Overview of a Bachelor's in Public Administration
A bachelor’s degree is the entry-level of degree for this field. It’ll get you into the workforce fast, though you still might have trouble finding work in management. Instead, you should be focused on gaining experience in the public sector. You can use this degree to get a job in the non-profit sector and to learn more about how public services work and where you’ll be able to lead after you complete a higher-level degree. You will be more than prepared to begin a master’s or apply for a management position once you’ve got some experience under your belt.
Business Degrees & Career Paths
- Jobs in public administration will soon be in high demand
- You can earn a bachelor's degree in 4 years
- Online programs are available for those who wish to study part-time
- The field of public administration is growing rapidly
- Most jobs in the field of public administration will continue to be safe from automation
- A master’s degree is usually required for a better paying job
- Those with a higher level degree will get the job before those with a bachelor’s
- Not a lot of colleges and universities offer degree programs in public administration
Certificate Vs. Bachelor’s
There are major differences between earning a bachelor’s degree and earning a certificate. The first thing you should understand is that when studying to earn a bachelor’s, you will have to take general classes such as math, English, writing, etc., and if you choose a concentration or a major, you will also have to complete those courses as well. In addition, graduating with a bachelor’s does not limit you to one career path, there are many different routes you can take after obtaining a bachelor’s degree. However, when you are studying to earn a certificate, all your classes will be focusing on one specific area while preparing you for a career in that field.
What Public Administration Bachelor’s Degrees are Available?
There are more than 60 Bachelors in Public Administration Programs available in the U.S. However because most schools do not offer these programs, students may choose another area of study that still falls under the same umbrella, such as:
- Political Science
- International Relations
- American Studies
The Bachelor of Science (BS) may focus on science and technology-related disciplines. However, what is considered "science’ or a ‘liberal art’ can vary from university to university, so a public administration degree at one school may be marked as a BS, while at another university, the same degree is marked as a BA. Students who typically specialize in public health administration and natural sciences will be better equipped for a career in science-based, clinical fields, such as, biostatistics, research, and epidemiology. The curriculum is similar to what’s involved with a BA program, but may also include coursework in statistics, math, chemistry, or other.
The typical pre-requisites for a degree program may include an ACT or SAT score, high school transcripts, and letters of recommendation. For admission into a public administration program, students may also be required to submit a personal statement.
How long does it take to earn a Public Administration Bachelor’s?
To earn a bachelor's in public administration, 120 credits are required, which can take 4 years for a full-time student to achieve. However, most students who are interested in a BS or BA in this specialization will continue to obtain a Master’s in public health (MPH) for which there is a bachelor to masters dual programs available that you can complete in 5 years. These programs allow students to earn two degrees in less time than it would take to earn them separately; therefore, you can get into the public health workforce faster.
Potential Careers in Public Administration with a Bachelor’s
- Social & Community Service Manager
This is an entry-level management position for graduates with a public administration degree. These managers oversee the administration of community and social service programs for non-profit organizations and government agencies.
Median Annual Salary: $44,000
- Social Worker
Social workers assist individuals and families in coping with mental health, housing, nutritional, and other life challenges. They should have at least a bachelor's degree and often work abnormal or flexible hours.
Median Annual Salary: $48,000
- Health Educator or Community Health Worker
These professionals work in hospitals, non-profits, government health agencies, community clinics, and other health-related settings. They teach members of a community about the health benefits and adopting healthy behaviors. At least a bachelor's degree is often required as well as additional credentials.
Median Annual Salary: $45,400
- Social & Human Service Assistant
Social and Human Service assistants perform similar duties to social workers, and they support individuals and families with case management in rehabilitation areas or similar. They typically work in non-profit organizations or government agencies and generally assist social workers with their duties.
Median Annual Salary: $33,100
- Administrative Services Manager
The role of an administrative services manager is to coordinate all services and office personnel, so operations run efficiently. Their day-to-day duties include overseeing administrative staff, planning and maintaining the administrative aspects of the office, and performing other necessary tasks to ensure the office runs smoothly. These professionals are also responsible for office machine maintenance, mail distribution, conducting office supply inventory, record-keeping, and more.
