On-campus Public Policy and Public Administration Certificate Programs introduce students to public policy, public administration, or a specific area of one such as city management, planning, risk management, or non-profit policy. In a basic graduate-level public administration or policy certificate program, students study the theories, applications, and dynamics that shape public policy or administration and develop an understanding of government agencies, social services, and the process of making policy.
Students may use their certificate to enhance an existing bachelor’s degree or to prepare to pursue a master’s degree. They may apply what they learn to public, private, or nonprofit settings.
Through four to six courses on campus, students engage in an introductory study of public policy, public administration, or a more specific area of the subjects. These courses typically exist within a school’s graduate division and are therefore just as rigorous as courses in a master’s degree program.
Of the four to six courses in a public administration or public policy certificate program, ninety percent typically covers core curriculum and ten percent typically covers elective curriculum. In many graduate-level certificate courses, students read, write papers, participate in class discussions and group projects, and take final exams. Unlike they would in a master’s degree program, students in a public policy or public administration certificate program do not complete a thesis or take a comprehensive exam.
A graduate certificate in public administration or public policy can either stand alone as an enhancement to a bachelor’s degree, or it can initiate a student’s journey toward earning a master’s degree. If you want to eventually pursue a master’s degree, be sure to talk to an advisor to see if your credits will transfer.
When you pursue a graduate certificate in public policy or public administration on campus, you’ll likely do so alongside students in master’s and doctorate degree programs. This environment could allow for a rigorous, advanced exploration of the topics and issues that shape these fields of study today. Many students benefit from engaging in class discussions and projects face-to-face with classmates and professors.
For students who work fulltime in a traditional nine-to-five job, many schools offers on-campus courses on evenings and weekends. This enables students to take the next step in their advanced education without sacrificing their careers or putting them on hold. Best of all, they can do so on campus with a set schedule, in-person learning, and physical access to on-campus resources such as libraries, student organizations, writing labs, and professors’ office hours.
It’s also important to note that while students might opt to pursue their certificate on campus, they might also be able to take a class or two online. Many programs offer their curriculum online and therefore offer students the option of taking classes in both formats.
Public administration and public policy span a broad range of topics that apply to governmental, non-governmental, non-profit, and even corporate settings. As such, public administration and public policy certificate programs could emphasize any one of a large variety of areas. For example, students could earn:
These areas as well as certificates in other subjects all fall within public policy and public administration’s broad umbrella but offer focused study within a more specific area. As you can see, students would gain specialized knowledge by pursuing a certificate in one of these areas.
Certificate programs like these could be great for students who hold a bachelor’s degree in public policy, public administration, or political science (i.e., they already know something about public policy or administration and now want to drill down further for more specific knowledge).
Otherwise, students might opt to pursue a public administration certificate or a public policy certificate that does not emphasize a specific area of either subject. In certificate programs like these, students study public administration or policy broadly, engaging in an exploration of the theories, practices, and other elements that shape either subject.
This option would be great for students who have a bachelor’s degree in a subject other than public administration or public policy. Students who hold a degree in business, sociology, psychology, or virtually any other subject, for example, could use a program like one of these to develop their core knowledge of public administration or public policy.
The curricula in a public administration or public policy certificate program usually reflects the program and the certificate’s focus. To determine what you might learn in any given program, review its core curriculum and options for elective study.
In a certificate in public policy program, students might study:
Study in subjects like these and others is meant to introduce students to the basic components of public policy.
In a certificate in public administration program, students might study:
Study in subjects like these is meant to introduce students to the fundamental components of public administration. Within this realm, students might focus their studies on leadership within public administration. In this case, students might take courses in subjects such as:
Students might also participate in a certificate program that covers both public administration and public policy. In a program like that, students might study:
In any of the types of programs mentioned above, students might study elective subjects that are highly specialized. For example, once they’ve completed their core curriculum, they might opt to study:
These are just some of many options schools may offer students for elective study.
Schools might also help students determine their course of study by offering tracks within a certificate program. For example, they might opt to pursue an economic development track, an ethics and values track, an environmental and energy policy track, a judicial track, or a law enforcement track.
In short, many on-campus public policy and public administration certificate programs offer students a variety of options.
Students might use their certificate to enhance an existing career in public administration or public policy or launch a new one. Some examples of the types of positions students with knowledge in public policy or administration pursue include:
Some potential salaries for professionals with a graduate certificate in public policy or administration are as follows:
Note to Self
With the exception urban planners and political scientists, none of the occupations above require workers to hold more than a bachelor’s degree. This means that adding advanced education to your resume could prove beneficial and set you above the rest. If you decide you want to become an urban planner, political scientist, or other type of professional who must have a master’s degree, you can use your certificate to kick-start your journey toward earning a master’s degree.
Now is a great time to explore your options for public policy and public administration certificate programs. Look at our list of sponsored schools and programs below, and click on hyperlinks and icons for a closer look. On our site, you can learn more about schools and the curricula of various programs. You can also contact schools directly using our onsite form. It’s that easy.
Get started now and launch your journey into advanced education!
i bls.gov/ooh/management/administrative-services-managers.htm | ii bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/urban-and-regional-planners.htm | iii bls.gov/ooh/management/emergency-management-directors.htm | iv bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/political-scientists.htm