100% Online Master’s Degree in Public Administration & Affairs (MPAA)

Earn Your Master’s in Public Administration and Affairs Online and Lead with Influence

The online Master’s in Public Administration and Affairs (MPAA) degree from Merrimack College provides a flexible and convenient pathway for civic-minded professionals to enter or advance their careers in the public sector.

Designed for working professionals, students will acquire practical skills in public administration, organizational leadership, ethics, communication, data analysis, public policy, and more, gaining the ability to address complex problems and craft innovative solutions for communities of all sizes. Students also have the option of earning a concentration in Governmental Management or Public Policy.

The projects and coursework in this program were specially designed by faculty and industry experts to align with the skills and competencies hiring managers are seeking. Graduates from the Master’s in Public Administration and Affairs (MPAA) program move into careers with influence as government relations managers, nonprofit directors, lobbyists, representatives, and many more.

  • 100% Online & Asynchronous

  • 8 Courses: 4 Required + 4 Electives

  • 2 Tracks: Government Management & Public Policy

  • 12-18 Months Completion Time

  • Competitive Tuition Under $26k

  • Eligible for Federal Financial Aid

  • No GMAT Required

Yes! Tell me more about Merrimack’s Public Administration & Affairs degree!

Of job openings in local and state government require a master’s degree: State and local government jobs more likely than private sector to require postsecondary education

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2022, Obtained August 2022

What Skills Will You Develop?

To earn your Master’s in Public Administration and Affairs degree, students will complete 4 required foundational courses as well 4 additional electives, for a total of 32 credit hours. Students can also explore the possibility of using their elective credits to complete a concentration in Government Management or Public Policy.


Choose three of the following:

  • Urban Management & Policy
  • Emergency & Disaster Management
  • The Public Executive
  • Government, Business & Society


Public Policy: Theory & Evaluation And two of the following:

  • Immigration Policy
  • Cyber Security & Policy
  • Government, Business & Society

REQUIRED courses

This course is designed to allow students to develop an understanding of public administration as a field of academic study and an area of professional practice. Specifically, it focuses on the evolution of public administration as an academic discipline and a profession in the real world, the context in which public administration takes place, the meaning of public service in a democratic society, and the importance of personal and professional ethics. The course will be conducted as a seminar. Students must be prepared to discuss reading assignments and participate in analysis of case studies.

This course is designed to provide the essential tools for conducting and evaluating quantitative analysis. Students will acquire and practice the basic skills necessary to make and assess causal claims, culminating in a research project featuring original analysis of data using statistical software. Emphasis is placed on different types of data, both experimental and observational, and the appropriate methods of analysis in order to evaluate claims. The course covers a variety of topics including research design, concept operationalization, descriptive statistics, bivariate and multivariate analysis and effective communication and presentation of research findings.

An in-depth review of the funding of state and local government budgets and capital plans. This review will include the specific processes and timelines for ratification and/or adoption of each. The best practices for allocating scarce financial resources, tracking the status of capital projects, and the effect that state laws and local bylaws/ordinances have on making financial decisions will be presented and discussed. Coursework includes an in-depth review of the following public sector documents: Annual Operating Budget, Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR), and Official Statement (OS). There will be a special focus on tracking the Massachusetts State Budget from submission

The capstone course is structured to benefit both students with and without existing related work experience. Students without prior field experience will work with the Director to find a placement in an organization in a public affairs field. They will complete an average of 20 hrs/wk in their new assignment and will be required to complete a written assignment based on their placement. The internship-centric structure allows students without a prior related work history to gain hands-on experience in their desired professional field of employment and apply their developing classroom skills in a tangible way.

Alternatively, students who are currently employed full-time in an organization in a public affairs field may petition the Director to have the internship hours waived. They can instead complete a strategic capstone project with their current employer. Students will receive an assignment focused on a particular aspect or function in their current position and complete it under the supervision of a faculty member. The theoretical-centric structure allows students to gain an in-depth analysis of their current profession, which can be used to further their career development.


