Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration
The B.A. in Public Administration is an applied degree within a liberal arts setting aimed at people who wish to work in government and non-profit organizations. Students learn a mix of skills in management, policy and politics that will be useful in a wide variety of jobs. The program is of particular relevance to those who intend to work in the public sector and to those who intend to work in the rapidly growing field of non-for-profit organizations. Choosing Public Administration means majoring in a liberal arts program with a defined professional outcome.Liberal arts means broad and general studies, with an emphasis on developing abilities to read with insight, to write with clarity and grace, and to think with power, logically and quantitatively. Liberal arts majors present themselves to potential employers as capable people with a sound foundation, ready to specialize in the employer's area.Defined professional outcome means that most students of public administration share an intention to become public managers, leaders in governmental and nonprofit agencies. Public administration students develop analytical tools and content knowledge specifically useful for public management, alongside general perspectives on government and public policy-making. The program consists of 39 units (13 courses) in the degree and 9 units (3 courses) in related disciplines:
Why Public Administration?
Government, especially today, needs good people to meet public needs. Public administrators provide many public services including: improved housing, transportation, public health, emergency services, and urban management. These are just a few of the areas that employ those with public administration skills.
More importantly, public administration jobs are interesting and exciting opportunities. As a public administrator you will work with the important problems of the day. You will help translate the goals of citizens and elected officials into plans of action. You may be helping to improve the lives of the poor, or assisting business development. You will learn techniques of management that will help governments run more efficiently. You should go home at night knowing that you made a difference.
In fact, jobs in cities and counties and nonprofit institutions, are open to other majors as well. Students with bachelor's degrees in many fields are welcome applicants for many entry-level positions in government. Yet studying public administration has some clear advantages for students whose career goals involve public and nonprofit management. Some of these advantages are significant enough that public sector job postings stipulate a preference for a bachelor's degree in public administration.
Majors in public administration take required and elective courses that acquaint them with the nature of public organizations, with the nature of the public policy process (how government makes laws and budgets), and with specific tools. Public administration majors are introduced to key topics in public personnel management, public finance (budgets, taxation, debt, and other topics), and research methods.
Opportunities Directly to Explore Aspects of Public Administration
Urban and metropolitan policy, the art of administration, leadership for public service, urban planning, and ethics are just a few of the topics that majors in public administration can choose in their course work. Further, a public administration internship in public government gives majors in public administration a direct opportunity to experience work in an agency. Public administration students acquire an early opportunity to understand career options, and to grapple with public leadership themes that may dominate a professional life.
Related Fields Opportunity for the Major
Like political science, and like criminal justice, but unlike any other major in the humanities & social sciences at Cal State Fullerton, public administration requires its majors to choose courses from other departments to support and broaden their studies. Students who major in public administration may thus develop specializations in their studies, via course work for this major but offered by Geography, Economics, Management, or many other departments.
"Networking" With Other Public Administration Students
People gain information and perspectives in many ways. One of the most important is simply in informal conversations with like-minded people. When students interested in careers in public and nonprofit leadership choose a major in public administration, then, an advantage that they effectively give to each other is that they can "network." They take classes with other students who have the same intention to build careers in the public sector. In addition, our Honor Society, Pi Alpha Alpha is available to public administration majors and holds workshops and conferences to help you network with alumni and local practitioners.
A Small Program in Which Faculty are Familiar with Students
Because our major is relatively small, students who want public sector careers grow familiar with one another and the faculty. This improves the ability for students to network with one another, and allows the faculty to understand student needs and interests. These benefits, coupled with the program's ties to practitioners, create a strong learning environment and a practical edge that helps students leave the program and begin successful and fulfilling careers in public service.
Typically, senior leadership positions in the public and nonprofit sectors eventually require the Masters of Public Administration (M.P.A.) degree, which is offered by the Division of Politics, Administration & Justice. Most, but not all M.P.A. students are mid-career people with already-established careers in government or nonprofit organizations. Either directly following the B.A., or later, after a public sector career is underway, students with the B.A. in Public Administration will be especially well-equipped to take on this further, capstone work.