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NLU Public Policy Administration Careers

What is Public Administration?

There are many definitions of "public administration," given the nature of the role and the huge variety of career paths and focus areas. In general, public administration is considered a branch of public service that deals with providing for the needs of the population and maintaining an ordered, civil society. This can include job functions such as managing city budgets, developing and implementing policies and legislation, managing public agencies, analyzing data to determine public needs, managing people and resources, and acting as a steward of the public interest.

Experts and scholars may differ on the exact definition, but in general they tend to agree that public administration includes a number of distinct sub-fields. One proposed model includes five pillars:1

  1. Organizational theory in public administration: The study of the structure of government entities
  2. Ethics in public administration: A standard approach to decision making
  3. Policy analysis: An empirical approach to decision making
  4. Public budgeting: The allocation of scarce resources among unlimited demands
  5. Human resource management: Ensures that public service staffing is unbiased and ethical

Public administrators have the opportunity to make a lasting impact on the communities they serve. Some of the top industries for public administration careers include:

  • Community or economic development
  • Education
  • Environmental protection
  • Healthcare
  • Human services / social services
  • Infrastructure, transportation and utilities
  • Local government
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Research and consulting
  • Security, military, law enforcement and corrections
  • Urban planning
  • Healthcare

Education Requirements for Public Administrators

To prepare for a career in public administration, many professionals pursue a graduate degree such as National Louis University's Master of Public Administration (MPA) after finishing their undergraduate work. An MPA degree is generally considered the core professional degree for those interested in a management career in public service.2

NLU's MPA degree program, offered both online and in a blended on-campus/online format, teaches students to develop policies and effectively manage public administration resources. The curriculum is designed to help students develop the advanced competencies that are critical to becoming an effective leader in public administration. Students of the program can choose from the following concentrations:

  • Community Psychology
  • Health Services Administration
  • Human Resource Management
  • Nonprofit Leadership
  • Organizational Development
  • Public Policy
  • Public Safety and Justice Leadership
  • Teaching of Public Policy and Administration

Public Administration Careers

Alumni of graduate programs in public administration typically work in the following industries:3

  • 19% employed in domestic-oriented nonprofits
  • 17% employed in city, county or other local governments
  • 11% employed in national or central governments
  • 11% employed in private sector other than research and consulting
  • 8% employed in other industries and sectors
  • 7% employed in private sector research and consulting sector

Salaries for public administrators vary greatly depending on their specific career. Below are the typical salary ranges for common jobs held by MPA graduates:4

  • Executive Director: $39,600–$130,570
  • Program Manager, Nonprofit Organization: $37,305–$75,344
  • Director of Development, Nonprofit Organization: $44,698–$87,376
  • Operations Manager: $38,158–$86,593
  • Program Coordinator, Nonprofit Organization: $34,060–$56,484
  • Human Resources Director: $54,119–$121,748
  • Human Resources Manager: $41,883–$98,633

According to the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA) 2015 Alumni Survey, some of the most common job duties for public administrators include:5

  • Budget preparation and administration
  • Outreach, communications and public relations
  • Program development
  • Program evaluation
  • Program implementation
  • Project management
  • Policy Analysis
  • Research
  • Supervision
Source References [+]

1. "Public Administration." 13 May 2017.

2. "MPA and MPP FAQ." July 2012.

3. "Where do MPA/MPP graduates work? What do they earn?"

4. "Master of Public Administration (MPA) Degree Average Salary." 3 June 2017.

5. "Alumni Survey Results."


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