Government departments and agencies carry out a huge array of tasks in
areas like health, taxation, transportation, international trade, education
and more. All of these areas come under the umbrella of public administration
Many training options exist in the field, from certificates to PhDs.
Most managerial jobs require a bachelor's degree and many require a master's,
or M.P.A. Only those who aspire to teach public administration need a doctorate.
Think about the kind of work you want to do and research the educational
Michelle Saint-Germain runs the public administration program at California
State University at Long Beach. Her program offers several certificate courses
as well as an M.P.A. The M.P.A. program has two concentration options -- public
works or urban affairs.
Saint-Germain says any undergraduate degree is acceptable for admission
to the M.P.A. program. "We get them from anthropology to zoology," she
But she says degrees that offer the best preparation are arts, health,
economics, sociology, social work, criminology, recreation and leisure studies,
physical education, English, education, psychology, business, engineering
and public works.
Saint-Germain says her program is geared toward skill development in the
areas most often cited by public sector employers: problem solving, teamwork
and oral and written presentations.
The University of Maine offers public administration programs at both the
undergraduate and graduate levels. The undergraduate degree is called a bachelor
of arts in public management.
Maine professor Kenneth Nichols suggests high school students take classes
in social studies, civics and history, plus English, math and basic science.
"Business, accounting, public speaking and foreign language are always valuable.
It is important also to take courses in art, music, literature and theater
because public administration deals with people, and the best way to understand
people is to understand what makes humanity unique," he adds.
Extracurricular activities should involve community service, such as "participating
in a neighborhood project, working with a church group or helping out at a
nursing home. At school, become involved in student government, planning
school events or working on a student newspaper."
Besides tuition and books, you may have membership fees for organizations
like ASPA, the American Society for Public Administration.
Public Service Careers
Putting your degree to work
National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration
Get a listing of graduate schools that offer degrees in public