• Find a bachelor's degree

    Bachelors Degree Center is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

You know that you care about your com­mu­ni­ty, and you want to make a dif­fer­ence. A bachelor’s in pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion and pol­i­cy is the per­fect way to do it. Whether you’re inter­est­ed in work­ing at the local, state, or fed­er­al lev­el, a mas­ter of pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion degree can be the per­fect way to help ensure that peo­ple get the ser­vices to which they’re enti­tled, and that pub­lic poli­cies are prop­er­ly implemented.

Many peo­ple won­der, “what is pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion?” The pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion def­i­n­i­tion is fair­ly sim­ple: it’s the process of imple­ment­ing poli­cies by civ­il ser­vants, with­in the government’s frame­work. Basi­cal­ly, the pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion def­i­n­i­tion means that peo­ple who work in the pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion field work to ensure that gov­ern­ment poli­cies are imple­ment­ed in the most effec­tive way pos­si­ble for the peo­ple they serve.

What Is Public Administration, And Is A Public Administration Degree Worth It?

There are many ben­e­fits of study­ing pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion. What is a degree in pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion? When you get a pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion degree, you’ll learn about the ins and outs of gov­ern­ment work, and how to effec­tive­ly imple­ment gov­ern­ment poli­cies in a way that ben­e­fits the peo­ple the gov­ern­ment serves. You’ll learn how to work around gov­ern­ment red tape, find­ing ways to cre­ate pos­i­tive change, save mon­ey, and help the gov­ern­ment run more smooth­ly. One of the biggest ben­e­fits of study­ing pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion is that after you grad­u­ate, you’ll get to direct­ly impact the com­mu­ni­ty you choose to serve.

If you’ve always want­ed to get into gov­ern­ment work, but want to stay out of pol­i­tics, work­ing in pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion may be the per­fect fit for you. For peo­ple won­der­ing, “is a degree in pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion worth it?” the answer is often yes for peo­ple who want to take an active role in cre­at­ing pos­i­tive change.

Where Can A Public Administrator Work?

One of the impor­tant con­sid­er­a­tions when you’re work­ing to answer the ques­tion, “is a degree in pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion worth it?” is to under­stand the var­i­ous set­tings in which you’re like­ly to work after you grad­u­ate. Most peo­ple who have their degree in pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion work for local, state, or fed­er­al government.

In the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, the answer to, “where can a pub­lic admin­is­tra­tor work?” can vary. Gov­ern­men­tal agen­cies where pub­lic admin­is­tra­tors are like­ly to work include the US Postal Ser­vice, the Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency, the Fed­er­al Deposit Insur­ance Cor­po­ra­tion, the Small Busi­ness Admin­is­tra­tion, the Secu­ri­ties and Exchange Com­mis­sion, the Fed­er­al Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency, and more.

While most peo­ple who get their pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion degree work for the gov­ern­ment, some work for edu­ca­tion­al insti­tu­tions, busi­ness­es in the pri­vate sec­tor, non-gov­ern­ment orga­ni­za­tions, and non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tions. Some peo­ple who work in pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion work abroad, and may trav­el fre­quent­ly to learn how gov­ern­ments around the world imple­ment pro­grams to help their cit­i­zens. Jobs with pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion degree can be in many sectors. 

Public Policy Vs Public Administration

As you research, “is a degree in pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion worth it?” you’re like­ly to encounter infor­ma­tion on pub­lic pol­i­cy. It’s key to under­stand the dif­fer­ence between pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion and pub­lic pol­i­cy in order to decide which option makes the most sense for your career goals.

The dif­fer­ence between pub­lic pol­i­cy and pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion is sim­ple: pub­lic pol­i­cy is the research and devel­op­ment of poli­cies that the orga­ni­za­tions and gov­ern­ments want to imple­ment, and pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion is the actu­al imple­men­ta­tion of the poli­cies. While you’re search­ing to under­stand pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion vs pub­lic pol­i­cy, remem­ber, pub­lic pol­i­cy cre­ates the poli­cies, pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion actu­al­ly puts the poli­cies to use.

