Online MPA

A degree that’s customized to your needs and schedule

Furthering your knowledge and expertise in the areas of public affairs and public policy indicate you want to be a part of shaping the message around and focus on societal issues and progress. At the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University, the Online Master of Public Affairs degree is customizable to your specific interests and goals.

Wondering how effective our online MPA program is? We’re happy to share that out of 284 graduate schools, all of our online focus areas are ranked in the top three by U.S. News and World Report.

If you’re already working in the field of public affairs and want to expand your knowledge, we offer a reduction in credit for prior professional experiences that are relevant to the program. Individuals that have served in the military, Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, and Teach for America are also eligible for automatic reduction in credit hours. And if you’re eager for an in-classroom experience, we have a host of on-campus opportunities to help you build invaluable relationships with your professors and fellow classmates.

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Start your MPA in style

Top ranked by U.S. News & World Report
Median starting salary $69,000
Credit hour reduction for military and prior professional experience
On-campus opportunities

What you’ll learn

We believe our core curriculum gives you the necessary knowledge and skills to progress in your career. These required courses prepare you to face the big issues in our society:

  • Public Management (V502)
  • Statistical Analysis for Effective Decision Making (V506)
  • Public Management Economics (V517)
  • Law and Public Affairs (V540)
  • Public Finance and Budgeting (V560)
  • Capstone in Public and Environmental Affairs (V600)

You will choose at least six advanced elective courses to fulfill your degree requirements and tailor the curriculum to meet your needs. You may need to take more than six, depending on the number of credits you receive from your experiential component, to meet the 48 credits required for the degree.

Students are required to focus in at least one of the following MPA advanced curriculum areas: Public Management, Nonprofit Management, Policy Analysis, or Public Budgeting and Financial Management.

One of your electives can be the optional, weeklong residential program held at our Bloomington, Indiana, campus in early August.

Relevant experience is key to professional growth. That’s why, as an O'Neill Online student, you must do ONE of the following:

  • Complete an approved internship
  • Receive credit for prior professional experience or volunteer service
  • Complete an independent or group research project (V590 or V601)

The amount of experiential credit students receive varies. Some choose to do an internship for 3 to 6 credits, while others join the program with significant prior experience and receive the maximum 12 credits. The fewer experiential credits, the more advanced electives you must take to meet the degree requirements. 

If you’re interested in an internship, you must seek approval from the faculty director. The decision to seek credit for the internship is up to you. 

You can receive credit for the experiential component—typically three to six hours—for prior professional and military experience (PPE) or volunteer service in Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, or Teach for America. To receive PPE credit, the experience must have been:

  • Above entry level and require a college degree
  • Full time, either paid or unpaid
  • Within the last five years
  • With a single organization for at least two years
  • Explicitly related to an MPA career path

You may also earn up to 12 credit hours for your prior professional experience. If you think you might qualify for PPE or service credit, forward a copy of your resume for an official estimate.

Request a prior experience reduction estimate

How it works

Your O'Neill Online courses will be taught by a combination of O'Neill’s world-class faculty members and professionals who are a valuable source of real-world knowledge. You’ll interact with your professors online, of course, but you can also reach them by phone to ask questions and get to know them better.

You’ll access your courses through Canvas, Indiana University’s online learning environment. Most courses will require you to log in one or more times per week, whenever it’s convenient for you, to participate in discussions, exercises, and reviews. Some classes may have specified meeting times—for chat sessions, for example.

Course requirements vary, but you’ll be expected to:

  • Be proficient in reading and writing English
  • Download PDFs and view them using software such as the free Adobe Reader
  • Watch videos using Windows Media Player, Quicktime, or another media player
You may already have some or all of these programs on your computer, and Indiana University (IU) students can download PDF readers, media players, and other free or low-cost software from IUware Online.

Students are expected to participate in class each week. We recommend budgeting about six hours per week per class to complete your reading and participation, but this time will vary according to the course, the instructor, and your learning habits.

Online courses can be demanding—they require effective time management, initiative, and clear, considered communication, even beyond what’s required for residential courses. We'll provide a Distance Education Student Primer: Skills for Being a Successful Online Learner and a list of resources for information on making the most of your online learning experience.

After you are admitted to the program and register for courses, you will receive a password that will give you access to the course materials on Canvas. We encourage you to get started and explore Canvas before your courses begin.

When you enroll in O’Neill Online, you’ll join O’Neill's powerful network of students, top faculty, and alumni who are solving important problems throughout the world. They will help you develop your interests and advance your career, both in class and through opportunities such as internships and mentoring. It’s the kind of network you can only get at a top public affairs school like O’Neill.

*Apply by priority deadline to be considered for O’Neill Fellowships