An undergraduate degree in public administration is the starting point for careers formulating policy or improving delivery of government services. Degree holders can find positions with government agencies, non-profit organizations and businesses.
Study of public administration is available at the associate's and bachelor's degree levels, however, most associate's degree programs are transfer programs. Admission requirements to either include a high school diploma or GED and a minimum GPA of 2.0 or above. Some bachelor's degree programs may require 3 years work experience.
Associate's Degree in Public Administration
In an associate's degree program in public administration, students can gain some of the skills necessary for careers in government and non-profit organizations. Courses in a public administration associate's degree program are basic and tend to follow a general education template. Classes lay foundations in aspects of public administration including:
- Governmental and judicial systems
- American history
Bachelor's Degree in Public Administration
A bachelor's degree program in public administration exposes students to theories of governance and practical approaches to the effective management of public institutions. Courses incorporate ideas from political science and other social sciences, accounting, law and management to explore the roles organizations fill in society. The curriculum of a public administration bachelor's degree helps students gain skills in analysis, communications, research, planning and financial management. Courses taken over the course of four years cover:
- Local, state and federal government
- Human resource management
- Project management
- Organizations and institutions
- Management ethics
- Budgeting and finance
Entry-level public administration jobs with the federal government generally require at least a bachelor's degree, but some entry-level career options are open at the state and local level for:
- Department managers
- Distribution managers
- Municipal clerks
Degree holders are prepared for positions in policy development with government agencies, non-profit organizations and private businesses in careers like:
- City manager
- Public opinion analyst
- Economic development officer
- Program administration officer
- Human resource manager
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
A bachelor's degree in public administration can lead to several different careers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) offers job outlook and salary information for a related career, human resource managers. From 2014-2024, human resource managers are projected to see a 9% growth in employment opportunities. The median wages for human resource managers were $104,440, while the median wages for human resource managers working in government were $94,280 in May 2015.
Continuing Education Information
Programs in public administration are also offered at the master's degree and doctoral level. Some schools offer a combined bachelor's-to-master's track and are structured to be completed in five years.
Holding a degree in public administration opens up a variety of governmental occupations, and even some in the non-profit and business realms. Graduates have options to become anything from managers to analysts, and can look forward to continued demand.