Median Annual Salary: $59,900
Options to Advance
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for administrative services managers will increase by 10% by 2026. This growth will result from the ongoing need for municipal government services that include public works, fire protection, schools, criminal justice systems, libraries, transportation, public health, and housing and development due to population growth. Once you have obtained your bachelor’s degree you can advance to receive a Master's in Public Administration (MPA) where the following jobs will be available to you:
- Public Administration Consultant
- Marketing Director
- Director of Administration
- City Manager
- International Aid Worker
An MPA has a wide range of public administration jobs available for graduates. Those majoring in public administration can be seen as ethical individuals who want to make a difference in society. While working as a public administrator, you will earn top wages and have the opportunity to interact with people from all walks of life.
Best Bachelor’s of Science in Public Administration (BPA) Programs
East Tennessee State University (ETSU)
Johnson City, TN
The ETSU University is a good choice for students who want an exceptional, high-quality education focused on practical skills, research training, and excellent teaching in a world-class environment. Students are prepared for a diverse and inter-professional workforce.
- BS - Health Sciences: Human Health
- BS - Public Health: Community Health
- BS - Public Health: Healthcare Administration
The University of Maryland
College Park, MD
The University of Maryland is a public research university, a global leader in entrepreneurship, innovation, and research, and the state's flagship. The university homes 14,000 faculty and staff members, over 41,000 students, and 352,000 alumni who are all dedicated to the pursuit of Fearless Ideas.
- BS - Community Health
- BS - Family Science
- BS - Public Health Sciences
University of Illinois - Chicago
The University of Illinois - Chicago, offers outstanding research opportunities and courses in all areas of public health. Students benefit from an accomplished, diverse faculty while working and learning in one of the most vibrant cities in the world.
- BA - Public Health
University of California (UC)
UC is noted for its high-quality faculty, excellence in research, education, and community engagement. Over 12,000 graduates have put their skills and education into practice in public health worldwide. The alumni of UC are transformational leaders in all health sectors, with a legacy of innovation and impact locally and globally.
- BA - Public Health
The University of Massachusetts
The University of Massachusetts is a national leader in finding solutions to maximize the quality of life and public health. The school offers an award-winning faculty that focus on issues that include global health, autism spectrum disorders, aging and healthy living, obesity and diabetes prevention, women’s health, and other public health issues as well.
- BS - Communication Disorders
- BS - Kinesiology
- BS - Nutrition
- BS - Public Health
Traditional Schools Offering a B.S. in Public Administration
Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU)
The mission of SNHU is the success of their students. For their dedication to helping students succeed, the school has gained national recognition and has been reinventing higher education since 1932. They offer low tuition rates, help to choose a degree that supports your goals, a dedicated academic advisor to all students, expert instructors, and world-class services for students to take advantage of.
- BA in Human Services - Child & Family Services
- BA in Human Services - Gerontology
- BA in Political Science
- BA in Sociology - Community Health
- BS in Business Administration - Public Administration
- BS in Community Health Education
Kentucky State University
Kentucky State University is a public institution that is well-known as a successful superior provider of online education. The university offers a Bachelor in public administration that prepares students to work at all levels of non-profit organizations and government agencies. Students may take evening courses on-campus if desired and can transfer credits from other institutions.
- Bachelor of Public Administration
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Franklin University's BA in public administration offers personalization and flexibility with 30 different areas of specialization, such as management and leadership, public safety management, homeland security, emergency management, healthcare management, and criminal justice administration. Graduates will have the opportunity to work in many positions.
- BS in Public Administration
- BS in Social Sciences
- BS in Emergency Management and Homeland Security
University of Phoenix
The University of Phoenix has over 100,000 students attending their online college and is one of the largest postsecondary institutions in the nation. With a wide array of degree programs to choose from, graduates can pursue nearly any career of their choosing. All school of business faculty members have at least 20 years of industry experience and hold at least a master's degree.
- Bachelor of Science in Correctional Program Support Services
- Bachelor of Science in Public Administration
Park University's School of Public Affairs offers a Bachelor’s in public administration, which is ideal for working students already in the field. Adults who work full-time can easily earn their degree with the online college's self-paced, flexible program. Courses are not limited to online study, as student’s who live near one of the campus locations may also attend courses in a traditional class setting.
- Bachelor of Public Administration
- Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies