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MBA in Public Administration: Degree Overview

Learn more about a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a specialization in public administration. Research the requirements and topics for this degree, and gain insight into the career prospects for graduates.

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Essential Information

Choosing a public administration focus within a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree can prepare individuals for management in professional settings such as government, corporate, nonprofits and public service organizations. In addition to the general business concepts of economics, accounting, management and finance, students in this track learn about the principles of public administration and the management of public policy. Some programs require independent research projects or a final thesis.

Education Prerequisites

To enroll in an MBA degree program, students must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited university or college. Usually, schools prefer applicants who hold an undergraduate degree in business, but many schools have special admissions procedures for those who hold other majors. Such procedures may include completion of prerequisite business courses.

Course Topics

Foundation coursework in business topics, such as economics, international business, business law, human resource management, finance and marketing, are typically required as part of an MBA program. A specialization in public administration requires students to take additional courses in executive-legislative relations, public budgetary processes and financial management. Courses may cover topics including:

  • Public service ethics
  • Public service theory
  • Policy analysis
  • Enterprise management
  • Business relations
  • Public budgeting
  • Legal aspects of public service
  • Public service personnel management

Popular Career Options and Salaries

Most graduates of public administration graduate degree programs seek work in government agencies and nonprofit groups. However, graduates can also work in the private sector. Generally, an MBA program with a specialization in public administration can prepare students for advanced criminal justice careers, public administration teaching positions, business management positions, government careers and nonprofit administration positions. Possible job titles include:

  • Tax assessor
  • Court clerk
  • Police chief
  • Prison warden
  • Fire Chief

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in May 2012, tax examiners and collectors earned a median annual salary of $50,440 ( The BLS also reported the median annual salary for court, municipal and license clerks as $34,830. reported in January 2014 that the median annual salary for police chiefs was $64,072 and for prison wardens, a median annual salary of $65,869.

Continuing Education Information

Graduates of an MBA public administration degree program may consider continuing their education in a public administration doctoral degree program. A doctoral degree program is typically designed for individuals who are already working in advanced public service positions. Programs are designed to help those individuals advance their careers into executive positions through research projects and intern experiences in various public administration positions.

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