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Students who pursue an online bachelor’s in public administration degree are prepared for a wide range of government positions at the local, state, or federal level. Many graduates pursue careers in management or urban planning, while others may pursue a master’s degree program.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), administrative services and facilities managers make an average of $101,8 annually. Other potential careers for a graduate with a bachelor’s in public administration include urban and regional planners ($79,540 per year), budget analysts ($82,260 per year), and political scientists ($128,020 per year).

Generally, completing a bachelor’s degree in public administration takes four years for full-time students. However, some online programs may allow you to complete it more quickly. The average yearly tuition cost for a four-year college was $17,251 in 2021.

How to Choose an Online Bachelor’s in Public Administration Program

Choose your area of study

After you’ve chosen a bachelor’s in public administration, you may also need to select a concentration. These programs have courses that go deeper into specific areas of public administration, depending on your career goals and objectives. Some concentrations you can pick from with this degree program may include:

  • Public relations
  • Finance and accounting
  • Public policy
  • Human resources
  • Nonprofit management
  • Urban planning
  • Public service

Choosing a concentration can give you more specific experience in the area you want to pursue as a career. Look at the course catalog to read class descriptions of the different concentrations to help you pick.

Research schools and programs

Hundreds of colleges across the United States offer a bachelor’s degree in public administration. If you want to complete an online program, focus your search on schools that provide remote learning opportunities. Important factors to look for in your research include:

  • Accreditation. Any institution you consider should be accredited, preferably regionally.
  • Course offerings. The department website should list required courses and a sample pathway of which courses to take each semester, which can help you decide what colleges offer courses best aligned with your goals.
  • Remote learning support. A robust online learning department and investment in remote technology is a good sign that a school provides a positive remote learning experience.
  • Tuition cost. Tuition costs vary widely, so find out the price per credit hour, whether there is a cap, and what financial aid opportunities exist.
  • Admissions requirements. Look for a list of admissions requirements to ensure you meet them — can meet — them before applying. You may be required to have recent ACT or SAT scores or have a minimum GPA.

Prepare for tests and applications

Most public administration degree programs don’t have any specific testing requirements, but the college may require a placement test to determine if you need any developmental math or reading courses. Online programs may also require prospective students to show intermediate computer proficiency.

Select your program

Having more than one acceptance letter puts you in the coveted position of being able to choose which program best fits your needs. Cost is a significant factor, so compare the price of tuition and pay attention to what fees are expected and whether you qualify for any school-specific financial aid.

Consider what courses are offered and what the structure is for the online program. If you plan on working full-time while attending school, a program with asynchronous classes can be better, but may have fewer interaction and networking opportunities. Contact the admissions office if you have any questions while you’re deciding.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

To determine how you’ll pay for your degree, you must first total the program’s cost. Don’t forget to include extra fees and the cost of books and supplies in your estimates. Most institutions have payment plans, which can help you work the cost of tuition into your regular budget.

If you need help affording school, completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form can help you qualify for need-based scholarships and student loans.

Best 50 Accredited Online Bachelor’s in Public Administration Programs

Best Online Bachelor's in Public Administration Programs Badge

Florida International University

Northern Arizona University

California Baptist University

National University

Point Park University

University of La Verne

University of Massachusetts - Dartmouth

Liberty University

Columbia College

University of Central Florida

Florida Atlantic University

Barry University

University of Hawaii at West Oahu

Arizona State University

University of Colorado Denver

University of North Dakota

University of Illinois Springfield

Hawaii Pacific University

Keiser University

Eastern Oregon University

Lipscomb University

Dominican University

Peru State College

University of Wisconsin - Green Bay

Upper Iowa University

Mount Vernon Nazarene University

St. Petersburg College

Tarleton State University

Indian River State College

Siena Heights University

University of Maine at Augusta

Roger Williams University

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How We Rank Schools

When pursuing a public administration program, you can concentrate on the sciences or the humanities. Our research includes both Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science programs, and they can all be completed entirely online or through a hybrid course format.

The programs featured in this guide are accredited by institutions such as the WASC Senior College and University Commission, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, and the Higher Learning Commission.

We evaluated each program based on its course offerings, cost, flexibility, and price, then calculated an Intelligent Score on a scale from 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out our ranking methodology.

What Can You Expect From an Online Bachelor’s in Public Administration Program

Students enrolled in a bachelor’s in public administration program can pursue either a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science. A Bachelor of Arts degree is likely to focus more on the humanities, such as politics and government, while a Bachelor of Science generally concentrates more on technical skills, such as data analysis and operational strategies.

Both programs usually require at least one writing intensive course, and you may need to take a lab-based science course to satisfy general degree requirements. Students pursuing a Bachelor of Arts may not require formal math courses, focusing instead on applying math fundamentals for budgeting and finance management.

Around 120 credits are required for a bachelor’s degree, depending on the institution, which can completed over eight semesters for full-time students and 16 semesters for part-time students.

