Masters in Public Administration Programs in the State of South Carolina

Cole Neder

Cole Neder

Updated & Fact Checked: 05.13.2024


Attending an MPA graduate program in South Carolina offers numerous benefits, particularly due to the state’s diverse cities and rich cultural heritage. Charleston, often called the “Holy City” for its numerous church steeples, is renowned for its historic charm and picturesque architecture. Students can explore the city’s historic district, filled with cobblestone streets and antebellum mansions, or visit renowned plantations like Boone Hall or Magnolia Plantation. Charleston’s culinary scene is also a highlight, with a blend of traditional Southern cuisine and modern culinary innovations. The city’s coastal location also provides opportunities for relaxing on the beaches of nearby islands like Isle of Palms and Sullivan’s Island, offering a perfect balance of history, culture, and relaxation.

Columbia, the state capital, offers a different yet equally vibrant experience. The city is home to the University of South Carolina, providing a lively college town atmosphere. Students can visit the South Carolina State House, an architectural marvel, or explore the Columbia Museum of Art, which features a diverse collection of art spanning centuries. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, one of the nation’s top zoos, or take a stroll along the scenic Riverwalk. Columbia also boasts a thriving music and arts scene, with numerous galleries, theaters, and music venues offering performances year-round.

Clemson, located in the Upstate region, offers a more laid-back setting with a focus on outdoor activities and university life. The city is home to Clemson University, known for its strong sense of community and school spirit. Students can explore the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains, offering hiking trails with stunning views, or enjoy water activities on Lake Hartwell. Clemson Tigers sporting events, particularly football games, are a major draw, providing an exciting and lively atmosphere for students and residents alike.

MPA Programs in South Carolina

Overall, attending an MPA program in South Carolina provides not only a quality education but also the opportunity to immerse oneself in the rich culture, history, and natural beauty of the state. An overview of each program can be found here:

NASPAA-accredited MPA Programs

NASPAA accreditation can enhance the reputation of MPA programs in South Carolina, helping to attract top faculty and students and enhancing the program’s visibility and credibility. Accreditation can also provide MPA graduates with a competitive advantage in the job market, as employers may view graduates from accredited programs as being better prepared and more qualified for leadership roles in public service.

College of Charleston

  • Charleston, SC
  • Campus

Accreditation: NASPAA, SACSCOC

Modality: On-Campus

Credit Hours: 42

GRE: Not required

Resident Tuition: $7,920 (PSR)

Non-Resident Tuition: $10,476 (PSR)

Program Overview:
Students develop a strong foundation through theory and practice, with a core curriculum that explores theoretical foundations and offers specialized study areas. The program emphasizes collaboration with community and public service organizations, ensuring the highest quality education in public administration. Monitoring student performance and career outcomes ensures graduates are well-prepared for professional positions.

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University of South Carolina

  • Columbia, SC
  • Campus

Accreditation: NASPAA, SACSCOC

Modality: On-Campus

Credit Hours: 39

GRE: Not required

Resident Tuition: $6,867 (PSR)

Non-Resident Tuition: $14,880 (PSR)

Program Overview:
With a focus on policy creation and program management, students learn from expert faculty and gain real-world experience in South Carolina’s capital city. The MPA program is suitable for current students, recent graduates, public agency and nonprofit employees, private sector professionals, and University of South Carolina undergraduates seeking an accelerated path to a graduate degree.

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Online MPA Programs

For mid-career professionals, online MPA programs offer the opportunity to advance their education and skills while continuing to work full-time. This allows professionals to apply what they learn in real-time to their current positions, enhancing their effectiveness and preparing them for future leadership roles. Online programs also provide mid-career professionals with the flexibility to tailor their coursework to their specific career goals and interests, allowing them to focus on areas that are most relevant to their current or desired career path.

Clemson University

  • Clemson, SC
  • Online + Campus

Accreditation: SACSCOC

Modality: Online/On-Campus

Credit Hours: 42

GRE: Contingent on GPA

Tuition: $7,483 (PSR)

Program Overview:
The curriculum combines business management and public policy to cultivate effective leadership skills. The program attracts a diverse student body, mainly comprising working public administrators and nonprofit professionals from various government and non-governmental organizations. This diversity, along with experienced faculty, enriches the learning environment. The flexible online and evening classes enable students to balance their professional and personal commitments while benefiting from face-to-face interactions and group activities.

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Accelerated MPA Programs

Accelerated MPA programs benefit students who are looking to quickly advance their careers or enter the workforce sooner. They are particularly attractive to mid-career professionals who want to enhance their skills and credentials without taking an extended break from their careers. Additionally, accelerated programs may be appealing to students who are looking to minimize the cost of their education by completing their degree in a shorter amount of time.

The University of South Carolina offers a 4+1 program for students interested in earning both a Bachelor’s degree and a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree. This program allows students to begin taking graduate-level courses during their senior year of undergraduate studies, accelerating the time it takes to complete both degrees.

Affordable MPA Programs

South Carolina’s MPA programs are also affordable, with many schools offering in-state tuition rates for all students, regardless of residency status. For in-state students, the University of South Carolina offers the best tuition rate at $6,867 per semester. For out-of-state students, the College of Charleston offers the best tuition rate at $10,476 per semester. Additionally, some programs offer online or part-time options, allowing students to work while pursuing their degree, further enhancing affordability.

All MPA Programs in South Carolina

School NameDegree Program NameStateCityNASPAA AccreditedOnline DegreeProgram Link
College of CharlestonMaster Of Public AdministrationSouth CarolinaCharlestonNoYes
University of South CarolinaMaster Of Public AdministrationSouth CarolinaColumbiaNoYes

What Types of Careers Can I Pursue With an MPA Degree in South Carolina?

In South Carolina, an MPA degree can lead to a variety of rewarding careers in public administration, nonprofit management, and policy analysis. The state’s unique blend of urban and rural areas, coupled with its historical and cultural significance, creates a diverse range of opportunities for MPA graduates.

  1. Historic Preservation Planner: Responsible for preserving and promoting South Carolina’s historical sites and landmarks, ensuring their cultural significance is maintained for future generations.
  2. Economic Development Specialist: Focuses on attracting businesses and promoting economic growth in South Carolina, identifying opportunities for investment and job creation.
  3. Environmental Policy Analyst: Develops and implements policies to protect South Carolina’s natural resources, including its coastal areas, forests, and wildlife, ensuring sustainable management practices are in place.
  4. Public Health Administrator: Manages public health programs and initiatives in South Carolina, addressing issues such as disease prevention, health education, and access to healthcare services.
  5. Criminal Justice Planner: Coordinates and implements criminal justice programs and policies in South Carolina, working to improve public safety and reduce crime rates in the state.
  6. Community Development Specialist: Focuses on improving the quality of life for residents in South Carolina’s communities, implementing programs and initiatives that address housing, infrastructure, and economic development needs.

Notable leaders in South Carolina with MPA degrees include Anita Zucker, CEO of The InterTech Group, showcasing the potential for MPA graduates to excel in both the public and private sectors in the state.

MPA Programs in Other States