What is a Public Administration Degree?

public administration professional smiling and shaking hands with a colleague
Category: Value of Education

By Matt Rowley
Posted on

Various careers in public administration require different levels of education and training. Many full-time positions require a bachelor's degree, and master's degrees are helpful and sometimes required if you want a job at the management level.

If you’re considering a public administration degree, you’re likely wondering what you’ll be studying and what the major subjects will be for a typical program. In this article, we provide a breakdown of what you can expect in a public administration degree program.

Public Administration Curriculum

Many degree programs in public administration have common themes, no matter which school you attend. Some common course titles or areas of study include:

  1. Theory of Public Administration: This area may cover the role and responsibilities of public administration professionals, highlighting concepts like the policy formation process.
  2. Law and Ethics: Public administration students will likely explore current issues associated with law and ethics, examining how they relate to public policy.
  3. Research and Analysis Skills: This subject area aims to train students about quantitative and qualitative data collection, including how to apply findings in public service.
  4. Financial Management: No matter what level position you hold in public administration, you’ll need to have at least a basic understanding of topics like budgeting, forecasting and fundraising.
  5. Organizational Theory: Government agencies have many similarities with businesses, and it’s useful to study various management theories and apply them to the public administration context.

Master’s Degrees in Public Administration

Master’s degrees can be popular options for public administration professionals. Students who finish a Master of Public Administration – commonly known as an MPA – learn about what’s needed to solve problems in communities and organizations. These programs emphasize public policy, ethics and other societal matters.

MPA programs are ideal for individuals who work in public service, nonprofits and private organizations who hope to advance to managerial positions. MPA students may come from career fields as varied as firefighting or law enforcement, and their new career goal may be to make a bigger impact on their communities by improving how public policies are implemented.

MPAs empower graduates with the skills needed for government jobs, including developing, implementing and managing public programs and policies. If you enroll in an MPA program, here are some examples of what you may do after graduating:

  • Apply ethical principles related to diversity and inclusion.
  • Evaluate budgets in the public sector.
  • Manage the public policy process to optimize organizations.
  • Solve complicated problems in public agencies and nonprofits.

Learn More About CSU’s MPA Program

Here at Columbia Southern University, our online Master of Public Administration degree program is available for working adults to complete at their own pace. Students like Brent Jennings have turned their careers around and used their MPAs to gain exciting new jobs in public administration.

MPA students at CSU can also add concentrations in criminal justice administration or emergency services management. For more information about earning your online Master of Public Administration, visit our website.

Multiple factors, including prior experience, geography and degree field, affect career outcomes, and CSU does not guarantee a job, promotion, salary increase, eligibility for a position, or other career growth.

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