10 Best Online Doctor of Public Administration (DPA) Degrees

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Reviewed by Linda Weems I got started researching colleges and universities about 10 years ago while exploring a second career. While my second career ended up being exactly what I’m doing now, and I didn’t end up going to college, I try to put myself in your shoes every step of the way as I build out College Cliffs as a user-friendly resource for prospective students.

Updated: April 2, 2024, Reading time: 20 minutes

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The academic field of public administration examines how laws are put into practice and train students for careers in government. Insofar as these organizations impact the public, a degree in public administration can also impart organizational skills to non-profit and non-governmental groups.

These fields cover topics like:

Public Administration graduates can find employment in government, business, and non-profit organizations. However, students who want to take a step forward and open more career opportunities are best to obtain a doctorate in public administration degree.

Doctorate degree holders can take control of their transition from public service to field service as educators by earning a doctorate in public administration. 

Between now and 2032, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipates an 8% increase in post-secondary teacher employment, which is more than double the national average for all occupations. 

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The Lowdown

Students planning to enroll in public administration doctorates should carefully consider several factors, one of which being the school and program’s accreditation. Accreditation can mean two things: a high-quality curriculum and easier credit transfer. Additionally, tuition reimbursement programs frequently may not apply to students attending colleges with national accreditation.


A career in Public Administration can be rewarding. The pay is great, too, especially for professionals who have a doctorate in their belt! Today, online Public Administration degree programs at the doctoral degree level allow for flexible class scheduling and time to completion.

Each of these Online Doctor of Public Administration degrees made it to our list because of these features:

Please visit our Methodology page for the full details of our ranking process.

College Cliffs is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

The 10 Best Online Doctor of Public Administration Programs

Valdosta State University

Valdosta State University

Online Doctor of Public Administration (DPA)

The online Doctor of Public Administration at Valdosta State University was specifically designed for public administration professionals with at least five years of work experience. Because this is a practitioner-oriented degree, students will undergo comprehensive training to sharpen their skills to thrive in today’s workplace. The program’s courses are created to meet working professionals’ knowledge and competence requirements.

This degree program is best for tech-savvy students. 

What Makes This Program Unique:

The online DPA at Valdosta State University is among the fastest and cheapest. This DPA degree has exceptionally low tuition based on in-state costs for the university. Additionally, graduates from this school have obtained jobs as human resources directors, county executives, finance officers, assistant city managers, city managers, college professors, public policy directors, city administrators, public policy analysts, and research analysts. 

This online DPA degree is web-based, allowing students to study without moving or compromising work and personal obligations. Students can access coursework 24/7.

Did You Know?

The SACSCOC – Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges has accredited the institution to award associates through doctoral degrees. Additionally, Valdosta State University is ranked by US News and World Report as a top National University. 

The NASPAA – National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration has accredited its public administration programs.

California Baptist University

California Baptist University

Online Doctor of Public Administration

California Baptist University, a Christian university located in Riverside, offers one of the best Doctor of Public Administration online programs, providing degree aspirants with various enrollment possibilities. CBU is focused on teaching students research techniques and taking part in career counseling. 

Students will study several topics, including strategic planning and public management, public administration foundations and leadership, data analysis and interpretation, collaboration, and networked governance. Participants receive training in research best practices before finishing their nine-credit dissertation. A comprehensive exam is also required for the program.

What Makes This Program Unique:

In addition to helping students obtain technical knowledge to succeed as public administration professionals, CBU will also guide them on a journey that combines spiritual, academic, and professional development. This degree will equip students with everything they need to make sound decisions with the moral values of a Christian heritage to address global issues. Graduates become equipped to assume accountability for their actions, think critically, interact with others, and lead others.

Did You Know?

CBU is one of the best transfer-friendly schools. Students can easily consolidate their previous college credits with the help of the school’s enrollment counselors. Additionally, students can expect support from the Academic Success Center on campus, in the community, and 24/7 multi-subject online tutoring via Smarthinking.

Liberty University

Liberty University - Online

Doctor of Public Administration (DPA) Degree Online

Liberty University offers a top-notch online Doctor of Public Administration degree program designed to help working adults meet their career objectives. This online DPA offers a comprehensive curriculum that studies governmental organizations’ administrative duties, allowing students to practice strategic planning, program implementation, advanced management strategies, and results-based leadership.

This degree will also prepare students to work in academia or become public servants holding executive positions. 

What Makes This Program Unique:

Liberty University knows that most of its students do not have the luxury to put their lives on hold and seek doctorates. Most of Liberty’s students are working professionals seeking flexible and affordable online degree programs. As a result, students of Liberty’s online Doctor of Public Administration can complete all coursework online without specific login times and are not required to step on campus for their research.

Did You Know?

Liberty University has been operating since 1985 and is a distance education pioneer. As a result, the university knows exactly what students want in an online degree program—affordability, accessibility, and high quality. Liberty’s online degree programs are supported by accreditation and a physical campus that helps students get the respect of peers, hiring managers, and other stakeholders.

