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Busy working professionals in public service don’t have time to go back to school, but promotion and advancement in public administration depends on a master’s degree. What is the solution? An accelerated or executive-format MPA. When looking into an accelerated or executive master of public administration, students may have concerns about the qualification standards and the way the program is set up. In general, accelerated and executive MPA programs are designed for working adults who may have limitations on their time due to an active career, personal obligations, or a combination of factors.

In most cases, the programs offer courses online or on weekends. It may also offer evening or night classes. Students who are looking for a program that works around a complicated work schedule or who need to work around specific obligations may benefit from an executive program. It is important to clarify the requirements to apply for the program to ensure that students meet or exceed any standards for work experience.

Methodology: Ranking the Best Accelerated Online MPA Programs 

To rank accelerated MPA programs, obviously speed is a key factor. But just as important is that a school be accredited and reputable, and give real consideration to graduates’ careers. For that reason, the accelerated and executive MPA programs ranked by Great Business Schools are also ranked according to Alumni Salary, Student Satisfaction, and Tuition Cost for overall value. 

1. University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

ut rio grande valley

When you are planning to focus on accelerated MPA programs, you will want to consider the MPA program at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. The program teaches students valuable skills related to public service. Students will learn about public policies, writing for grants, and management skills that apply to local, state, and federal government agencies. The degree program gives students the ability to focus on a long-term career path.

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley offers practice-based scenarios to student in the online program. The scenarios prepare students for real-world situations that may arise in their careers. That focus on providing practice and experience ensures that students are able to work in a complicated or challenging work environment. The program also teaches students modern theories that they can apply to their careers.

Highlight: The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley offers seven-week classes that allow full-time students to finish their degrees in 12 months.

Degree: Accelerated MPA Online – 12 months

2. Syracuse University

syracuse u

Students who want to find accelerated online MPA programs can benefit from the Executive MPA program from Syracuse University. The accelerated program prepares students for their careers in public service and works with a complex schedule. As an executive program, it is designed for students who are currently working and need the flexibility to work around their personal schedules and obligations. 

Syracuse University takes only 12 months to complete the online MPA program. The accelerated pace of the classes ensures that students are able to move forward with their career objectives at a fast pace. It prepares students for a challenging work environment and teaches students the skills they need to take on leadership roles. It also allows students to discuss topics associated with public service, policy, and government with classmates to gain insight through different perspectives.

Highlight: Syracuse University is ranked as the first school in the nation for its public affairs degree program by U.S. News and World Reports.

Degree: Executive MPA Online – 12 months

3. Barry University

barry u

Barry University has one of the best accelerated MPA programs for students who want to finish their degree in a short amount of time. The degree program offers online and on-campus MPA programs at an accelerated pace. Students are able to complete their degrees within 14 months when taking classes full-time. Since it does offer online options, students have the flexibility to focus on their long-term goals and work around a work schedule.

The way Barry University differs from other programs is the emphasis on accessibility. The program is designed to work around the needs of students and it takes a student-centered approach to education. It ensures that students who have complex professional or personal obligations are able to keep up with course material by working at their own pace and when they have time.

Highlight: Barry University is a military-friendly school that works with active-duty personnel who want to obtain an MPA.

Degree: MPA On-Campus and Online – 14 months

4. Troy University

troy u

Troy University offers one of the best accelerated online MPA programs for students who want to work in public service. The school offers an MPA program online and on-campus for the convenience of students. It also allows students to take a blended or hybrid program that offers online and on-campus classes to fit the needs of the students. The emphasis on flexibility ensures that it is possible to focus on obtaining a degree.

Troy University stands apart by emphasizing competence and ethics in public service. Students are expected to follow through with high ethical standards while working on their degrees. It also ensures that students have the relevant skills they need to focus on their goals. As an accelerated program, students and complete their degrees in 15 months when taking classes on a full-time basis.

Degree: MPA On-Campus and Online  – 15 months

5. San Diego State University

san diego state

San Diego State University offers an accelerated MPA program that allows students to focus on advancing in their careers or developing the skills they need for a new career path in public service. The degree program is available online or on-campus, so students can work around their own schedules. The online course does require students to attend two on-campus experiences. The first is at the beginning of the program and the second is at the end of the program.

San Diego State University allows students to finish their degrees within 16 months. The online program has six modules that are two months long. Each module is designed around an accelerated pace and ensures that full-time students are able to finish the degree when it fits their schedules. Students will need to present a capstone project at the end of the program to a panel of faculty and professionals in public service.

Highlight: San Diego State University is the 5th ranked college in California for public administration according to U.S. News and World Reports.

Degree: MPA On-Campus and Online – 16 months

6. California Baptist University

california baptist u

California Baptist University offers an online MPA program at an accelerated pace. The online degree program takes an interdisciplinary approach to public service and prepares students to work in a complex global environment. Students learn about finance, technology, public policy, and politics as part of the degre program. It also recognizes the importance of leadership skills and teaches students effective ways to act as a leader in their careers.

California Baptist University stands out by emphasizing a broad perspective on public service with a focus on an increasingly global environment. It recognizes that a worldwide perspective is a critical part of effective public service in government, so it teaches students to effect positive changes through a well-rounded view. The emphasis on competency and skills development gives students greater opportunities for their long-term goals.

Highlight: California Baptist University takes a faith-based approach to studies and incorporates faith in each facet of student education.

Degree: MPA Online – 16 months

7. Franklin University

franklin university

The accelerated online MPA program at Franklin University offers an opportunity for students to focus on their career goals. The degree program allows students to finish their education within 17 months and move forward with the next steps of their careers. Students can expect to learn the practical application of theories and develop leadership skills that allow students to take on more responsibilities in a public service role.

