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Public Administration

Public administration is a term that refers to the academic discipline that studies the implementation of government policy and prepares civil servants to eventually work in public service. It is concerned with the organization of various government policies. The starting point for a public administration career is an undergraduate degree, which exposes students to the practical approaches required to run a public institution effectively and to theories of governance.

Program Information

Most public administration programs are offered at a graduate level, which limits the amount of schools that offer undergraduate degrees in public administration. San Diego State University does offer it, however. San Diego State offers the public administration major as an interdisciplinary program. In addition to the core courses, students can select courses in additional areas like sociology, political science, economics or psychology. Political science, accounting, and statistics are required preparatory courses for the public administration major. Once the student declares the major, they must fulfill all the requirements with a minimum grade of C in each course. The University of Kansas offers a bachelor’s degree in public administration. The program provides undergraduates with the skills and knowledge needed for planning, implementing and evaluating public programs. The program is designed for students who have already earned an associate degree. It requires the completion of 27 credit hours plus 3 core courses and 6 elective courses. Students must also meet the Bachelor of General Studies or Bachelor of Arts requirements, which include at least 100 hours in Liberal Arts.

public admin student

Pros & Cons

Since a public administration undergraduate major is not very common, earning a degree in this field can give you a huge leg up in graduate school, both in admissions and the coursework. The knowledge and skills you gain during your undergraduate degree will be a huge asset to you during graduate school. Public administrators earn high salaries, which is another positive. They also get to make decisions that directly impact their community. As a public administrator, you will be able to advocate for causes you believe in and help implement processes to see these causes enforced or protected. Graduate school is usually required to become a public administrator however, which means extra schooling. Since few schools offer undergraduate degrees in public administration, you may have to travel away from home to go to school or attend a school you are not that interested in. Networking is an important tool for the job. This can be frustrating, since this can mean that sometimes the more qualified person does not get the job because they do not know the right people.

Graduate School & Career

Syracuse University, Indiana University and Harvard University offer three of the best public administration graduate programs in the country. Students can choose to specialize in areas such as Public-Policy Analysis, Non-profit Management, and Public Finance & Budgeting. Some potential careers include: City Manager (oversee most areas of a city bureaucracy such as policy, personnel, and finance), City Planner (help design a city, including the placement of park benches and height of buildings), Social Worker (running departments of agencies that provide social services, such as drug rehabilitation or foster care), and for the Federal Government (such as congressional representatives, agencies, or developing and implementing policy).