After under­stand­ing the dif­fer­ence between pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion and pub­lic pol­i­cy, it’s impor­tant to decide which path makes the most sense for you. You may want to talk to local gov­ern­ment offi­cials about their expe­ri­ences work­ing with pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion vs pub­lic pol­i­cy to get a first­hand account that may help you decide which option is a bet­ter fit for you. While the dif­fer­ence between pub­lic pol­i­cy and pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion may seem sub­tle, there’s a fair­ly stark dif­fer­ence: pub­lic pol­i­cy is about ideas and devel­op­ment, while pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion is about implementation.

Now that you under­stand the dif­fer­ence between pub­lic pol­i­cy vs pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion, let’s take a look at some of the dif­fer­ent fac­tors you’ll want to con­sid­er as you work to answer the ques­tion, “is a pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion degree worth it?”

Accreditation for Public Administration and Policy Programs

When you’re search­ing for the best pub­lic pol­i­cy schools in the world, you want to be sure that you choose a school that has region­al accred­i­ta­tion. The top schools for pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion will hold a region­al accred­i­ta­tion, as this is con­sid­ered the gold stan­dard when it comes to col­lege accred­i­ta­tion. When you’re search­ing for the top schools for pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion, there’s no need to search for schools that have been specif­i­cal­ly accred­it­ed for a pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion pro­gram. There are no gov­ern­ing bod­ies that accred­it pro­grams at the bach­e­lor’s level.

When you’re search­ing for the best pub­lic pol­i­cy schools in the world, be sure that the schools you’re con­sid­er­ing have been accred­it­ed by one of the fol­low­ing region­al accred­i­ta­tion agen­cies:

When you’re research­ing pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion pro­gram accred­i­ta­tion, you’ll find that schools that have been accred­it­ed by one of the above agen­cies are high­ly respect­ed. Pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion pro­gram accred­i­ta­tion means that the school has been reviewed and meets the high stan­dards of the accred­i­ta­tion agency. You’ll be able to rest assured that your degree pro­gram is ful­ly prepar­ing you for a career in pub­lic administration.

You’re not the only one who is con­cerned about accred­i­ta­tion — your future employ­er will be look­ing to be sure you’ve com­plet­ed an accred­it­ed pro­gram as well. When you have a degree from an accred­it­ed pro­gram, you’re prov­ing that you’ve gone through rig­or­ous train­ing, and you’re ful­ly pre­pared to take on the chal­lenges of a career in pub­lic administration.

Types of Public Administration Degrees

When you’re get­ting ready to start earn­ing your bach­e­lor’s degree in pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion, you’ll have many choic­es to make, includ­ing what type of edu­ca­tion you’d like to pur­sue (whether you’d like to get your tra­di­tion­al or online pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion degree), as well as whether you’d like to pur­sue a con­cen­tra­tion in a spe­cial­ized area of pub­lic administration.

Online, Hybrid, And Traditional Options For Your Bachelor Of Public Administration Degree

There are sev­er­al options for earn­ing your degree. Decid­ing whether tra­di­tion­al, hybrid, or online degrees in pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion are the best fit for you can take some spe­cial con­sid­er­a­tion and research. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each dif­fer­ent type of learn­ing experience.

Online Degrees In Public Administration

When you’re look­ing at pro­grams that offer online degrees in pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion, you’re like­ly search­ing for a pro­gram that is con­ve­nient and able to be com­plet­ed on your own time. Pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion degrees online are just as respect­ed as tra­di­tion­al, in-class­room degrees. There are many ben­e­fits to online learn­ing, includ­ing the abil­i­ty to learn at your own pace and on your own time. You’re also able to do your class­work any­where, which can save mon­ey when it comes to trans­porta­tion and hous­ing. As you search for pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion online degrees, Some peo­ple who earn an online pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion degree miss the face-to-face inter­ac­tion of a tra­di­tion­al class­room set­ting, and may find that a hybrid option is a bet­ter fit.

