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Careers in Public Administration

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Students seeking a Master of Public Administration obtain high levels of proficiency of technical and managerial skills to enhance public service work. Students are provided with a broad-level understanding of the goals and challenges of public administration and the relationship of these to more specialized aspects of planning, organization, management, and analysis in the public sector at the national, state and local levels. The degree program is designed to provide advanced study and prepare current and future government employees for management positions in government at all levels. With the program’s focus on management and the expanding role of the private sector in providing traditional government services, graduates will find that the program is also applicable to the private and non-profit sector.

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Useful Skills within the Public Administration Field

Complex Problem Solving - Ability to identify a problem, review related information, develop and evaluate options, and implement a solution.

Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.

Decision Making - Weighing out the options in a situation or a problem and logically choosing the best course of action.

Listening - Paying attention to what other people are saying and taking time to understand the points being made.

Management of Financial Resources - Determining how much money is required to get a job done, allocating those monies, and then accounting for all expenditures.

Management of People - Assigning duties to others, motivating them, and evaluating their performance.

Management of Physical Resources - The ability to make appropriate the use of equipment and materials to get a job done.

Monitoring – Monitoring and assessing performance of oneself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

Reading Comprehension - The ability to understand complex written paragraphs, instructions, or reports.

Social Perceptiveness - Being aware of the reactions of others and understanding why they react the way they do.

Speaking - Talking, giving speeches, or speaking in a group to convey information, explain ideas, or give instructions.

Writing - Composing and communicating your ideas in written form.


Career Options

To identify what education or training is typical for careers within the public administration field, use the O*Net hyperlinks below and click on “Job Zone.” In addition, seek out the advice of fellow students and alumni working in the industry in our mentoring program on The Quad (for current students and alumni only) or speak with a career coach.

As with all majors, the education you receive serves as a foundation of knowledge that prepares you for what you may face in the professional world. The career field you chose may require additional education or experience.

Administrative Services Manager
Chief Executives
City and Regional Planning Aides
Compliance Managers
Environmental Compliance Inspectors
Financial Analysts
General and Operations Managers

Government Property Inspectors and Investigators
Labor Relations Specialists
Occupational Health and Safety Specialists
Public Relations Specialists
Regulatory Affairs Managers
Social and Community Services Managers
Urban and Regional Planners

Getting Started: Internships

Gaining real-life experience is an ideal way to start a new career. The career services website has an extensive list of internships and fellowships. Browse through the internships - they are organized by interest or by federal program.

There are government-organized internship programs which provide students or recent graduates the opportunity to gain real-life experience. Many require students to maintain either a half-time or full-time student status. The best ways to identify potential opportunities such as these is to contact branch offices directly, to search, or to look at the agencies’ career portals. Keep in mind that these positions are not always posted online, so direct contact with the agency is key.

The Pathways Program is a federal initiative that offers internship programs for current students as well as training and career development opportunities for recent graduates. Recent graduates must apply within two years of degree or certificate completion (except for veterans; due to their military service obligation, they will have up to six years to apply). The internship program for current students replaces the former Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) and Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP).

The Presidential Management Fellows Program (PMF)
PMF is designed to attract outstanding federal service members from a wide variety of academic disciplines who have a clear interest in, and commitment to, a career in the analysis and management of public policies and programs. To be eligible, an individual must be a graduate student completing or expected to complete, during the current academic year, an advanced degree. Graduate students who have had their degree conferred in the preceding two years from the opening of the vacancy announcement are also eligible for PMF.

The Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP)
WRP is coordinated by the Office of Disability Employment Policy and the U.S. Department of Defense, and aims to provide summer work experience and, in some cases, full-time employment to college students with disabilities. The program develops partnerships with other federal agencies, each of which makes a commitment to provide summer jobs and a staff recruiter. Each year, recruiters interview about 1,500 students with disabilities at college and university campuses across the nation and develop a database listing the qualifications of each student.

Getting Hired: Government Agencies, Organizations, and Search Engines


Keeping Current: Professional Organizations and Associations
Conferences and Expositions
Get Connected: Social Media

A login may be required for access to social media.

American Evaluation Association - Facebook, LinkedIn
American Public Works Association - Facebook, LinkedIn
American Society for Public Administration - Facebook, LinkedIn
Association for Public Policy Analysis & Management - Facebook, LinkedIn
Children Defense Fund - Facebook
Council on Foundations - Facebook, LinkedIn
International City/County Management Association - Facebook, LinkedIn
International Institute of Administrative Sciences - Facebook, LinkedIn
National Academy of Public Administration - Facebook, LinkedIn
National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration - Facebook, LinkedIn
National Forum for Black Public Administrators - Facebook, LinkedIn
National League of Cities - Facebook, LinkedIn

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