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Master of Arts in Public Administration

Serve Your Community in a Changing Landscape

  • 100% online
  • Graduate in 2 years
  • Affordable tuition: $660 per credit
  • Flexible start dates (every fall, spring, and summer)
  • No prior experience in public administration needed

Demand for public services is growing. But resources are shrinking. This changing landscape needs leaders in public administration who can manage departments and organizations that serve the public, develop new policies, and do more with fewer resources and less funding.

Our online Master of Arts in Public Administration (MAPA) is a convenient, affordably priced program that helps you find a top position in this dynamic field. This master’s degree in public administration offers broad-based training to mold you into the skilled, proactive, and ethical leader who’s needed in today’s organizations.

"I have been the recipient of love and service; therefore, I can love and serve. There is great satisfaction in service to others, in seeing people and their conditions change.”

– Clarence E. Hodges, Former U.S. Commissioner for the Administration of Children, Youth and Families

Develop a Hybrid Understanding

Draw on insights from both nonprofit and government agencies

The master’s in public administration online curriculum combines perspectives and processes from both government agencies and nonprofits—sectors that rely on each other—so you can harness comprehensive knowledge to better meet the needs of everyone in your community, including populations who are underserved and overlooked.

Your coursework will develop skills essential to public administration, including diverse community engagement, effective and ethical leadership, and data-driven decision-making, as well as the principles of policy-making and the processes around data analysis.

Core Courses
MAPA 600 Public and Nonprofit Administration (3 credits)
MAPA 605 Leading with Effective Communications (3 credits)
MAPA 610 Leading in Diverse Public Environments (3 credits)
MAPA 615 Community Engagement and Partnerships (3 credits)
MAPA 640 Critical and Design Thinking (3 credits)
MAPA 645 Effective Strategic Leadership (3 credits)
MAPA 650 The Practice of Ethics (3 credits)
MAPA 655 Principles of Policy (3 credits)
MAPA 660 Inquiry and Data Analysis (3 credits)

Cross-sector insights drawn from both nonprofits and governmental organizations are woven through each of the core courses, but you will also choose between a government and nonprofit focus to deepen your knowledge in one area:

Government Focus
MAPA 620 Managing Public Finances (3 credits)
MAPA 630 Public Human Resource Management (3 credits)
Nonprofit Focus
MAPA 625 Nonprofit Fund Development and Financial Management (3 credits)
MAPA 635 Nonprofit Human Resource Management (3 credits)

Your coursework concludes with MAPA 690: Integrating the Capacities, a three-credit capstone that brings together all of the knowledge, skills, and tools you’ve developed for a project on public and nonprofit administration theory and practice.

Read our Course Descriptions page for additional details on the Master of Arts in Public Administration curriculum.

Gain Crucial Competencies

Make data-driven decisions and lead with ethics and authenticity

“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.”

– William James, educator, philosopher, psychologist

The competencies you will develop in this program are crucial for public service, nonprofit, and private sector leadership. Let’s explore these competencies and why they’re important to advancing your career:

  • Managerial Analysis: You will learn to analyze qualitative and quantitative data within an organization and take action based on that data. You’ll learn to help your employer make data-driven decisions, stay efficient, and ensure that you can justify decisions both internally and to external stakeholders, including investors and government regulators.

    Through this competency, you’ll ensure your organization is using its resources in the most effective and impactful way.

  • Public Leadership: You will learn what it takes to become a public leader, including working with diverse teams that are often more multicultural and multigenerational than in the private sectors; balancing the competing demands of a complex network of internal and external stakeholders; forming a vision and a mission; and building partnerships with other organizations.

    Public sector success can be difficult to measure, and your master’s in public administration gives you the skills to define the metrics and path to success for your organization.

  • Ethics and Authenticity: This program outfits you with the skills and knowledge you need to act ethically and authentically as a public administrator. You’ll learn to be culturally aware; better value diversity in thought and perspective; and ensure your biases, whether implicit or conscious, don’t influence your strategic thinking.

