Best Online Doctoral Degrees in Public Policy/Administration

Public administration and policy studies policy implementation and analyzing whether policies are successful and how they can be improved. Working in non-profit, often government positions, policy and administrative leaders provide public services in areas such criminal justice, climate change, homeland security and terrorism, health care administration and food and water safety and supply. According to the BLS public policy and administration jobs are growing at an average rate.


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Program Standouts: WCU’s online DPA teaches leaders in the core disciplines of strategic management, public sector economic and financial decision-making and policy advocacy and leadership. Students in this program choose from departmental courses focusing on public policy, criminal justice, geography, and planning or social work. WCU’s program keys in on practice, and students complete a variety of seminar courses that apply scholarship to real-life policy decisions. The degree culminates in students offering a solution to some actual organizational or public situation that needs to be addressed.

Campus Location: West Chester, Pennsylvania

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Acceptance, Retention and Graduation Rates:

  • Acceptance: 64%
  • Retention: 86%
  • Graduation: 70%

Admission Requirements:

  • Master’s degree, from a regionally accredited college or university
  • GRE Requirement: Needed for all individuals with a master’s GPA lower than 3.85
  • Three letters of recommendation from education professionals
  • Professional writing demonstration at the time of application (waived for applicants who present a GRE analytical writing score of 4.5 or higher)
  • Resume or CV
  • Interview (upon Committee request)

Sampling of Coursework:

  • Pre-doctoral Seminar in Public Policy and Administration
  • Advanced Practice and Applied Theories of Public Policy and Administration
  • Strategic Public Management and Governance

Degree Outcomes: This degree is designed to prepare graduates in high-level public program and policy evaluation and methodological expertise.




Program Standouts: The online DPA from California Baptist University trains forward-thinking public leaders who make an impact. Geared towards working adult learners, this degree is designed to be completed in as few as three years. Whether one hopes to work in the public or private sector, the curriculum of this degree program gives public administrators the versatility to successfully engage in a wide variety of administrative settings as well as the focused specialization to excel in a particular context. In response to the complex challenges organizations face, this degree is just the ticket for public administration in planning, criminal justice, governance, policy, health management, and social service.

Campus Location: Riverside, California

Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission

Acceptance, Retention and Graduation Rates:

  • Acceptance: 64%
  • Retention: 76%
  • Graduation: 60%

Admission Requirements:

  • Master’s degree from a regionally accredited university with the following GPA:
    • 3.0 for unconditional admission
    • 2.75 for conditional admission
  • Two recommendations from professional sources that can attest to the candidate’s potential for scholarly and professional success.
  • Comprehensive Essay of at least 500 words that include:
    • Purpose for entering the program
    • Long-term professional goals including how a doctoral degree will influence those goals
    • Reasons for choosing California Baptist University
  • Professional resume or Curriculum Vitae
  • Interview with Program Director

Sample Courses:

  • Performance Management and Evaluation
  • Collaboration and Networked Governance
  • Public Policy, Advocacy and Economics
  • Professional Residency

Degree Outcomes: CBU graduates have demonstrated knowledge and facility taking active roles of leadership. They have shown the ability for creating innovative and sustainable solutions to problems which arise in the various spheres of governance, social problems as well as criminal justice and social services.




liberty university

Program Standouts: Although not strictly a DPA degree, Liberty University merits inclusion in this list of top public administration doctorates, because its online DBA-Non-profit management instills the same skills one gains from DPA degrees. This 100% online program gives public policy administrators the knowledge and tools to be successful leaders. This 60-credit hour degree includes a dissertation requirement and will prepare graduates for public administrative positions in lead management, organization director and regulatory affairs.

Campus Location: Lynchburg, Virginia

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools; Commission on Colleges

Acceptance, Retention and Graduation Rates:

  • Acceptance: 24%
  • Retention: 83%
  • Graduation: 51%

Admission Requirements:

  • Completed application
  • $50.00 application fee
  • MBA, MSA or MS in Information Systems or earned MS in Management Information Systems
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Cumulative GPA of 3.0 is required for entrance into the program from any of the acceptable degrees

Sample Courses in Specializations:

  • Workforce Planning and Employment
  • Strategic Communication Campaigns for the Digital Age
  • Grant Acquisition and Management
  • Non-profit Management

Degree Outcomes: Liberty graduates will have gained specialized administrative knowledge and skills needed for administration and management at the highest levels of the profession. Based upon Liberty’s strong biblical ethic, graduates from this degree will have demonstrated advanced knowledge in accounting, finance, healthcare management, leadership, and many other administrative contexts.




