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Public Administration: Summary of Adult Education Public Admin Courses

Public administration courses often focus on the managerial environment found within the public sector and nonprofit organizations. In addition to taking single courses, students may take them as part of a full program.

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Essential Information

Adults looking for courses in public administration can find courses through the continuing education departments of many colleges and universities. These courses may be designed for professionals currently working in the public administration field. There are also fully online and on-campus certificate and degree programs in public administration available from the associate's through doctoral degree levels.

Certificate and degree programs in public administration usually include an overview course that introduces students to public sector services and nonprofit organizations. An introduction to administrative tasks and ethical issues is often included. Students later take courses that prepare them to develop, implement and evaluate policies; manage the money of nonprofit and public organizations; and utilize information technology in the public sector. It is also common for students to take courses in government, human behavior, economics and management. Programs may require a practicum.

Professionals looking for standalone courses can often study similar topics as those covered in a certificate or degree program, such as budgeting, public management ethics and information management. Some other possible course topics include employment law, media relations, quality improvement and leadership.

Here are a few common concepts found in public administration courses:

  • Research
  • Policy
  • Planning and development
  • Public financial management
  • Community
  • Analysis
  • Information systems

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  • Cultural Studies
  • Ethnic and Gender Studies
  • Geography and Cartography
  • Human and Consumer Sciences
  • Human and Social Services
  • Liberal Arts, Humanities, and General Studies
  • Military Studies
  • Parks, Recreation and Leisure Studies
  • Philosophy
  • Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Religious Studies
  • Social Science and Studies
  • Social Studies and History
  • Theological, Religious, and Ministerial Studies

List of Common Courses

Public Administration Overview Course

This course introduces the organization and practice of public administration, and students discuss the challenges and current issues found in nonprofits and the public sector. Public sector services include public works, elected offices, public safety and social services organizations. Course topics also include general public administration concepts, history, administrative responsibilities and procedures, budgeting and trends seen in the public sector. Case studies may be used to examine current issues. Ethical considerations relating to public policy are generally introduced.

Public Policy Analysis Course

This course focuses on how public policy is developed, with a focus on the concepts and tools used to evaluate and diagnose public policy issues. Students also learn to analyze supporting information and create effective policy design. Policy topics typically include healthcare, environment, immigration and welfare. The role of the public administrator through the development, implementation and evaluation of policies is discussed. Students also learn about the links between public administrators and local, state and federal public policy organizations. Public policy theories are typically introduced and evaluated as well.

Budgeting Basics for Public Administrators Course

A budgeting basics course covers the political process involved in budgeting within the public sector, with a focus on organizational methods and resources used in the management of public monies and investments. The impact of an administration's values on the budgeting process is discussed. Microeconomic theories may be introduced.

Information Technology in the Public Sector Course

An information technology in the public sector course focuses on the digital footprint and how information policies may change in response to new technologies and infrastructure. Issues and challenges relating to the legal, ethical, social and managerial aspects of information collection and usage is featured, especially as it relates to privacy, security and access concerns. Students may also examine local, state and federal initiatives in information technology.

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