    Public sector organizations are scrutinized and subject to more laws and regulations than private companies. This program helps you ensure that you lead ethically and with superior accountability to your community.

Note that you don’t need prior experience in public administration to enroll. That makes this degree a smart choice whether you’re just joining this field or wishing to advance to a higher-level role in your already established public administration career.

Program Outcomes

“I came wanting tangible take-aways that I could apply immediately. I have been able to do that.”

– Karin Derauf, Public Administration, M.A. ‘20

  • Analyze the effects of public policies and laws
  • Handle changing circumstances and complex strategic decisions
  • Build alliances among and within organizations
  • Manage financial resources responsibly
  • Promote organizational effectiveness
  • Lead through respectful and responsive communications
  • Act ethically and with accountability

Read our Program Outcomes page for additional details on the skills and knowledge you will take away from this program.

Explore Many Career Paths

Succeed across sectors with a comprehensive skillset

You can apply what you learn in this program to an enormous variety of roles across many sectors:

  • In the nonprofit world, this master’s degree in public administration prepares you for administrative, development, analyst, and research jobs within charities, foundations, and more. With the leadership and community expertise offered by your master’s, you will be well suited for work as an executive director or financial manager.
  • In government, you can pursue positions at the local, state, or federal levels, working for government departments or legislative agencies as an administrator or legislator in urban planning, community affairs, accounting offices, legislative offices, and independent agencies.
  • You will be prepared for roles in the private sector as well, including positions in human resources, budgeting, or marketing at profit-driven companies that interact with public-centered organizations.

No matter your sector, your master’s in public administration will prepare you to do meaningful work that positively impacts your colleagues and your community. Here are a few examples of positions you could pursue with your master’s in public administration:

Top Executives $104,9801
Program Manager, Nonprofit $51,1672
City Administrator $71,4713
Human Resources (HR) Manager $113,3004
Director of Development, Nonprofit $64,4365
City Mayor $56,4886
Operations Manager $64,3417
Program Director, Nonprofit $55,1258
Management Consultant $87,5529

Read our Career Outlook page for more information about what your career can look like with a master’s in public administration.

Why Saint Mary’s

We empower ethical leadership

At Saint Mary’s, we combine our Lasallian heritage with real-world experience to provide you with more than just a quality education. Our mission to empower learners to ethical lives of service and leadership can be found in every aspect of our programs.

In our master’s in public administration, you’ll gain practical knowledge while being fully immersed in the principles of diversity, social justice, and respect, giving you a unique and essential perspective from which to better serve your communities.

Taking the Next Step

Earn your degree on your time

Our convenient and flexible online programs complement your work and life as you build your skills and knowledge to advance your professional goals. Your coursework at Saint Mary’s is asynchronous, with no set days to meet with professors or fellow classmates. Your assignments will have set due dates, but you can complete them when and where you please.

Through Saint Mary’s, you’ll find a dynamic, supportive community—composed of both your fellow students and your professors—that understands the demands of your life and can connect you to new opportunities.

You’ll receive a high-quality education that’s just as rigorous as on-campus and you’ll graduate ready to serve your community, lead organizations, and build your career in public administration

Request more information or call 877-308-9954 to speak with an enrollment counselor today about pursuing an online Master of Arts in Public Administration from Saint Mary’s.


1Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook

2Payscale. Average Program Manager, Non-Profit Organization Salary. Retrieved from

3Payscale. Average City Administrator Salary. Retrieved from

4Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Human Resources Managers. Retrieved from

5Payscale. Average Director of Development, Non-Profit Organization Salary. Retrieved from

6Payscale. Average Mayor Salary. Retrieved from

7Payscale. Average Operations Manager Salary. Retrieved from

8Payscale. Average Program Director, Non-Profit Salary. Retrieved from

9Payscale. Average Management Consultant Salary. Retrieved from