Franklin University differs from other programs by providing students with a mission-focused education. Students will be able to develop the high standards of ethics expected of professionals in public service roles. It recognizes the importance of public service and ensures that students are aware of the challenges that may arise when they are working in a challenging environment.

Highlight: Franklin University does not require a GRE or GMAT test score for students who have a 2.75 GPA or higher in their undergraduate program.

Degree: MPA Online – 17 months

8. Arkansas State University

arkansas state

The online MPA program at Arkansas State University helps students advance in their careers. The degree program focuses on the challenges that students may face when working in the public service sector or when working in law enforcement. The program emphasizes leadership and provides students with the education to take on management roles or other leadership positions.

Arkansas State University helps students gain hands-on experience through internship opportunities. By encouraging students to take internships while working on their online degrees, it allows students to develop relevant skills within the public sector. It also provides the fundamental skills students need to work in management roles or to effectively lead a team.

Highlight: Arkansas State University is NASPAA accredited and it meets the high standards for accreditation.

Degree: MPA – Public Management Online – 18 months

9. Norwich University

norwich u

The accelerated online MPA program from Norwich University allows students to complete their degrees within 18 months of starting the program. It gives students a flexible solution when they are working and have limited time to attend traditional classes. It does require students to attend a one-week residency when they start the program before allowing students to work on the remaining course material online.

Norwich University stands out from other programs by offering multiple concentrations. Students can choose from nine different concentrations that range from fiscal management and municipal governance to criminal justice and public safety. The variety of options allows students to select a program that fits their personal goals for a career. It gives students the opportunity to advance in a specific career path based on their interests, experience, and plans.

Highlight: Norwich University has multiple start dates for the MPA program online, which allows students to begin classes when they have time.

Degree: MPA Online – 18 months

10. University of San Francisco

u san francisco

The University of San Francisco offers an online MPA program that students can finish within 21 months. The accelerated program teaches students the leadership skills they need to reach their long-term goals. It also emphasizes the importance of research in public service and ensures that students are able to keep up with research associated with their careers and industries. It focuses on complementary research as it applies to public service, so students learn the practical application of the information in the workplace. 

The way that the University of San Francisco stands out from other programs is the small class sizes. The online degree program has small class sizes to ensure that students are able to reach out to faculty and get one-on-one assistance when they have questions or concerns. The small sizes of the class also help students build up relationships with other students and peers through discussions and course materials. Students are able to learn cooperative skills through class assignments and working on a team.

Highlight: The University of San Francisco is one of the top 100 graduate schools in the nation for public affairs according to U.S. News and World Reports.

Degree: MPA Online – 21 months

Is an Executive MPA Right for Me?

Exact qualifications for an executive program may vary based on the school and the system of the school; however, many programs may require students to have a certain number of years working in a related field before they start the program. The program may or may not require a GMAT or GRE test score. In some cases, students may qualify for a GRE and GMAT waiver if they meet certain criteria. The details depend on the school, but it usually does focus on adults who are working actively.

What Kinds of Jobs are there in Public Administration?

Public administration jobs fall into a variety of categories. The common thread among most public administration careers is the focus on leadership roles in public sector jobs. Exact public administration jobs examples may vary based on the location; however, students can expect to find roles in city services, local governments, federal government jobs, state government jobs, and even private sector jobs working for non-profit organizations, private companies, or corporate businesses.

Public administration job titles depend on your role within an organization, company, or government agency. For example, you may be called an agent when working with the FBI or you may have a job title that focuses on your specific job, such as a manager, when working in a private company.

While the public administration job description depends on multiple factors, you can expect to see reasonable salaries for your degree. Public administration careers and salaries are comparable to other masters-level professional positions. In many cases, a student’s work experience and skills will impact his or her ability to advance into more lucrative roles. Specific details related to salary depend on a student’s role in an organization, so some variation may apply to a specific situation.

Do I Have to Work for the Government with an MPA?

As a general rule, government administrator jobs are not the only options for students with an MPA degree. Students can focus on careers in public policy if they want to work with the government, but they also have options in private companies and businesses. Students can also work in non-profit organizations when they want to address specific concerns within society.

Where can a public administrator work? It depends on the individual’s interests and goals. It is possible to find roles in all levels of government, but students can also focus on jobs within large companies or corporations. The key is clarifying personal goals and opting for jobs that fit the specific skills students develop when working on MPA degree programs.

Is an MPA Useful in the Private Sector?

An MPA is useful in the private sector when students focus on a niche area of businesses or corporations. When it comes to public administration jobs in private sector businesses, students have an advantage when it relates to jobs that focus on serving the public. Students may find that opportunities are available in law firms, pharmaceutical companies, or businesses that emphasize government contracting. The opportunities may vary significantly based on the interests of the students, so it is important to narrow down a job search by focusing on specific roles within a company.

Students may also find that MPA degrees are useful when working with non-profit organizations that work in the private sector. The focus on public policy and public services may also help companies that are looking for ways to improve their image among consumers. As customers and consumers become more aware of problems with ethical standards, transparency and the role of business in society, companies are putting more effort into addressing the underlying problems. MPA degree programs allow students to identify concerns and take measures to improve the situation by clarifying the problems and developing a plan of action to make positive changes.

Roles for students with MPA degrees are growing in the public sector. As the number of roles increase and a greater level of standards for public service arise within businesses, it will be possible for students to find more opportunities to accomplish specific career objectives without working in public policy, public service, or government positions.

Related Rankings:

25 Best Master of Public Administration

15 Best Online Master of Public Administration

10 Most Affordable Online Master of Public Administration