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Why Online for an MPA?

Thursday, November 12, 2015 | 12:00 AM

There is no denying that online programs for higher education have grown at a remarkable rate over the last decade and a half. A report by the Sloan Consortium showed that over a period of six years, higher education online student enrollments grew at a faster rate than traditional student enrollments by 18 percent. Student enrollments in online Master of Public Affairs (MPA) programs are similarly on the rise. Advances in technology and communication, developments in online teaching methods and assessment, and the flexibility of scheduling and pace for working professionals are excellent reasons the MPA lends itself perfectly to the online program format.

Flexible programs

The majority of students who enroll in online MPA programs are working professionals. Many of these students have several years of experience in public affairs jobs and want to advance their careers by pursuing higher education. For MPA students who want to continue working while completing their master's degree, online courses provide the flexibility needed to maintain balance work and school commitments. Students in online courses can have access to degree programs offered at institutions that traditionally might have required moving to another city or state to attend classes. These students also have increased control over both their daily schedule and their course schedule, allowing them to excel in professional as well as educational pursuits.

Enhanced communication

Communication between instructors and students is a vital component of online MPA programs. A student in an online program will gain valuable experience using the latest technology and methods to communicate. Online students also have the opportunity to grow in their ability to effectively communicate through writing. These skills transfer well into the professional setting for those seeking career advancement in public affairs. Effective communication and use of technology are necessary for success in any type of public affairs job.

Working professionals with a drive to advance in their public affairs careers should consider the benefits of online MPA programs. Students have access to some of the finest instructors and courses in the field of public affairs education. Students can study course content at a location and time of their choice and at a pace that best suits their needs. The skills gained from the coursework and instructor interaction can enhance the professional work of students in the public affairs arena.

Learn about University of Texas Rio Grande Valley online MPA program.


Gibson, P. A., & Dunning, P. T. (2012). Creating quality online course design through a peer- reviewed assessment. Journal of Public Affairs Education, 18(1), 209–228.

Ginn, M., & Hammond, A. (2012). Online education in public affairs: Current and emerging issues. Journal of Public Affairs Education, 18(2), 247–270.

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