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Public Administration Major

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Public Administration

12,640 Master's Degrees Annually
369 Doctor's Degrees Annually
#16 in Popularity (Master's)
$102,850 Median Salary

Types of Degrees Public Administration Majors Are Getting

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

Education Level Number of Grads
Master’s Degree 12,640
Graduate Certificate 933
Doctor’s Degree 369

What Public Administration Majors Need to Know

People with careers related to public admin 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 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

A major in public admin prepares you for careers in which the following skill-sets are crucial:

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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?

Below is a list of occupations associated with public admin:

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 Master’s Degree in Public Administration?

12,640 Master's Degrees Annually
60% Percent Women
39% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities*
This is one of the most frequently chosen graduate majors. It is the 16th most popular in the country with 12,640 students graduating with a master’s in public admin in 2019. This major is dominated by women with about 60% of recent graduates being female.

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 Master's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 499
Black or African American 2,301
Hispanic or Latino 1,686
White 5,595
International Students 1,368
Other Races/Ethnicities 1,191

Geographic Diversity

Students from other countries are interested in Public Admin, too. About 10.8% 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?

Master’s Degree Starting Salary

Data from the U.S. Department of Education shows that public administration students who graduated in 2015-2017 with a master’s degree made a median starting salary of $48,100 per year. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $44,500 (25th percentile) and $53,800 (75th percentile).

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Note that some of these people may have jobs that are not directly related to a public admin 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 careers associated with public admin require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. Whatever the case may be, pursuing more education usually means that more career options will be available to you.

How much schooling do you really need to compete in today’s job market? People currently working in careers related to public admin have obtained the following education levels.

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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 2018-2019 academic year, 503 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) 22 6
Certificate (1-2 years) 6 2
Certificate (2-4 Years) 1 0
Associate’s Degree 28 4
Bachelor’s Degree 101 37
Post-Baccalaureate 22 6
Master’s Degree 372 151
Post-Master’s 15 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 47 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 32,304
Public Policy 3,701
Human Services 1,360
Community Organization & Advocacy 541
Other Public Administration 386

References

*The racial-ethnic minorities count is calculated by taking the total number of students and subtracting white students, international students, and students whose race/ethnicity was unknown. This number is then divided by the total number of students at the school to obtain the racial-ethnic minorities percentage.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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