A bachelor’s in public administration leads students to fulfilling careers in government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and other social and civil organizations that positively impact the public.
The public administration field is growing faster than ever. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 17% growth rate through 2029. This will open an estimated 29,800 new public administration careers.
If your goal is to truly make a difference in your community, you may be a good fit for a public administration undergraduate program. Bachelor’s in public administration degrees combine management and leadership training with critical thinking, communication, and decision-making skills. Public administration graduates become leaders in the public sector, businesses, nonprofits, or the government.
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What are the Best Bachelor’s in Public Administration?
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Texas A&M University-College Station
Founded in 1876, Texas A&M is not only known as the state’s first public university but ranked #1 for best value by Fiske Guide to Colleges and Money Magazine. Texas A&M’s Bush School of Government and Public Service offers a joint bachelor’s/master’s in public service and administration (MPSA) with five emphasis areas that can be completed in five years.
A perk of Texas A&M’s top-ranked program is that you can narrow your interests and career goals by choosing a concentration of:
- political science
- agricultural economics
- wildlife/fisheries sciences
Each program includes its own set of courses. All require the Texas A&M core, major area credits, either BS or BA requirements, and Bush School’s MPSA first-year courses.
You can also tailor this best public administration program even further by earning a certificate in homeland security, nonprofit management, or public management. To be admitted to this program, you need to maintain at least a 3.25 GPA and have completed all your prerequisite courses and 102 credit hours by the fall of year four.
University of Central Florida
The University of Central Florida is one of the most dynamic universities in the nation, known for its 13 colleges, 230 degree programs, nearly 72,000 current students, and a growing space program. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that U.S. News & World Report ranks UCF as the Most Innovative 2021. UCF offers one of the best B.Sc. in public administration.
Through UCF’s College of Community Innovation and Education, you will find a top Bachelor of Science in public administration that provides the expertise land fulfilling careers that benefit the public. You are required to choose a minor such as:
- emergency management and homeland security
- urban and regional planning
- nonprofit management
You will take courses such as Administration of Public Policy, Human Resource Administration, and Fiscal Management. You will also complete an internship in a public-focused organization to gain valuable first-hand experience that may lead to future jobs in public administration such as:
- outreach coordinators
- program analysts
- budget analysts
- research associates
- public information specialists
University of Kansas
The University of Kansas opened its doors in 1866 and welcomed its first class of just 55 students. Today the flagship university includes five campuses, several online programs, and 28,500 students who call KU home. KU’s Bachelor of Arts in public administration is a flexible, high-quality program that emphasizes hands-on learning and real-world application.
At KU, you will gain the expertise for planning, implementing, and assessing public programs, which opens the doors to a variety of careers. In addition to general education courses, KU’s BA in public administration entails 27 credit hours of public administration coursework. Sample courses in this top program include:
- Introduction to Public Administration
- Quantitative Methods
- Foundations of the Nonprofit Sector
This program is flexible and allows you to take evening courses to fit your schedule. KU public administration degree graduates find jobs including:
- local and state government
- federal agencies
- nonprofit organizations
- educational institutions
- international relations
Check out this link for how to apply to KU online.
Winona State University
At Winona State University, 98% of graduates find a job in their field, which is one reason why this university is ranked #1 Student Success Rate in the Minnesota State System. Among the 73 undergraduate programs is a Bachelor of Science in public administration (PUBA). This top degree prepares students for administrative careers in public/nonprofit agencies. It can also serve as a pathway to graduate school.
As a WSU public administration major, you will work closely with an advisor to customize this program to match your interests and career goals. You can choose another major or minor to pair with this degree, or you can earn both a Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts in public administration with an additional 30 credits.
WSU’s program entails 33 credits of required courses, including:
- Introduction to American Politics
- Introduction to Political Analysis
- Constitutional Law
- Public Service
You will also complete an internship to gain practical experience working for the local, state, or national government.