Program Standouts: VSU’s online Doctor of Public Administration is practitioner-oriented. This means that students in this degree program receive instruction that develops the necessary skills in leadership, management, communication, and problem solving to succeed in the professional environment. This degree requires 54 credits to complete along with minimal on-campus requirements: perfect for working professionals and adult learners.

Campus Location: Valdosta, Georgia

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges

Acceptance, Retention and Graduation Rates:

  • Acceptance: 65%
  • Retention: 71%
  • Graduation: 36%

Admission Requirements:

  • Master’s degree, from a regionally accredited college or university
  • A satisfactory GRE score
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • An acceptable cumulative undergraduate GPA
  • A statement on goals for advancing intellectual abilities
  • A comprehensive resume

Sampling of Coursework:

  • Capstone Seminar
  • Final Project/Organizational Analysis

Degree Outcomes: Graduates from this degree program will possess a comprehensive understanding of the career field. Graduates will have the skills and a broadened perspective needed for managers and administrators. With sensitivity to diverse groups, graduates from this degree program will be effective oral and written communicators.




Program Standouts: Organizational systems and political environment have an important bearing upon policy administration and implementation. The online Ph.D. in public management offered through UM-Baltimore County gives students the administrative knowledge and practical abilities drawn from public professionals in the spheres of profit and non-profit organizations in both the public and private sectors. Through courses in management, organization, leadership, budgeting and program evaluation, these 48 credits plus dissertation degree program prepare effective administrators to be ready to lead and contribute.

Campus Location: Baltimore, Maryland

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Acceptance, Retention and Graduation Rates:

  • Acceptance: 57%
  • Retention: 64%
  • Graduation: 25%

Admission Requirements:

  • Complete application
  • $50.00 application fee
  • 3 letters of recommendation
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Official transcripts
  • Official GRE scores
  • Current resume

Possible Degree Concentrations:

  • Educational Policy
  • Environmental Policy
  • Emergency Services
  • Evaluation and Analytical Methods
  • Health History
  • Policy History
  • Public Management
  • Urban Policy

Degree Outcomes: Graduates from this degree program are prepared to analyze and develop appropriate strategies that allow for the effective implementation of organizational policies.




Program Standouts: This degree program is a professional doctorate, emphasizing extended and careful focus upon putting problem-solving skills into practice. With the option of 13 special concentrations, this degree program prepares its students to be leaders in an incredibly wide variety of public administration jobs. If you’re looking to advance your administrative career, Walden’ DPA will help you achieve your goals by developing effective management skills and practical problem-solving skills in government and governance.

Campus Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Acceptance, Retention and Graduation Rates:

  • Open Admissions
  • Retention: 19%
  • Graduation: 11%

Admission Requirements:

Sampling of Concentrations:

  • Criminal Justice
  • Homeland Security Policy and Coordination
  • International Nongovernmental Organizations
  • Local Government Management for Sustainable Communities
  • Nonprofit Management and Leadership
  • Policy Analysis

Degree Outcomes: This degree is designed to equip its graduates in how to effectively evaluate leadership/management principles. Graduates from this program will be able to evaluate and develop solutions to concrete public policy and administrative problems. Graduates will be instructed in terms of a high ethics that is sensitive to varying social systems and situations. This degree will prepare its graduates to contribute to the profession through research, presentations, and publications,




Program Standouts: Northcentral University’s Ph.D. in Business Administration with a specialization in Public Administration is a research degree that seeks to enhance knowledge and competencies needed for leadership roles in business, administration and technology management. This degree program provides a broad knowledge base of business and technology management, while students further specialize in public administration. Through coursework and the researching and writing of a dissertation, graduates from this degree program will demonstrate originality and methodological and scientific rigor that advances the theoretical knowledge in the public policy context.

Campus Location: San Diego, California

Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission

Acceptance, Retention and Graduation Rates:

  • No information reported

Admission Requirements:

  • Completed application
  • Master’s in business
  • Transcripts

Sample Course Options:

  • Business Leadership and Strategy
  • Public Administration
  • Administrative Law
  • Urban and Regional Planning
  • Technology in Public Administration

Degree Outcomes: This degree prepares students in the specialization in public administration through focus upon government and public policy, budgeting, government relations, public personnel management, political systems, and urban planning. Graduates from this degree program will be proficient in strategic planning in a variety of public policy contexts intended to implement policy in compliance with local, state and federal regulations.