Best Public Administration Programs

Society needs more leaders to rise to the challenge of applying for government roles. Learn about the top bachelor's in public administration programs.

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by Staff Writers

Published July 13, 2022

Edited by Jared McMasters
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In the constantly evolving public administration field, society needs more leaders to apply for government roles. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the need for life, physical, and social science occupations to grow by 8% from 2020-2030. This means the organization projects about 113,800 new jobs will become available in that time frame. People working in the social science field earned a median annual income of $72,740 in May 2021.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a public administration program prepares learners to work as government leaders. The curriculum covers topics like public policy, budgetary processes, and professional ethics. When it comes to the degree's cost, undergraduates spend an average of about $25,910 per year on tuition, fees, and room and board, as per NCES.

www.bestcolleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Ready to start your journey?

Keep reading to learn more about the top on-campus and online bachelor's in public administration programs to find the best choice for you.

Our Top Pick

Baruch College - New York City, New York

Why It's #1: Several factors make Baruch College our topic pick. The school offers a low tuition rate of $6,930 for in-state students. The school charges nearly double for out-of-state tuition. However, Baruch prioritizes financial assistance. Currently, 77% of students at this school receive financial aid. This school boasts a graduation rate of 70% and an admission rate of 43%.

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Best Accredited Bachelor's in Public Administration Programs

Rankings compiled by the BestColleges Ranking Team

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#1

CUNY Bernard M Baruch College

School Information
Location New York, New York
Admission Rate 43%
Graduation Rate 70%
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 7% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online, Hybrid, or On Campus | Self-Paced Classes or Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost
In State | $3,465 per Semester Full Time, $305 per Credit Part Time
Out of State | $620 per Credit

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree-Completion Program | N/A
Program Accreditation | N/A

Baruch's bachelor of science in public affairs focuses on civic engagement and community leadership. The school tailors the program to aspiring public service leaders. Learners customize their major through electives. Noteworthy electives include immigrant cities, policy analysis, and arts and public life. Program participants can add on a survey research minor. This minor covers questionnaire development and how to understand public opinion. 

To apply, first-year students must turn in their high school transcripts. The school features optional additions, like a college essay and recommendation letters. 

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#2

University of Miami

School Information
Location Coral Gables, Florida
Admission Rate 27%
Graduation Rate 83%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 22% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus or Hybrid | Scheduled Classes and Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Tuition per Year
In State | $55,440
Out of State | $55,440

Credits to Graduate
30 Major Credits

Program Information
Degree-Completion Program | N/A
Program Accreditation | N/A

UM's bachelor of arts in public administration emphasizes political science. Learners primarily take courses on U.S. government and public policy. To graduate, students must earn at least a "C-" in each program course. UM requires students to earn at least nine of their credits in residency. 

This school requires first-year students to submit an application with a $70 fee. The application also requires a 250-word essay on overcoming a major challenge. As of 2022, UM waives the SAT and ACT requirements. 

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#3

Harding University

School Information
Location Searcy, Arkansas
Admission Rate 61%
Graduation Rate 69%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 12% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $750
Out of State | $750

Credits to Graduate
128

Program Information
Degree-Completion Program | N/A
Program Accreditation | N/A

Harding offers an undergraduate degree in public administration. This multidisciplinary program covers political science, business, and economics subjects. Students can minor in complementary topics like history, political science, and social science. 

Students applying to Harding need to turn in an online application with a $50 fee. The school also requires ACT and SAT scores and official transcripts. Once a student gains admittance, they must turn in their immunization records and fill out the FAFSA. 

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#4

University of Central Florida

School Information
Location Orlando, Florida
Admission Rate 44%
Graduation Rate 72%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 59% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus or Hybrid | Self-Paced and Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $212.28
Out of State | $748.89

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree-Completion Program | N/A
Program Accreditation | N/A

UCF provides a bachelor of arts in public administration that combines theory and application. Throughout their studies, learners gain knowledge of public and fiscal management. This program includes an internship component that allows students to get hands-on experience. 

