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Public Administration

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Public Administration Major

15,909 yearly degrees
#68 in popularity
$103,000 median salary

Public administration is a major that typically falls into the Public & Social Service category.

There are 31 programs available throughout the country that offer an associate’s degree in public admin, 186 that offer a bachelor’s degree, and 388 that offer a master’s degree. There are also at least 49 schools in the nation where you can get your doctorate degree in the field.

Who Is Getting a Public Admin Degree?

This is a less frequently chosen major. Only 3,400 students graduated with a bachelor’s degree in public administration in 2017. According to recent stats this major attracts about equal numbers of men and women. Roughly 50.3% of the graduates are women, and 49.7% are men.

Racial Distribution

At the countrywide level, the racial distribution of public admin majors is as follows:

  • Asian: 5%
  • Black or African American: 12.9%
  • Hispanic or Latino: 18.7%
  • White: 51.3%
  • Non-Resident Alien: 3.6%
  • Other Races: 8.5%
Public Administration Majors Ethnic Diversity Statistics

Americans aren’t the only ones with an interest in public admin. About 3.6% of those graduating in 2017 were international students. The most popular countries sending public admin majors to the U.S. are China, South Korea and Saudi Arabia.

What Will You Learn as a Public Administration Major?

An O*NET survey asked people with careers related to public admin to rate how important certain subject areas were to their job. The following are some of the results of that survey. Importance was rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being most important.

Knowledge Areas for Public Admin Majors

Public admin majors often go into careers in which the following knowledge areas are important:

Important Knowledge Areas for Public Administration Majors

Skills for Public Admin Majors

When studying public admin, you’ll learn many skills that will help you be successful in a wide range of jobs - even those that do not require a degree in the field. The following is a list of some of the most common skills needed for careers associated with this major:

Important Skills for Public Administration Majors

Abilities for Public Admin Majors

Some of the most crucial abilities to master while a public admin student include the following:

Important Abilities for public admin Majors

What Can You Do With a Public Admin Major?

Below is a list of occupations associated with public admin:

Careers Related to Public Administration
Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary

Chief Executives



Compliance Managers



Regulatory Affairs Managers



Postmasters and Mail Superintendents



Transportation Managers



Social and Community Service Managers






Investment Fund Managers



Supply Chain Managers



Logistics Managers



Public Administration Major Salary

Average salaries range from $72,000 to $124,000 for careers related to public admin. This range includes all degree levels, so the salary for a person with just a bachelor’s degree may be a little less and the one for a person with an advanced degree may be a little more.

To put that into context, the typical high school graduate makes between $29,000 and $57,000 a year. The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $44,000 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,000 and $120,000.

Average Salary for a Public Admin Major  ( 72000 to 124000 )
Average Salary for High School Graduate  ( 29000 to 57000 )
Average Salary with Bachelor's Degree  ( 44000 to 99000 )
Average Salary with Advanced Degree  ( 55000 to 120000 )

The area of the country you choose to work in will also affect your career and salary prospects. Getting a graduate degree may open up more options with higher salary potential.

Amount of Education Required for Public Administration Major Jobs

Some careers associated with public admin may require an advanced degree, while others may not even require a bachelor’s in the field. In general, the more advanced your degree the more career options will open up to you. However, there is significant time and money that needs to be invested into your education so weigh the pros and cons.

Find out what the typical degree level is for public admin careers below.

Education Levels for Careers Associated With Public Administration
Level of Education Percentage of Workers

Less Than a High School Diploma


High School Diploma or Equivalent


Post-Secondary Certificate


Some College Courses


Associate's Degree or Equivalent


Bachelor's Degree


Post-Baccalaureate Certificate


Master's Degree


Post-Master's Certificate


First Professional Degree


Doctoral Degree


Post-Doctoral Training


Online Public Administration Programs

There are 186 colleges that offer a bachelor’s degree in public administration, with 42 of them offering at least some courses online.

Online learners must listen or watch video lectures, participate in group chats or forums, submit papers and assignments electronically, take tests, and meet deadlines.

Online learners benefit from being able to watch lectures remotely and complete coursework on their schedule, but they also take longer to graduate than average and are more likely to dropout.

Is a Public Administration Major Worth It?

The median salary for a public admin grad is $103,000 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 164% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $1,279,000 after 20 years!

public administration salary compared to typical high school and college graduates over a 20 year period


Bureau of Labor Statistics
National Center for Education Statistics
O*NET Online
Image Credit: The Official CTBTO Photostream via License

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