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Public Administration Major

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Public Administration

3,261 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
12,183 Master's Degrees Annually
#102 in Popularity
$102,850 Median Salary

Types of Degrees Public Administration Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many public administration graduations there were in 2017-2018 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Master’s Degree 12,236
Bachelor’s Degree 3,261
Graduate Certificate 800
Doctor’s Degree 300
Basic Certificate 151
Associate’s Degree 112
Undergraduate Certificate 14

What Public Administration Majors Need to Know

O*NET surveyed people in occupations related to public admin and asked them what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important for their jobs. The responses were 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:

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  • Administration and Management - Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • Personnel and Human Resources - Knowledge of principles and procedures for personnel recruitment, selection, training, compensation and benefits, labor relations and negotiation, and personnel information systems.

Skills for Public Admin Majors

The following list of skills has been highlighted as some of the most essential for careers related to public admin:

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  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Coordination - Adjusting actions in relation to others’ actions.

Abilities for Public Admin Majors

As a public admin major, you will find yourself needing the following abilities:

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  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Problem Sensitivity - The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.

What Can You Do With a Public Administration Major?

People with a public admin degree often go into the following careers:

Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
Compliance Managers 8.0% $107,480
General and Operations Managers 9.1% $100,930
Investment Fund Managers 8.0% $107,480
Legislators 7.0% $24,670
Logistics Managers 6.8% $94,730
Regulatory Affairs Managers 8.0% $107,480
Social and Community Service Managers 18.0% $65,320
Supply Chain Managers 8.0% $107,480
Transportation Managers 6.8% $94,730

Who Is Getting a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration?

3,261 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
50% Percent Women
42% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities
This is a less frequently chosen undergraduate major. Only 3,261 students graduated with a bachelor’s degree in public administration in 2018, making it rank #102 in popularity. Roughly 50% of the graduates are women, and 50% are men.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

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

Racial-Ethnic Diversity of Public Admin Students with Bachelor's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 164
Black or African American 420
Hispanic or Latino 609
White 1,674
International Students 118
Other Races/Ethnicities 276

Geographic Diversity

Public Admin appeals to people across the globe. About 3.6% of those with this major are international students. The most popular countries for students from outside the country are:

  • China
  • South Korea
  • Saudi Arabia
  • India
  • Nigeria

How Much Do Public Administration Majors Make?

Bachelor’s Degree Starting Salary

The median starting salary of students who graduated in 2015-2017 with a bachelor’s degree in public admin was $40,800 per year. These stats come from the U.S. Department of Education. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $34,600 (25th percentile) and $52,700 (75th percentile).

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It’s important to note that just because the people reporting these salaries have a degree in public admin, it does not mean that they are working in a job related to their degree.

Salaries According to BLS

Public Admin majors often go into careers where salaries can range from $71,670 to $123,880 (25th to 75th percentile). This range includes all degree levels, so you may expect those with a more advanced degree to make more while those with less advanced degrees will typically make less.

To put that into context, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.

Median Salary for a Public Administration Major  ( 71670 to 123880 )
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250K
Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
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250K
Median Salary for a Bachelor's Degree Holder  ( 45600 to 99000 )
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250K
Median Salary for an Advanced Degree Holder  ( 55600 to 125400 )
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250K

Some degrees 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.

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Education Level Percentage of Workers
High School Diploma - or the equivalent (for example, GED) 14.5%
Post-Secondary Certificate - awarded for training completed after high school (for example, in agriculture or natural resources, computer services, personal or culinary services, engineering technologies, healthcare, construction trades, mechanic and repair technologies, or precision production) 2.8%
Some College Courses 5.9%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 7.9%
Bachelor’s Degree 43.4%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Baccalaureate degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees carrying the title of Master. 5.6%
Master’s Degree 15.4%
Post-Master’s Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Master’s degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees at the doctoral level. 3.6%
First Professional Degree - awarded for completion of a program that: requires at least 2 years of college work before entrance into the program, includes a total of at least 6 academic years of work to complete, and provides all remaining academic requirements to begin practice in a profession. 0.5%
Doctoral Degree 0.8%

Online Public Administration Programs

In the 2017-2018 academic year, 523 schools offered some type of public administration program. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.

Degree Level Colleges Offering Programs Colleges Offering Online Classes
Certificate (Less Than 1 Year) 19 5
Certificate (1-2 years) 7 2
Certificate (2-4 Years) 1 0
Associate’s Degree 31 6
Bachelor’s Degree 95 37
Post-Baccalaureate 19 5
Master’s Degree 388 154
Post-Master’s 15 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 48 9
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 1 1
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 0 0

Is a Degree in Public Administration Worth It?

The median salary for a public admin grad is $102,850 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 158% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $1,259,000 after 20 years!

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You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to public admin.

Major Number of Grads
Social Work 55,945
Human Services 14,962
Public Policy 5,550
Community Organization & Advocacy 2,775
Other Public Administration 957

References

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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