Academics Overview

Our MPA is designed to hone the skills you need to make a real impact. The Price School MPA online takes public service to a whole new level — public or social entrepreneurship to create new public policy solutions. Through our rigorous curriculum, our students are groomed to be change agents and to take on leadership roles in transforming their organizations.

Our coursework is designed to build analytic, leadership and communication skills — three tools vital to making positive change. In public administration, analytic capabilities without political leadership or communication skills lead to great plans that are never implemented. Political and communication skills in the absence of analytic capabilities lead to great-sounding programs that don’t achieve their desired ends. With the USC online MPA, our students are trained to have the whole package. It’s the combination of these analytic, leadership and communication skills that creates truly successful public managers.

Ranked #25 among the best universities nationwide by U.S. News & World Report (2017)

A leader in research and education as a tier one research institute for more than 30 years

Customizable curriculum with three concentrations and two certificate options, including Local Government Management, Nonprofit Management or Public Policy, and the City/Council Management or Public Policy Certificate

Opportunities to connect with professionals around the world and experience hands-on learning through our capstone course and two residency components

Why Choose USC’s MPA?

To tackle public administration’s pressing issues — including sustainability and the environment, health care reform, immigration, infrastructure, urban development, social planning and policy, affordable housing and governance — today’s professionals must be innovative, politically savvy, collaborative and communicative.

To help you develop these skills, our curriculum combines structure and research-based learning. With core courses in budgeting, financial management, planning, practice and program evaluation, a foundation is laid to build upon through specialized concentrations in local government management, nonprofit management and public management.

Develop Your Intersectoral Leadership.

The USC online MPA offers more than just theory-based learning; our MPA delivers hands-on experience in a real-world setting. With two residency components, one at the beginning of the program and one at the end which includes your Capstone course, you can develop the skills, experience and network to move your public administration career forward.

During the residency components, you will meet for an intensive class session over a weekend at our USC campus, located near the Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island. Here you will meet your faculty, including Capstone leader Dr. Dora Kingsley Vertenten, and fellow classmates face-to-face.

A World-Class Faculty:

The USC online MPA is taught by leaders. Our faculty members are more than textbook lecturers; they are distinguished, award-winning scholars, researchers, published authors and field experts. With a variety of interests and specializations, including economics, international relations, urban planning, organizational behavior, public policy and social ethics, our faculty members can help you build expertise in whichever sector or subset of public administration interests you.

  • Six full-time faculty members
  • One elected fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration
  • Ranked third at USC in terms of per capita research grants
  • 100% hold terminal degrees in their field

How Has the MPA Capstone Helped Students?

Our coursework builds fundamental skills necessary for long-term success and teaches about modern issues. Our online capstone is the culmination. The MPA capstone consists of a client-based project where students work in teams of five or six throughout a semester. At the end of the semester, you and your team will be able to present your project, and the best one will receive a cash prize at our annual Price School Awards Ceremony.

Many of our past Capstone winners and participants have gone on to positively impact their communities beyond graduation. For his Capstone project, 2014 USC MPA online graduate Willie Joe Marquez and his team were able to improve government data transparency in the city of Los Angeles — a Capstone report that is still used in L.A.

Study Anywhere and Anytime.

Online learning is constantly evolving, which means today’s online students have the advantage of completing their coursework with more flexibility and support, and in collaboration with more peers than ever before.

  • Worldwide Connections: Learn how to collaborate with those who hold different, sometimes opposing perspectives while expanding your network worldwide.
  • Advanced Flexibility: Learn on your schedule without sacrificing your career and family duties.
  • Added Support: Learn with multiple levels of support, available to you on a flexible online platform.

Online learning provides a lot of benefits, but it isn’t for everyone. It requires discipline, passion and determination. Find out now if online learning is right for you and your goals.