Public Administration, Bachelor

Department of Politics and International Affairs

College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

This degree provides you with knowledge and skills specifically designed for careers in government policy and administration. This degree helps you gain the insights needed to plan and formulate policy as well as manage, organize, and implement operations in the public arena.

Your degree program will focus on organizational governance, finance, and administration. With this specialization, you can find jobs in local, state, or federal government; public service sectors, such as fire and rescue or health care; and non-profit organizations, such as arts or international relief agencies.

  • To receive a bachelor's degree at Northern Arizona University, you must complete at least 120 units of credit that minimally includes a major, the liberal studies requirements, and university requirements as listed below.

    • All of Northern Arizona University's diversity, liberal studies, junior-level writing, and capstone requirements.
    • All requirements for your specific academic plan(s).
    • At least 30 units of upper-division courses, which may include transfer work.
    • At least 30 units of coursework taken through Northern Arizona University, of which at least 18 must be upper-division courses (300-level or above). This requirement is not met by credit-by-exam, retro-credits, transfer coursework, etc.
    • A cumulative grade point average of at least 2.0 on all work attempted at Northern Arizona University.

    The full policy can be viewed here.

In addition to University Requirements:

  • 36 units of major requirements

  • Completion of Science or Language Requirements

  • Up to 9 units of major prefix courses may be used to satisfy Liberal Studies requirements; these same courses may also be used to satisfy major requirements.

  • Elective courses, if needed, to reach an overall total of at least 120 units.

Students may be able to use some courses to meet more than one requirement. Contact your advisor for details.

Minimum Units for Completion 120
Major GPA C
Highest Mathematics Required MAT 114
Foreign Language Optional
Fieldwork Experience/Internship Optional
Some online/blended coursework Required
AZ Transfer Students complete AGEC-A Recommended
Progression Plan Link View Progression Plan

Purpose Statement

The mission of the Public Administration and Justice Studies program is to prepare students to become effective and ethical managers in a variety of public service fields. As with other degrees in the Public Administration and Justice Studies program, the Bachelors (BA) degree focuses on experiential learning that links theory to issues that students are likely to encounter in the workplace. The BA degree allows students to transfer up to 64 credit hours to satisfy the 120 credit hours needed for the degree. Coursework in the BA degree is designed to allow the student to acquire a general knowledge of leadership and management, ethics, and policy issues.

Faculty in the Public Administration and Justice Studies program are experienced practitioners who promote rigorous academic standards and high expectations for student achievement. Rather than teaching students what to think, faculty focus on developing analytical skills in course structures that allow students to be active participants in the education process. The core courses in the BA degree focus on ethics, leadership and management, budgeting, public policy formation, organizational theory, research methods, and written communication skills. Courses offer theoretical perspectives as a foundation from which students can analyze and apply ideas to real-world situations, particularly through the evaluation of case studies.

Graduates of the program will be prepared to work in public, non-profit, and private sector organizations; the degree also serves as a platform for students who wish to pursue graduate degrees. For those students already working in the field, the BA degree expands knowledge and skills, and allows for advancement in their careers. Graduates of the Public Administration and Justice Studies program will have developed abilities to be dynamic and ethical leaders who are prepared to face the challenges of rapidly changing organizational environments. Above all, they will be committed to effectively and competently serving the public good.

Student Learning Outcomes

Understand the importance of leadership in public sector organizations, and have the ability and knowledge to demonstrate and practice leadership concepts and skills learned in the Public Administration program throughout their careers.

  • Incorporate and demonstrate an understanding of leadership concepts
  • Demonstrate an understanding of how leadership concepts and models can be translated into tangible leadership skills that can be utilized in actual situations
Understand the paramount importance of ethics in public sector organizations, and how ethics impacts not only the performance of public agencies but also the perception within which they function.  They will also have the ability and knowledge to demonstrate and practice the ethical concepts and skills learned while in the PADM program.       
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the issues involved in ethical dilemmas faced by public administrators
  • Identify professional standards of conduct to which public administrator practitioners should subscribe
Demonstrate critical thinking by linking theoretical propositions and concepts in PADM course readings to the analysis of problems or situations.
  • Link theoretical propositions and concepts in course readings to the analysis of problems or situation
Describe the budgeting process in the public sector
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the stages of the public sector budget process
  • Demonstrate an understanding of how public budgeting differs at the various levels of government (national, state and local)
Ability to communicate effectively in a professional and academic setting, demonstrating an ability to produce well written (Standard English) documents, befitting of a public sector professional.                   
  • Create papers  that have a clear organization and expression of ideas
  • Create papers  that identify course readings and/or outside sources and relate analysis to these course readings
  • Write in a clear, concise, coherent and correct manner

Liberal Studies Requirement
    • Students with a completed AGEC from Arizona Community Colleges will have met the 35 units of liberal studies requirements.
    • Students with a completed IGETC from a California Community College will have met the 35 units of liberal studies requirements.
Major Requirements

  • Foreign Language or Science Requirement Option (12-16 units)

    Foreign Language Requirement (16 units)
    • You must demonstrate proficiency in a language other than English that is equivalent to four terms of university coursework in the same language. You may satisfy this requirement by taking language courses or by testing out of all or part of it by taking CLEP, or other exams. 

  • OR

  • Science Requirement (12 units)

    • Select from the following:
      • ANT 101, ANT 250
      • GSP 130, GSP 150
      • Courses with Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Sciences, Geology, Mathematics, Nutrition, Physical Science, Physics, Statistics prefixes. Please note that other courses must be approved by the program director.
General Electives
  • Additional coursework is required if after you have met the previously described requirements you have not yet completed a total of 120 units.

    You may take these remaining courses from the following academic disciplines: Business Administration, Communication, Emergency Management, Forestry, Health and Human Services, Justice Studies, Parks and Recreation, Politics and International Affairs, and Project Management, using these courses to pursue your specific interests and goals. We encourage you to consult with your advisor to select courses. (Please note that you may also use prerequisites or transfer credits as electives in the above listed academic disciplines if they were not used to meet major or liberal studies requirements.)
Additional Information
  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also successfully complete. For prerequisite information, click on the course or see your advisor.