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Online Masters of Public Administration

Start date
January, February, June, August, October
2.5 years
Course Type
Postgraduate, Continuing professional development, Distance learning, Taught

£14,495 full programme/£1,115 per module.

Learn to lead positive change, adopt the latest international thinking and master public sector strategy by studying our 100% Online Masters of Public Administration.

Make a difference to your community

The world of public service has changed, and with it so has the demand for a whole new set of skills and way of thinking. By introducing you to the latest, pioneering public service practices, strategies and global perspectives, our 100% Online Masters of Public Administration (MPA) will prepare you for today’s public sector challenges, equipping you with the tools to effect positive change, wherever you are in the world.

With the integration of the likes of AI and ‘big data’ into public service systems, today’s public servants need to be more forward-thinking and tech-savvy than ever. Packed with the latest ideas from around the world, with topics attuned to the current direction of the public sector, this Online MPA is all you need to progress in this dynamic field.

With content delivered by the Institute of Local Government Studies (INLOGOV) – the Online Masters of Public Administration is perfectly positioned to encourage progressive ideas and innovative thinking without having to set foot on campus.

It has been specifically designed for those who are seeking to take their career in public services further – whether it’s a move into a more senior role, a change in career, new department or shift into consultancy work. The online format meets the needs of working professionals who are balancing careers and personal commitments alongside their studies.

Your programme of study

With a focus on a diverse range of subject matter, exploring topics from public management to leadership and strategy, this 180-credit programme is split between twelve taught modules, plus a final dissertation. Spanning 2.5 years, you will have time to delve deeply into the module content and reflect on everything you have learnt.

To assess your understanding, you will be asked to complete written assignments, discussion boards, simulations and presentations.

Programme outcomes include:

  • Understand public management and governance
  • Navigate managerial leadership and global governance
  • Apply individual strategies for public service career development
  • Implement theoretical knowledge through real-world scenarios
  • Deploy international perspectives on strategy and practice

Enquire now for detailed programme and pricing information

Want to know more?

Why study an Online Masters of Public Administration? Where will you be studying? What kind of support will you receive? Find out the answers to these questions by visiting our Frequently Asked Questions page.

Read our FAQs here

The programme is rooted in practice and research. We draw upon a huge range of experts within the field and these external experts bring in real-life studies which truly bring the programme to life. It’s not a correspondence course and it’s not purely rooted in academic research and theory. It’s about applied and work-based learning to bring about positive change.

Dr Philip Whiteman, Director of the Online Master of Public Administration, University of Birmingham


The Online Master of Public Administration is a 180 credit full masters programme. As a student on the programme, you will study six 10 credit modules in year one, followed by six 10 credit modules in year two. Each module lasts approximately eight weeks. Students will need to enrol onto each module and in a linear structure to ensure they grasp concepts in manageable sections.

Core modules

To fulifil the requirements of the masters degree, students then have the opportunity to complete a dissertation at the end of year two. This is a research project which can be tailored to a specific area of interest, or to your own work environment. The dissertation is equal to 60 credits of study.

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The full cost of this programme is £14,495* GBP. This can be paid in full or in instalments of £1,115 per module.


International students can occasionally gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or via your home government. It’s good to do your research to find funding opportunities which you could be eligible for.

How To Apply

Click on the ‘Apply now’ button and create an account. You will be directed to an application specifically designed for the Online Master of Public Administration. Submit your application and supporting documentation online. Your supporting documents include:

  • Curriculum vitae (CV) or résumé: Demonstrate your academic and work experience, in addition ot any other skills that may support your application. This will help our recruitment team ensure that you have the right experience for the programme.
  • Statement of purpose: Draw attention to your skills, experience and goals, and to explain why you wish to apply for this programme. This should be no longer than one page of text.
  • One reference: Send details of your reference either as a letter of recommendation or a recorded transcript by email or by post to our recruitment team. These must be signed, on letterheaded paper, or supplied with your referee’s business card.
  • Transcripts: To verify your education, we ask you to submit your previous academic transcripts, either in notarized form or sent directly from your previous institution.
  • Evidence of language (if applicable): If English is not your first language, you will need to also supply an up-to-date English language certificate which meets the entry criteria – as detailed in our standard entry requirements section.

If you would like any feedback or advice about your application, our recruitment team would be happy to help. You can fill out a request for information or call +44 (0)800 032 7101.

How to apply

To apply for a postgraduate taught programme, you will need to submit your application and supporting documents online. We have put together some helpful information on the taught programme application process and supporting documents on our how to apply page. Please read this information carefully before completing your application.

