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Public & Social Service Major

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Public & Social Service

$71,670 Median Salary

Types of Degrees Public & Social Service Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many public administration and social service graduations there were in 2018-2019 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Master’s Degree 49,114
Graduate Certificate 1,825
Doctor’s Degree 1,295

What Public & Social Service Majors Need to Know

People with careers related to public administration and social service were asked what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important for their jobs. They weighted these areas on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the highest.

Knowledge Areas for Public Administration & Social Service Majors

This major prepares you for careers in which these knowledge areas are important:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Law and Government - Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.

Skills for Public Administration & Social Service Majors

When studying public administration and social service, 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:

  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • 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.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

Abilities for Public Administration & Social Service Majors

A major in public administration and social service will prepare for your careers in which the following abilities are important:

  • 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.
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • Speech Clarity - The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.

What Can You Do With a Public & Social Service Major?

Below is a list of occupations associated with public administration and social service:

Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
Child, Family, and School Social Workers 14.2% $46,270
Community and Social Service Specialists 13.2% $42,620
Compliance Managers 8.0% $107,480
Counselors 14.2% $42,130
Education Professors 10.3% $64,780
General and Operations Managers 9.1% $100,930
Health Specialties Professors 25.9% $97,370
Healthcare Social Workers 20.1% $56,200
Investment Fund Managers 8.0% $107,480
Legislators 7.0% $24,670
Logistics Managers 6.8% $94,730
Marriage and Family Therapists 23.4% $50,090
Medical and Health Services Managers 20.5% $99,730
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers 19.4% $44,840
Political Science Professors 10.4% $83,370
Political Scientists 2.7% $117,570
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists 5.7% $53,020
Regulatory Affairs Managers 8.0% $107,480
Social and Community Service Managers 18.0% $65,320
Social and Human Service Assistants 16.4% $33,750
Social Work Professors 9.4% $68,300
Social Workers 8.3% $63,140
Supply Chain Managers 8.0% $107,480
Transportation Managers 6.8% $94,730
Transportation Planners 6.7% $81,340

Who Is Getting a Master’s Degree in Public & Social Service?

49,114 Master's Degrees Annually
78% Percent Women
40% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities
This major is dominated by women with about 78% of recent graduates being female.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

At the countrywide level, the racial-ethnic distribution of public administration and social service majors is as follows:

Racial-Ethnic Diversity of Public Administration & Social Service Students with Master's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 1,651
Black or African American 8,916
Hispanic or Latino 7,191
White 24,856
International Students 2,665
Other Races/Ethnicities 3,835

Geographic Diversity

Students from other countries are interested in Public Administration & Social Service, too. About 5.4% of those with this major are international students.

How Much Do Public & Social Service Majors Make?

Master’s Degree Starting Salary

The median starting salary of students who graduated in 2015-2017 with a master’s degree in public administration and social service was $44,500 per year. These stats come from the U.S. Department of Education. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $40,500 (25th percentile) and $50,400 (75th percentile).


One thing to note here is that not all of these people may be working in careers related to public administration and social service.

Salaries According to BLS

Public Administration and Social Service majors often go into careers where salaries can range from $49,630 to $102,850 (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 & Social Service Major  ( 49630 to 102850 )
Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
Median Salary for a Bachelor's Degree Holder  ( 45600 to 99000 )
Median Salary for an Advanced Degree Holder  ( 55600 to 125400 )

Some careers associated with public administration and social service require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. 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 administration and social service careers below.

Education Level Percentage of Workers
Less than a High School Diploma 0.3%
High School Diploma - or the equivalent (for example, GED) 8.9%
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) 1.6%
Some College Courses 3.8%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 5.8%
Bachelor’s Degree 35.5%
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. 3.0%
Master’s Degree 21.8%
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. 4.3%
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. 0.3%
Doctoral Degree 13.9%
Post-Doctoral Training 1.1%

Online Public & Social Service Programs

In the 2018-2019 academic year, 1,453 schools offered some type of public administration and social service 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) 242 26
Certificate (1-2 years) 126 18
Certificate (2-4 Years) 3 0
Associate’s Degree 477 78
Bachelor’s Degree 241 73
Post-Baccalaureate 242 26
Master’s Degree 926 299
Post-Master’s 56 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 197 23
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 7 1
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 1 1

Is a Degree in Public & Social Service Worth It?

The median salary for a public administration and social service grad is $71,670 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 80% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $635,400 after 20 years!


You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to public administration and social service.

Major Number of Grads
Homeland Security, Law Enforcement & Firefighting 144,759
Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies 71,951
Legal Professions 61,011
Military Technologies & Applied Sciences 3,568


More about our data sources and methodologies.

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