B.A. in Public Administration

Program Overview

In an increasingly complex world, the nation is in need of effective leadership and competence in the administration of public affairs. The growth of all levels of government and public service organizations and their increasing responsibilities in a complex society have led to the need for more capable public administrators.

The undergraduate public administration major is an interdisciplinary program. In addition to the courses taken within the department, students select additional courses in areas as diverse as economics, sociology, social welfare, political science, and psychology.

The primary purpose of the public administration major is to provide knowledge and skills for students who wish to prepare themselves for management careers in government, community agencies, private not-for-profit organizations, planning and consulting firms, and private sector organizations that work in partnership with the public sector.

The School also offers a Minor in Public Administration

This is an Impacted Program 

This is an impacted major at SDSU. To be admitted to the major, students must meet the following criteria:

  • Fulfill the pre-major requirements described in the catalog in effect at the time they declare the premajor
  • Complete 7 required prerequisite courses noted on Major Outline (21 units)
  • Maintain a minimum grad of “C” in all prerequisites.
  • Have a cumulative grade point average of 2.4 or better
  • Complete a minimum of 45 transferable semester units (a minimum of 60 units is required for all transfer applicants)

What can you do with a Public Administration Degree?

public administration: what can you do with a public adminitration degree

Declaring the Major

There are four (4) key requirements to declare the Public Administration major:

  1. Seven (7) required prerequisite courses:
    • ACCTG 201 - Financial Accounting Fundamentals (3 units)
    • ECON 101 - Principles of Economics (3 units)
    • ECON 102 - Principles of Economics (3 units)
    • MIS 180 - Principles of Information Systems (3 units)
    • P A 200 - The Urban Scene (3 units)
    • POL S 102 - Introduction to American/Californian Government and Politics (3 units)
    • STAT - Statistics Course (3 units)
      • Students may choose from any of the following statistics courses to fulfill the three-unit statistics requirement: STAT 119, ARP 201, BIOL 215, CIV E 160, ECON 201, POL S 210, PSY 280, or SOC 201.
  2. Minimum grade of "C" in all prerequisites
  3. Complete a minimum of 45 semester units. (60 units are required for transfer students).
  4. Minimum 2.4 GPA cumulative

At the end of each semester, PA pre-majors will be evaluated by the Office of Advising and Evaluations and automatically declared a PA major if all pre-requisite requirements have been met.

Students who are not automatically declared a PA major, may request major status by completing the “Declaration or Change of Major” form, which may be obtained from the Lobby of PSFA 100 or by visiting arweb.sdsu.edu/es/registrar/changemajor.html

Major Requirements
(36 total Units)


There are two areas of requirements for the CJ Major:

  1. Public Administration Core Requirements
  2. Elective Requirements

A minimum of 36 upper division major units are required.

View and download the Public Administration Undergraduate Program Advising Guide

View and download the Public Administration - (Emphasis in City Planning) Undergraduate Program Advising Guide

Public Administration Core Requirements
(Take all 7 courses - 21 units)

  • P A 301 - Concepts and Issues in Public Administration (3 units)
    • Theory and practice of governmental administration in differing environments, role of administrators in public policy, issues facing administrators, techniques of administration.
  • P A 310 - Management of Urban Government (3 units)
    • PA 312 MAY BE TAKEN IN LIEU OF THIS COURSE
    • Problems of local units of government in the urban environment. Organization and function of local agencies. Emphasis on California.
  • P A 312 - Management of State Governments (3 units)
    • PA 310 MAY BE TAKEN IN LIEU OF THIS COURSE
    • Administrative and constitutional problems of state management in the American federal system. Emphasis on California.
  • P A 330 - Public Personnel Administration (3 units)
    • Analysis of personnel problems. Supervision and management of public employees and public organizations in an age of change.
  • P A 340 - Administrative Behavior (3 units)
    • Social, psychological, and behavioral theories of organization; concepts of administrative leadership; organization and the individual; emphasis on governmental organizations. Not open to students with credit in Psychology 321.
  • P A 450 - Fiscal and Budgetary Policy (3 units)
    • Prerequisite: Public Administration 301. Policies of fiscal administration and budgeting; political implications of the governmental budget process; revenue, debt, and treasury management; the functions of accounting and financial reporting.
  • P A 460 - Administration and Public Policy Development (3 units)
    • Process of formulating public policy with emphasis on the role of public agencies.
  • P A 497 - Investigation and Report (3 units)
    • PA 498 MAY BE TAKEN IN LIEU OF THIS COURSE
    • Analysis of special topics.
  • P A 498 - Internship in Public Administration (2-6 units)
    • PA 497 MAY BE TAKEN IN LIEU OF THIS COURSE
    • Prerequisites: Public Administration 301, 330, 340, 450, all lowerdivision required courses; senior standing, a “B” (3.0) average in the major, and consent of instructor. Students will be assigned to various government agencies and will work under joint supervision of agency heads and the course instructor. Participation in staff and internship conferences. Maximum credit six units.