Potential courses you’ll take in an online bachelor’s in public administration program

  • Grant Writing in a Global Economy. Often a workshop-style class, this course teaches students how to write grant proposals. It focuses on learning persuasive writing techniques, research, and professional communication. By the end of the course, students will have a portfolio of grant proposals.
  • Public Budgeting and Financial Administration. This course covers how political and technical factors impact budget decisions. It focuses on preparing and managing budgets as well as how to track revenue and expenditures. Students explore risk management, cash flow, and capital budgeting topics at the local, state, and federal levels.
  • Survey of Constitutional Law. This class provides a high-level overview of constitutional law for non-law majors, including how the Constitution was developed and significant Supreme Court decisions. It includes a discussion of the Bill of Rights and subsequent amendments. Students who complete this class have a deeper understanding of the foundational legal concepts that drive public administration today.
  • Labor Management Relations. This course is an overview of the labor-management systems for both public and private sectors. It explores the history and policies of labor management through various perspectives, including legal, economic, and psychological. Topics include wage issues, collective bargaining, employee rights, and contract administration.
  • Municipal Administration. This course covers the management and administration of cities, introducing students to city planning, public safety, and transportation systems. Students better understand modern cities’ public administration systems and infrastructure and learn about citizen welfare and housing needs.

What Can I Do With a Public Administration Degree?

A bachelor’s degree in public administration is a versatile degree that prepares students for a variety of roles in local, state, and federal government, as well as non-profits and think tanks. Regardless of whether they choose to focus on policy development and implementation, budgeting, management, or regional planning, individuals with a public administration degree will have the tools they need to be effective leaders and help communities in multiple ways.

This degree also lays a solid foundation for further study at the graduate level. Earning a master’s degree in public administration, public policy, or political science can help position students for high-level management roles. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that employment in management occupations will grow at a faster-than-average pace through 2032, with an average of 1.1 million job openings per year predicted through the next decade.

Career outlook

Top jobs available to those with a bachelor’s degree in public administration include:

  • Budget analyst — Work with governments and organizations to plan finances, prepare reports, monitor spending, evaluate program efficacy, assess policies, and draft budget-related legislation.
    • Median annual salary: $82,260
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 3%
    • New jobs projected: 3,600 per year
  • Political scientist — Research political subjects; evaluate effects of policies and laws on government, businesses, and people; develop and test political theories; forecast political, economic, and social trends.
    • Median annual salary: $128,020
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 7%
    • New jobs projected: 600 per year
  • Urban and regional planner — Develop comprehensive plans and programs for the use of land and physical facilities in cities, counties, metropolitan areas, and other jurisdictions, and help communities manage economic, social, environmental, and other issues.
    • Median annual salary: $79,540
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 4%
    • New jobs projected: 3,700 per year

Online Bachelor’s in Public Administration Degree Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to an online bachelor’s in public administration degree program?

To be accepted into a bachelor’s in public administration degree program, complete the application and provide any other requested materials. Materials usually include proof of a high school diploma or equivalent, and the college may request your high school transcripts. Some colleges ask for SAT or ACT scores to determine math and reading proficiency, while others use placement tests.

Always talk to an admissions counselor about what’s required for your specific program before applying. There may be additional requirements, such as a letter of recommendation or a particular GPA, you need to be aware of.

How much does an online bachelor’s in public administration degree cost?

Bachelor’s degree programs cost $17,251 per year on average, around $69,000 in total. Part-time students may pay more because of fees paid per semester or the inability to take advantage of tuition caps. Some schools cap tuition at 12 or 15 hours, meaning that any additional credit hours you take during that semester are effectively free.

Online students may pay less than traditional students if the school waives out-of-state tuition or fees for on-campus facilities, such as the recreation center.

How long does it take to earn an online bachelor’s in public administration degree?

Most schools require 120 credits to graduate with a bachelor’s degree. Full-time students generally take 15 credit hours per semester, which amounts to eight semesters or four years. Students are considered part-time if they take anything less than 12 credit hours per semester, and it can take them an additional two to three years to finish the program.

Even though online programs require the same number of credits to graduate, remote students can often fit in more courses per semester since they don’t have to account for face-to-face instruction time. This may mean that they can complete a degree program more quickly. Taking one or two classes in the summer term can also shorten the time it takes.

Is an online public administration degree worth it?

For individuals who want to work with government agencies and other civil and social institutions to create and implement policies and programs, earning a degree in public administration will provide students with valuable knowledge and skills.

Most jobs in public administration require a bachelor’s degree at minimum, so having this degree will unlock a number of employment opportunities. It will also give students the prerequisites they need to pursue a master’s degree if they aspire to more advanced roles within the field.

Earning a bachelor’s degree also has financial benefits. According to the BLS, the median weekly salary for individuals with a bachelor’s degree is $1432, compared to $935 for those without a degree. This translates to substantially higher lifetime earnings for those with at least a bachelor’s degree.

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