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What Can I Do With a Master’s in Public Administration and Affairs?

July 18, 2023

Public administration and affairs professionals focus on improving the lives of others by developing and implementing programs that benefit their communities. It’s a critical job in a society that attracts people motivated to help ensure the public is well-served by its agencies.

The online master’s degree in Public Administration and Affairs at Merrimack College is designed to meet the educational needs of those aspiring to a public administration career. The program provides students with a comprehensive understanding of the complex issues facing government and nonprofit organizations and equips them with the skills necessary to lead, manage, and impact communities.

The 100% online program allows working professionals the flexibility they need to earn their degrees and enter or advance in leadership in public administration, public policy, community service, and more. Students typically finish the program in 12 to 18 months. The curriculum aligns around the skills and competencies hiring managers are seeking and is taught by scholar-practitioners with expertise in their fields.

One of the key strengths of this program is its focus on experiential learning. Students can work on real-world projects, collaborate with other professionals in the field, and apply their knowledge to practical challenges. This hands-on approach helps students develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills essential in the public sector.

Skills Students Develop With a Degree in Public Administration and Affairs

The curriculum covers many topics, including public policy analysis, budgeting and financial management, ethical decision-making, and leadership and management in government organizations. Students can specialize in government or public policy.

Students learn leadership and management skills, including strategy development, creating and implementing policies, and managing budgets and resources. They hone their ability to analyze complex issues and develop effective solutions to public problems, including using data and evidence-based research to drive decision-making.

Graduates also acquire advanced communication and collaboration skills essential to working with diverse stakeholders in public policy and projects. A fundamental component of the program explores ethical decision-making and maintaining high standards of integrity and professionalism in the public sector.

Earning a master’s degree in public administration and affairs requires completing four foundational courses and four additional electives for 32 credit hours. Students can also use elective credits to complete a government management or public policy concentration.

The four core courses include Public Administration, Research Methods, Public Budgeting and Financing, and a final Capstone Project. Students also choose from elective courses covering a wide range of topics, including public policy, intercultural communication, human resources, not-for-profit management, immigration policy, cybersecurity, and emergency and disaster management.

Who Should Earn a Degree in Public Administration and Affairs

The master’s degree in public administration and affairs is one of many graduate degree and certificate programs offered online by Merrimack College. Graduates from the program emerge prepared for a public administration career in various government organizations, including federal, state, and local agencies, as well as nonprofit organizations and private consulting firms.

The program typically attracts working professionals in the public or nonprofit sector who want to advance their management careers. Students enjoy the flexibility of earning a degree online, the benefits of small class sizes, and access to a personal success coach.

The Student Training and Education in Public Service (STEPS) website lists careers available with a public administration and affairs degree. Those careers – as well as the latest annual median salary figures for each from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – include:

  • Administrative Services Manager ($99,290)
  • Budget Analyst ($79,940) 
  • Fundraising Manager ($124,450) 
  • Human Resources Manager ($145,750) 
  • Political Scientist ($122,510).