide a public or non-profit organization.

The EMPA program is frequently chosen by those who are interested in advancing their careers, either by seeking a more senior level role or by increasing the scope of their current role. With an emphasis on leadership, critical analysis, and decision-making techniques, EMPA students will study theories and strategies, and research concepts to aid them in many different fields.

Should I Get an Online Executive MPA?

Woman pursuing Online Executive MPA

There are many potential professional advantages to getting your EMPA online, but whether it is right for you depends on your career goals and aspirations.

Many individuals pursue an EMPA program because they are interested in obtaining or advancing in jobs in the public sector. But this degree can be equally useful to those in the private sector, given its emphasis on ethics, leadership, and decision-making.

If you are interested in advancing your skills in analysis, leadership, finance, and communication, you might consider an Executive MPA.

What Can You Do with an Executive MPA Degree?

Human Resources Manager discussing with staff

The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that several professional roles within the public sector are growing at an average or above-average rate. Holding an Executive MPA demonstrates your capabilities and qualifications to potential employers.

An EMPA degree can also be beneficial for those who work in managerial, human resources, and public relation roles, as many courses reflect on what it takes to excel as a leader. For those who are currently working in or with the public sector or who are interested in stepping into a senior or executive role, an EMPA degree can provide significant insight and guidance.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Executive MPA?

Man taking Online Executive MPA

The amount of time it takes to get your online Executive MPA degree depends on the program structure and the amount of time you can devote to your studies.

Most masters in public administration online programs can be completed in 1 to 2 years with full-time study. Those who enroll full-time in a 36 credit hour program may be able to complete their EMPA in 1 year, as long as the school offers a summer term and no thesis is required.

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Some schools require completion of a thesis or other capstone project, which may add to the amount of time it takes. Additionally, enrolling part-time can increase the amount of time it takes to complete your studies.

What’s the Difference Between an EMPA vs. MPA Degree?

Here are some of the differences between an MPA and an Executive MPA. Typically, the differences involve the student’s level of experience in the professional field.

Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA) Master of Public Administration (MPA)
  • For established professionals
  • Focuses on leadership skills and traits
  • For those new to public sector roles
  • Focuses on introductory public administration considerations

Some EMPA degrees are considered concentrations of the MPA degree, so it’s helpful to review each school’s program in detail.

Are Executive MPA Programs Worth It?

Fundraising Manager &PR specialist looking at statistical data

Yes, executive MPA programs are worth it for many students. These programs provide a unique opportunity for professionals of various backgrounds to learn about management, decision-making, and ethics within and outside of the public sector.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that managerial roles within many fields are expected to grow at an above-average rate over the next ten years. Overall employment for management occupations is expected to increase by 8%.

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For those who are involved in senior leadership roles, looking to serve in executive roles, or developing their career within a non-profit or government agency, an EMPA could be an opportunity to grow expertise and qualifications.

Universities Offering Online Executive Master of Public Administration Degree Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Florida International University

Florida International University campus

Public Service Degrees ranks Florida International University as one of the best schools in the country for MPA degrees. An Executive MPA can be earned in a low-residency format. The program requires 36 credits with 3 residencies. Courses are in an accelerated format with multiple start dates.

Florida International University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Golden Gate University

Golden Gate University campus

An Executive MPA is available through Golden Gate University. The program is offered entirely online or through a hybrid cohort model. GGU offers concentrations in Law Enforcement & Security and Urban Innovations. The 36 required credits may be completed in as little as 18 months. Courses are in an accelerated format.

GGU is accredited by WASC Senior College and University Commission.

North Carolina Central University

North Carolina Central University campus

Those with at least 4 years of professional experience may earn an Executive MPA through North Carolina Central University. Summer semesters are taken online, while the fall and spring semesters are in a hybrid format. Classes are held on Saturdays. The school also offers a fast-track program that is fully online.

North Carolina Central University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Ohio University

Ohio University campus

Ohio University offers the opportunity to earn an Executive MPA. Most of the program is online with 20 Saturday classes on campus over the course of 2 years. The program requires 36 credits. On average, 1 to 2 classes may be taken each 15 week session.

Ohio University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Rutgers University

Rutgers University campus

Rutgers University offers an Executive MPA for those who are already working in the field. The program is mostly online with a 2 day residency during each summer semester. The program follows a cohort model and begins each fall. On average, 10 classes are taken over the course of 2 years.

Rutgers is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Southern University

Southern University campus

Southern University offers an Executive MS in Public Administration. The program is available entirely online and requires 36 credits including 15 elective credits. Courses are offered in 8 week sessions. On average, the program can be completed in 1 year. Potential courses include Human Resource Management, Public Finance, and Organizational Theory.

Southern University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Syracuse University

Syracuse University campus

Syracuse University offers an Executive MPA entirely online or on campus. The program requires 30 credits. Courses are in 11 week terms with 4 convenient start dates throughout the year. There are various areas of study like Social Policy or Data Analytics for Public Policy. The program also offers optional certificates of advanced study.

Syracuse University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Texas A&M University

Texas A and M University campus

An Executive Master of Public Service and Administration may be earned through Texas A&M University. All coursework is fully online with 1 week residencies for 2 summers. Courses follow a semester schedule with 3 start dates each year. The program requires 39 credits.

Texas A&M University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of North Carolina – Wilmington

University of North Carolina Wilmington campus

The University of North Carolina – Wilmington offers an Executive MPA through its online learning program. Applicants should have at least 5 years of work experience in a related field. Courses follow a semester schedule. The program requires 36 credits. On average, the required coursework may be completed in 2 years.

UNCW is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of South Dakota

University of South Dakota campus

An Executive MPA is offered through the University of South Dakota. The program is entirely online and does not require GRE scores. The program requires 30 credits, and most courses are in an asynchronous format. All students pay the same tuition, regardless of residency.

The University of South Dakota is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Getting Your Executive Master of Public Administration Online

student getting Executive Master of Public Administration Online

Deciding to pursue your Executive Master of Public Administration degree can be a strategic step toward advancing your career.

Earning an EMPA degree online could provide you with greater insight into what it means to be an effective, fair, and ethical leader. It can also provide you with more understanding about the decision-making process and how to use logic and facts to analyze choices.

You can take a look at available EMPA programs to determine which one best fits your educational and professional goals. It could help to consider any concentrations or program focus that might be related to your current career or long-term aspirations.

Why not start exploring accredited schools today?

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Jason has a bachelor in English Literature from Loyola Marymount University with a minor in history. A life-long learner with a love of science, philosophy, and history, he works in career enrichment, professional development, and improved business practices.