Hybrid Public Administration Online Degrees

Earn­ing a hybrid degree can be a great option if you want the con­ve­nience of online learn­ing but also enjoy the face-to-face inter­ac­tion pro­vid­ed in the tra­di­tion­al class­room set­ting. In a hybrid pro­gram, you’ll com­plete some of your course­work online, while also going to cam­pus for some face-to-face ses­sions. Many stu­dents find that a hybrid pro­gram offers the best of both worlds, allow­ing for both learn­ing on their own time and enjoy­ing face-to-face con­ver­sa­tion with pro­fes­sors and oth­er stu­dents. One con of hybrid pro­grams is that they tend to cost more than ful­ly online pro­grams, as you’re pay­ing for some of the class­room time that goes with a tra­di­tion­al program.

Traditional Bachelor Of Public Administration Degrees

In a tra­di­tion­al pro­gram, pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion stu­dents ful­ly attend class on cam­pus, engag­ing in dis­cus­sions with your class­mates and pro­fes­sors face to face. This type of learn­ing also tends to be the most expen­sive, as you need to account for trav­el to and from cam­pus and/ or liv­ing on cam­pus, in addi­tion to books and tuition.

Bachelor Of Public Administration Degree Specialties

When learn­ing more about pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion online degrees, you’ll find that many degrees offer spe­cial­ties that can allow you to become an expert in a cer­tain area of pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion. Some of the spe­cial­ties you’re most like­ly to see offered with­in online bach­e­lors in pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion pro­grams include:

  • Pub­lic finance prob­lem solving
  • Pro­gram development
  • Human resource and labor relations
  • Man­age­ment strategies
  • Crit­i­cal thinking
  • Pub­lic pol­i­cy formulation

When you earn your online bach­e­lors in pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion, you can also choose to take a gen­er­al course of study, with­out a spe­cial­ty. This type of online bach­e­lor’s degree in pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion will still allow you to become well suit­ed to a job with­in the gov­ern­ment, or the pub­lic or pri­vate sec­tor. You may choose to start your online bach­e­lor’s in pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion with a gen­er­al course of study, and then choose a spe­cial­ty as you learn more about the field. Regard­less of whether you choose a spe­cial­ty, earn­ing your online bach­e­lor’s degree in pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion will pre­pare you for a job that will pos­i­tive­ly affect your com­mu­ni­ty, state, or coun­try for years to come.

Certifications for Public Administration Professionals

When pur­su­ing your degree in pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion, you want to be sure that you’re doing all you can to prove to future employ­ers that you’re ready to take on the tasks at hand.

Ear­ing a cer­tifi­cate of pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion as you work through your under­grad­u­ate course­work can pro­vide you with a leg up when it comes to apply­ing for jobs after grad­u­a­tion. If you’re a non­tra­di­tion­al stu­dent who is work­ing while also earn­ing your degree, earn­ing a cer­tifi­cate of pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion in con­junc­tion with your degree can open up new career oppor­tu­ni­ties before you grad­u­ate. A pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion cer­tifi­cate can also open up imme­di­ate oppor­tu­ni­ties at your cur­rent job, allow­ing you to progress for­ward in your career as you go through your education.

A pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion cer­tifi­cate at the under­grad­u­ate lev­el is a great fit for peo­ple who are work­ing in the gov­ern­ment or for non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tions. It’s a good idea to talk to your employ­er to find out if they’ll pay for part or all of your pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. Many employ­ers are hap­py to pay for pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, as it pro­vides you with the skills you need to become a more effec­tive employee.

Earning A Public Administration Certificate Online

When you’re think­ing about earn­ing your pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion cer­tifi­cate, note that there are many options to get your pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion cer­ti­fi­ca­tion online. An online cer­tifi­cate in pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion is just as valu­able as a tra­di­tion­al cer­ti­fi­ca­tion in pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion. Get­ting your pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion cer­ti­fi­ca­tion online can make it eas­i­er for you to work while also get­ting your edu­ca­tion, espe­cial­ly if you’re pur­su­ing your bachelor’s degree at the same time.

Earn­ing your online pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion cer­tifi­cate can also pro­vide your employ­er with assur­ance that you’ll be able to do your work on your own time while keep­ing up with the respon­si­bil­i­ties of your job.

Some pro­grams may require com­mu­ni­ty ser­vice cred­it hours or oth­er real-world requirements.