This course will examine scholarly research and current events with concerted attention towards the improved practice of communication in intercultural, international, and public affairs settings. The primary questions investigated will address the dynamics of culture, ethnicity, religion, and identity in terms of issues of representation, inequality, and empowerment against the backdrop of global transition in the 21st Century. The course will pay particular attention to the ways ethnic identity influences decision-making and orientation to one’s world at the individual, community, national and international levels. This course will closely interrogate communication practices between people of varying international and co-cultural backgrounds with an eye towards engendering intercultural communication competence. The course will call upon research from critical and functional perspectives that utilize qualitative and quantitative methods of inquiry.

The course will explore the laws, regulations, and the ethical rules and issues that public officials, government employees, and individuals and companies dealing with the government will encounter. The course will discuss the administrative law process, including the influence of laws and regulations created by government agencies, the power of these agencies to create regulations impacting business and public policy, and the ability of individuals, companies, and other entities to influence the process. The ethical laws, rules, and issues governing public officials and employees and those doing business with them will be covered along with the impact of these rules and issues on public policy. Through the use of examples, case studies, and readings, the course will explore select legal and ethical areas including administrative law, privacy laws, government contracting law, ethical rules including conflicts of interest rules and rules restricting payment of gifts or gratuities, whistleblowing, open meeting laws, and fraud in military and other government contracts.

The most important resources of any governmental or not-for-profit enterprise are the people who staff the enterprise. Effective delivery of program services and outputs requires effective development and management of those human resources. This course is designed to introduce the student to the issues surrounding that development. Attention in this course will be paid to the major activities in Human Resource management and administration in the Public Sector such as position classification, job evaluation, compensation, employee motivation and supervision, training, performance appraisal, and pay for performance. Emphasis will also be given to issues that impact the the conduct of personnel management, including: employee rights and responsibilities, equal employment opportunity, affirmative action, anti-discrimination laws, grievance procedures, labor-managment relations and collective bargaining.

This course is designed to allow faculty to present courses that may not exist as part of the regular curriculum, but are desired because of special interest in an evolving topic in the field, or in response to an issue of special import at a particular point in time. For instance, an increased interest among practitioners and students in Collective Bargaining may lead to a special topics course to explore that topic. In time, such a course might be proposed as a “regular” part of the curriculum. Another example would be a course looking at the public sectors response to a particular event or crisis. The special topics course would allow students to study the administrative response to such an event, and to look at future policy implications in detail. This type of course would most likely be a “one-off” course that has immediate interest and importance, but does not meet the criteria for regular curriculum status.

This course will focus on the broad trends shaping Not-for-Profit management and leadership. The goal is for students to gain an understanding of key issues and challenges facing the sector, as well as gain experience with practical management/leadership issues. Using both theoretical and practical lenses, the course seeks to deepen the understanding of the not-for-profit world; trending organizational issues; leadership strategies, and emerging challenges.

The course introduces students to a variety of theoretical approaches for analyzing the policy process and tools for evaluating policy alternatives. Following a review of key analytic concepts and theoretical perspectives, the political dimensions of public policymaking and the technical aspects of program design and evaluation will be considered within the general framework of the history of the policymaking process. Students will complete a policy analysis case study on a topic of interest and relevance to the student.

This course studies shifting immigration policy in the United States over history, with a focus on the modern era and the challenges of crafting immigration policy in an increasingly global world. The course is taught from an interdisciplinary platform, considering the philosophical, political, economic and social foundations that have inspired various policy trends as well as the effects and outcomes of policy on both the host country (the United States) and home country (country of origin). Students will also consider the various distinctions between categories of those entering the United States. The focus of the course in on immigration and human movement as it relates to the United States, although the course will also give attention to international dynamics in the current world.

