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Every online bachelor’s in business management with a concentration in public management program is a business management program at its core. Aspiring and current business professionals enhance their business knowledge and skills through core business courses, such as operations management, human resources management, business law, and business strategy.
Furthermore, such is the transferability of their business skills that their career opportunities aren’t limited to the business industry but also to public administration and management!
See this, too: The Best Online BS in Healthcare Administration Degrees
But we must also emphasize that online bachelor’s degree programs in business management with a public administration and management concentration are few and far between. Instead, students interested in a career in public administration and management can develop a strong foundation through online bachelor’s in public administration degree programs.
We must also point out that there are similarities and differences between public management and public administration, and there are some overlapping aspects, too.
On the one hand, public management refers to the professional practice of carrying out a wide range of managerial operations vital in the effective, efficient, and responsive delivery of services among public organizations.
Public management professionals interpret public policy in the implementation of public services that enable public organizations to achieve the best outcomes for the public interests for which they have been created.
Public administration is a sub-discipline of political science involved in planning, organizing, and directing operations management activities in government agencies and instrumentalities. Their duties include coordinating with public service professionals in the creation and implementation of public policy, as well as in the mitigation of conflict between policy-making groups and stakeholders. Public administrators also work in the public sector and nonprofit organizations.
In academia, nonetheless, public administration and public management programs are more likely to share learning outcomes. The main thing for students is to learn as much as they can and apply their learnings to their chosen career paths.
Of course, the day-to-day tasks of public administrators vary widely based on their organizations and positions. However, public administrators must possess a robust commitment to public service and a desire for the public good. Students in public administration degree programs must then develop their technical skills in program and project management, data analysis, and research methodologies alongside their transferable skills for this reason.
Students interested in careers in public service are well-advised to pursue an online public administration degree, an excellent introduction to the principles and practices of contemporary public administration. The beauty of an online degree lies in its quality academic instruction combined with the convenience, flexibility, and affordability of online education.
Public administration graduates have such a wide range of career opportunities in the public and private sectors, as well as in diverse fields from public administration to business, that the return on investment is among the highest!
The Public Administration degree online programs featured here are among the best for the following reasons:
- The colleges and universities offering these online degrees have regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, the Higher Learning Commission, and similar accrediting bodies.
- Students pursuing online degrees in public administration benefit from the instruction of on-campus faculty members with above-par professional credentials, as well as from excellent student support services. The latter includes 24/7 helpline, writing and career services, and library access.
- The exceptional curriculum features comprehensive coverage of general education courses alongside public administration and/or management core courses and electives. Students may or may not be provided with internship opportunities, but their didactic coursework establishes a strong foundation in public administration.
Read our Methodology and explore our college and program selection and ranking criteria.
Best Online Bachelor’s in Public Administration Programs
Southern New Hampshire University
Location: Manchester, New Hampshire
The SNHU Graduate School of Business is among the most innovative business schools in the United States that offer online business management degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Among its well-known programs is the Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a Public Administration concentration program where students learn business knowledge and skills with specific applications in public administration.
Students learn the best practices in policy formulation and program implementation that contribute to better community development. At the program’s core, however, is an international business management perspective that covers skills in qualitative and quantitative data analysis, financial management, and other business administration core courses.
This is a 120-credit online program that features five concentration courses – American Politics, Public Administration, Public Fiscal Management, Policy Analysis and the Role of the Public, and Program Evaluation and Accountability. Students participate in real projects and interactive activities that train them in the challenges of real-world public administration.
The comprehensive education results in students possessing a solid knowledge base in fiscal budgeting, government structure, politics, and public policy. Their training is such that public service becomes a way of life! The combination of business administration and public administration makes its graduates uniquely positioned to straddle the line between these two professions, so to speak – and succeed at it.
The online business management degree program accepts credits for prior learning for students who have completed the National Certified Public Manager Consortium (NCPMC) Certified Manager Program. Students can then save time and money by earning a business management degree online.
With its 100% online format, students also benefit from the convenience, flexibility, and affordability of online learning. The asynchronous learning method complements the 24/7 access to learning materials and student support services.
Admission into the online business degree program is on a fairly selective basis. Interested individuals must have a high school diploma or GED equivalent, submit official high school transcripts, and complete an undergraduate application. SNHU has a rolling admissions policy.
