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Public Administration

Program Description

Just the Facts

Public Administration. A program that prepares individuals to serve as managers in the executive arm of local, state, and federal government and that focuses on the systematic study of executive organization and management. Includes instruction in the roles, development, and principles of public administration; the management of public policy; executive-legislative relations; public budgetary processes and financial management; administrative law; public personnel management; professional ethics; and research methods.

This program is available in these options:

  • Certificate / Diploma
  • Associate degree
  • Bachelor's degree
  • Graduate Certificate
  • Master's degree
  • Doctoral degree

High School Courses

Additional Information

Government departments and agencies carry out a huge array of tasks in areas like health, taxation, transportation, international trade, education and more. All of these areas come under the umbrella of public administration programs.

Many training options exist in the field, from certificates to PhDs. Most managerial jobs require a bachelor's degree and many require a master's, or M.P.A. Only those who aspire to teach public administration need a doctorate.

Think about the kind of work you want to do and research the educational requirements.

Michelle Saint-Germain runs the public administration program at California State University at Long Beach. Her program offers several certificate courses as well as an M.P.A. The M.P.A. program has two concentration options -- public works or urban affairs.

Saint-Germain says any undergraduate degree is acceptable for admission to the M.P.A. program. "We get them from anthropology to zoology," she says.

But she says degrees that offer the best preparation are arts, health, economics, sociology, social work, criminology, recreation and leisure studies, physical education, English, education, psychology, business, engineering and public works.

Saint-Germain says her program is geared toward skill development in the areas most often cited by public sector employers: problem solving, teamwork and oral and written presentations.

The University of Maine offers public administration programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The undergraduate degree is called a bachelor of arts in public management.

Maine professor Kenneth Nichols suggests high school students take classes in social studies, civics and history, plus English, math and basic science. "Business, accounting, public speaking and foreign language are always valuable. It is important also to take courses in art, music, literature and theater because public administration deals with people, and the best way to understand people is to understand what makes humanity unique," he adds.

Extracurricular activities should involve community service, such as "participating in a neighborhood project, working with a church group or helping out at a nursing home. At school, become involved in student government, planning school events or working on a student newspaper."

Besides tuition and books, you may have membership fees for organizations like ASPA, the American Society for Public Administration.


Public Service Careers
Putting your degree to work

National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration
Get a listing of graduate schools that offer degrees in public administration


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