University of Southern Indiana
The University of Southern Indiana is located on a gorgeous 1,400-acre campus in Evansville and attracts students from all over the globe. Currently, 10,204 students attend USI, spanning across more than 130 areas of study. USI’s high-value Bachelor of Arts or Science in political science includes a concentration in public and nonprofit administration (PNPA), which is the only one of its kind in the Tri-State area.
USI’s affordable public and nonprofit administration program allows you to choose between a bachelor of arts or science and add an additional concentration in government, law, and diplomacy. You will take courses in:
- human resources
- organizational behavior
- public policy
Students can participate in internships and study abroad experiences.
USI public and nonprofit administration graduates take jobs in all levels of government, politics, law, business, and education fields. Regardless of your career goals, this program will equip you with the knowledge and skills to be successful in the public administration realm. If you plan to go to graduate school, USI also offers a master’s in public administration.
Rutgers University’s School of Public Affairs and Administration is ranked as a top school by U.S. News & World Report and accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA). Rutgers’ Bachelor of Arts in public and nonprofit administration is based on experiential learning, allowing students more hands-on experiences than a typical undergraduate program.
Rutgers’ major in public and nonprofit administration entails 120 credit hours. This includes 35 credits in core courses, service-learning internship courses, and electives. Sample courses include:
- Leadership for Service Professionals
- Ethical Public Service
- Technology and Public Service
Courses for this best undergraduate degree in public administration are available both in person and online, to enhance flexibility.
Whether you’re looking for leadership or engagement opportunities or travel abroad experiences, you will find it through Rutgers’s undergraduate program. Rutgers also offers a 5-year dual bachelor’s/master’s degree in public administration.
California State University-Fullerton
California State University-Fullerton is known as the leading campus of the CSU system, providing “an intellectual and cultural center for Southern California and driver of workforce and economic development.” Cal State Fullerton’s Division of Politics, Administration, and Justice features a Bachelor of Arts in public administration for students who wish to work for government and nonprofit organizations.
Cal State’s public administration program is liberal arts-based and focuses on management, policy, and politics. Along with general education requirements, you will complete 48 credits in upper-division courses like:
- Leadership to Public Policy
- Policy and Analysis
- Corruption, Ethics
- Public Policy
You will also complete an internship in public administration.
Most Cal State public administration majors become public managers in government and nonprofit agencies.
Medgar Evers College
Established in 1970, Medgar Evers College is the youngest four-year college in the City University of New York system and holds the vision of “advancing knowledge, social justice, and excellence.” MEC’s Bachelor of Science in public administration prepares students to become “highly trained and informed leaders” and comes with a host of concentration options.
As a MEC public administration student, you may choose from the following areas of emphasis:
- Public policy
- Public sector management
- Nonprofit administration
- Urban administration
- International administration
- Criminal justice
Along with a strong foundation in public administration courses, you will gain skills in critical analysis, communication, and ethics to better understand the future trends in the industry.
MEC’s top public administration program entails 42 credits of common/flexible core credits and 78 major credits. Expect to take core courses like:
- Introduction to Public Administration
- Introduction to Criminal Law
- Designing Local Programs and Proposal Writing
- Comparative Public Administration
The MEC’s admissions team is here to help future students through the application process.
San Diego State University
San Diego State University, the oldest academic institution in San Diego, is truly diverse and noted as a top college for military, veterans, and LGBTQ students. SDSU’s School of Public Affairs offers five undergraduate programs, including a Bachelor of Arts in public administration. It’s perfect if you are looking for an interdisciplinary degree that pulls from a variety of fields.
SDSU’s public administration degree prepares students for management careers in government, nonprofits, planning and consulting firms, community agencies, or other organizations within the public sector. You will complete 36 credits such as:
- Concepts and Issues in Public Administration
- Management of Urban Governments
- Administration Behavior
You will also choose from a variety of electives to round out your course of study.
