Public Administration Concentration

Feb. 1, 1993 — AOS Guidelines: Business, Management and Economics

Public administration combines preparation for administrative responsibility in the public service with the study of the political environment.

The delivery of government services and the concern for the public welfare include:

  • study of organization and management, the nature of the government and political decision making
  • analysis of the public policy process
  • evaluation of the results of government action.

Note: Public administration differs from business administration in that the focus is on the public sector and the dynamics of governmental and bureaucratic processes which impact the administrative role.

The study of public administration involves an appreciation of the tension between political values (e.g., individual rights, representation, advocacy) and administrative values (e.g., ethics, bureaucratic efficiency, political neutrality) and the way in which the process of policy implementation affects the nature of these values.

A student with a concentration in public administration would be expected to develop an understanding of the following areas, which are essential to such a concentration:

  • administrative or management theory
  • American government (national, state, local)
  • public personnel and/or labor relations
  • public budgeting, finance and/or financial administration
  • organizational theory and/or organizational behavior
  • quantitative/research tools (e.g., statistics, computer)
  • and public policy.

While the study of public policy would be expected to include policy concepts, it may well be addressed by using specific policy issues (e.g., environmental, health care, education, civil rights, etc.) for qualitative and quantitative analysis.

For an understanding of the role and function of government bureaucracy in society and the issues and challenges faced by an administrator in such bureaucracy, students are encouraged to include studies in areas such as:

  • economics
  • law (constitutional or administrative)
  • intergovernmental relations
  • governmental accounting
  • history of public administration
  • bureaucracy
  • political parties and interest groups
  • comparative politics
  • international relations
  • public sector ethics.

Public administration has traditionally been studied as a graduate discipline. Students who expect to continue with graduate-level work are advised to investigate graduate-program requirements to minimize duplication of core studies. Their degree programs may benefit from the inclusion of ample supportive studies from other disciplines to broaden their understanding of the political and societal issues which concern and influence the practice of public administration.

Degree programs in public administration may be submitted under the registered area of business, management and economics or under social theory, social structure and change, depending on whether the degree program is constructed to be predominately reflective of administrative aspects or of the political environment in which public administration is practiced.

The general guidelines for the area of study should be consulted for those elements common to all degree programs in that registered area.