Online Education in Public Affairs: Current State and Emerging Issues

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


The advances in, and diffusion of, technology have resulted in a growth of online educational opportunities. While programs in public affairs are part of this proliferation in online education, there is limited information on the current state of online education in this area. Using data collected from a survey of 96 National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) affiliated institutions, this exploratory study provides an overview of the current landscape of online education in the fields of Master of Public Administration and Master of Public Policy (MPA/MPP). Areas studied include the rationales for offering or not offering online education, concerns with technology, modes of online instruction, student services, faculty and staff demands, and enrollment patterns. The primary goal stated for offering courses and degrees online is to reach more students. We found substantial diversity in teaching methods and types of degrees and concentrations, which suggests students and instructors alike are attracted to online education due to its flexibility. Surprisingly, we did not find any significant problems with technological concerns. Apprehension about the quality and effectiveness of online education persist in the field of public affairs, as well concerns about faculty and staff workloads in online education. Finally, this survey suggests that the most successful schools are those that offer particularized degree concentrations that are able to recruit from a niche market.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)247-270
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Public Affairs Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Public Administration


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