Which top MPAs offer the best potential return on investment?

Some graduate programs offer quick turnaround times, while some boast of tenured staff and impressive networking opportunities for their students. While factors like academic reputation and even geographical location can play a big part in why a graduate student might seek one program over another, one of the most important factors in deciding on a school to pursue a Master's of Public Administration will continue to be the cost-to-benefit balance between tuition and potential salary, which determines a program's return on investment. While a program may offer the chance for a six-figure salary even during early career earnings, is it still advantageous if the degree's tuition is $100,000 or more? With that question in mind here are several top-notch full-time Master's of Public Administration degree programs which offer low tuition rates and high return on investment numbers.

The University of Texas in Austin features a Master's of Public Affairs at the nationally recognized Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. This 48-credit hour program is divided between 27 hours of core courses and 21 hours of electives. This program features an internship between year one and year two of the degree in order for students to directly interact in matters of advocacy, government, and non-profit organizations. The LBJ School of Public Affairs is accredited by the prestigious NASPAA and has been recognized for excellence by U.S. News & World Report and the Princeton Review. While the total tuition rate for this degree is an accessible $10,934, an average early career salary of $60,800 has been reported by some students upon graduating from the school, revealing a strong return on the investment of education.

Located in Provo, Utah, Brigham Young University's Marriott School of Management offers a 57-credit hour Master's of Public Administration that full-time students can graduate with in just two years and that requires no thesis to complete. The courses for this MPA degree "are built around giving students hands-on experience through opportunities to work with community partners and apply the skills learned in the classroom to real-life situations in local, national, and global organizations." Recognized by U.S. News & World Report as the 56th best in the nation, the Marriott School of Management has priced this degree at an affordable $6,500 while some students of the business school have reported an average early career salary of $66,800 after graduating and joining the workforce.

Listed as one of the most affordable Master's of Public Affairs in the nation, the program offered at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro's Department of Political Science is priced at only $4,873 in total tuition fees. Receiving its accreditation through the NASPAA, the Department of Political Science has been ranked as the 96th best in the nation by U.S News & World Report and #220 among national universities. The three concentrations offered within this degree are Nonprofit Management, Community and Economic Development, and Local Government Management. While the job placement record within this program is a healthy 90%, an average early career salary of $49,800 has been reported by some students upon graduating from the university. This program offers several financial aid options and students can customize their schedules to complete courses on a full or part-time basis to accommodate full-time working schedules.