University of Arizona
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Students in the Bachelor of Science in Public Management and Policy program cultivate their knowledge and skills in public administration in preparation for successful careers in government agencies and nonprofit organizations. Students are among the most passionate individuals in increasing access to public services among the general population and at-risk groups.
Graduates can choose from many paths, too! Plunge into public service, pursue advanced degrees like law and master’s degrees in public administration, and/or participate in community development.
The 130-credit online bachelor’s degree program features a comprehensive curriculum with foundation courses, core courses, and public management and policy concentration courses. The concentration coursework includes Public Policy and Administration, Introduction to Public and Nonprofit Financial Management, Public Organizational Management, and American National Government. Students also tackle courses in Urban Public Policy, Ethics for the Public Administrator, and Formation of Public Policy.
The online program allows students to choose between an in-person and online internship opportunity. Either way, students develop real-world skills and create a professional network.
Students can also choose from three concentrations:
- Business, Economics & Entrepreneurship
- Law, Policy & Social Justice
- Social & Behavioral Sciences
With public administration also about being people, students develop their soft skills, including critical thinking, alongside hard skills development.
University of Colorado Denver
Location: Denver, Colorado
The online BA in Public Administration program welcomes students of diverse backgrounds and career trajectories, from freshman students interested in a life of public service to working professionals engaged in public administration. Graduates strengthen the public and private sectors through their leadership skills, and many are involved in homeland security, emergency services, and public service.
The 100% online format benefits non-traditional students who strive to maintain a work-life balance. On-campus faculty members teach the online courses, too, meaning the excellent quality of academic instruction is maintained. Students in the public administration degree online program have access to CU’s top-notch student support services and on-campus facilities, too.
Public administration students must complete 120 credits to earn the degree. The comprehensive coursework includes core courses like Introduction to Public Service, Management for Public Service, and Financial Management for Public Service. Students must also complete an internship experience, but their relevant professional work experience can be a sufficient basis for an internship waiver.
Like many of the best public administration degree programs, this program offers students several concentrations – Emergency Management, Environmental Policy and Management, Nonprofit Management, and International Development. Students pursuing a public administration degree can also fast-track their studies via Career and Technical Education Credits (i.e., work experience in public service professions).
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
Location: Dartmouth, Massachusetts
Graduates of the Bachelor of Science in Public Administration program possess the knowledge and skills that make them competitive for entry-level and mid-level positions in the local, state, or federal government. Students must complete 120 credits, of which 42 credits are in core courses. Since it’s a bachelor of science degree program, among its requirements is the completion of three quantitative courses.
On-campus UMass Dartmouth faculty members teach the online courses, too. Despite its online format, however, students in the program are assured of quality academic instruction and attention from their professors. Student support services are provided, too, and these include one-on-one advising from admission to graduation, as well as tutoring and writing services. Students are also better able to maintain work-life balance, thanks to the asynchronous courses that feature preset assignment deadlines.
Featured courses in the public administration degree program include Civil Rights in the United States, Public Administration, Public Economics, Public Policy, and Urban Economics. Students also tackle courses in public budgeting, cost-benefit analysis, econometrics, and economic statistics, as well as a capstone seminar.
Students in the public administration degree online program must also complete an internship experience for credit. The internship site must be an off-campus organization, and students must keep an internship journal and submit a final paper.
University of Illinois Springfield
Locations: Springfield, Illinois
Students in the Bachelor of Arts in Nonprofit and Public Administration program undergo extensive education and training in preparation for their roles as public administrators in government agencies and nonprofit organizations. While technical skills are emphasized, transferable skills like leadership skills development activities are just as vital during their stay at UIS.
Students develop a broad understanding of the political, social, and economic systems that affect public administration; develop their qualitative and quantitative skills in problem-solving; and learn skills related to performance management, budgeting, and strategic planning.
The online bachelor’s degree program has a 120-credit curriculum, of which 27 credits are core courses. The public administration courses include Issues in American Public Administration, Introduction to Public Service Management, Leadership and Management of Public Organizations, and Operations Research Methods. Indeed, many of these core courses cover business administration but with a public administration emphasis.