Liberty University has a long-standing dedication to online education that non-traditional students can lean on.

West Chester University

West Chester University

Online Doctor of Public Administration (DPA)

West Chester University, a top public research university, offers one of the most competitive online doctor of public administration degrees that provides flexible courses. Doctoral students take part in academic activities and are given support for their research. This DPA was created to help non-traditional students obtain the highest level of public administration and affairs knowledge and practice. 

This program emphasizes strategic planning, financial and economic policymaking in the public sector, and policy leadership and advocacy. 

What Makes This Program Unique:

Online students can contact the program anytime and ask for more information on admission standards and financial aid. Online doctoral students can use grants, fellowships, and other types of federal financial aid to cover the cost of their education.

Furthermore, this online program also chooses students to represent the school at local and national conferences. Students can also collaborate with professors on research initiatives, such as a newly published joint paper on the pipeline problem affecting Pennsylvania’s regional towns.

Did You Know?

West Chester University began as a private school of instruction in 1871. West Chester evolved over time and underwent numerous modifications to become a comprehensive public university that grants undergraduate, graduate, and doctorate degrees in various academic fields.

WCU is a difficult institution to get into, but the reward is a top-notch education at a reasonable cost.

The University of Illinois Springfield

The University of Illinois Springfield - School of Public Management and Policy

Online Doctor of Public Administration (DPA)

The University of Illinois at Springfield offers a top-notch Doctor of Public Administration that is available online and hybrid to cater to their candidates’ hectic work and life schedules. 

As one of the highest degrees in the nation, the DPA program at UIL Springfield only admits professionals with at least five years of work experience. Students in this doctorate program are expected to have the ability to study and thrive independently. While coaching and tutoring are available, students must still practice independence to prepare themselves for the job market. 

Courses of this online DPA program promote the application of sound theory and rigorous research to complicated issues in business and management. There are also three concentrations available: organizational leadership & management, policy analysis and program evaluation, and data modeling & analytics.

What Makes This Program Unique:

Students in UIL Springfield’s online DPA can receive stipends, which is uncommon for non-PhD candidates. This monthly payment is given to qualified students to help with living expenditures, research, and housing costs. The Doctoral Fellowship Program, however, prioritizes students who attend some on-campus classes, as the DPA is also offered in a hybrid learning format.

Did You Know?

The University of Illinois at Springfield spends over $7 million in research annually.

Old Dominion University

Old Dominion University

Online Doctor of Philosophy in Public Administration & Policy (PhD)

Old Dominion University offers an online Ph.D. in Public Administration and Policy that provides a high caliber of teaching and research opportunities. Students in the curriculum will do advanced policy analysis and public administration research, learn to communicate their findings to various audiences, and much more. 

Because of the PhD’s multi-sectoral approach, students can enter various fields, such as criminal justice, social work, engineering, business, academia, and research. 

What Makes This Program Unique:

ODU’s doctorate professors maintain partnerships between public and private organizations, which allow the school and community organizations to work together to encourage learning that benefits everyone. Partnerships constantly increase program quality, make better use of resources, and even transform individual partners by strengthening, assisting, and changing them.

Additionally, professors at ODU offer a wealth of knowledge in various fields, including non-profit and public administration, economic development, and citizen participation.

Did You Know?

ODU is one of the safest and best places for gender equality. The Old Dominion University community’s homophobia, transphobia, and heterosexism are all targets of the Safe Space Committee’s efforts. ODU is dedicated to a vision of an open, safe, and accepting community for all LGBTQIA+. The school promotes this environment through advocacy, awareness, and education.

Walden University

Walden University

Online Doctor of Public Administration (DPA)

When it comes to rankings of online degree programs, you’ll often see Walden University. Being one of the pioneers in distance learning, Walden University offers one of the best hybrid doctors of public administration designed to help enhance the skills and knowledge of future leaders. 

The curriculum includes residences with team-based activities investigating real-world case studies that examine organizational problems and their fixes. Modern public administration techniques, practical research, and worldwide management will all be topics you study.

What Makes This Program Unique:

Walden’s online doctor of public administration program uses a “charrette-style experience” during the student’s second residency. The second residency mixes highly creative working sessions with open houses and workshops.

Students will engage in a collaborative planning process that marshals the skills and motivation of all parties involved to develop and promote a master plan that exemplifies the radical social change in public administration.

Did You Know?

Walden University has been developing online education since 1995 to satisfy the needs of working adult students. The university has assisted many individuals in earning their college degrees online.

University of Maryland-Baltimore County

University of Maryland-Baltimore County - School of Public Policy

Ph.D. in Public Policy

The University of Maryland-BaEltimore County offers a degree very similar to a public administration degree. While a public administration degree prepares students for management, a public policy degree prepares them to evaluate policies and make reform recommendations. 

Students will obtain the advanced graduate training they need to enter a research or related position in academia, government, non-governmental organizations, or the commercial sector. Additionally, students can completely tailor their degrees to fit their current schedules because the doctoral program was developed with working professionals in mind.

What Makes This Program Unique:

The study specializations of the online Ph.D. in public policy at UMBC are among the most varied. Students choose one of the program’s five specializations: Educational Policy, Emergency Services, Evaluation and Analytical Methods, Health Policy, Policy History, Public Management, or Urban Policy. This allows students to tailor their PhD degree further.

Did You Know?

The University of Maryland at Baltimore County offers a low student-to-faculty ratio and a variety of amenities to make it seem like home for the students. The campus provides an excellent environment for learning. In addition to offering scholarships and financial help to students, the University of Maryland also has a decent on-campus housing option.

National University

Doctor of Public Administration

National University’s Doctor of Public Administration is a hybrid degree program. It is one of the top degrees to understand advanced public administration topics thoroughly. This degree was designed for existing and aspiring mid-level and senior managers to help them develop the knowledge and skills necessary for a leadership position in public administration.

The degree program encourages students to use their academic knowledge to develop public administration practice. Students will learn the proper literature and research techniques for use in real-world situations. Additionally, the curriculum gives the groundwork for students to assess theories, apply models in practice, and add to the body of public administration knowledge.

What Makes This Program Unique:

National University provides an abundance of financial aid options for its PhD students. One of the greatest financial assistance options of the school is the Pursuit of Knowledge Scholarship, which offers three PhD candidates a full tuition and two 50% scholarships. Students may count on the academic counselors at the institution to be utterly supportive in addition to the financial aid options.

Did You Know?

National University is one of the most prominent religious-based universities in the nation. Students at National are involved in sharing the Gospel and the love of Christ in their local neighborhoods. Students enjoy this and other hands-on learning opportunities and career preparation unique to a Christian college in Minnesota.

Tennessee State University

Tennessee State University

PhD in Public Policy and Administration

Tennessee State University’s Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration is available 100% online. This doctorate trains scholars who can comprehend and conduct high-quality original research that advances theoretical knowledge in the subject and enhances practice. 

What Makes This Program Unique:

TSU’s doctoral faculty are among the most approachable. The PhD faculty maintain close contact with their students in discussing crucial opportunities and advising issues. They also use a blog called “Synergy” to post information from time to time that may be of interest to their doctorate students, such as job openings, research advice, conference possibilities, and other career- and education-related matters.

Did You Know?

The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education has classified Tennessee State University as an R2: Doctoral Institution – High Research Activity. The institution conducts cutting-edge research to address important societal concerns.

What To Expect From Online Public Administration Programs

Public administration professionals can shape laws and regulations, work in non-profits, and manage a city’s operations. Online public administration degrees allow working professionals to get a degree without sacrificing much of their time and money. 

Salary: Salaries can vastly differ on many factors, such as job position, sector, and specialization. However, according to PayScale, a doctorate in public administration graduate has an average yearly income of $80,000. 

Job Opportunities: Professionals with a doctorate in public administration have access to many job prospects and can work in practically any organization. Professionals can pick from various public administration specialties depending on their interests and abilities

A public administration PhD or doctorate graduate can become a university professor, researcher, urban and regional planner, budget analyst, operations research analyst, human resources manager, health services manager, and much more. 

Stability and Outlook: Your ability to adapt your talents to any career category will be another benefit of getting your online doctorate in public administration. Your doctorate will be helpful no matter what job path you choose in the future, even though working in public administration may be your ultimate objective. You’ll learn various research techniques via your curriculum, along with how to analyze data, all transferable skills.

Similar to salary, outlook will also vary. However, the employment of Administrative Services and Facilities Managers is expected to grow by 5% from now until 2032. On the other hand, post-secondary teacher employment should grow 8% from now until 2032.

Performance: Public administration will forever be relevant to the world since it includes services required by localities to bring about constructive change, advance the common good, and bolster society. Public administrators can run municipal, state, and federal governments and have transferable talents to the private sector.

Best Online Doctor of Public Administration - fact

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between a PhD and a Doctor of Public Administration?

The curriculum and admission standards for a PhD and a DPA are quite comparable. The key distinction is that a DPA degree focuses more on the practical application of course principles, whereas a PhD program often has a more theoretical approach.

What are the common admission requirements of Doctor of Public Administration degree programs?

Although a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree are typically required for admission to doctoral programs in public administration, they need not be in public administration or a closely related discipline. However, applicants who have master’s degrees from other fields should expect to take additional foundational courses in public administration.

Although it is uncommon for Ph.D. students in public administration to have relevant work experience, most programs require applicants to submit a CV.

How can I pay for an online Doctorate in Public Administration?

You can pay for your online doctorate in public administration in three ways:

Why do people study Public Administration/policy?

Degrees in public administration/policy are one of the most intriguing areas of study nowadays. Through this degree, you’ll be able to comprehend how public administration and policy affect people’s day-to-day lives.

This will also assist you in identifying sound public policies and developing programs to advance society.

Summary Points

Additional Information: