Best Online Ph.D. in Public Administration

A public administration degree gives you numerous development and job opportunities. With a Ph.D. from a reputable institution, you can also easily pursue employment in universities and as a researcher.

Unfortunately, finding the right organization is much harder than you might think. Not only should the university be accredited, but it also needs to have a good reputation among employers. As if that wasn’t enough, it needs to accommodate your busy schedule.

To help you out, we’ve created a list of 8 best online Ph.D. programs in public administration that would open a world of opportunities for you.

Benefits of Online Ph.D. in Public Administration

Getting an online Ph.D. in public administration carries a lot of benefits. Like all other doctoral courses, it puts you at the very top of academia while also unlocking numerous employment opportunities. Just having a Ph.D. in front of your name will change how people perceive you, making you a more respected member of society.

Whatever the case, here are a few good reasons for finishing online Ph.D. programs in public administration:

  • With the ever-increasing competition in the job market, a Ph.D. degree puts you neck and shoulders above everyone else. As such, it can open certain employment opportunities that weren’t present before
  • As you get better and better opportunities, your socio-economic status will change. Depending on the state and position, you might earn from $60,000 to $140,000 annually
  • Online public administration Ph.D. degrees are not just for show. They give you access to modern skills and knowledge that you probably won’t acquire during bachelor studies
  • With this degree, you’ll also gain access to more academic opportunities, helping you become a researcher or professor

Most importantly, having a Ph.D. degree will separate you from thousands and thousands of people who stopped at master’s or bachelor’s. Not only will you gain more opportunities, but it will also become easier to get those jobs.

What to Look for in an Online Program

The main issue with online programs is that future students don’t have enough time to research the institution before enrolling. They might choose a provider based on rumors and what their friends told them. Unfortunately, this single choice will affect their future professional outlook and career trajectory.

To make the right decision, you need to take your time researching online Ph.D. public administration programs. Here are a few things you need to focus on:

  • Accreditation is your main priority when choosing schools. Besides the mandatory institutional accreditation, it’s also recommended you find programs that have programmatic accreditation
  • The school’s ranking also matters for online degrees; see how the university is ranked compared to other institutions
  • Check the teaching staff. Make sure that the faculty consists of renowned experts who have enough experience and expertise to relay real-world knowledge to you
  • Some programs falsely advertise themselves as online programs when, in fact, they use a hybrid model. If they’re using a hybrid model, you’ll have to determine how often you’ll need to go to classes
  • Depending on your particular situation, you might need to look for programs that allow transfer of credits. Some students might also require financial aid
  • Check the common outcomes for graduates. Determine if this program can truly secure a career you’re looking for
  • Flexibility is another major consideration. Analyze how a university is tackling various aspects of the courses and how much time you’d have to finish courses

Ideally, you would want to cover all the angles to ensure this Ph.D. public administration online course is the right thing for you. Focus on accreditation, degree strength, and student outlooks.

Employment Outlook for Online Ph.D. in Public Administration Graduates

With this degree, you can work in all sorts of public institutions and non-profit sectors. This includes city and state government offices, federal departments, state universities, and hospitals. For example, you might get a job with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the US Postal Service, or the Environmental Protection Agency.

A person who has received an online Ph.D. in public administration can do the following jobs:

  • Emergency response specialist
  • Urban planner
  • City manager
  • Budget specialist
  • Social service director
  • Health services manager
  • Economist, and much more

As for your outlook, it mostly depends on the institution and program you’ve finished. There are some major discrepancies between courses and their popularity, so it’s vital that you focus on those that are popular among public institutions.

8 Top-Ranked Online Ph.D. Programs in Public Administration

Here’s a breakdown of the top-rated online Ph.D. programs in public administration and what to expect from each one of them:

1. Liberty University (Doctor of Public Administration)

Liberty University is situated in Lynchburg, Virginia, and has existed since 1971. Although the institution accepts just about anyone, having a 99% acceptance rate, only 29% of students will finish the courses and graduate. The school has almost 1,200 full-time staffers and 2,300 part-timers.

If you decide to enroll in this program, you’ll need to complete 48 hours of credit, which includes research, basic public administration courses, and a capstone sequence. The entire course has to be finished in 2.5 years.

The program is specifically designed for students who want to learn more about administrative workers’ daily tasks. It teaches you things such as strategic planning, advanced management, program implementation, and result-based leadership. Aside from becoming a public servant, this degree can be used for further academic development.

2. Old Dominion University (Ph.D. in Public Administration and Policy)

Another school located in Virginia, Old Dominion University, has been around since 1930. Situated in beautiful Norfolk, the university has approximately 25,000 students every year, with 700 international students. While the institution has fantastic bachelor programs, it is most renowned for its research and development.

The program takes 49 credit hours to complete, which includes 12 hours for the dissertation. Aside from basic core courses, students are also expected to participate in various research activities and specialization courses. During the classes, you’ll be covering topics such as public budgeting, public administration theory and ethics, and financial management.

The good thing about this program is that it’s really flexible and allows you to focus on specific areas. However, getting inside isn’t easy. Besides a letter of recommendation and a statement of purpose, you’ll also need a degree in a relevant area and a great record.

3. Walden University (Doctor of Public Policy and Administration)

Walden University is a relatively new private institution, dating back to 1970, situated in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It consists of seven colleges and one school offering bachelor, master, and doctoral programs. Each year, approximately 50,000 students attend these courses, most of which are held online.

The Ph.D. course consists of 53 credit hours. This doesn’t include activities such as research, doctoral writing assessment, residency, and dissertation. In that regard, the course can drag on for quite a bit. According to the university policy, you have 8 years of part-time studying to finish the Ph.D. course.

For the most part, the program focuses on developing managerial skills that can be applied in various facets of public administration. It’s also worth noting that you need a master’s degree in a related course to apply for this program. Students are allowed to transfer up to 41 credits from another accredited educational institution.

4. Valdosta State (Doctor of Public Administration)

This university was established in 1906 and offers classes in Valdosta, Georgia. Aside from the official campus, they also hold classes at Moody Air Force Base, which is just north of the city. On average, the institution has 12,000 students in all courses, with an acceptance rate of 76% and a graduation rate of 39%.

The entire program takes 54 credit hours to complete. Aside from theory and methods, this also includes core and elected courses. The program is not suitable for newly graduated students as it requires 5 years of prior work experience in the public sector. For the most part, it focuses on practical knowledge that can be applied in real-world situations.

The main reason to enrol is because the Valdosta program is among the fastest and cheapest, especially compared to other regional programs. With this degree, you can easily get a job in local governmental offices working as a professor, city manager, financial officer, and so on.

5. West Chester University (Doctor of Public Administration)

West Chester is one of the oldest, most renowned educational institutions in the U.S. The school has existed since 151 and ranks as the 40th Best Value School in the country. West Chester is attended by 15,000 students and has 700 full-time staffers and 300 part-time employees.

During 43 credit hours, you’ll learn everything there is about financial decision-making. On top of that, you should have a better understanding of policy analysis. People who finish this course can seek employment in managerial roles, as researchers and academics. Before getting a degree, you have to show a high level of competency and finish dissertation seminar courses.

Most students who opt for West Chester do so because of its fantastic financial aid program. Aside from federal assistance, you can also get fellowships and grants from the institution. The staff has close-knit contact with the students, performing joint research projects and attending local and national conferences.

6. The University of Illinois Springfield (Doctor of Public Administration)

Established in 1969, this university was initially created as an arts college. In time, it added many more courses and programs to its offer and now has about 4,000 per annum. An interesting thing about this school is that it has one of the biggest libraries in the U.S., featuring more than 800,000 titles.

As for the online Ph.D. program, students can choose between hybrid and online approaches. You have 4 years to finish your studies, which is perfect for working people. Keep in mind that the courses are designed to be part-time, consisting of qualifying exams, core and elective classes, as well as dissertations.

During the program, you’ll go through 6 courses, including research methodologies, public sector leadership, public sector innovation, research design, public management, and public policy. A fantastic thing about doctoral studies is that students can receive scholarships, which would cover housing, living expenses, and research needs.

7. Tennessee State University (Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration)

This institution, located in Nashville, Tennessee, has been around since 1912 and is regarded as one of the few historically black universities in the state. The school has almost 10,000 students, with 370 full-time and 120 part-time staff. Tennessee State University is an excellent destination for postgrads, having a High Research Activity designation.

Students have 6 years to finish the courses, which include 48 credits consisting of core classes and a dissertation. As mentioned, the school focuses on research activity, as it is a much better destination for future academics than for practitioners. Then again, its flexible scheduling makes it suitable for people working full-time.

To apply for this program, students have to show a high degree of theoretical knowledge. Specifically, they will be tested in areas such as policy implementation, public budgeting, organization theory, and financial management. Due to the focus on research activity, the staff and attendees have close connections, which makes it much easier for the students.

8. University of Maryland-Baltimore County (PhD in Public Policy)

This institution boasts 270+ student groups and 12,000 students. Aside from 12 undergrad programs, there are also online Ph.D. courses that you can explore. As its name implies, the school has a campus in Baltimore and was established in 1966.

The students who choose this institution will have to go through 66-course hours, which consists of 48 credit hours and 18 hours of dissertation research. While you can get into the program without a prior master’s degree, you’ll have to take extra classes to make up for it.

Once you finish the program, you can apply for jobs in private, governmental, and non-governmental sectors and academia. Like most other entries on the list, the course was made with working people in mind; you can customize your classes to encompass a busy schedule. A major perk of this program is that you can choose between 5 specializations.


After reading our post, you should have a better understanding of the best public administration Ph.D. programs. While Liberty and Old Dominion are our favourites, you can’t go wrong with any of the entries on the list.