Students who want to earn a public administration degree are well-advised to participate in applied study experiences, particularly an internship. The program also offers concentrations, but students may or may not pursue their choice in a specialization. Their choices include Child Advocacy Studies, Environment and Society, and Global Public Health.
This is a transfer-friendly online program with students granted up to four courses for transfer purposes. Students may also look into the bachelor’s-to-master’s program that allows up to six credits of graduate courses to be counted toward a graduate degree.
University of Missouri – Columbia
Location: Columbia, Missouri
Offered at Mizzou’s Truman School of Government and Public Affairs, the Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration and Policy program is intended for aspiring and current public service professionals. Students develop the know-how to achieve success in the rewarding area of public administration, be it in government agencies or nonprofit organizations. Many graduates have carried the Mizzou tradition of leadership in these areas, too, and brought Mizzou values to the local, state, and federal government levels.
The interdisciplinary curriculum of the 120-credit program empowers students in skills development that combine both hard and soft skills. Students learn not just the fundamentals of public administration and policy but also leadership, critical thinking, and communication skills, among others.
Note that students can transfer as many as 57 credits to the semester-based program. Students can take 1-2 courses per semester and earn the public administration degree in four years of full-time studies (i.e., no transfer credits).
The core courses cover principles of public policy administration, public service legal and ethical principles, and local government management. Students also tackle general business administration subjects like human resource management, program assessment and improvement, and organizational communication.
Location: Nashville, Tennessee
Individuals interested in public administration careers can choose from three undergraduate programs in the said discipline, namely:
- Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration
- Bachelor of Science in Public Administration
- Bachelor of Professional Studies in Public Administration
Every public administration degree program, nonetheless, adopts a faith-based philosophy in the education of future and current public service professionals. Students tackle a rigorous curriculum consisting of liberal arts courses (i.e., general education), as well as core courses and electives. The culminating requirement is a project-based capstone course where students apply their knowledge and skills in suggesting solutions for real-world issues.
The core courses in the 126-hour curriculum cover topics in research methods, applied leadership ethics, management principles for leaders, and management of public policy. Students also tackle comprehensive courses in American national government, urban politics, and public budgeting and finance management.
The online program provides students with exceptional student support services in addition to faculty members being accessible for one-on-one coaching. Students can also receive college credits for prior learning and work/life experiences, such as military, accounting, or professional training.
Prospective students must possess a high school diploma and submit official transcripts (i.e., less than 30 hours of college credits). Applicants with 30 and above college credits must submit official college transcripts; there’s a 2.0 GPA minimum to be considered for admission.
Location: Lynchburg, Virginia
Offered by the well-respected Christian university, Liberty University, the Bachelor of Science in Public Administration program is the training ground for aspiring and current public service professionals who seek robust Christ-centered careers. Students of all faiths are welcome, nonetheless, but must possess the determination to succeed in public administration careers.
Among the alumni of the online bachelor’s degree program are politicians, policymakers, and scholars whose action-oriented approach toward public administration has made a significant impact on public services. Students who want to follow in their footsteps by first earning a public administration degree must complete 120 credit hours of coursework. The program allows the transfer of credits of up to 75% of college-level credits.
The average time-to-completion is 3.5 years, but students can proceed at their own pace. The time-to-degree depends on their course load, but all 100% online courses are eight weeks long without set log-in times. There are eight start dates, too.
Students learn the principles and practices of public administration through comprehensive courses in human resource management, public finance and budgeting, and public administration leadership and community engagement. There’s also a course on the legal and political issues in contemporary public administration. Students are then able to identify issues and make practical decisions in public service.
University of La Verne
Location: La Verne, California
The opportunity to shape public administration and public policy is at the heart of the Bachelor of Science in Public Administration program. Students develop a robust foundation of fundamental knowledge and skills that successful public administrators possess and can build on during their careers. The fully online public administration degree program’s interdisciplinary approach emphasizes both theory and application, too, through didactic coursework and research.
The courses in the online program are completely asynchronous, thus allowing students to study at their own pace and convenience. Students use the Blackboard learning management system for their learning activities. But non-synchronicity doesn’t mean compromised academic quality – the courses are rigorous and the professors are known for their high academic expectations.