SDSU’s public administration program is impacted, meaning that space is limited and admission is competitive. If you are interested in this degree, you should complete seven required prerequisite courses while maintaining a minimum of 2.4 GPA or higher. For more information on how to apply, check out the undergraduate admission website.
Founded in 1971, National University is San Diego’s largest private nonprofit university with a mission to “provide accessible, achievable higher education to adult learners.” Students from all over the globe attend NU. With more than 180,000 alumni, you will soon see why this school is worth checking out if you’re interested in earning a Bachelor’s of Public Administration (BPA).
NU features flexible formats of four-week courses both on-campus and online. You have the option of completing the program in its entirety online, which is a perk that attracts many. NU’s degree plan focuses on:
- central theories of public administration
- analyzing operations and procedures
- researching current public administration issues
- developing the skills necessary to be successful in this industry
As a NU public administration student, you will complete at least 180 quarter units, which include general education courses, major requirements, and upper-division electives. Sample courses include:
- Public Policy Development
- Government Relations
- Urban Environments
University of Northern Iowa
Ranked #2 in the “Top Public Schools Regional University (Midwest)” by U.S. News & World Report, the University of Northern Iowa is known for its top-notch programs and affordability. UNI’s inexpensive Bachelor of Arts in public administration features a well-rounded course of study.
At UNI, you can customize this affordable program by choosing among minors in political science, international affairs, or politics in law. You will study topics such as management, policies, and decision-making in the government, nonprofits, and private sectors. Your program will not be simply centered around classes, though—You will gain hands-on knowledge and skills through internships, study abroad opportunities, research, and student organizations.
UNI graduates become leaders in the public sector through careers such as:
- policy analysts
- nonprofit managers
- city managers
- human resource managers
- government relations specialists
UNI proudly reports that 96% of UNI graduates are employed or continuing their education.
University of Colorado-Denver
Students come from all over the world—49 states and 66 countries— to the University of Colorado-Denver, a school of “leading research, creative work, and civic engagement.” CU Denver is a great place to earn a Bachelor’s of Arts in public administration. You can earn this public administration degree either on-campus or online.
Along with a strong background in public administration, you can choose concentration areas in:
- emergency management
- environmental policy and management
- international development
- nonprofit management
CU Denver’s program entails 48 credits of coursework, not counting general education requirements. Expect to take courses such as:
- Management for Public Service
- Program Design, Evaluation, and Decision-Making
- Leading for the Public Good
Students without professional field experience will complete a minimum three-credit-hour internship. CU Denver’s public administration BA leads graduates to rewarding leadership careers in government agencies, nonprofits, and nongovernmental organizations.
Old Dominion University
Founded in 1930, Old Dominion University is a vibrant research institution with more nearly 25,000 students. Twenty-five percent of ODU students are in the military or veterans, earning the school the “Best for Vets” title in Virginia (Military Times). If you plan to attend graduate school, then check out ODU’s linked bachelor’s and master’s degree in public administration.
ODU allows you to earn either a BA or a BS and a Master’s of Public Administration in as little as five years. Even better, you can complete this program either on-campus or online, adding extra flexibility. As an ODU public administration student, you will take courses like The Context of Public Administration, Public Policy and Evaluation, and Ethics in Public Administration.
ODU public administration graduates pursue leadership careers such as:
- public relations specialists
- chief executives for private or public sector organizations
- education administrators in public, private, or secondary schools
Those interested in ODU’s joint bachelor’s/master’s degree should apply during their junior year and have at least a 3.0 GPA.
University of La Verne
A private, not-for-profit institution, the University of La Verne offers “degree programs for all stages of your life.” At La Verne, you will find enriching academic programs, small class sizes, devoted faculty and staff, and approximately 7,000 current students pursuing their goals. La Verne offers an affordable Bachelor of Science in public administration that focuses on the theory and application of public sector leadership.