This course is designed to help students think critically about the ways in which government and business interact with one another in the local, state, national and international economy. It examines how government and business are organized, and the methods by which they seek to influence one another. In addition, this course will challenge students to look at the unique nature of management in the public vs. private sector. Coursework will examine the influence of government policies on the competitive positions of individual firms and industries. Student will be introduced to the interrelationships between the public, private and non-profit sectors and the activities of the major key players: federal, state, and local elected officials, city managers, business leaders, interest groups, political parties, lobbyists, community activists, and non-governmental officials (NGOs) and their constituencies. Finally, this course will ask you to define the specific concepts—economic, social, political, psychological, and cultural-that are common to the unique nature of management in the public, private and non-profit sectors.

This course is designed to introduce students to the complex, and often challenging environment of public policy development in metropolitan institutions. This course will provide an overview of the degree in which urban residents can govern themselves in communities, and the key challenges historically faced by contemporary cities. Students will focus on urban areas throughout the country, while looking at urban policies and politics. This course will also introduce the interrelationships between the structure of urban government, and the activities of major actors (mayors, city managers, council members, interest groups, political parties, and community activists) in urban settings. Finally, the course will ask students to understand specific urban concepts or urban characteristics-economic, social, political, and psychological-that are common to all cities, and metropolitan areas.

This course introduces students to the field of emergency and disaster management. It is intended to provide students with an answer to the question: how should governments and organizations plan for and respond to natural disasters and emergencies? In addition, we will ask: what could governments and organizations do to better prepare for emergencies? When have effective response plans been implemented? And when and why have response plans failed? We will approach these questions by learning about the fundamental concepts in the growing field of disaster and emergency management followed by an analysis of specific cases including Hurricane Katrina, pandemic flu, 9-11, and mass shootings. We will analyze these situations to determine how the government and private organizations coordinated the response, gauge the effectiveness of these responses, and learn how government and private organizations can better prepare for disasters and emergencies in the future.

This course draws on the material from the foundation level courses in the Master of Public Affairs program. The focus is on enhancing executive level decision making and leadership skills. The context is executive level management of local government and nonprofit organizations, but lessons learned will have broad applicability for mid-level and senior managers in all government agencies and other public service entities. The course will provide the student with an in-depth perspective into the environment, challenges, and responsibilities of a public sector executive.

Tune into the Grad Chat

In this episode of Grad Chat, we focus on Merrimack’s Master of Public Administration and Affairs program, with two special guests, Program Director Bradley Miller, and a recent graduate.

What Our Students Are Saying:

“This program helped me find my passion for local government and I’m thankful I took the jump. I was not really sure what my next step was after undergrad and the Master’s of Public Affairs and Administration led me to where I am now and I’m super thankful.”

MPAA Student, 2021

“I felt supported by all staff, and they wanted all of us to succeed and to me, that is important in a graduate-level program. Most students are juggling more things than just school and the supportive environment allows everyone to succeed.”

MPAA Student, 2021

“I had a really good experience. It was very tough, I was working full-time, I was a mother, but it was manageable and the instructors were really one of a kind. It was great.”

MPAA Student, 2022

“If working with those in need is something that you are passionate about and you want the knowledge, the tools, and the skills to make the world a better place, this is the right degree to get.”

MPAA Student, 2022

Discover the Merrimack Difference

Where Can Your Public Administration and Affairs Degree Take You?

Potential career paths for graduates of the Master of Public Administration and Affairs include:

Political Scientist

$122,510Avg.per year

Fundraising Manager

$100,810Avg. per year

Facilities Manager

$99,290Avg. per year

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2022, Obtained August 2022


At Merrimack College, we’re proud of our long history of providing quality degrees to students entering the job market. Our faculty are more than just teachers. We are committed to helping you grow — academically, personally, and professionally — so that you graduate as a confident, well-prepared leader.

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Yes! Tell me more about Merrimack’s Public Administration & Affairs Degree!