Bachelor’s in Public Administration Program Guide

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Public administration refers to services and support that benefit society and meet community needs. A bachelor's degree in public administration enables graduates to work for nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and other institutions that serve the public.

Public administration professionals work in public policy, nature conservation, public health, transportation, emergency preparedness, and economic development.

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A bachelor's degree in public administration from a public college costs around $9,349 per year. A four-year degree from a private institution can total more than $32,700 per year.

A bachelor's degree in public administration requires about four years and 120 credit hours. Taking classes part time could lengthen students' time in a program. Some online schools offer accelerated courses, which can take less time for learners to complete.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that public administration jobs like social worker and social and community service manager will grow by 12% and 15%, respectively, from 2020-2030.

Salaries vary depending on occupation, location, work experience, and education. For instance, the BLS reports that urban and city planners earned a median annual salary of $75,950, while community health workers made a median of $42,000.

Should I Get a Bachelor's in Public Administration?

Communities will always need professionals in public administration to help meet the needs of individuals, families, and members of vulnerable populations. The health, economic, and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic will help drive the demand for public administrators in coming years.

For example, the BLS projects that jobs for health education specialists and community health workers will grow by 17% from 2020-2030.

A bachelor's degree in public administration requires about 120 credit hours, which takes approximately four years to complete. Working professionals who take classes part time likely need more time to finish their program. Some online programs offer accelerated courses, allowing students to graduate in less time.

Public administration graduates entering certain fields might need licensure or certification. A bachelor's degree in public administration can serve as a stepping stone to a career in social work. This requires additional training and licensure based on state mandates.

Most health education specialists do not need certification. Obtaining a credential can make them more competitive when searching for employment.

Find the best online bachelor's in public administration programs.

What Will I Learn in a Public Administration Bachelor's Program?

Public administration students typically take courses like introduction to public administration, quantitative methods, and resource development for nonprofit organizations. They also learn about project management in nonprofit organizations and government agencies.

Students pursuing a bachelor's degree in public administration often learn valuable networking skills. Many learners take advantage of practicum and internship opportunities, which offer real-world experience. Students also get exposure to fundraising activities like grant writing.

Degree tracks in public administration can help graduates meet specific career goals. For instance, a bachelor of arts (BA) typically teaches students soft skills like communication proficiencies, critical thinking, and intercultural awareness. BA learners can take several courses outside of their major, which allows for more flexibility to choose among career options.

A bachelor of science (BS) provides a more focused education, allowing students to gain in-depth knowledge and experience in their majors. BS students tend to take more scientific and technical classes, allowing less freedom to seek jobs in other fields.

Concentrations

Natural Resource Administration

Students interested in taking care of the earth's natural resources might enjoy this concentration. Learners take courses in subjects such as urban ecology, project management, and sustainability.

Disaster and Emergency Management

A bachelor's degree in public administration serves students pursuing careers in crisis management or emergency preparedness. Students in this concentration learn to create protocols and strategies to prepare for and respond to various disasters.

Nonprofit Management

Students interested in working for nonprofits can choose this specialization, which focuses on fundraising, finance, and organizational operations. Individuals also learn about project management and grant writing.

Public Service

Public service appeals to students who prefer a generalist background, which keeps their career options open. Learners get exposure to various subjects like law enforcement, public health, project management, and fundraising.

Public Health Policy

The public health policy concentration prepares graduates to work in hospitals, clinics, healthcare organizations, and government agencies. They might take courses in epidemiology, public policy, quantitative methods, and introduction to public health.

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What Can I Do?

A bachelor's in public administration can lead to various nonprofit, public service, and government jobs. Graduates can work in public health, social services, and crisis management. Other public administration sectors include public works, city planning, housing, economic development, transportation, education, and parks and recreation.

This bachelor's degree prepares individuals to work in administrative roles, such as directing a nonprofit organization or managing a disaster response department. Graduates can also obtain jobs in auditing, community health education, or social work.

Popular Career Paths

Popular Continuing Education Paths

How Much Money Can I Make With a Bachelor's in Public Administration?

Salaries for public administration jobs vary by occupation and sector. For example, the BLS reports thatcommunity health workers earned a median annual salary of $42,000 as of 2020. Urban and city planners made a median annual salary of $75,950.

A bachelor's degree in public administration can increase earning potential. Furthermore, people who hold leadership positions can earn relatively higher pay. Payscale reports that policy and advocacy managers earned an average annual salary of $62,870 as of March 2022. Health education specialists, according to the BLS, made an average annual salary of $62,120 as of May 2020.

How Do I Get Into a Bachelor's in Public Administration Program?

Four-year degree programs generally require students tocomplete an application requesting personal contact information and other documents. Many schools use online platforms like Common App, which lets students submit one application to multiple institutions. Applicants should expect to pay an application fee between $20-$90.

Application requirements vary among programs. Most prefer applicants with a minimum 2.5 GPA. In some cases, high scores on theSAT or ACT can make up for a low GPA. Schools also request official transcripts from high school and previous college education.

Many colleges and universities requestadmission or application essays highlighting students' career goals, academic achievements, and reasons for pursuing a bachelor's degree in public administration. Admissions officials typically ask forrecommendation letters from applicants' former instructors, mentors, or employers who can speak to candidates' strengths and readiness for postsecondary study.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bachelor's in Public Administration Programs

What is public administration?

Public administration generally provides services to meet community members' needs and promote the welfare of society. Many public administration professionals would describe the work as public service.

Professionals in this field work in all levels of government and in the nonprofit sector. Much of their work involves advancing government policies and programs. Public administration also includes community activists, elected officials, members of boards, philanthropists, and volunteers.

What does a public administrator do?

Public administrators can hold managerial positions or work jobs that require more specific skills. Daily duties vary based on the occupation and employer. Many public administrators uphold laws, safety codes, and budgetary regulations.

Other responsibilities include researching or implementing policies, managing projects, collecting and analyzing data, and updating stakeholders on the effectiveness of programs. Public administrators also collaborate with philanthropists, elected officials, volunteers, and other individuals on initiatives and public service projects. These professionals develop transferable skills such as communicating in teams, grant writing, and budgeting.

How much does it cost to get a bachelor's in public administration?

An average bachelor's degree from a public college costs $9,349 per year. A four-year degree from a private institution averages over $32,700 per year. A bachelor's degree in public administration should fall in line with this cost range.

Learners can offset some expenses by enrolling in online programs or applying for financial aid or scholarships. On-campus students should also consider costs like housing, meals, and student services. Online students can avoid these expenses, but they may face extra charges for technology and online classes. Some online programs waive out-of-state tuition rates for students who live in a different state.

What can I do with a bachelor's in public administration?

A bachelor's degree in public administration prepares graduates to work in public health, nonprofits, city planning, transportation, public works, education, economic development, and government.

Some individuals train for leadership and managerial roles, others can obtain jobs that require specific skills, like social work, health education, finance, or emergency preparedness. Students can pursue internship opportunities to gain experience and determine their fit for a sector or organization.

Is BA in public administration a good career?

Individuals who feel called to advance the public good or help their communities might consider public administration. A bachelor's degree in this field can help professionals obtain careers that significantly impact others.

Public administration programs teach skills like grant writing, project management, and budgeting. This field also helps individuals hone soft career skills like leadership, communication, and networking.

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