La Verne’s BS in public administration is available at several California locations:
- Rio Hondo Community College
- Vandenberg Space Force Base
You can also pursue this inexpensive program in a hybrid format to enhance flexibility. In addition to general education hours, La Verne’s program entails 28 credits in core requirements and 12 credits in electives.
La Verne’s public administration program leads to careers such as:
- local, state, and federal government
- education institutions
- private sector
- foreign services
If you’re looking for a flexible way to earn a public administration undergraduate degree, La Verne is the way to go.
Barry University, a Catholic institution established in 1940, is the alma mater of former NBA champion, Shaquille O’Neal. He earned a doctoral degree in education in 2012. Additionally, Barry graduates are among the top 10% salary earners among Florida’s 28 private, not-for-profit institutions, according to the Florida Department of Education.
At Barry, you can earn a bachelor’s of public administration to prepare you for careers in the public and nonprofit sectors. This program is available both on-campus and online and includes 30 required major credits, 15 required electives, and portfolio/transfer credits. Examples of required courses include:
- Values and Ethics in Public Administration
- Public Policy and Administration
- Administrative Law and Process
Barry is known for offering generous transfer credits, so when you apply, you should be able to document at least two years of work history and experience. You can transfer up to 90 credits from other college classes, work experience, military experience, and more.
University of Arizona
The University of Arizona Wildcats has options to pursue one of the 300+ majors either on campus or through the global campus, UArizona’s online university with flexible programs to support student needs. Through UArizona’s global campus, you can customize a bachelor’s degree with a public administration emphasis, a convenient option to meet your future career goals.
You can choose among more than 50 online degree programs, such as business administration, business leadership, human resource management, marketing, or organizational management, to name a few. Adding a public administration emphasis entails nine additional credits:
- Intergovernmental Relations and Issues
- Public Organizational Theory and Behavior
- Urban Management
UArizona’s affordable online bachelor’s program is conveniently offered in a format where you take one class at a time every five to six weeks through flexible mobile classrooms. This is a great option for busy individuals. UArizona’s global campus is accredited by WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). If you’re ready to check out UArizona’s global campus, check out this link on how to apply.
University of Tennessee-Knoxville
Founded in 1794, the University of Tennessee-Knoxville is among the oldest academic institutions in the nation and boasts a rich history of success. A Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education University, UT serves nearly 31,000 students through 900+ academic programs. This includes a bachelor’s in public administration from the Haslam College of Business.
UT-Knoxville’s bachelor’s in political science can be completed either as a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science. Specifically, the program combines business administration, economics, and political science and is suited for students who aim to find careers in public policy and public service. Course topics include:
- government organizations management
- public budgeting
- designing and implementing public policies
UT-Knoxville public administration graduates seek jobs such as:
- tax administration and budget analysis professionals
- city managers
- government and nonprofit administrators
If you’re a high school student, you can prepare for this major by taking electives in business and communication, participating in student organizations, and volunteering in your community.
Tarleton State University
Part of the Texas A&M University System, Tarleton State University adds its “own brand of personal attention, individual opportunities, history, tradition and community” through five campus locations, an online campus, and 107 academic programs. TSU’s affordable Bachelor of Science in public administration provides the skills necessary to succeed in a myriad of public leadership careers.
Through TSU’s inexpensive public administration program, you will gain skills in:
- managing people and projects
- utilizing technology.
You will take courses such as Intergovernmental Relations, Introduction to Public Budgeting, Organizational Behavior in Public Administration, and a capstone course in public administration.
At TSU, you will not only learn through coursework, but you will gain real-world experience through internships as well as collaborative experience through student clubs and associations. TSU public administration graduates choose careers in a variety of public and nonprofit organizations such as:
- finance directors
- city and county managers
- education administrators
- public works specialists
Indian River State College
Indian River State College, known as “a leader in education and innovation,” provides affordable and accessible academic programs both on-campus and online. You may be interested in IRSC’s cheapest BS in public administration program, one that offers two concentration options: emergency planning and management and policy and leadership.
