The graduate programs.com site has issued its ranking of top public administration (MPA) graduate programs. The programs, ranked one to five, are:

1. California State University-Northridge     
2. University of Kansas     
3. Drake University     
4. Rutgers University-Newark     
5. University of Georgia

Go here for a list of the top 17 schools, along with annual tuition estimates, 2016 student ratings and methodology.

The ranking of the top 17 schools that offer graduate degrees in the field of public administration is based on student feedback scores. Many of the schools on the list are affordable alternatives for the budget-conscious student. A total of six of the programs cost less than $20,000 annually in tuition.

The site bases its ranking on internal recommend rate data, which is calculated based on tens of thousands of student reviews submitted to the site. The information in the site’s school listings was gathered in 2015-2016 from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

Kimberly Wetter, formerly marketing manager at SR Education Group, developers of the graduate programs.com site, is confident would-be MPA students can find a good school match at the site. “These are the top rated schools in the nation, so we’re 100 percent positive a student will get a valuable education at any of the schools in our ranking.”

Wetter adds: “The 2016 Top Graduate Program rankings represent graduate schools and programs all across the nation and are based on student reviews. Based on extremely high student satisfaction ratings, these 17 schools made our list for the Top MPA degrees.” Wetter says that her site’s list is all campus-based. The reason, she explains is “because we didn’t have enough online-specific MPA reviews to make a list statistically significant.”

Wetter cites this key difference between The 2016 Top Graduate Program rankings and similar school lists: “Most rankings are based off a proprietary algorithm. Our ranking is based simply off of student satisfaction. We are letting the students tell us which programs are the best and which schools created the biggest impact in their lives.”

Wetter urges potential MPA students to do plenty of research. “Rankings are great, and they all typically tell you important pieces of information. For instance, ours tell you that graduates of these schools loved their programs. Other rankings may tell you which schools are hard to get into. You want to make sure you’re applying to schools that satisfy all your needs: location, price and quality.”

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