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Our Standard Requirements

In order to be eligible for the Online Masters of Public Administration, you will need to possess (or be predicted to obtain) an upper second-class degree or postgraduate diploma from a UK university OR an equivalent qualification from a recognised institution.

Standard English language requirements also apply. If English is not your first language, you must also have an up-to-date English language test certificate. We accept an Academic IELTS certificate with a grade of 6.5 and no less than 6.0 in any band. Other forms of English language certificates are accepted. Please discuss this with a recruitment coordinator.

International Requirements

International Students

You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:

  • IELTS 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in any band
  • TOEFL: 88 overall with no less than 21 in Reading, 20 in Listening, 22 in Speaking and 21 in Writing
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE) including online: PTE Academic 67 with no less than 64 in all four skills
  • Cambridge English (exams taken from 2015): Advanced – minimum overall score of 176, with no less than 169 in any component


What is it like to study for an MPA online?

Distance learning involves a whole lot more than just putting campus programmes online. The 100% Online Master of Public Administration has been purpose-built from the ground up to harness the full power of the technologies available, involving everything from cloud-powered collaboration to interactive live lectures. The format is ideally suited to working professionals who are balancing their careers and personal commitments alongside their studies.

Learning for future leaders

Online MPA students have access to a cutting-edge digital platform throughout their studies. We have moved beyond the traditional classroom structure, taking full advantage of digital media with modules that draw on interactivity, active student participation and social connectivity to provide a more dynamic learning experience.

Rather than simply reading lecture transcripts and sending in assignments, the University of Birmingham’s online students engage with the curriculum directly using: 

  • Video lectures: accessing content at any time and from any device
  • Interactive assignments: actively participating in learning exercises
  • Real-life case studies: gain skills you can apply to your organisation immediately
  • Peer interaction: connect with peers, professors and tutors online
  • Digital resources: rely on support for any of your admissions, enrolment, technology or career needs

Module structure

In every module, there live lecture sessions, (known as connect sessions). You will be allocated a time for these sessions that fits best with your time zone. In each session you will have the opportunity to present your work and/or discuss case study exercises.

  • Be taught by our internationally respected course leaders.
  • Communicate and network with fellow students in forums and via instant chat.
  • Undertake assignments (reports, essays, presentations, quizzes, group work), with deadlines structured at reasonable intervals to help guide you through your student journey.

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Career opportunities: Online Master of Public Administration

Upskill in a changing world

To keep pace with new technology and increasing demand for more sophisticated services, public service has changed. For professionals keen to upskill and stay ahead in this evolving environment, this Online MPA provides the necessary practical, contemporary content to help you better serve your local communities.

For those willing to develop the latest skills and expertise, a number of diverse MPA careers are available, from policy management and town planning to corporate services and change management. Underpinned by the latest research, academic insights and practice-based learning, this programme will help you improve your relevance, be it for the public sector, government or an external agency.

Build your future

We understand how important it is to focus on your professional future during your time with us. We aim to enable and inspire students to maximise their potential, grow intellectually and gain the skills, understanding and attributes that are highly sought after by employers, giving you excellent future prospects in a competitive employment market.

Previous graduates on this programme have embarked on MPA careers in local councils, educational institutions, non-governmental organisations and political organisations.

Become more employable

We want to ensure that you can progress in this competitive environment and have designed our course content with a practical approach and contemporary subject matter. It is this experience that will give you a commanding position when it comes to taking advantage of the career opportunities available.

Find out more about your career outlook.

During your studies, you should expect to:

  • Understand public management and global governance
  • Navigate managerial leadership
  • Apply individual strategies for public service career development
  • Deploy theoretical knowledge using real-world scenarios
  • Use international perspective of strategy and practices

Why choose the University of Birmingham for your MPA?

  • Ranked 4th in the UK for Social Policy (2020)1
  • School of Government awarded Bronze Athena SWAN (2020)2
  • 4th most targeted University by the UK’s top employers (High Fliers Research 2022)
  • UK’s leading academic centre for teaching and research on local government and strategic public management3

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1. UNKNOWN (2019) Green economy could create 24 million new jobs. United Nations Sustainable Development Goals [online]  [Accessed 12.02.2020]

2. UNKNOWN (2019) 7 affordable and clean energyUnited Nations Sustainable Development Goals [online]  [Accessed 12.02.2020]

3. UNKNOWN (2018) Executive summary: Emissions Gap Report 2018United Nations Environment Programme [online]  [Accessed 12.02.2020]