Online students can access vital on-campus services through phone, email, and videoconferencing. These services include academic advising, financial aid resources, and career center services, among others. Online students can also engage in in-person, peer-to-peer interactions by attending on-campus classes at their own convenience.
The courses in the online bachelor’s in public administration program include organizational behavior, written business communications, and management information systems. Core courses are in public administration, urban studies, public management processes, and policy-making processes.
Eastern Oregon University
Location: La Grande, Oregon
Applicants to EOU’s undergraduate public administration programs can choose from two formats, namely:
- Bachelor of Science in Politics, Policy and Public Administration
- Bachelor of Arts in Politics, Policy and Public Administration
What makes these public administration programs unique is their focus on the trifecta of public service – politics, public policy, and public administration. Students also agree that the rural development-informed curriculum is unique among programs that emphasize urban studies and development.
But the online bachelor’s degree program emphasizes rural development within the context of globalization, too, meaning students can adopt an outward-looking perspective.
The time-to-completion varies from two to four years depending on the number of transfer credits – up to 135 credits can be transferred – and the course load per term. This is among the most affordable undergraduate public administration degree programs, too, and made even more accessible with financial aid.
The 180-credit curriculum has core courses in American National Government, Democracy and Public Service, International Relations, State and Local Government, Public Policy, and Budgetary Politics and Process. Students also develop their social science research know-how and learn the complicated relationship between politics and media.
Students can choose from three courses as one of the culminating requirements – a capstone seminar, a course in applied policy analysis, or a course in rural governance.
There’s also an accelerated bachelor’s-to-master’s degree program.
University of Central Florida
Location: Orlando, Florida
Offered by the School of Public Administration under the College of Community Innovation & Education, the Bachelor of Science in Public Administration program emphasizes the theory and applications of the discipline. Students acquire the technical skills in public management and policy necessary for entry-level and mid-level positions in government agencies, think tanks, and nonprofit organizations. Many graduates have also become successful in the field of business administration since its principles and practices overlap with public administration.
Students pursuing the online public administration degree tackle a comprehensive and rigorous curriculum with featured courses in public policy administration, human resources management, and fiscal management. Their skill sets upon graduation include project management skills, policy analysis skills, and leadership skills, as well as research skills.
The online bachelor’s program requires students to choose and complete a minor in a wide range of disciplines, from homeland security and emergency management to urban and regional planning. Online students are also required to complete an internship experience for first-hand exposure to the real-world challenges of public administration. The courses, however, are delivered online or in a hybrid format.
Applicants must provide academic records and SAT/ACT scores along with a completed online application and a nonrefundable application fee.
Granite State College
Location: Concord, New Hampshire
Among the component institutions of the University System of New Hampshire, Granite has several 100% online degree programs. Among the best programs is the Bachelor of Science in Public Administration program, which aspiring and current public administrators find more than suitable for their career advancement goals.
Freshman students are welcome, but many of the students have already established public administration careers and are, thus, able to capitalize on their work experiences. For freshman students, the time-to-degree is four years with a full-time course load, but transfer students can complete the program in two to three years.
Transfer credits can be from college-level credits (e.g., associate degree), as well as from life and work experiences. Granite has articulation agreements with numerous community colleges, such as Great Bay Community College, Lakes Region Community College, and Manchester Community College.
The core courses in the online bachelor in public administration program include:
- Introduction to Public Administration
- Public Policy Development and Implementation
- Public Sector Budget and Finance
- Human Resources in the Public Sector
Students also develop their technical skills in data analytics, statistics, and Excel. There’s an emphasis on the fundamentals of change management and ethics, too.
All students and alumni can access the career advising services and seek guidance from expert faculty members about their academics and career trajectories. With affordable tuition, thanks to its status as a public college, Granite is popular among families of modest means.
Tarleton State University
Location: Stephenville, Texas
Known for its innovative practices – it’s among the founding members of the Texas A&M University System, among the largest systems of colleges and universities in the United States – Tarleton State University takes pride in the education of future leaders! In the case of the Bachelor of Science in Public Administration program, students train to become the public servants of tomorrow.
With this in mind, students tackle a well-rounded curriculum that emphasizes public management theories and applications underlined by contemporary ethics. Many of the core courses emphasize the overlap between business administration and public administration, such as operations management, human resource management, and project management. Indeed, graduates say that their comprehensive education enabled them to make smooth transitions between the two fields!