Earn­ing your cer­ti­fi­ca­tion in pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion is a smart move for fur­ther­ing your career goals. As you earn your online cer­tifi­cate in pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion, you’ll achieve a sol­id base of knowl­edge in pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion and pub­lic pol­i­cy, and you’ll learn more about what it takes to prop­er­ly imple­ment gov­ern­ment pro­grams, from deci­sion mak­ing in human ser­vices to pol­i­cy mak­ing and non­prof­it admin­is­tra­tion. Earn­ing your online pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion cer­tifi­cate will allow you to speak with author­i­ty on pol­i­cy imple­men­ta­tion mat­ters that affect the com­mu­ni­ty you serve.

Now that you under­stand the impor­tance of earn­ing your pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion cer­tifi­cate online, let’s take a look at the careers that will open up for you after you fin­ish your cer­ti­fi­ca­tion and/ or your degree.

Careers in Public Administration and Public Policy

When you’re com­plet­ing your degree in pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion, it’s impor­tant that you think care­ful­ly about the type of pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion jobs you’d like to pur­sue. Pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion grad­u­ates have many options for pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion careers. When you’re search­ing for jobs with a degree in pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion, you’ll want to con­sid­er whether you’d like to work in the gov­ern­ment, in the public/ pri­vate busi­ness sec­tor, or for a non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tion. All of these options have pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion jobs that work well for some­one who has com­plet­ed their degree. Let’s take a look at some pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion job exam­ples so you can get a bet­ter idea of the pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion careers that might be a good fit for you.

Public Administration Job Examples

Under­stand­ing poten­tial jobs for pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion degrees is a key part of know­ing the answer to the ques­tion, “what can I do with a bachelor’s in pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion?” Know that this is by no means an exhaus­tive list of pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion degree jobs. You’ll find that pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion job titles vary wide­ly, and pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion careers and salaries can dif­fer great­ly from region to region, or from com­pa­ny to com­pa­ny. When you earn your pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion degree, you’ll have a well-round­ed edu­ca­tion that leaves you well pre­pared for many pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion degree jobs.

What Can I Do With A Degree In Public Administration?

There are many career options in pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion and each relat­ed field, like polit­i­cal sci­ence and social work.

  • Fed­er­al gov­ern­ment worker
  • Local gov­ern­ment worker
  • City man­ag­er
  • Pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion consultant
  • Bud­get director
  • Edu­ca­tion administrator
  • Research asso­ciate
  • Non­prof­it director
  • City may­or
  • Human resources director
  • Finan­cial management
  • Non­prof­it management
  • Region­al Planner
  • Ser­vices managers
  • Project man­age­ment
  • Pro­gram Manager
  • Pol­i­cy analyst
  • Human resources manager
  • Bud­get analyst

In addi­tion, there are many roles where you can put your lead­er­ship skills and years of expe­ri­ence to use:

  • Advo­ca­cy
  • Fundrais­ing
  • Pub­lic relations
  • social ser­vices
  • Admin­is­tra­tive services
  • Pol­i­cy analysis
  • Out­reach

Whether full-time or part-time, in lead­er­ship posi­tions or employ­ees, pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion grad­u­ates make a difference.

What Jobs Can You Get With A Public Policy Degree?

It’s impor­tant to remem­ber that the answers to the ques­tions, “what can I do with a degree in pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion?” and “what jobs can you get with a pub­lic pol­i­cy degree?” are dif­fer­ent, as pub­lic pol­i­cy involves the devel­op­ment of poli­cies, while admin­is­tra­tion involves the imple­men­ta­tion of said poli­cies. Your elec­tive choic­es can point to a specialization.

An MPA pro­gram (master’s degree) can pre­pare you for high­er careers. With a master’s degree in pub­lic affairs or pub­lic man­age­ment can get jobs in crim­i­nal jus­tice, health­care, and the non­prof­it sector.

What Can I Do With A Bachelors In Public Administration? What To Expect From Public Administration Work

When you’re research­ing, “what can I do with a pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion degree?” you’ll find that most jobs in the sec­tor work to serve oth­ers. Jobs with a pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion degree typ­i­cal­ly focus on pub­lic ser­vice. As you’re search­ing for the per­fect pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion job descrip­tion for your career inter­ests, know that jobs with a pub­lic pol­i­cy degree can vary great­ly in terms of what they require from day to day.

