If you already have a busy schedule, you may be considering fulfilling your degree requirements remotely, and taking advantage of the flexibility of an online MPA program. But taking the GRE might still seem like a hurdle to overcome on your path to graduate school. There are many reasons why an individual might want to pursue an online MPA with no GRE requirement. This article will present some issues to consider when looking for accredited schools that offer an online MPA degree with no GRE.

Introduction to Online MPA programs with No GRE Requirements

It’s quite possible to earn your MPA online in as little as two years, and many online MPA degree programs have no GRE requirement. This can save you time and money.

It’s essential to make sure the online MPA program you select is accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration, (or NASPAA). Many MPA programs have been selected for accreditation. View a full list of NASPAA accredited MPA programs here.

While taking the GRE may be standard procedure in some programs and majors, this exam requirement is not universal. Deciding to pursue your MPA is a major undertaking; needing to study for and take the GRE will be one of many factors to consider as you select your program.

Each college has its own reasons for making online MPA programs — no GRE — available. Some who criticize the GRE itself say that this standardized graduate entrance test doesn’t really predict who will succeed academically. Others believe the GRE has a bias that favors prospective students from wealthy backgrounds.

Pros and Cons to Consider when Evaluating Programs

There are several different program features that might impact your decision to acquire your online Master of Public Administration from a specific school. Here are some examples of important factors to take into consideration:


The average time period to complete this degree is two years, although some programs take slightly less time. Personal circumstances such as a full-time job or a family may mean that you will have to limit the number of credit hours you take each semester, which will slow the process.


According to an article from the US News and World Report, there are five main questions that can help you gauge the quality of an online MPA program:

  • Will your online MPA require any in-person visits to campus?
  • Is it a NASPAA accredited program?
  • How is the university’s on-campus program viewed in its region?
  • Does the online MPA program teach practical skills that can be utilized in the real world?
  • How does this online MPA program foster a sense of community?

Online MPA Rankings

Many sources rank colleges with online MPA programs. While rankings might factor into your decision making, it is important that you also check for accreditation by NASPAA. You might also be interested in salary-related data for your particular college. College Scorecard is a good place to start when looking for that information.

Program cost is usually factored into master’s program rankings. If cost will impact your decision regarding an online MPA program, keep reading.


A school’s reputation is important, particularly as it relates to networking and career development, but reputation isn’t everything. Some things to remember as they relate to reputation include looking at various rankings of colleges to see where your favorites fall on the list, ensuring that any program you’re considering is fully accredited, and speaking to people who have completed the program to see if they believe it was valuable. Completing these tasks will get you well on your way to an MPA program that has a great reputation.


Acquiring your online MPA degree is an investment in your future, so you’ll want to consider whether it will yield a good return on investment, or ROI. As such, the cost of obtaining the degree will be a major factor in your decision whether to pursue it or not.

Cost from one university to another varies widely. An online MPA can cost anywhere from $20,000-$75,000. If you’re wondering how much a particular program will cost, take a look at the University’s tuition per credit hour. Calculate the total cost of your online MPA based on the number of credits required, and use this data to make your decision easier.

Beginning Your Online MPA Search

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

  • The online MPA program at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill has many benefits for students and graduates. According to the University of North Carolina website, US News and World Report ranked this university’s MPA program third in the US in the area of local government management.
  • However, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill does prefer for students to take the GRE. This may be a drawback for those seeking to avoid this examination.

Texas A&M University

  • TAMU offers an online Executive Master of Public Service and Administration, (EMPSA), which is comparable to the MPA.
  • Applicants must possess five years or more work experience in a related field, or something equivalent, along with a GRE score that is no more than five years old.
  • A bachelor’s degree is also required.

University of Illinois, Springfield

  • The online MPA at this university is comprised of a 36 semester hour curriculum, and is similar to the on-campus version. This typically takes approximately two years.
  • No on campus visits are required.
  • GRE scores are not a requirement for this online MPA, but may be helpful if your GPA as an undergraduate was lower than desired.

Final Thoughts

If you want to obtain your online MPA without taking the GRE, you will find yourself performing a balancing act to find a program that offers all you’re looking for. You definitely don’t want to compromise on the NASPAA accreditation, because that determines the value of your education.

An online MPA degree can be a truly great investment — especially if it comes from a good school that was carefully selected. Being able to skip the GRE might be a large factor in your decision to pursue a particular online MPA program.

Works Cited

College Scorecard. Retrieved on 11-13-18 at https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/.

HealthGrad.com. Retrieved on 11-10-18 at https://www.healthgrad.com/healthcare/no-gre-online-masters-public-administration-degree/.

NASPAA Accredited Schools List. Retrieved on 11-10-18 at


Texas A&M University admissions page. Retrieved on 11-13-18 at http://bush.tamu.edu/empsa/admissions/.

Texas A&M University. Retrieved on 11-13-18 at http://bush.tamu.edu/psaa/degrees/mpsa/

UNC Master of Public Administration. Retrieved on 11-13-18 at https://mpa.unc.edu/.

UNC Master of Public Administration admissions page. Retrieved on 11-13-18 at https://mpa.unc.edu/main-menu/process-timeline.

University of Illinois, Springfield. Retrieved on 11-13-18 at https://www.uis.edu/publicadministration/curriculum/graduate/admissions-requirements/.

University of Illinois, Springfield. Retrieved on 11-13-18 at https://www.uis.edu/publicadministration/curriculum/graduate/online/

US News and World Report. Retrieved on 11-13-18 at https://www.usnews.com/education/online-learning-lessons/2016/01/29/tell-if-an-online-program-has-a-good-reputation.

US News and World Report. Retrieved on 11-13-18 at https://www.usnews.com/higher-education/online-education/articles/2017-10-12/ask-5-questions-to-choose-the-right-online-mpa-program.

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