Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why should I major in Public Administration?
Public Administration is an applied degree taught in a social science setting. It is perfect for people interested in public service through work in government and non-profit organizations. You will mix the theoretical with skills in management, policy and politics that will be useful in a wide variety of jobs. As compared to business there is more emphasis on critical thinking and writing skills and less on quantitative skills. It is of most value to those who intend to work in the public and non-profit sectors-- about 20% of the population.
2. What are the differences between those working in the public and private sectors?
Those who work in the public sector tend to do so out of what is known as public service motivation--a genuine desire to do good in the world. Generally speaking you will have higher wages in the private sector but more job security and better benefits in government and large non-profit organizations. Studies indicate that job satisfaction is highly correlated with doing meaningful work, and both the public and nonprofit sectors appeal to those who want to help others and improve their communities.
3. What advantages does a Public Administration major have over other majors?
While our program has its roots firmly in the liberal arts, it is more job-oriented than most liberal arts majors, with more content that will be useful to you in future jobs. All PA majors are required to enroll in the Administrative Internship class, POSC 497, near the end of their degree programs. This hands-on experience will help you better understand your field of study and its workforce opportunities. The PA major is quite versatile and provides you with the theory and skills to make a difference in your community.
4. What is the range of salaries in the public sector?
A 2010 study by the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (UC Berkeley), reported that the average range of public sector salaries in CA was $29-109,000. For those with a BA degree, the average salary was +$62K.
5. How many courses do I need to complete the major?
You have to complete 39 units (13 courses) in the degree and 9 units (3 courses) in related disciplines. Click here to download a map of the degree requirements.
6. What should I take for the three related disciplines courses?
We will accept a wide range of social science, humanities, and management courses. You should use these courses to give yourself added knowledge in areas that you think might be useful to you in the future. Most people use these as GE requirements as well as major requirements.
7. Can I double count a course both for the major and for general education?
You cannot count GE courses towards the 39 units in the major. You can count GE courses towards the 9 units in the related courses.
8. How many units do I need to graduate?
You need 120 units. This means that you will take some courses beyond your GE courses and the courses for your major.
9. How much does it cost to attend Cal State Fullerton?
Most students enroll for two semesters a year. It currently costs $967 a semester if you are taking one or two courses and $1,495 a semester if you are taking three or more courses. These fees are amongst the lowest in the United States. The fees do change periodically. Check the university website for the latest figures.
10. What courses should I begin with?
You should start with POSC 100 (American Government) and then POSC 320 "Introduction to Public Management and Policy". Following that most take POSC 421 and POSC/CRJU 422 and some of the courses (9 units) from the "Urban and Public Policy" courses. When you have completed POSC 421 and 422 you will also have completed the university's upper-division writing requirement. Take your internship class, POSC 497, in the first semester of your senior year.
11. Are there prerequisites for 400 level courses?
12. Is it possible to substitute a course in a different department for one of the research methods classes?
Yes. Because this is often a problem for students who work full time, SOC 303 is sometimes substituted for POSC 407.
13. Can I double major in Public Administration and Political Science or Public Administration and Criminal Justice?
Yes, you can. However it means you will need to plan your course load carefully. We recommend all double majors should meet with a public administration advisor as early as possible.
14. Do I need a "C" average to graduate?
You do need at least a "C" average to graduate. You do not have to get a "C" in every course you take.
15. Can I repeat a course in which I got a grade less than C?
Up to 16 units can be repeated with the new grade replacing the old grade, unless you plagiarized. See the university catalog for the full policy.
16. Should I take an internship, and how do I find one?
We expect all students not working full time to take an internship unless there are unusual circumstances. Students working full time are sometimes get a waiver for POSC 497, however, they are then required to take a fifth Elective course. Our internship advisor is currently Dr. Arsneault firstname.lastname@example.org She has lists of available internships and teaches the internship class that goes alongside each internship.
17. When is the latest I can add a course?
You can add to any open course on Titan online during the first week of classes. To add to closed classes in the first week or any classes in the second week you must be permitted online by the instructor and then you enroll. If you have a compelling reason you may be able to add, with the instructor's permission in the third and fourth week of classes. After that there are no adds.
18. When can I withdraw from a class?
You may withdraw for any reason in the first two weeks with no record of your enrollment. You can withdraw for compelling reasons such as illness up to three weeks before the last class session if the instructor, department chair and the Dean all approve. See the catalog or current class schedule for the full policy.
19. Who are the program advisors and should I see them?
PA program advisors change with each semester. You can make appointments to see them in the Divsion of Politics, Admistration & Justice office in University Hall 510 (657-278-3521). Seeing someone in your first semester of PA classes is a good idea as they can be very helpful in suggesting which courses are likely to be of most benefit to you.
20. Where can I get general advice on careers?
Our Career Center located in Langsdorf Hall 208 is open to all students. They provide assessment tests, career counseling services and research material to all students. You may call (657) 278-3121 for more information. You will also find a list of jobs on the Public Administration board in the hallway.
21. How do I find out about jobs in the public sector?
Most local governments, as well as states and the federal government, now post job openings on their web sites. Students learn more about job search in their internship class.