MPA Program Rises To Best National Spot Ever, In U.S. News & World Report Rankings

Charlotte’s Master of Public Administration program has surged to its best national ranking ever, reaching No. 46 in the U.S. News & World Report rankings for 2023-24, up from No. 60 just four years ago.

The dramatic rise of the Gerald G. Fox Master of Public Administration program to the top 17% of ranked programs stems from its attention to the needs of students and employers, driven by talented faculty, dedicated staff and a community of practitioners who work closely with the program, said Program Director Suzanne Leland.

“We work as a team to provide opportunities for our students to study, research and work alongside professionals in the public administration field, while focusing also on impactful research into matters of significance for North Carolina and the nation,” Leland said. “We are particularly fortunate to have nurtured active partnerships with local governments, agencies and nonprofits, as well as with our alumni.”

With the latest rankings, the nationally accredited program is the #2 ranked public affairs program at a public North Carolina university and the #3 ranked public affairs program in North Carolina. In addition to its overall ranking, the MPA program also achieved two specialty area rankings in local government management and public finance and budgeting.

The program came in higher than several top-tier research universities, including Auburn University, Brandeis University, Brown University, North Carolina State University, Northeastern University, Ohio University and Virginia Tech. The program tied with CUNY (John Jay College), Rutgers University-New Brunswick, University of Central Florida, University of Connecticut, University of Massachusetts-Amherst and University of Missouri.

With a strong foundation in core management and leadership competencies, the Charlotte MPA program features concentrated areas of study in urban management and policy, nonprofit management, emergency management, public budgeting and finance, and arts administration.

“Our faculty, students and alumni are publishing significant research in journals and books and editing and guest-editing influential journals, such as the Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, with our faculty Joanne Carman and Jaclyn Piatak serving as editors-in-chief,” Leland said. “In practical terms, we are creating and curating knowledge that can be used to improve people’s lives.”

The flexible Charlotte program has provided professional training for service in the public and nonprofit sectors for nearly 50 years, since 1976. In addition to core faculty, adjunct and professional affiliate faculty with particular subject expertise teach courses on a part-time basis, bringing additional applied professional experience to the academic curriculum.

The coursework features full-time and part-time options, with evening classes offered at The Dubois Center at UNC Charlotte Center City and the main Charlotte campus, making courses convenient for professional students. The program also provides online and blended classes, opportunities for funded field experiences and scholarships and an early-entry option for exceptional UNC Charlotte undergraduate students.

U.S. News rankings of public affairs programs are based solely on peer assessment survey results from deans, directors and department chairs representing master’s programs in public affairs and administration. The lists of schools, individuals surveyed and specialty areas evaluated were provided by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration, known as NASPAA, and by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management. 

The public affairs ranking was released as part of U.S. News’ 2023-24 Best Graduate School rankings, on April 25. In total, 11 Charlotte graduate programs or specialties saw increases in the rankings. Other graduate programs in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences receiving national rankings are mathematics and physics.

Learn more about UNC Charlotte’s 150-plus graduate programs and the MPA program, and request information about applying to Graduate School.