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MPA Public Administration (online)

Internationally recognised qualification in public services management by distance learning

2018/19 entry


2 years part-time

Start date

September 2018 (term dates)

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The Masters of Public Administration is an internationally recognised qualification acting as the public service equivalent of an MBA.

It is ideal for early- and mid-career professionals working in public service delivery. During your studies you'll develop the skills and knowledge required for management in large and complex organisations. You'll become familiar with the complex issues which you need to balance when managing or leading public service delivery.

By choosing this part-time, online course you will be able to combine your study with your career and family. You'll also be studying with one of the top universities in the world, with teaching and support from experienced academics and practitioners. Our Department is ranked 24th in the world, and 5th in the UK (QS World Rankings 2017). All our courses are run directly by us, with no outsourcing, so you can always count on coherent and strong support from your academic tutors, personal supervisor and our dedicated support team.

You'll study alongside your peers working in similar organisations around the world. You'll be able to actively engage with them and share ideas, learning and experience as you progress through the course. You'll also be in a position to immediately apply your learning and insight to your work and your organisation.

Because I had undertaken a module on Strategic Planning I was asked by my organisation to lead on a national strategy. This has raised my profile and enabled me to be promoted to my current role.
Katherine, UK

High satisfaction rate

Our online Social Policy courses scored 100% for student satisfaction in the Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey 2016 (response rate: 25%)

Course content

Our MPA will develop you as a professional public service manager. You'll develop your skills in analysis, decision-making and accountability. You will deepen your understanding of the ethos, culture, opportunities and constraints that govern public service delivery. You'll develop your ability to lead and manage people through successful strategic and organisational change. You'll learn how to influence policy decisions to shape future service delivery and enhance your organisation's learning and performance.

As you progress through this two year course you will apply your learning in the workplace. We'll encourage your development as a reflective practitioner throughout this process.

Towards the end of the course you'll start to prepare for your dissertation which will allow you to explore an area of particular interest.

You can also study for a shorter period of time and graduate with a Postgraduate Certificate or Diploma. See our brochure for details. 


To graduate with an MPA degree, you will need to take 140 credits of taught modules and complete a dissertation worth 40 credits.

You'll study these modules to a schedule. This will allow you to participate online with academics and fellow students from around the world.

Year one: foundation

In the first year you'll complete 80 credits of study through the following modules:

  • Public Management and Delivery (20 credits)
  • Strategic Planning (20 credits)
  • Policy Analysis and Process (20 credits)
  • Reflective Practice for Professional Development - Part One (10 credits)
  • Digital Government: Policy and Practice (10 credits)

Year two: specialisation and dissertation

In your second year you'll study a combination of taught modules and work on your dissertation. You'll start the year by studying this module: 

  • Leading and Managing Organisational Change (20 credits)

You'll then choose one of the following modules:

  • Project Management (20 credits)
  • Public Finance (20 credits)
  • Public Service Reform: Economic and Political Perspectives (20 credits).

You will also need to complete a dissertation, as well as modules designed to develop your professional and research skills:

  • Reflective Practice for Professional Development - Part Two (10 credits)
  • Dissertation workshop (10 credits)
  • Dissertation (40 credits)

Description of modules.

These modules will run during 2016-18. Modules may change in later years in light of student feedback and ongoing research.

Please note, modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.


Throughout your studies your assignments will help you to apply theory to practice and to combine academic work with case studies or examples relevant to your work.

One of your taught modules, the Dissertation Workshop, will help you prepare for your dissertation. You'll learn how to plan and schedule your independent literature-based research project. With the help of your dissertation supervisor you'll work on finding the appropriate scope and focus for your project, and develop a workable structure. You'll also receive feedback on draft chapters and guidance on conducting your literature review and any further research.

Your dissertation is worth 40 credits and will be 12,000 words long.

Previous dissertation titles have included:

  • The role of culture in organisational learning: an evaluation of the culture change programme in [specified] organisation
  • To what extent can the Local Authority Trading Company model of service delivery overcome unintended consequences associated with traditional private sector outsourcing?
  • Is good governance achievable in fragile states? The role of civil society organisations in promoting good governance in South Sudan
  • Planning for stability or learning to innovate? A critical evaluation of strategic planning within [specified] council
  • Has engagement with communities in Ghana had a positive effect on the health of the targeted population?
  • How successful has public and patient stakeholder engagement been under New Public Management reforms for the UK National Health Service?
  • The enabling and constraining factors that influence knowledge sharing in public organisations

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2018/19

Study modeUK/EUInternational
Part-time, distance learning (2 years)
Higher band fee. Fees for subsequent years are subject to confirmation.
year 1 fee
year 1 fee
Part-time, distance learning (2 years)
This lower band fee applies to student based in developing countries, employers sponsoring more than one student per cohort, CIMA certified applicants, CIPFA members, City of York Council employees and Ministry of Defence personnel. Fees for subsequent years are subject to confirmation.
year 1 fee
year 1 fee

Fees information

UK/EU or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK/EU or international student.

