Credits and costs
Cultivate the Skills Needed to Make a Real Difference
Public administrators are responsible for taking policy decisions made by community leaders and implementing them in a strategic way that ensures stewardship and stability of public resources. The Penn State World Campus MPA focuses on the numerous intersections between law, public policy, government, and even the private sector. As a student in the program, you can cultivate your leadership style, perfect your decision-making and problem-solving skills, and develop awareness for addressing public-sector issues.
Expand Your Skill Set
The MPA curriculum blends theoretical and applied concepts and incorporates an internship and a capstone research project to give you the opportunity to hone your skills in the field. Choose your electives as you see fit to match your career aspirations and interests, and prepare for your career by learning to:
- communicate complex ideas effectively
- build relationships with stakeholders
- improve collaboration among diverse teams
- use data to develop budgets, predict results, and evaluate success
The Penn State Difference
The Penn State World Campus Master of Public Administration is the perfect program for those that have a passion for and commitment to public service. This advanced degree is an excellent qualification for those who aspire to be difference makers in their communities. Our faculty’s connections with local governments and nonprofits provide students with first-hand access to see how government works and how they can become a helpful part of it.
The Penn State World Campus program in public administration is accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA). NASPAA is the recognized global accreditor of master's degree programs in public policy, affairs, and administration. Their mission is to ensure excellence in education and training for public service and to promote the ideal of public service.
Your Experience Matters
You don’t have to have a background in public service or experience in the realm of law and public policy to make a difference in your own way. No matter your undergraduate degree, our MPA program can build upon your past education and experience and prepare you to take on roles as a leader or an administrator in the public sector.
Master of Public Administration degree program requirements
39 graduate credits (3 credits per course), which includes:
- 21 credits in core courses
- 12 credits in electives
- 3 credits for a capstone course
- 3-credit internship
The range of the core courses is balanced in the areas of managing organizations, making evidence-informed decisions, analyzing policy, and applying analytical methods to understand the dynamics of economic, organizational, political, and societal environments.
The elective course selections can be customized based on the students’ interests, including human resources, nonprofit management, policy analytics and evaluation, public budgeting and financial management, and state-local government and administration.
The capstone course offers students the opportunity to demonstrate competencies in problem identification, problem-solving, professional writing, oral presentation, group research, and presentation skills.
A 3-credit/150-hour internship is required of students who do not have at least two years of full-time relevant work experience that consists of supervisory, managerial, or professional work relevant to serving the public and nonprofit organizations. The internship is waived for students with this experience before they enter the program or who gain it by working full-time or part-time during their enrollment in the program. If this occurs, students must apply for the internship waiver.
Core course topics include:
- research methods
- organizational behavior
- governmental fiscal decision-making
- public organization and management
- human resources in the public and nonprofit sectors
- intro to policy analysis
Students accepted into the program may begin their course work during any academic semester. The typical student course load is expected to be three to four courses per year. At this rate, the MPA degree program can be completed in three to five years of study.
Core Courses (21 credits)
Capstone Course (3 credits)
Internship (3 credits)
Elective Courses (select 12 credits)
Note: Students may customize a focus area by choosing courses that are of special interest to their career. Focus areas are not required and will not appear on a transcript but may be noted on a résumé.
If you're ready to see when your courses will be offered, visit our public LionPATH course search (opens in new window) to start planning ahead.
Costs and Financial Aid
Graduate tuition is calculated based on the number of credits for which you register. Tuition is due shortly after each semester begins and rates are assessed every semester of enrollment.
|How many credits do you plan to take per semester?||Cost|
|11 or fewer||$1,017 per credit|
|12 or more||$12,203 per semester|
|How many credits do you plan to take per semester?||Cost|
|11 or fewer||$1,027 per credit|
|12 or more||$12,325 per semester|
Financial Aid and Military Benefits
Some students may qualify for financial aid. Take the time to research financial aid, scholarships, and payment options as you prepare to apply. Military service members, veterans, and their spouses or dependents should explore these potential military education benefits and financial aid opportunities, as well.
How to Apply
Deadlines and Important Dates
Your degree application, including receipt of all transcripts, should be received by the following deadlines to be considered complete.
- Spring Deadline: Apply by December 1 to start January 8
- Summer Deadline: Apply by April 1 to start May 13
- Fall Deadline: Apply by July 15, 2024, to start August 26, 2024
Applicants will be notified of a decision within 30 days after the deadline. You may apply several months in advance and indicate your planned semester start date in the application.
