Top 5 Online Doctorates in Public Administration and Policy

Earning one of the Top 5 Online Doctorates in Public Administration and Policy is a sure way to demonstrate one’s ability to evoke innovative and strong-footed change in 2020-2021. They’ll not only have acquired some of the highest levels of understanding of the field but also learn the technical skills for catalyzing relevant research.

Those who pursue long-term ambitions in the fields of Public Administration and Policy are undertaking an impressive, exciting, and crucial commitment. Today’s global society is in desperate need of trained individuals who are ready and willing to act on behalf of the public, and do so in an informed way that proves their experience and understanding of all aspects of Public Administration.


Doctorate programs in Public Administration & Policy prepare candidates for competitive careers that combine a passion and drive toward advocacy with a mind ready to take on bureaucratic and organizational challenges. Those who pursue advanced training in the breadth of the field and its methodologies in research and analysis will have many opportunities for specialized work in different areas of public administration. Such areas include health care, education systems, the criminal justice system, and much more.

Public Administrators in all types of subfields make $75,000 to $100,000 annually, and those who prove their commitment to the field by equipping themselves with one of the highest-level degrees in the discipline will find themselves at the higher range of those numbers and with greater, more innovative opportunities available to them.

Finding a Doctor of Philosophy in Public Administration & Policy or a Doctor of Public Administration program shouldn’t be intimidatingly difficult. Many of those seeking these degrees have already been in the professional field for a reasonable amount of time, and so these programs are designed with working students in mind. Online doctorate degrees in Public Administration often do not require residencies and utilize the same coursework and faculty expertise that one would benefit from in on-campus courses. Pursuing a doctoral degree in Public Administration is an admirable dedication and one that will not cease to provide many benefits and exciting opportunities after graduation. 


While you’re on your way to earning your Ph.D. or Doctorate within your field, the editors at Online PhD Programs are already practicing doctors of their craft: ranking the best online Ph.D. programs. To be featured on our annual rankings online doctorates must satisfy four coinciding requirements: accreditation, research and scholarship doctorate certification, NSF recognition, and institutional association with peer-reviewed academia. 

Each degree is then ranked using information provided – primarily – through the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook. The data collected is scored through a series of weighted categories to represent seven crucial aspects of what makes an online doctorate valuable to future students. Online program quality and presence are joined by industry salaries, student reviews, degree exclusivity, costs, and completion rates to determine the best online doctorates available. For a comprehensive breakdown of how we categorize and source data, please visit ourmethodology page. 



California Baptist University’s Doctor of Public Administration is a 50-credit program, including a dissertation, that takes an average of three years to complete. The course of study is designed with the working adult in mind. It’s specifically catered to those dedicated to becoming innovative leaders in the field, to maximize impact in both public and nonprofit sectors. Students are often experienced in the professional field and looking for an education that can aid them in responding to the complex issues encountered at the local, state, and federal levels. They might be experienced or prospective workers in the fields of criminal justice, policy, governance, health management, and social services. 

Online courses are in an eight-week format. Students benefit from a cohort model that allows them to work alongside peers, and progress together both in coursework and dissertation preparation and completion. The curriculum develops goals of preparing graduates for professional communication, analyzing public agencies, conducting ethical research, and determining equity and fairness at all levels of public administration. Applicants may be granted unconditional admission if they have a master’s with a GPA of at least 3.0, and conditional admission if they earned a master’s with a 2.75. 

Format: Online


Valdosta State University’s online 54-credit Doctor of Public Administration program is a practitioner-based and terminal degree designed for those looking to advance their already established careers in government, nonprofits, or nongovernment organizations. The curriculum is therefore dedicated to the development of essential leadership, management, communication, and problem-solving skills. As the program is designed for working students, scheduling is intended to be flexible and accommodating. Coursework is available 24/7 and in a nonsynchronous format. Students of Valdosta State are competitive candidates for a variety of leadership jobs that surpasses the positions they have already experienced. Prospective roles include Public Policy Directors, Nonprofit Executive Directors, Town Managers, or Court Administrators. 

Valdosta State admissions require prospective students to hold a master’s degree with a satisfactory GRE score. There is no minimum GPA, but it should be competitive. All students should also have a comprehensive resume and be able to describe their goals in advancing their intellectual abilities. The curriculum builds upon what students are already familiar with the field, meant to develop knowledge and one’s breadth of applied research skills. Core courses are provided on a two-year cycle, so students should be mindful of when to begin their degree program. There are many options for concentration areas, with the possibility of transferring in up to 15 hours of graduate credits from prior work. 

Format: Online


Old Dominion University’s Doctor of Philosophy in Public Administration and Policy can be earned entirely online. The 49-credit program prepares students for making collaborative decisions and solving all sorts of problems faced by organizations and companies. The curriculum takes a multi-sector approach to the field of public administration, covering relevant aspects of government, nonprofits, businesses, community groups, and individuals. Graduates are well-versed in both the theories and practices of traditional public administration and policy, as well as issues facing current global and domestic sectors that intersperse with the field. Skill development is focused on conducting policy analyses; conducting research; reporting research and determining its implications; making informed decisions, and assessing policy and its implementation. 

The course of study is divided into 37 credits of coursework and then 12 credits of dissertation work. Faculty members are available for support and guidance throughout the dissertation process, and have expertise in nonprofit and public management, dispute resolution, economic development, public-private partnerships, and more. Students are sure to find allyship in the subfields they’re interested in pursuing. Online courses are synchronous, featuring regular, live meetings for course materials that are accessible from anywhere. 

Format: Online


The Doctor of Public Administration from the University of La Verne seeks out dedicated professionals in the field who are looking to improve their credentials through the advancement of leadership, management, and decision-making skills. The two primary goals of La Verne’s program are centered around the development of advanced methodologies to increase students capacities for logical inquiry, research, and systematic problem-solving. The SPA offers state-of-the-art management courses that call upon creativity, responsive leadership, ethical values and priorities, and the ability to anticipate how industries are affected by public administration. 

The University of La Verne’s Doctor of Public Administration program is unique in how it utilizes the backgrounds of a multidisciplinary faculty in conjunction with a talented and diverse student population. Students of La Verne benefit from peer cohorts and the variety of experiences within the program’s curriculum. Courses are study-oriented and relevant to the ever-changing conditions and events that influence different experiences one may have working in the field. Coursework accounts for about 50 credits in the major, then accompanied by credits for dissertation work. Students must complete the curricular requirements assigned to each year of the program before progressing onto the next set of requirements. The third year consists mostly of applied projects and the dissertation proposal. 

Format: Online


Union Institute & University offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Interdisciplinary Studies, where students can focus on Public Policy & Social Change. The Public Policy & Social Change concentration is an online but hybrid delivery program drawing from the interdisciplinary aspects of the field. Students get to study the full complexities of case studies using tools from a broad range of concentrations, rather than one concentration lens. Graduates can reexamine the way knowledge and solutions are generated in the industry, and they are given the space to learn how to apply techniques informed by those developed and advanced understandings. 

The curriculum in the Public Policy & Social Change concentration explores the historical, economic, and social contexts of public policy by seriously considering the constitutional and legal framework of policymaking. Coursework also covers the dynamics of politics and its consequent policy process and the nature of conflict and power relationships. Students may opt to go in-depth on selected issues like education, criminal justice, health care, housing, employment, and immigration. The 66-credit Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies from ISSUU can be completed in as little as three years and consists of residency weeks that take place in January and July and are hosted in Cincinnati, OH. 

Format: Online/Residency