As a new student at IRSC, you will first complete an associate’s in arts in public administration, which will directly lead into the bachelor’s program. The best-value public administration BS entails 60 credits, a combination of public administration core classes, concentration classes, electives, and a capstone project during your final semester.
Whether you pursue emergency planning/administration or policy and leadership concentration, you will complete classes like:
- Policy Development and Administration
- Public Budgeting and Finance
- Foundations of Public Safety
IRSC is one of the most affordable schools out there and also accepts 100% of applicants (with a GED or high school diploma). For more information, check out this link.
Texas State University
Founded in 1899, Texas State University is the only university in Texas to have graduated a U.S. President! By the way, it was Lyndon B. Johnson, the 36th president of the U.S., who earned a Bachelor of Science in 1930. Texas State features a high-value bachelor’s of public administration with minors in political communication or political science.
In addition to education core and electives, Texas State’s undergraduate program entails 36 credit hours of major credits, including nine hours of writing-intensive courses. Expect to delve into topics like:
- Political Institutions and Public Service
- Public Finance Administration
- Public Policy
- Urban Management
Additionally, you will complete an internship with 150 hours of service.
Electives are divided into the following categories:
- local government
- social services
- legal services
- health services
Students are strongly encouraged to complete electives that support their future career goals.
Hawaii Pacific University
Hawaii Pacific University is a large, private school with campuses in Honolulu and Makapu’u. Known for its diversity, affordability, and strong academic programs, HPU offers a best BA in public administration. It is designed for students (particularly non-traditional students) with the expertise to pursue careers in government and nonprofit organizations.
HPU’s BA in public administration gives students a broad background of the field while focusing on executive management and institutional structure. You will complete upper-division courses like:
- Ethics and Justice
- Analytical Techniques and Methods
- Public Personnel Administration
- Urban Government
You will also complete a capstone project in strategic planning for government organizations.
HPU offers this program as a double major or minor to its human resource development degree. If you’re interested in earning a master’s degree, you can also pursue the B-PADM to MPA program. To apply to HPU, you need to submit transcripts, a personal statement, recommendation letters, a resume, and SAT/ACT scores (if you’re a freshman).
John Jay College of Criminal Justice
John Jay College of Criminal Justice opened its doors in 1964 and is currently known as one of the country’s most prestigious liberal arts institutions. Of the 60,000+ John Jay alumni, nearly 50% are working in public service with top careers in the government and nonprofit organizations. John Jay offers a top-value Bachelor’s of Science in public administration—one you won’t want to miss.
John Jay’s BS in public administration provides students with a core curriculum in problem-solving, leadership, and management in public organizations. Of the required 120 credits, 42-45 are public administration major classes such as:
- Supervision and Performance
- Planning and Policy Analysis
- Human Resource Administration
To reinforce your skills learned, you will complete either an internship or practicum in public administration during your final year of the program. John Jay also features a combined BS/MPA in public administration to check out.
Established in 1855 as a teacher’s college, Kean University boasts a rich history of “world-class education,” evolving into today’s diverse global institution. Notably, Kean University is the only public university in the nation to have a campus in China— Wenzhou-Kean University. KU offers more than 50 undergraduate majors, including a Bachelor of Arts in public administration.
Kean’s BA in public administration equips students to turn their passions of making a difference in communities into a reality. Along with general education courses and electives, you will earn 36 credits in public administration courses—ones like:
- Management Challenges
- Information Management
- Policy Analysis
A capstone seminar course is also required, and an internship is optional but beneficial.
Kean knows the value of education in and out of the classroom, which is why they offer a variety of clubs, student organizations, and travel opportunities to public administration students. Kean public administration graduates have found successful careers in various public-focused industries such as:
- government administration
- healthcare management
- nonprofit leadership
Washburn University, a public institution in Topeka, Kansas, is known for its affordability, small classes, and beautiful campus. More than 200 courses of study are available at Washburn, but getting involved through campus organizations, clubs, sports, and cultural/regional opportunities is just as important. Washburn’s bachelor’s in public administration focuses on public and nonprofits and leads to fulfilling jobs in this industry.