The online bachelor in public administration program has a 120-credit curriculum with a four-year time-to-completion. At the end of the program, graduates possess soft skills that give them a competitive edge. Among their soft skills are problem-solving, critical thinking, and leadership skills.
University of Phoenix
Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Data-driven decision-making, problem-solving, and budgeting are just a few of the many skills that students in the Bachelor of Science in Public Administration program develop during their stay. Graduates possess such a wide range of hard and soft skills that their career opportunities are just as diverse, from government agencies and think tanks to for-profit and nonprofit organizations. Students benefit from the rigorous coursework that covers business law, financial management, and civil leadership.
Non-traditional students, including working professionals, can enjoy a good work-life balance in their studies, thanks to the one-course-at-a-time structure. Every course lasts five weeks, and every academic year has ten courses for completion.
This is a 120-credit program that can be completed in four years of full-time enrolment. However, transfer students can request an assessment of their college-level credits through the prior learning assessment service; transfer students can then speed up their time to completion.
There are 14 core courses, including:
- Foundations of Public Administration
- Public Policy Environment
- Public Budgeting
- Fiscal Management
- Urban and Regional Planning
Many of the core courses develop transferable skills, too, such as classes in project management, conflict resolution, risk management, and organizational behavior and leadership. Students also work with a team of advisors who contribute to their success from day one of admission.
Location: Parkville, Missouri
The Bachelor of Public Administration program at Park University is an excellent training ground for ambitious individuals interested in careers in public service. Graduates are qualified for entry-level positions or, with relevant work experience, for mid-level management positions.
Many graduates also apply for their bachelor’s degree as a stepping stone for graduate studies and continuing professional education.
Students choose from several concentrations in the field of public administration:
- Business Relations
- Homeland Security
- Criminal Justice
- Fire Service Management
- Public Service
Note that the program has blended courses – the courses are delivered partially online, and students are required to attend weekly in-person activities with their peers and professors. This is in line with the guidelines issued by the Veterans Administration, mainly that the program has at least a 60% in-person component.
The program is also a recognized Air Force program, particularly of the Air University – Associates to Baccalaureate Cooperative (AU-ABC) program and the Community College of the Air Force’s (CCAF) General Education Mobile (GEM) Program.
Students in the undergraduate program may also request early access to the graduate program by taking up to 12 credit hours of appropriate courses. Applicants to the MPA early access program must have at least a 3.0 GPA.
Location: San Diego, California
The Bachelor of Public Administration program at the National University seeks to produce advocates for cities, towns, and villages and their progressive development. Students also prepare for influential careers in public service, a dynamic field where dedication and determination are appreciated. Graduates work in diverse industries, too, from government agencies and utility companies to nonprofit organizations.
The extensive curriculum features rigorous courses designed to provide students with vital knowledge from which they can build real-world skills. Courses include introductions to organizational behavior and public administration, public policy development, and urban environments, as well as courses for soft skills development like team building and adaptive leadership. Students must complete a senior research project as a culminating requirement.
National University allows students to choose between the general track in public administration or the waterworks management concentration. This is the only university in California that offers the concentration, and its graduates are sought-after by employers. California, after all, depends on the efficacy of its water and wastewater industry for its homes and industries!
Students in the waterworks management concentration take four additional courses – Waterworks Management in California, Human Resources and Labor Relations, California Water Law and Compliance, and Leadership in Water Management.
Upper Iowa University
Locations: Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana
Students in the Bachelor’s in Public Administration program benefit from the practitioner-oriented approach that trains them for leadership in the public and private sectors. Many graduates pursue public service jobs in emergency disaster management, healthcare services, and agriculture, among others.
The extensive curriculum covers liberal arts courses for soft skills development and awareness of the world, followed by core and major courses, including:
- Politics of Poverty, Inequality, and Health Policy
- Public Policy and Healthcare
- Human Resources Management
- Principles of Emergency Management
- Healthcare Financial Management
- Nonprofit Philanthropy/Fundraising
Students can choose between the general track and three concentrations, too. The general track establishes a solid foundation that prepares students for the dynamic field of public administration. The three concentrations broaden the student’s knowledge and skills in a specific area of public administration, namely, Emergency Management, Fire Science or Law Enforcement, and Policy and Politics.
