A web resource to compare online MPA degree programs
Visitors to the GetEducated.com site can rate, rank and compare 3,000 online degrees. According to psychologist and educator Vicky Phillips, who founded the site, the online MPA is among the top 10 online degree programs searched for on the GetEducated.com site.
Go here for the latest ranking of online MPA programs. Get Educated surveyed 42 master’s degree programs to create its fact-based ranking of Best Buys in public administration degrees in the U.S. The site found 19 accredited online master’s of public administration programs, all at a cost of under $20,500. The online MPA degree rankings were calculated by analyzing tuition and online learning fees at 34 regionally accredited universities in the U.S. that offer 42 different online master’s degrees for students interested in public administration careers. Program costs are shown in the rankings.
Here are four tips from Vicky Phillips for finding the best MPA degree online:
1) Ignore Google
There are 42 regionally accredited MPA degrees available online, so you don’t have to settle for the first degree program that pops up in a Google search. In fact, you ought not to use Google search as your guide to online degree programs, because if you do, you’ll get slammed with listings for large for-profit schools that rank high due to robust online ad budgets. You’ll miss out on some truly sweet deals from traditional non-profit and state schools that now offer versions of their residential MPA degree online, unless you abandon Google and dig deeper.
2) Explore Trusted Brand Names
There is a myth that only large for-profit universities offer online degrees. Fact: among the 34 online universities that offer a distance MPA that GetEducated.com profiles, only 10 are large for-profit schools. A total of 24 of the public administration schools our researchers profile operate as non-profits. Large state university systems — California State University, University of North Dakota, Kent State University, and the University of North Carolina — represent some of the most-queried online MPA programs on the Get Educated site.
3) Compare Cost
Chances are your tuition assistance program at work may pay for some of your education. Still, the most frequently used type of financial aid for master’s level study, whether online or on-campus, is the student loan. This being the case, and a loan being debt that must be repaid, compare costs carefully before you enroll.
GetEducated.com’s online education surveys show that the average cost of a distance MPA (Fall 2011) is $20,476. The most affordable program, at $6,097, comes from the University of North Carolina Pembroke Online, but you must be a North Carolina resident to get this great low cost deal. The most expensive online MPA, at $38,010, comes from Mercy College, a traditional, private brick and mortar school in New York. Costs vary based on the location of the MPA degree program: East Coast programs cost more, which is a reflection of regional cost of living rather than an indication of a higher quality educational program. The average sticker price at a non-profit school is $19,427, whereas for-profit schools charge more: an average of $22,992.
4) Compare Reputation
All online degree programs are not alike. Some operate with the same faculty, entrance requirements, and courses as used on campus or in residential learning. Others “outsource” much of their virtual campus operations to online learning companies that hire part-time instructors and engage in hyper-aggressive phone recruitment and marketing.
Look for verified student reviews to better gauge how programs are serving their online students. Be wary of most online degree review sites as many of these are stuffed with paid reviews from the colleges themselves or its social media reps. (GetEducated.com records and verifies real online student reviews for every degree program on our site to make this process easier.)
One great strategy — ask your boss and co-workers how they’d rate any online degree program you are considering. If you mention a college and get a thumbs- down from your boss or from your peers, be wary. Peer reputation is a critical factor in hiring and career advancement in public administration. You want the name of your chosen online college or degree program to carry insider clout in your industry.