Are There Different Areas to Study Within Public Administration That Will Help Me Be Better Suited for Specific Jobs or Areas of Government?

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Part of what makes a graduate degree in public administration one of the easiest online master’s degrees available is the breadth of this field that focuses on management roles in government. A lot of different jobs and areas of government fall under the umbrella of public administration, which is why graduate students are often encouraged to pursue a specialization or concentration within their program. Some of the public administration specializations you could consider include health policy administration, public-sector business and finance studies, international aspects of public administration and emergency management. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Health Policy Administration

If you want to use your knowledge of management to help people stay healthy, specializing in health management and policy is a great option. Whether you want to plan and oversee programs in community health clinics or get directly involved in policy development as a health policy analyst or legislator, the courses you take to fulfill a health management concentration will equip you with skills you otherwise might not have.

Besides taking general graduate-level courses in health care administration, you might study federal health insurance policy and the public health care system in your school’s state. A program might introduce you to health information systems and quality of care standards as well as exposing you to the most important problems and legal issues facing the health care field. In the course of your studies, you may have the opportunity to delve into the details of administration in different kinds of organizations, including hospitals, long-term care facilities and managed care facilities.

Although the field of health policy and public administration may sound a lot like the field of public health, there’s a difference. Master’s degree programs in health policy typically emphasize program administration rather than disease patterns and epidemiology.

Business and Finance for the Public Sector

You might equate studies in business and finance with the private sector, but government entities, too, should operate in efficient ways that don’t waste taxpayer dollars. If you have a knack for business and finance but want to make a difference working for the government, look for a Master of Public Administration program with specializations in public sector business administration or public financial management. You can leverage this specialized knowledge to work as a government affairs analyst or budget analyst, help find and manage talent in a human resources role in a government agency or even move into a senior-level leadership role like chief financial officer (CFO).

As with business administration and finance degree programs outside of the field of public administration, you can expect to your coursework in a business administration concentration to be more generalized than that of a financial management concentration. For a specialization in public sector business administration, you might take classes in workforce development policy, partnerships between public and private entities and small business administration as it pertains to state and local governments. Public-sector financial management is more likely to encompass coursework in planning and economic development as well as coursework in public sector finance, including government budgets and spending and tax policy.

The government also contracts or partners with outside, private-sector companies on a regular basis to accomplish its goals. Your knowledge of business and finance can help you better collaborate with organizations outside the government.

International Public Administration

If you’re thinking big with regards to your career aspirations, you might be pursuing a job with a global influence component. A Master of Public Administration degree that emphasizes international management and development can help you get there. Some of the coursework you may take for this concentration include international development administration, practices for sustainable international development, international law, international relations and the international political economy. Students may also learn about matters involving migration and management and intercultural diversity. Some students study abroad to immerse themselves in a setting outside of the United States while acquiring a graduate-level understanding of that location’s political institutions and policy administration.

If you’re interested in working for government entities closer to home, a concentration in local government management could be a better fit for you. You may take classes in urban planning, civic engagement, social policy and local government administration.

Emergency Management

When an emergency occurs, citizens count on their government to step in and lead the way out of the crisis. If you have a calling to be part of this important governmental responsibility, you may benefit from focusing your Master of Public Administration coursework on emergency management. You may study everything from public safety administration and emergency planning and preparedness to crisis communication management and disaster response. Of course, you also need a strong foundation in general public administration, so you should expect to also take classes in local government administration and behavioral strategies for public service.

With a background in emergency management, you could work for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Natural Resources or the Department of Transportation, as well as local and state entities.

Additional Resources

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