The program also encourages its students to pursue a minor. Students can choose between pre-law and political science, both of which are relevant for public administrators.
Whatever the choice in concentration and minor, students learn from professors with above-par academic credentials and work experience in public administration. Graduates are ready to face the changing conditions of the field and maintain their ethics.
Point Park University
Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Aside from being convenient for working professionals and non-traditional students, the online Bachelor of Science in Public Administration program empowers students to set their sights on successful careers. The future-focused approach means that students build their knowledge and skills in preparation for the challenges of careers in public administration.
The time-to-completion varies from two to four years depending on whether a student has transferred credits or not and whether they are enrolled on a part-time or full-time basis. Full-time students with transferred credits can earn a bachelor’s degree in two years or less.
Up to 90 credits can be transferred into the 120-credit program with acceptable transfer credits from associate degrees, CLEP, DANTES, and AP credits, as well as from experiential learning assessments.
Every course in the curriculum lasts for eight weeks. Major courses include:
- Nonprofit Organization
- Public Administration
- Methods of Public Management
- Public Budgeting and Finance
- Principles of Management
Students can also choose from two concentrations – EMS Administration and Fire Service. In both concentrations, students first complete general education courses and then proceed to the major, concentration, and elective courses.
Mount Vernon Nazarene University
Location: Mount Vernon, Ohio
Working professionals who are already in public administration and public service positions but who want career advancement will find the online Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration right up their alley! With flexible schedules, thanks mainly to asynchronous classes and convenient online learning delivery, students can maintain their work-life balance while completing the degree in 21 months with transfer credits and full-time matriculation.
Many students are already first responders, such as in emergency management or fire services, but most are in public service positions. The fully online program, nonetheless, has the rigorous quality of on-campus programs, thanks to the guidance of full-time faculty members with suitable credentials.
The extensive curriculum is underlined by the Christ-centered ethics for which MVNU is known in academia. Students learn the fundamentals of public administration and policy, while also gaining a deeper understanding of its political, social, and economic principles. Graduates possess the well-rounded knowledge and skills that enable them to become ethical leaders in worldly settings.
The 5-week courses, which start every month for the entirety of the year, include Introduction to Public Administration, Public Service in Communities, and Public Policy. Students complete 120 credits to earn the degree.
Locations: There are several locations across the U.S.
Students gain insights into the complex aspects of public administration and policy in the public and private sectors during their stay in the Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration program. This is a program where students are encouraged to take on leadership positions in their careers as public administration practitioners and, thus, make a positive difference in their communities.
Students study the ethics that underline excellence in public administration, as well as the disciplines that underline its practice, such as sociology, political science, and economics. There’s an emphasis on the use of scientific methods, such as data analysis, in carrying out public administration duties.
The 120-credit program has a rigorous set of rules, including a minimum of a “C” grade to earn the bachelor’s degree. The courses cover economics, industrial psychology, and community and organizational work, as well as public administration courses.
Students may choose to undergo a public administration internship (strongly recommended) or choose from several online courses in lieu of the in-person internship.
Core Courses in Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration Programs
The typical public administration degree programs have core courses that develop the student’s fundamental knowledge and skills in the discipline. The course titles and descriptions widely vary, but the following are common among the best online bachelor’s degree programs in public administration.
Introduction to Public Service
The course is an introduction to the fundamental elements of public service, including the roles and responsibilities of public administrators in diverse settings. Students are encouraged to examine their possible place and pathways within the field of public administration, as well as consider the skills, ethics, and values they can contribute toward its development.
Introduction to Public and Nonprofit Financial Management
The course highlights the overlap between public administration and business administration degree programs in terms of financial management. Students examine financial management, from budgeting to spending in government agencies and nonprofit organizations.
Public Policy and Administration
The course is an exploration of the principles and practices of public administration and policy that contribute to the common good. Students learn the risks and rewards that come with careers in public service and, thus, become better able to deal with contemporary issues.
Ethics in Public Administration
The course is common in both secular and faith-based colleges and universities, although there are differences in the scope and values encouraged among students. There may be case studies in criminal justice, social and human services, and health management services that highlight persistent and emerging issues in public administration.
