Studies & Degrees in Public Administration/Management
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Public administration is the practical study of government policies and programs, how they work and how they can be made to work better. It combines elements of budgeting, economics, policy studies, and often some related disciplines like history, political science, and ethics. It is generally considered to be more of a professional field than an academic field, so it is best suited for those who want to be actively engaged in the practice of governance, rather than those who are more interested in studying, discussing, and criticizing government.
- Excellent communications skills, including strong command of public speaking and writing
- People skills
- Passion for politics, activism, or government
- Desire to do your part in shaping the society in which you live
- Good “money sense” or background in economics is a plus.
As a field of professional study, public administration is not particularly firmly defined, so it’s not always easy to tell what sub-disciplines are part of public administration and which are not. There are a few core branches, however. Some, such as human resource management and organizational theory, draw on insights from managerial and business contexts to help train people who want to work in government. Others, such as policy analysis and public policy ethics, tend to focus more on the academic side of public administration. If you are looking for a job in a specific sector of government, it is sometimes possible to specialize in exactly that sector – for example, there may be degrees in healthcare administration that would be perfect for people interested in this function of government.
There are essentially three options for people who have degrees in public administration: government, nonprofit sector, and academia. Your career experience will be very different depending on which of these areas you end up in, so it’s worth taking some time to think about which one is best for you ahead of time. That said, the boundaries are fairly permeable, so you shouldn’t feel as though you are stuck in one track once you pick it. Many people go from government to the nonprofit sector, for example, or from academia into government.