So what can you do with a degree in pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion? You may also find that your pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion job descrip­tion changes when new elect­ed offi­cials take office. It’s impor­tant to be flex­i­ble in jobs with a pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion degree and jobs with a pub­lic pol­i­cy degree. While pro­ce­dures and goals with­in your office may change, the bot­tom line is the same: work­ing hard to ensure that pro­grams and ini­tia­tives are imple­ment­ed in a way that ben­e­fit the com­mu­ni­ty you serve.

Now that you know the answer to the ques­tion, “what can you do with a pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion degree?” let’s take a look at the salary range you can expect from the above pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion job titles. When you work jobs with a degree in pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion, you’re clear­ly con­cerned about work­ing for the bet­ter­ment of your com­mu­ni­ty – but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a com­fort­able salary. Pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion careers and salaries can be lucra­tive. Let’s learn more.

Public Administration Salary

Under­stand­ing the pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion degree salary and the pub­lic pol­i­cy degree salary ranges can be an impor­tant part of decid­ing whether this type of work is a good fit for you. Your degree in pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion salary will depend on many fac­tors, such as where you work, your edu­ca­tion, and your pri­or expe­ri­ence. Gov­ern­ment agen­cies may offer bet­ter ben­e­fits in areas like health ser­vices or pub­lic health.

Remem­ber that pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion degree jobs salaries may be nego­tiable, and it’s always a good idea to lever­age your edu­ca­tion and expe­ri­ence to try to increase your ini­tial pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion bach­e­lor degree salary offer. Let’s take a look at what you can expect for your pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion degree salary and pub­lic pol­i­cy degree salary range.

Public Administration Degree Jobs Salaries

Remem­ber, the num­bers below for bach­e­lor of sci­ence degree in pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion salary are sub­ject to change with time, and are heav­i­ly depen­dent on the cost of liv­ing in your area. Each pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion bach­e­lor degree salary list­ed here is an aver­age salary, and it’s unlike­ly that this num­ber will be your exact salary. With hard work and expe­ri­ence, your salary can rise far beyond where you start when you accept your first job offer.

  • Fed­er­al gov­ern­ment work­er – $45,000 per year
  • Local gov­ern­ment work­er – $41,000 per year
  • City man­ag­er – $86,000 per year
  • Pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion con­sul­tant – $72,000 per year
  • Bud­get direc­tor – $89,000 per year
  • Edu­ca­tion admin­is­tra­tor – $61,000 per year
  • Research asso­ciate – $51,000 per year
  • Non­prof­it direc­tor – $63,000 per year
  • City may­or – $61,000 per year
  • Human resources direc­tor – $84,000 per year

This is a short­list of the titles that are pos­si­ble for you after you earn your pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion degree. Since a pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion degree offers a well-round­ed edu­ca­tion that will leave you well suit­ed for many career fields, your options for employ­ment after grad­u­a­tion are like­ly to be numerous.

Professional Organizations

Join­ing pro­fes­sion­al orga­ni­za­tions dur­ing and after com­plet­ing your edu­ca­tion can be a fun way to get to know oth­er peo­ple in the field, stay con­nect­ed, learn about net­work­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties, find excit­ing con­tin­u­ing edu­ca­tion oppor­tu­ni­ties, and learn about job open­ings. If you’re ready to get a job in the pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion field, it’s a good idea to join sev­er­al pro­fes­sion­al orga­ni­za­tions in order to stay on top of the lat­est research and devel­op­ment in pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion, as well as to stay con­nect­ed to your colleagues.

Pro­fes­sion­al orga­ni­za­tions for pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion pro­fes­sion­als that you may want to con­sid­er join­ing include:

Be sure to talk with your pro­fes­sors and pro­fes­sion­als in your field about which pro­fes­sion­al orga­ni­za­tions they rec­om­mend to suit your spe­cif­ic inter­ests and career goals.

Relat­ed Rankings:

25 Best Bach­e­lor’s in Pub­lic Administration

15 Best Online Bach­e­lor’s in Pub­lic Administration

10 Fastest Online Bach­e­lor’s in Pub­lic Administration

10 Most Afford­able Bach­e­lor’s in Pub­lic Administration

15 Best Online Train­ing and Devel­op­ment Programs