A growing number of colleges and universities now offer online MPA degrees. For busy professionals who are unable to enroll in a traditional brick-and-mortar graduate program, online MPA degree programs offer several advantages, including:
- Flexibility: Online MPA programs remove the time and place constraints that are associated with a traditional campus setting. An online MPA degree program allows students to log in to classes at their own convenience, anytime. In addition to eliminating the need for commuting, many students find that breaking up class time by logging in whenever it’s convenient throughout the week allows them to fulfill personal and professional responsibilities with far less strain.
- Accessibility: Online MPA programs provide increased access to class materials, allowing students to re-visit and review class lectures, presentations and discussions at any time. This aspect of online learning offers a clear advantage over traditional classrooms, which usually only leave students with the notes they themselves have taken along with any handout material provided by their professors.
- Connectivity: In high-quality online MPA programs, every effort is made to establish a deep connection between individual students, their peers and faculty members. Class sizes are kept small and networking between students is highly encouraged. Increasingly, state-of-the-art technology is being leveraged to bring online MPA degree programs to the same level, if not higher than, competing brick-and-mortal programs.
According to a Babson Survey Research Group and College Board study, enrollment for online courses is currently at an all-time high. In 2010, more than 6 million students were enrolled in online classes. In addition to the competitive job market, one of the main drivers of enrollment is the increase in online offerings from public and private colleges and universities. In a survey of more than 2,500 schools, 65 percent of administrators said that online programs are an important part of their school’s long-term strategy. A good example is the newly announced MPA@UNC an online accredited MPA offered by the UNC School of Government.
U.S. News ranks more than 500 online master’s programs across all academic disciplines. Although for-profit institutions have some of the highest enrollments among online programs, they do not place well in this ranking. The highest marks go to public and private schools with established on-campus programs that have added equally rigorous online programs.
According to GetEducated, the average tuition for an accredited online MPA program is about $19,000. Example tuitions include $9,900 at American Public University, $15,840 at California State University Dominguez Hills and $18,552 at University of Colorado Denver. Some schools, such as the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, offer much lower tuition for state residents ($4,401) compared to non-residents ($22,240). The most expensive MPA program in GetEducated’s survey is for-profit DeVry University at $33,000.