WU’s public administration degree requires at least 36 credit hours in courses like:
- American State and Local Government
- Public Policy
- Applied Political Research
- Public Management Techniques
You will also complete 9-12 credits of electives and 24 credits of correlated classes in other disciplines like economics, psychology, sociology, and communication.
A perk of WU’s public administration program is that Washburn is located in the capital of Kansas, allowing students to gain valuable internship and networking opportunities, often leading to full-time employment.
Illinois Institute of Technology
Founded in 1890, Illinois Institute of Technology (Illinois Tech) is the only technology-focused university in Chicago and continues to live out its mission of providing “distinctive and relevant education in an environment of scientific, technological, and professional knowledge creation and innovation.” If you’re looking for an accelerated bachelor’s/master’s degree, then Illinois Tech’s BS/MPPA program is worth checking out.
The accelerated Bachelor of Science in business administration/Master of public policy and administration will prepare you for public administration jobs in policy, administration, and leadership roles across public, private, and nonprofit spheres. You can choose a specialization in:
- nonprofit and mission-driven management
- security, safety, and risk management
- economic development and social entrepreneurship
You will begin by studying business and then branch out to analytical and management courses as well as training in your chosen concentration, with a handful of research-driven projects. Full-time students can complete this program in just five years. Current Illinois Tech graduates work for notable organizations such as the American Cancer Society, Motorola, the Lincoln Park Zoo, and the city of Chicago.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, a public administration degree is useful for students interested in public service and government roles. It equips you with skills in policy analysis, program management, budgeting, and organizational leadership. Graduates can pursue careers in government agencies, non-profit organizations, or public service sectors where understanding public policy and administration is crucial.
A bachelor’s in public administration should take full-time students four years to complete. Most programs require 120 credits, which means students must complete between 12 and 15 credits each semester to graduate within four years.
Scholarships for public administration majors vary by school and program, but here are some examples:
• ASPA Founders’ Fellows Program
• ICMA Local Government Management Fellowship
• NACA Foundation Scholarships
• Pi Alpha Alpha Honor Society Scholarships
• NASPAA Minority Fellowship Program
It depends on the job you take, but with a public administration degree you can make about $50,000/year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, community and social service jobs pay, on average, $49,380/year. Here are some top paying jobs you can get with a public administration degree:
• Public relation specialists: $62,810
• Social and community service managers: $69,600
• Urban and regional planners: $75,950
• Administrative service managers: $98,890
• Medical and health service managers: $104,280
• Human resource managers: $121,220
• Public relations and fundraising managers: $118,430
Public administration is a difficult major. It involves learning about governance, policy analysis, and organizational management. Course topics can be heavy, in-depth, and require hours of study. While the major is rigorous, students find it rewarding due to its real-world application and potential to contribute to public service.
The best job in public administration depends on your interests and career goals. Common roles include:
• Budget Analyst
• City Manager
• Government Affairs Specialist
• Human Resources Manager
• Nonprofit Director
• Policy Analyst
• Program Manager
• Public Relations Specialist
Public administration is both an art and a science. That’s why some colleges offer BA and BS degrees in Public Administration. The field involves applying scientific methods for analyzing policies and managing organizations, while also requiring artistic skills in decision-making, communication, and leadership. The blend of systematic analysis and nuanced approaches reflects its dual nature as both an art and a science.
If you’re interested in a public service career or want to work in a government agency or nonprofit, an MPA can help. An MPA provides specialized knowledge in public policy, administration, and leadership, enhancing your skills for impactful roles in the public sector. The degree helps leverage career opportunities and advancements.
No. They are two distinct fields. Public administration focuses on the management and implementation of public policies and government functions. In contrast, public relations involves communication strategies to build and maintain a positive image for organizations, including businesses, government agencies, or nonprofits.