Online Public Administration Bachelor's Degree

What You’ll Learn & What You Can Do After Graduation

Although public administrators possess many job titles and work in different settings, they all strive to help people in their communities. They achieve this goal by managing government programs that elected officials approve. To perform their jobs successfully, public administrators must possess a finely honed skill set.

An online public administration degree can prepare you for this fulfilling career path while allowing you to continue working as you earn your degree. In this article, you can learn more about public administrators' typical job duties, career paths, and salary potential. Use this information to help you discover the best online public administration degree programs.

What Is Public Administration?

Public administration refers to managing public programs and initiatives. After the Second World War, academics began researching public administration best practices, which led to countries and companies creating human resources departments, among other reforms. Today, governments use public administration professionals to manage their public health and safety departments, schools, and healthcare services, among other agencies that assist the public.

Although no one elects them, civil servants — a position online public administration degree graduates often pursue — play a vital role in ensuring that government programs function correctly. Elected officials appoint senior civil servants, such as city managers or human resources directors. These managers hire less-senior staff to make up their agencies' bureaucracy. Like in the private sector, less-experienced civil servants can rise through the ranks to obtain positions where they can make a more significant impact and earn a higher salary.

In colleges and universities throughout the U.S., professors educate the next generation of civil servants pursuing on-campus and online public administration degrees. As with other academic majors, students can fine-tune their education toward their career goals by completing a concentration (e.g., healthcare management, urban management, nonprofit management). A concentration, along with internships and other hands-on experiences, qualifies graduates to work in a specific public administration setting.

Studying public administration prepares graduates for much more than just government positions. These programs convey in-demand managerial, analytical, and problem-solving skills that professionals can use in the public and private sectors. The next section describes these skills in greater detail.

What Can I Do With an Online Public Administration Bachelor's Degree?

When it comes to their career paths, online public administration bachelor's degree graduates have many options. Their education conveys essential skills that they can hone through entry-level careers. In this section, you can explore the knowledge and skills accredited online public administration degrees provide, along with career and salary potential. Use the embedded links to learn more about each career, but keep in mind that application requirements may vary depending on the available job opportunities in your home community.

Skills and Knowledge Gained

Even the cheapest online public administration degrees impart valuable knowledge and skills that graduates use throughout their careers. Like nearly all liberal arts bachelor's degrees, public administration programs include several general education courses that enhance students' writing, communication, problem-solving, and analytical skills. Graduates can apply these skills to nearly all career paths, a boon if they decide to switch jobs.

In the public administration core curriculum, students use the skills they develop in general education courses to analyze public fiscal management, understand the public's role in policy analysis, and evaluate public programs' accountability. Students also master statistics concepts, since public administrators create and use qualitative and quantitative data as part of their jobs. Programs often include coursework in ethics, research methodology, and the relationship between government and the public.

Beyond completing major coursework, many programs allow students to select a minor or concentration. Even if a program does not offer either of these options, students can still personalize their education by taking electives that align with their personal and professional goals.

Finally, a capstone experience allows students to apply their new skills and knowledge toward solving a real-world problem. In capstone courses, students perform research, write an extended essay, and present their findings to professors and peers. Graduates often use their capstone projects to attract potential employers' attention.

The best online public administration degrees ensure that graduates possess a strong understanding of American politics and political institutions, can follow and enforce ethical practices, and can apply their new skills in a variety of public administration situations. Programs may boast additional learning outcomes that students use in both public administration and other careers.

Careers and Salary Potential

As public administration encompasses so many career paths, public administrators-in-training should begin researching careers long before they earn their online public administration degrees. First, students should select which industry they want to enter before exploring potential careers. To help make this decision, many students complete internships or practica, which bolsters their resumes and allow them to experience job responsibilities first hand. Once students know which careers match their interests and goals, they can further prepare for their careers by completing a minor or specialization.

  • Federal, state, and local government employ a large percentage of professionals who possess online public administration degrees. City managers, analysts, and many other civil servants enact elected officials' public policy initiatives.
  • Private and public healthcare agencies also employ many public administrators who possess degrees from accredited colleges or universities. As public policy specialists, they help medical professionals manage new programs (e.g., clinics for individuals without health insurance).
  • In the U.S.'s public K-12 schools, colleges, and universities, public administrators ensure that schools follow applicable laws, stay within their budgets, and ensure that students have safe places to learn, among other responsibilities.
School and Community Service Manager

Annual Median Salary: $65,320

School and community service managers lead teams to serve their organization's primary mission. In most cases, these managers work for nonprofits and government agencies that provide social services to individuals in need.

Medical and Health Services Manager

Annual Median Salary: $99,730

Medical and health services managers coordinate their organization's health services. To provide patients with excellent care, they collaborate with medical professionals and ensure that health services stay within budget.

Management Analyst

Annual Median Salary: $83,610

Management analysts organize organization's efficiency and make recommendations for improvement. Many professionals work as independent consultants and advise governments on how to save money. Other job duties include reviewing data to determine that their recommendations have a positive impact.

Administrative Services Manager

Annual Median Salary: $96,180

Administrative services managers direct their organization's support services (e.g., clerical workers, receptionists). On the job, they mentor employees and ensure that all office equipment remains in good working order.

Human Resources Manager

Annual Median Salary: $113,300

Human resources managers use their online public administration degrees to recruit and retain the best talent for their organizations. On the job, they develop their organization's benefits packages and handle any disciplinary issues, among other responsibilities.