Financial Management for Public Service
The course is a training ground for students in public financial management and its cycle. Students learn about budget preparation, financial allocations and spending, and monitoring and reporting procedures. There’s an emphasis on equitable resource allocations and sound fiscal discipline in handling public funds.
Human Resources Management
This is a course where the intersection between public administration and business administration meet, too. Students learn about the entire human resource management cycle – from recruitment, retention, and termination to labor relations, employee relations, and human resource development.
Public Organizational Management
The course enables students to gain a fundamental understanding of public organizations and the theories, principles, and practices behind their success. Students learn organizational management in the context of inclusive and diverse workplaces.
Issues in American Public Administration
The course is a survey of the issues and challenges that public administration professionals face when working in and with the American government and its systems. Students adopt an administrative perspective of the personalities and forces that have shaped and continue to shape the American government at the local, state, and federal levels.
American National Government
The course is a deeper dive into the history, contemporary issues, and trends in the American federal government.
The course examines the wide range of issues affecting the international system, from the impact of regionalism and nationalism on international relations to climate change, human rights, and international laws.
Only a few of the best online bachelor’s degrees in public administration programs have internship requirements. Of the programs with an internship component, the internship can be completed in an off-campus site, such as in your own place of employment.
Six Disciplines Within the Field of Public Administration
Many programs offering a bachelor’s degree in public administration also offer students the opportunity to widen their knowledge base through concentrations. Many of these concentrations aligned with the six recognized disciplines within the field of public administration, namely:
- Community Development
Public administration professionals establish, maintain, and strengthen the network of stakeholders within a community that influences public policy and its implementation. Public policy influences the public services that contribute to community development, such as housing, social and medical services, and utilities.
Public administration professionals, particularly public administrators, oversee the sustainable use of lands, urban and rural physical infrastructure, and other public systems. Sustainability is crucial in ensuring that future generations will have the opportunity and ability to meet their current needs while also ensuring that the current generation can also achieve the same.
- Environmental Management
Climate change is among the topmost concerns among public administration professionals today, and it’s related to overall environmental management in particular and sustainability in particular. Public administrators in the field of environmental management can work in the public and private sectors and in both for-profit and nonprofit sectors.
With the expansion of the population and the advancements of society, the demand for public administration professionals is on the rise. Public administrators are the leaders who plan, implement and evaluate public services that move public life smoothly.
- Public Safety
Public administrators in the United States are guided by the Homeland Security Act that centralized the previously autonomous functions of the fire, police, and emergency medical services. Under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), public administration practitioners perform assessment and management activities related to threats to public safety.
- Crisis Management
While natural catastrophes and man-made disasters are unwelcome, these are possible – and these situations are where the knowledge and skills in crisis management and disaster relief among public administration professionals come in. Public administrators work in both public agencies (e.g., FEMA) and nonprofit organizations (e.g., International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement) for this reason.
But with successful careers in public administration and the rewards of public service come the challenges and issues! These include protecting and promoting democracy, strengthening socioeconomic development, and managing technological advancements. Fortunately, students in public administration degree programs build a strong foundation that enables them to tackle these challenges in the future.
There are also plenty of reasons to pursue a bachelor’s degree in public administration! Public administration graduates possess the ability to lead and work with people, a transferable skill that allows them to work in diverse industries. Their leadership skills are borne out of their education and training in a wide range of subjects, too, from economics and finance management to business communication.
There’s also the fact that a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration is an excellent stepping stone for advanced degrees, such as a master’s degree and a doctorate degree in public administration and other related fields. Even with a bachelor’s degree, nonetheless, the average salaries for entry-level positions are among the best, usually around $78,418 per year.
Popular Career Paths for Public Management Graduates
A bachelor’s degree in public administration is an excellent stepping stone for rewarding entry-level positions in the public and private sectors. But it must also be said that many of the occupations described here can require more than a few years of relevant work experience.
Government agencies, lobbying organizations, and consulting firms are a few of the places where policy analysts work. Policy analysts investigate public policies that will have an impact on their organizations and, thus, use their skills in data collection and analysis.
Median Annual Wage: $64,660
By creating effective and efficient land use programs and plans, urban and regional planners contribute to the betterment of communities. Their work also involves revitalizing physical infrastructure in communities and accommodating their population growth.