For admission to the Graduate School, an applicant must hold either (1) a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or (2) a tertiary (postsecondary) degree that is deemed comparable to a four-year bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution. This degree must be from an officially recognized degree-granting institution in the country in which it operates.
What You Need
Applications are submitted electronically and include a nonrefundable application fee. You will need to upload the following items as part of your application:
Official transcripts from each institution attended, regardless of the number of credits or semesters completed. Transcripts not in English must be accompanied by a certified translation. Penn State alumni do not need to request transcripts for credits earned at Penn State, but must list Penn State as part of your academic history. If you are admitted, you will be asked to send an additional official transcript. You will receive instructions at that time.
GPA and Test Scores — Postsecondary (undergraduate), junior/senior (last two years) GPA is required.
GRE or GMAT scores may be required if GPA is less than 3.0.
English Proficiency — The language of instruction at Penn State is English. With some exceptions, international applicants must take and submit scores for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Minimum test scores and exceptions are found in the English Proficiency section on the Graduate School's "Requirements for Graduate Admission" page. Visit the TOEFL website for testing information. Penn State's institutional code is 2660.
References (3) — you will need to initiate the process through the online application by entering names, email addresses, and mailing addresses of three references. Upon submission of your application, an email will be sent to each reference requesting they complete a brief online recommendation regarding your commitment for success in an online program. Please inform all recommenders they must submit the form in order for your application to be complete.
Résumé — Upload your résumé (one-to two-pages) to the online application.
Personal Statement — One to two pages of career and educational goals.
Start Your Application
You can begin your online application at any time. Your progress within the online application system will be saved as you go, allowing you to return at any point as you gather additional information and required materials.
- Choose Enrollment Type: "Degree Admission"
- Choose "WORLD CAMPUS" as the campus
Checking Your Status
You can check the status of your application by using the same login information established for the online application form.
Review the general technical requirements for this program.
Nearly every aspect of our lives in our communities has been influenced by a public administrator. Penn State’s online MPA program was designed to allow you to pursue whichever specialization best suits your aspirations. Our curriculum design allows you to choose your electives to best meet your goals, including our capstone research project and internship.
Who Should Apply?
Who Should Apply?
If you are interested in a career in government, public management, policy process, health and human services, or other public or nonprofit organizations and want to make an impact on the issues and problems that affect the general public, this could be the program for you.
Earn a Valuable Credential Along the Way
Earn a Valuable Credential Along the Way
You may also apply for one of the graduate certificates in public administration offered online. Courses in the certificates are also part of the master's program, allowing you the flexibility to earn both at the same time — if you apply and are granted admission.
Set Your Own Pace
Set Your Own Pace
Whether you are looking to balance your studies with your busy life or finish your degree as quickly as possible, you can go at a pace that will suit your schedule.
A Trusted Leader in Online Education
A Trusted Leader in Online Education
Penn State has a history of more than 100 years of distance education and has been a leader in online learning for more than two decades. Our online learning environment offers the same quality education that our students experience on campus.
Information for Military and Veterans
Are you a member of the military, a veteran, or a military spouse? Please visit our military website for additional information regarding financial aid, transfer credits, and application instructions.
To learn more about the Master of Public Administration, offered in partnership with the Penn State Harrisburg School of Public Affairs, please contact:
World Campus Admissions Counselors
For MPA program information, please contact:
Penn State Harrisburg
School of Public Affairs
Learn from the Best
Penn State Harrisburg's School of Public Affairs has partnered with Penn State World Campus to deliver their on-campus Master of Public Administration program to adult learners who need the flexibility and convenience of studying online. Your classes are taught by the same instructors who teach this program on campus, giving you access to the same expertise and high-quality courses in an engaging environment that promotes success at a distance.
DegreePh.D., Virginia Commonwealth University
DegreeM.P.A., American University
DegreeB.S., Business Administration, Syracuse University
Dr. Jane Beckett-Camarata teaches such master's courses as Governmental and Nonprofit Financial Management, Governmental and Nonprofit Accounting and Reporting, Budgeting, and the MPA Capstone. She has extensive previous experience as a state government financial manager and researcher. She researches and publishes in the areas of state and local government fiscal stress, debt management, operating budget volatility and debt management, bankruptcy, type and timeliness of local government financial reporting, capital budgeting and infrastructure finance, and intergovernmental transfers.