To apply to UFC, aspiring learners turn in their SAT or ACT scores. The application only costs $30. In fall 2021, UFC students who gained admittance had an average 4.25 GPA. 

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#5

CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice

School Information
Location New York, New York
Admission Rate 41%
Graduation Rate 52%
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 35% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost
In State | $305 per Credit Part time, $3,465 per Semester Full Time
Out of State | $620 per Credit

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree-Completion Program | N/A
Program Accreditation | N/A

John Jay's bachelor of science in public administration covers problem-solving in the public administration field. Learners discuss the current state of political and economic affairs. The curriculum also highlights the challenges of providing public goods and services in a diverse society. 

Learners who want to apply to John Jay must fill out an online application form. The school will not accept SAT or ACT scores through spring 2023. Aspiring students must mail physical copies of their official transcripts. 

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#6

San Diego State University

School Information
Location San Diego, California
Admission Rate 34%
Graduation Rate 73%
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 50% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost
In State | $2,871 per Semester Full Time, $1,665 per Semester Part Time
Out of State | $396 per Unit

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree-Completion Program | N/A
Program Accreditation | N/A

Students can earn a public administration undergraduate degree from SDSU. This degree takes a well-rounded approach to public administration. The curriculum covers typical topics like economics and political science. However, it also touches on psychology and sociology. Program participants take 15 public administration elective credits. 

SDSU sets minimum GPA requirements. In-state applicants must possess at least a 2.5 GPA. Out-of-state students need a 3.0 GPA. This school charges a $70 application fee.

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#7

Syracuse University

School Information
Location Syracuse, New York
Admission Rate 44%
Graduation Rate 83%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 15% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Tuition per Year
In State | $58,440
Out of State | $58,440

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree-Completion Program | N/A
Program Accreditation | N/A

Students attending Syracuse can earn an undergraduate degree in policy studies. Throughout the program, students hone their writing and problem-solving skills. The curriculum covers topics like quantitative analysis and community benchmarks. Syracuse designs this program to provide hands-on experience. Program participants can major in policy studies or public health.

Syracuse will waive ACT and SAT requirements through spring 2024. Aspiring learners must submit their school transcripts, two academic recommendations, and a secondary school counselor evaluation. 

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#8

Florida International University

School Information
Location Miami, Florida
Admission Rate 58%
Graduation Rate 63%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 68% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online or On Campus | Self-Paced or Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost
In State | $3,084 per Semester on Campus, $146.52 per Credit Online
Out of State | $9,283 per Semester on Campus, $263.58 per Credit Online

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree-Completion Program | N/A
Program Accreditation | N/A

FIU's bachelor of public policy and service combines principles of global and local public policy. The courses cover topics like approaches to poverty relief and managing international cities. Learners must take 12 concentration electives. A few recommended concentrations include national security, public policy, and environmental studies. 

This school requires SAT and ACT scores for first-year students. FIU regulates GPA standards based on the courses you've taken. 

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#9

California State University-Fullerton

School Information
Location Fullerton, California
Admission Rate 53%
Graduation Rate 69%
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 38% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online or On Campus | Self-Paced or Scheduled Classes

Avg. Tuition per Year
In State | $7,009 per Year Full Time; $4,597 per Year Part Time
Out of State | $7,009 per Year Full Time; $4,597 per Year Part Time

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree-Completion Program | No
Program Accreditation | N/A

CSUF offers a bachelor of arts in public administration. This degree prepares students to become leaders in government and nonprofit organizations. Students gain hands-on experience through internships. The curriculum covers topics like political science, psychology, business, and sociology. 

As of 2022, this school temporarily does not require SAT or ACT scores. CSUF does not consider in-state applicants with a GPA between 2.00 and 2.49. Out-of-state students need a GPA higher than 2.99. 