Median Annual Wage: $82,420
The opportunity to support the general public’s overall well-being and to improve the delivery of services to at-risk populations is at the heart of the work that social and community services managers do. Their duties include writing budget proposals for funding social services programs, recommending improvements to social services, and managing outreach activities.
Median Annual Wage: $74,240
Planning, implementing, and evaluating human resources management plans and programs keep human resources managers busy. Their day-to-day responsibilities cover the administrative duties that come with the recruitment, retention, and termination of employees and managers.
Median Annual Wage: $117,470
The job of raising awareness about their respective organizations’ mission, vision, and achievements, as well as improving their organizations’ image, falls on the shoulders of public relations managers. Where public relations managers deal in an intangible asset – goodwill – fundraising managers raise a tangible asset – cash and other assets – as donations to their organizations.
Median Annual Wage: $125,620
Other career paths that public administration graduates can pursue are compensation and benefits managers, medical and health services managers, and emergency services managers. Many graduates also become successful administrative services managers and postsecondary education administrators.
Skills Public Administration Professionals Must Possess for Career Success
Public administration professionals must possess the right combination of technical and transferable skills to become successful in whatever occupation and industry they are in.
- Data analysis
This is a technical skill that requires professionals to be technology-savvy while also possessing math skills along with critical thinking and analytical thinking skills. We live in a world where more data is generated every day, and it takes specialized skills to make sense of it all and use it for the public good.
- Leadership skills
Public administration demands leadership skills in gathering stakeholders and motivating them toward a shared goal.
- Analytical skills
The ability to collect information from large data sets and make informed decisions based on conclusions drawn from their analysis is at the core of analytical skills. Public administration professionals analyze budgets, compare the performance of programs with their preset goals, and recommend improvements to these programs, which demand analytical skills of the highest level.
- Problem-solving skills
With so many issues and challenges confronting public administration and policy, its practitioners must possess the ability to identify problems and find effective solutions. These professionals must also be sensitive to the often-conflicting needs and wants of stakeholders in programs and projects, as well as the community at large.
- Decision-making skills
With public policy affecting the lives of the entire community and the individuals living it, public administration professionals must possess effective decision-making skills. The best public administrators use the best available information in making decisions and use their objectivity in setting goals, finding solutions, and considering the consequences of their decisions.
- Communication skills
Since public administration professionals act as a bridge between their organizations and their beneficiaries, stakeholders, and the larger community, their communication skills must be above par! Their effectiveness at communication results in their efficacy as fundraising managers, public relations managers, and policy planners in one.
- Collaboration skills
Public administration professionals must possess excellent collaboration skills because of their dealings with people from all walks of life and professionals from relevant fields. Being a team player, furthermore, must be complemented by the ability to work with minimum supervision and achieve the desired results.
- Time management skills
With so many responsibilities calling from every direction, the best public administration professionals must put their time management skills to good use. There’s also the fact that public policy and its initiatives are usually time-bound.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does an online Bachelor’s degree in Public Administration cost?
The per-credit costs range between $200 and $500+ depending on the public or private status of the college or university. Be sure to consider the differences in in-state and out-of-state tuition, the school fees and charges, and the incidental expenses that come with online learning. Check out your financial aid options, too.
What are the licensure and certification requirements for Public Administration professionals?
Licensure isn’t usually required for most jobs in public administration and its related fields. However, there are certain occupations where professional certifications are required, such as jobs for emergency management directors. Executive positions in government agencies may also require professional certifications.
What are the professional associations that online Public Administration students can join?
Check out the American Society for Public Administration, Alliance for Nonprofit Management, and the National Academy of Public Administration. Note that some of these professional organizations only welcome professionals with relevant work experience, but it won’t do any harm to aspire for membership.
Key Points to Ponder
- If you’re interested in a career in public service, then a bachelor’s degree in public administration will set you in the right direction. You can pursue advanced degrees, too, while pursuing the common good.
- Students aren’t just learning the fundamental knowledge and skills in public administration but also nurturing their commitment to public service. Such passion for public service will serve them well in the future.
- There will be challenges in pursuing an online degree in public administration, but these are excellent preparation for successfully dealing with the issues that beset the field today.