Teaching and assessment

You’ll work with world‐leading academics who’ll challenge you to think independently and excel in all that you do. Our approach to teaching will provide you with the knowledge, opportunities, and support you need to grow and succeed in a global workplace. Find out more about our approach to teaching and learning.

Teaching format

You will study online and can therefore study from wherever you are. It takes about 15 hours per week to complete all your reading and tasks. You can decide when you work on these weekly tasks, as all activities can be completed around your schedule.

The three main kinds of activity you will be asked to do are:

  • Reading the module texts written by our academic team and selected core articles (journal articles, book chapters, case studies)
  • Joining weekly online discussions with fellow students and the module tutor
  • Working on individual tasks such as written exercises to receive feedback from your tutor or to contribute to group work.

You will be supported by:

  • A module tutor who will facilitate the weekly online discussion and offer individual support
  • A personal supervisor who will provide ongoing academic and pastoral support. You can approach your supervisor with queries on study skills and your progress
  • A dedicated support team who will be able to help you with administrative or technical enquiries.

Our distinctive approach.

Assessment and feedback

You will take part in exercises and other tasks as you progress through each module. This will allow you to receive feedback on your progress and understanding.

At the end of each 20 credit module you'll complete an assignment. Normally this will be a 3,000 word assessment. For the 10 credit modules you will work on a journal (or another practice exercise) or will complete a dissertation plan.

I've liked the experience very much. I felt really supported by both teaching and non-academic staff. I really enjoyed it.
Valentina, Bulgaria

Careers and skills

This course is ideal for people working in public and not-for-profit sectors as well as people working in for-profit organisations that deliver public services. It will enable you to develop the skills and understanding needed for management and leadership in complex public service environments.

Career opportunities

Our current students and alumni work in roles in: 

  • Local and national governments and their departments
  • International organisations and non-governmental organisations
  • Other publicly funded organisations such as education and healthcare providers
  • Charities and not-for-profit organisations.

Many of our alumni have progressed in their careers either during or after their studies.

Transferable skills

  • Leadership skills
  • Designing, leading and managing change
  • Strategic planning
  • Project management
  • Public services management
  • Decision-making
  • Influencing and managing networks and partnerships
  • Reflective practice for ongoing professional development.
Having completed the York MPA course I feel empowered, connected and more able to add value to my organisation’s direction of travel.
Ahmed, UK

Entry requirements

Qualification Grade

You should normally have at least a 2:1 undergraduate degree or equivalent qualification. If you don't have experience of undergraduate study we may consider your application if you have a suitable professional background.

You should also have professional experience in the public service field. This could be in roles in local or national government, or in non-governmental and inter-governmental organisations, the voluntary and charitable sector, and private sector roles which support or deliver public services.

You will also need to ensure you have:

  • A computer in your home with an internet connection (minimum 0.5mbps)
  • An office software suite compatible with Word and Excel formats.

When you apply you'll need to write a personal statement, answering all the questions on this template and acknowledging the Requirements of Study.

The international equivalents of UK qualifications are shown on our country-specific pages. You can also contact the international team for guidance.

English language

If your native language is not English you will need to show evidence of your English language ability. Some exceptions apply, but the standard accepted qualifications are listed below:

  • IELTS: 6.5, with no less than 5.5 in each component
  • Pearson (PTE): 61, with no less than 51 in each component
  • CAE and CPE (from January 2015): 176, with no less than 162 in each component
  • TOEFL: 87, with a minimum of 17 in Listening, 18 in Reading, 20 in Speaking and 17 in Writing
  • Trinity ISE: level 3 with Merit in all components


You can apply and send all your documentation electronically through our online system. You don’t need to complete your application all at once: you can start it, save it and finish it later.

Apply for this course

Next steps

Contact us

Contact our admissions team if you have any questions

Professor Ellen Roberts

Learn more

Social Policy and Social Work