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#10

Ohio State University-Main Campus

School Information
Location Columbus, Ohio
Admission Rate 54%
Graduation Rate 86%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 34% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Tuition per Year
In State | $12,462
Out of State | $36,698

Credits to Graduate
121

Program Information
Degree-Completion Program | N/A
Program Accreditation | N/A

Ohio State provides learners with a bachelor of arts in public management, leadership, and policy. During this program, students hone their managerial and analytical skills. A few noteworthy course topics include public affairs, public budgeting, and economics. Before graduating, all participants must write a public affairs research paper. 

When admitting students, Ohio State considers factors like high school GPA and the types of college preparatory courses taken. Ohio State does not set minimum SAT or ACT requirements. 

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Popular Online Public Administration Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

How We Rank Schools

Each year, the BestColleges Ranking Team evaluates hundreds of programs to produce our annual Best Bachelor's in Public Administration ranking. In 2022, the team sourced the most recent data available from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and College Navigator, both of which are hosted by the National Center for Education Statistics. We identified 191 schools that qualify for our ranking list based on the following criteria.

To ensure the accuracy and quality of our final ranked list, the ranking team reviewed each qualifying school to ensure it met the criteria for our ranking, and then applied our proprietary ranking methodology to identify the best schools offering this program in the nation. Each school is ranked based on a formula measuring academic factors (60%) and affordability (40%).

The BestColleges Ranking Team is made up of contributors from our data science and product management teams. These contributors operate independently from the editorial team. All BestColleges school rankings are produced by the ranking team and are free of editorial influence. Read our Editorial Policy and Standards to learn more.

BestColleges' Ranking Factors

Frequently Asked Questions About Public Administration Programs

Is a bachelor's in public administration worth it?

Yes. People passionate about improving the world through public service often find this degree worth the effort. Some people may find the earning growth potential motivating as well. For example, legislators earn a higher-than-average mean annual wage of $57,110, as per the BLS. However, legislators in the top 90th percentile earn an average wage of $100,580.

Another reason why people feel a bachelor's in public administration is worth the effort is that it opens many doors. For example, learners can also apply for related careers in business.

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

People with this degree often pursue jobs in the government. They may begin working in hired roles in local government branches. Then, graduates may run for office. They may work as district or state representatives or even senators.

Nonprofits often hire public administration graduates. Graduates may work for advocacy groups, lobbying organizations, or poverty relief groups. Most public administration programs cover topics that pertain to business, like managerial and writing skills, so graduates can also work as directors at for-profit businesses. Some public administrators work in consulting roles for government offices and organizations.

What continuing education is available for public administration graduates?

People working in this field must stay current with new laws and developing news stories. They can do so by committing to continuing education through a professional organization. For example, the American Society for Public Administration offers networking and virtual education opportunities. Members can attend live webinars and an annual conference.

Some aspiring public administrators may want to complete a master's degree in this subject. A master's degree focuses on the theories that guide the practice. Students contribute new research to the field by writing a thesis.

How much money can I make with a bachelor's in public administration?

According to July 2022 Payscale data, people with a bachelor's in public administration earned an average of $69,000 per year. Professionals with a master's degree in this subject earned slightly more at an average of $71,000 per year.

A few factors influence salary. For example, political scientists in certain states earn more than others. According to the BLS, these professionals in the District of Columbia earned a mean annual wage of $126,210 in May 2021. At the same time, Texan political scientists earned a mean annual wage of $91,240 in 2021.

What are the highest-paying jobs with a bachelor's in public administration?

Professionals who work for the federal government earn some of the highest incomes with this degree. According to June 2022 data from Payscale, these professionals earned an average of about $61,000 yearly.

Many of the highest-paying public administration jobs require a master's degree. For example, the BLS states economists typically need a master's degree. These professionals earned a median income of $105,630 in May 2021. The BLS also states political scientists need a master's degree. These professionals earned a median income of $122,510 per year as of May 2021.

Feature Image: Klaus Vedfelt / DigitalVision / Getty Images

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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