Younhee KimDegreePh.D., Public Administration, Rutgers University-Newark
Dr. Younhee Kim is an associate professor of public administration in the School of Public Affairs at Penn State Harrisburg. Her research interests are in the broad areas of public and performance management, focusing on performance measurement, public entrepreneurship, information technology and e-governance, and citizen participation. Her recent work has appeared in numerous journals and edited books. Dr. Kim has taught various courses, such as Public Policy Analysis, Strategic Planning, Intergovernmental Relations, Public Information Technology, State Government, and Organizational Development.
Daniel J. Mallinson
DegreePh.D., Political Science, Penn State
DegreeM.A., Political Science, Villanova University
DegreeB.A., Political Science, Elizabethtown College
Dr. Daniel J. Mallinson is an assistant professor of public policy and administration in the School of Public Affairs at Penn State Harrisburg. His research interests focus on state and local politics and policy, with specific experience in policy diffusion, agenda setting, federalism, environmental policy, and drug policy. He teaches courses on public policy analysis, state government administration, and research methods.
DegreePh.D., Public Administration, Virginia Tech
DegreeM.S., Political Science and Public Administration, Middle East Technical University
DegreeB.S., Sociology, Middle East Technical University
Dr. Goktug Morcol is a professor of public policy and administration. He has authored, edited, and co-edited seven books. His articles have appeared in Public Administration Review, Administration & Society, Administrative Theory & Praxis, Policy Sciences, Journal of Urban Affairs, and others. He served as the first chair of the Section on Complexity and Network Studies of the American Society for Public Administration. He is editor-in-chief of Complexity, Governance & Networks.
Bing RanDegreePh.D., Management Sciences, University of Waterloo
Dr. Bing Ran is an associate professor in the School of Public Affairs at Penn State Harrisburg. His research interests focus on areas that include collaborative governance networks, social entrepreneurship and hybrid organizations, knowledge management and knowledge integration, and organizational identity and image. He teaches such courses as PADM 505, 510, 511, and 571, and he serves as professor-in-charge for the Graduate Certificate in Public Sector Human Resource Management.
DegreePh.D., University of Delaware
DegreeMBA, University of Delaware
DegreeM.A., University of Delaware
Dr. Glenn Silverstein's primary teaching assignments include the introductory graduate survey course for public administration and human resource management. He also teaches courses on leadership and ethics. His research interests include leadership in the public sector, public sector pedagogy and teaching methodologies, and public sector ethics.
Odd J. Stalebrink
DegreePh.D., School of Public Policy, George Mason University
DegreeM.Sc., Business Administration (finance), Jönköping International Business School, Sweden
DegreeB.Sc., Business administration (accounting), Jönköping International Business School, Sweden
Dr. Odd J. Stalebrink's research and teaching specializations are in the areas of public budgeting and financial management. His scholarly work has appeared in numerous peer-reviewed journals including, but not limited to, Financial Accountability & Management, Critical Perspectives on Accounting, Journal of Public Budgeting Accounting & Financial Management, Accounting Forum, The American Review of Public Administration, Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, International Journal of Technology, Policy and Management, and Public Budgeting & Finance.
DegreePh.D., Public Affairs, Florida International University
DegreeM.Sc., Management of Public Administrations and International Institutions, Bocconi University
Dr. Michele Tantardini is an assistant professor of public administration at Penn State Harrisburg, School of Public Affairs. He earned his doctorate focusing his studies and research on the relationship between performance information use and organizational social capital. His current research agenda focuses on three main topics: performance management, social capital, and public service motivation. His teaching interests are in performance management, organizational theory and behavior, and human resource management.
DegreePh.D., Public Administration, SUNY Albany
DegreeM.P.A., SUNY Albany
DegreeM.A., Economics, Gujarat University, India
DegreeB.A., Economics, Gujarat University, India
Dr. Triparna Vasavada is an associate professor of public administration. Her research interests are nonprofit management, gender and leadership, and social network analysis. She teaches research methods and nonprofit management courses. Her work has appeared in American Review of Public Administration, Administration & Society, and Public Management Review. She has presented papers at conferences, including the American Society for Public Administration, International Society of Third-Sector Research, and Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action.