Public Administration Degree

public administration student

Completing a public administration degree will mold you into an effective leader to serve the public to your full potential. You will learn managerial skills from a theoretical and experiential perspective and how they can be put to use on a local, national or global scale. A public administration degree teaches you how to analyze and implement policy, make crucial budgeting decisions, relate to the public and predict how those directly related to policies will be affected after their execution. Studying public administration at a post-secondary institution will enable you to serve the public as part of a governmental executive branch or as part of a non-profit or private sector.

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Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration

Depending on the university you select, a four-year Undergraduate Degree in Public Administration may be pursued as either a Bachelor of Arts or Science. Students complete a series of required introductory courses, in areas such as Political Science, Ethics, Statistics, Management and History of Policy, before declaring their major in Public Administration. During junior and senior years, students are able to choose courses from a list compatible with the program in order to delve deeper into a specialization of their choice. Most institutions also offer an opportunity for students to complete an internship at a relevant agency and/or an independent research project (honors thesis). Before applying for a Bachelor Degree program in Public Administration, you must have graduated from high school or completed your GED and meet the institutions minimum grade average requirements.

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MPA – Masters of Public Administration

A Graduate degree in Public Administration takes at least two years to complete and allows students to engage more deeply into research, theory and practice around a specialization of their choice, such as human rights, urban and social policy, economics, criminal justice, the environment, human resources or intergovernmental relations. Generally, an MPA program balances coursework, seminars and independent research projects under the supervision of faculty members. To apply for a Masters Degree in Public Administration, you must have already completed a Bachelors Degree with high academic standing. Some institutions require previous course work in selected areas or relevant professional experience.


Online Public Administration Degree Programs

With the existence of present-day telecommunications technology, a variety of institutions across the U.S. offer online degrees. This opens up the doors for those who do not have the time or means to attend an institution in person and allows them to complete a degree at their own pace. In terms of Public Administration, you have the choice of taking an online associates degree (which equates to a two-year full time program), a Bachelors, Masters and even a PhD over the World Wide Web.

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Public Administration Careers

While pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree in Public Administration, you have some flexibility to choose courses directly pertaining to a career you wish to pursue after graduation. Examples of Public Administration specializations include:

  • Criminal Justice
  • Government Administration
  • Logistics Management
  • Healthcare Policy and Administration
  • Information Resource Management
  • Policy Analysis
  • Urban and Social Policy
  • International Relations
  • Homeland Security
  • Human Rights
  • Non-profit Leadership
  • Sustainable Development

To learn more, check out our article on criminal justice careers in the non-profit sector.


Public Administration Degree FAQs

What is a public administration degree?

A public administration degree prepares you to serve the public as a governmental, non-profit or private representative. Such a program teaches you how to analyze, implement and understand the ethics, history and issues surrounding policy at the local, national and international level.

What is the difference between a public administration and a public policy degree?

There tends to be an overlap in subjects covered within Public Administration and Public Policy degrees. Some institutions offer programs that combine the two disciplines. Generally, however, a Public Administration degree fosters future leaders and managers that will serve the public in terms of implementing policy, budgeting and addressing organizational/societal issues. Whereas, a degree in Public Policy focuses on analyzing, modifying and reinventing policy; such students will learn how to adapt policy to meet the current needs of society, the economy and the environment, while becoming skilled in qualitative and quantitative tools that will help them make vital changes.

What kind of jobs can I get with an MPA?

After graduating with a Masters in Public Administration, you can be employed within the public (governmental), private or non-profit sector. Examples of job prospects include:

  • Economist, analyst or manager at international, federal, state or local government levels
  • Environmental, economic or social consultant
  • Professor
  • Researcher
  • Urban planner
  • Manager or advocate for a non-profit organization
  • Social service administrator