2021 Public Administration Degree Guide
While in school, you were the treasurer of student council, editor of the school's newspaper, or class president; always acting as a catalyst for change. So, what's next for you? A Public Administration degree will prepare you for running the executive arm of local, state, and federal government - allowing you to create policies that will bring positive change.
Business principles as well as politics are important in a Public Administration program. Classroom lectures will infuse business lessons into public administration curriculum, with instruction focusing on: the management of public policy, public budgetary processes and financial management, public personnel management, professional ethics, administrative law, and research methods. Your program may even offer the option to specialize in urban studies, criminal justice, or public opinion.
A Recent Jump in Public Administration Degrees
There are 138 schools offering degrees in public administration in the United States. Our 2021 Best Colleges for Public Administration ranking analyzes 30 of these schools to determine the best overall colleges for public administration students. Continue reading to check out one of our many unbiased rankings of public admin programs later in this article.
What Are The Requirements For a Degree in Public Administration
Students in this program should have a passion for creating positive change for communities. Communication, teamwork, and policy development skills are crucial to creating change in the public sector. Public administrators often have to find common ground for a diverse group that are on opposite sides of an issue, so the ability to see all sides of an issue is also extremely helpful.
No matter what type of job you take in public administration, you will be expected to have a good understanding of the government and a knack for business. Analytical and research skills will be invaluable as you move forward with your career in public administration. Problem solving will become your specialty, as you discuss ways to fix society's most urgent issues.
Prior Education for a Public Admin Program
A high school diploma or equivalent is typically required for most public admin degree programs and many students will need a minimum GPA and SAT/ACT score depending on the school. Specific public admin careers may require a certain level of degree attainment or additional certifications beyond that.
Types of Public Administration Degrees
There are many different public admin degree levels. Public Administration programs offered by schools range from a associate's to a professional practice doctorate, which is the highest public admin degree you can get. The time it takes to complete a public admin degree varies depending on the program.
|Degree||Credit Requirements||Typical Program Length|
|Associate Degree||60-70 credits||2 years|
|Bachelor’s Degree||120 credits||4 years|
|Master’s Degree||50-70 credits||1-3 years|
|Doctorate||Program required coursework including thesis or dissertation||At least 4 years|
A bachelor's degree is the most common level of education achieved by those in careers related to public admin, with approximately 45.3% of workers getting one. See the the most common levels of education for public admin workers below.
|Level of Education||Percentage of Workers|
|High School Diploma||14.5%|
|Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree)||7.9%|
|Some College Courses||5.9%|
This of course varies depending on which public admin career you choose.
Public Admin Careers
A career in public administration encompasses a wide range of interests in federal, state, and local government, advocacy groups, and non-profit organizations. Graduates find jobs as administrative officers of a municipality, policy analysts, city or county managers, safety inspectors, criminal or private investigators, custom or border guard inspectors, and labor management relations specialists. At the government level, you can work for the Environmental Protection Agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Growth Projected for Public Admin Careers
Want a job when you graduate with your public admin degree? Public Administration careers are expected to grow 7.9% between 2016 and 2026.
The following options are some of the most in-demand careers related to public administration.
|Occupation Name||Projected Jobs||Expected Growth|
|General and Operations Managers||2,468,300||9.1%|
|Social and Community Service Managers||173,800||18.0%|
|Transportation, Storage, and Distribution Managers||123,300||6.8%|
How Much Money Do Public Admin Grads Make?
Recently graduated public administration students earned an average of $48,859 in 2017-2018. Earnings can range from as low as $29,600 to as high as $98,300. As you might expect, salaries for public admin graduates vary depending on the level of education that was acquired.
Highest Paid Public Admin Careers
Salaries for public administration graduates can vary widely by the occupation you choose as well. The following table shows the top 5 highest paying careers public admin grads often go into.
|Occupation Name||Median Average Salary|
|General and Operations Managers||$123,880|
|Transportation, Storage, and Distribution Managers||$102,850|
|Postmasters and Mail Superintendents||$77,040|
Getting Your Public Administration Degree
With over 813 different public admin degree programs to choose from, finding the best fit for you can be a challenge. Fortunately you have come to the right place. We have analyzed all of these schools to come up with hundreds of unbiased public admin school rankings to help you with this.
Top Ranking Lists for Public Administration
Highest Paid Graduates
Most Popular Colleges
Best for Non-Traditional Students
Best for Veterans
Study Areas in Public Administration
Public Administration is one of 5 different types of Public Administration & Social Service programs to choose from.
Most Popular Related Majors
|Related Major||Annual Graduates|
|Community Organization & Advocacy||2,832|
|Other Public Administration||971|
Southern New Hampshire University
You have goals. Southern New Hampshire University can help you get there. Whether you need a bachelor's degree to get into a career or want a master's degree to move up in your current career, SNHU has an online program for you. Find your degree from over 200 online programs ... Learn More >
Building on Purdue’s mission to provide greater access to affordable, world-class education, Purdue University Global delivers a fully personalized online experience that’s tailored to working adults. By opening the doors to adults who need flexibility to fit learning into their busy lives, we make it possible to achieve a high-quality education from the prestigious Purdue University system—completely online ... Learn More >
Grand Canyon University (GCU)
With a spotlight on intellectual creativity and innovation for the 21stcentury, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at GCU provides a job focused education. It blends the study of traditional humanities in a modern context. Through academic inquiry and beyond the box thinking, the college advances our society and its accomplishments ... Learn More >
Northcentral University (NCU) was founded to provide accessible, high-quality, online graduate degrees to working professionals. As a regionally accredited, online university, NCU serves students worldwide, focusing on Doctoral and Master's degree programs in the Schools of Business and Technology Management, Education, Psychology, and Marriage and Family Sciences ... Learn More >
Colorado Technical University (CTU)
CTU could help you connect to what matters most: a powerful professional community, aculty who are real-world professionals, and innovative technology ... Learn More >