Public Administration Elective

(Take five courses [15 units]. Three courses [9 units] must be PA specific. Students are encouraged to take two 500 level courses. You may not double-count PA electives if taken as a PA core requirement.)

  • P A 310 - Management of Urban Government (3 units)
    • PA 312 MAY BE TAKEN IN LIEU OF THIS COURSE
    • Problems of local units of government in the urban environment. Organization and function of local agencies. Emphasis on California.
  • P A 312 - Management of State Governments (3 units)
    • PA 310 MAY BE TAKEN IN LIEU OF THIS COURSE
    • Administrative and constitutional problems of state management in the American federal system. Emphasis on California.
  • P A 320 - Introduction to Urban Planning* (3 units)
    • Introduction to community planning: regional, county, and city. Consideration of master plan including its purposes, contents, and method of adoption.
  • P A 341 - Administrative Management* (3 units)
    • Areas and problems of administrative research. Management and operations in public organizations including forecasting, resource allocation, planning and administration of programs, preparation of administrative reports. Quantitative models of managerial decision making.
  • P A 350 - Contemporary Urban Issues* (3 units)
    • Focus on urban areas and urbanism from a public policy perspective; course examines and critiques the physical, economic, social and political dimensions of contemporary American cities utilizing a multidisciplinary approach.
  • P A 420 - Methods of Analysis in City Planning* (3 units)
    • Prerequisites: Public Administration 320 and basic statistics course. Methods of primary data collection and analysis of secondary data sources for problem solving in city planning, techniques associated with urban design and urban development.
  • P A 440 - Microcomputer Applications in Criminal Justice and Public Administration (3 units)
    • (Offered only at IVC) Two lectures and three hours of laboratory. Prerequisite: Limited to criminal justice and public administration majors. Operation and use of microcomputer hardware and software in criminal justice. Laboratory instruction focuses on applicability of programs to criminal justice operations.
  • P A 480 - Leadership in the Public Sector (3 units)
    • Prerequisite: Public Administration 301. Leaders as energizing forces for public administration. Analysis of leadership theories and case studies.
  • P A 485 - Planning and Public Policy in U.S. - Mexico Border Region (3 units)
    • Prerequisite: Public Administration 301. City planning, regional, and public policy issues in the binational Mexico-U.S. border region. Policy analysis: macro/regional and micro/urban.
  • P A 496 - Experimental Topics (3 units)
    • Selected topics. May be repeated with new content. See Class Schedule for specific content. Limit of nine units of any combination of 296, 496, 596 courses applicable to a bachelor’s degree.
  • P A 499 - Special Study (1-3 units)
    • Prerequisite: Twelve upper division units in public administration. Individual study. Maximum credit six units.
  • P A 501 - Nonprofit Organizations and Government (3 units)
    • Prerequisites: Public Administration 301 and 460. How nonprofit organizations interact with government institutions, influence and pressure government through policy advocacy and activism, and partner with government in contracting, public service provision, and policymaking.
  • P A 520 - Decision Making in the Urban Community (3 units)
    • Prerequisite: Public Administration 310. Processes of decision making in the management of urban communities.
  • P A 525 - The US City Planning Process (3 units)
    • Prerequisite: Public Administration 320 or graduate standing. Description and critique of traditional city planning process; styles and roles of city planner; city planning values and ethics.
  • P A 530 - Negotiation and Bargaining in the Public Service (3 units)
    • Prerequisite: Public Administration 301. Specific issues such as strategies, the effects of threat, the physical setting, use of a third-party observer and theories of advocacy. Emphasis on analyzing simulations of the bargaining process and developing effective negotiation skills.
  • P A 531 - Governmental Employer-Employee Relations (3 units)
    • Prerequisite: Public Administration 330. Historical development, legal basis, and organizational implications of governmental employer-employee relations; emphasis on California local government.
  • P A 540 - Public Administration Systems Analysis (3 units)
    • Prerequisites: Public Administration 301 and a statistics course. Systems and organization analysis; work standards and units; procedures analysis; administrative planning.
  • P A 571 - Managing Water and Energy Resources (3 units)
    • (Offered only at IVC) Prerequisite: Public Administration 301. Management and economics of water and energy resources, delivery systems, regulatory framework, and renewable resources. Contemporary water and energy management issues.
  • P A 580 - Comparative Public Administration (3 units)
    • Prerequisite: Public Administration 301. Administrative organization and process of selected foreign and American governments. Analysis of the cultural basis of administrative systems.
  • P A 581 - War, the State, and Governance: Global Perspectives (3 units)
    • Prerequisite: Upper division or graduate standing. Recommended: Public Administration 301 with a grade of C (2.0) or better. Defense and security challenges through global perspectives. Budgetary, intelligence, leadership, logistical, military, organizational, policy, political, and strategic challenges and opportunities confronted by government via case studies.
  • P A 582 - War, the State, and Governance: U.S. Perspectives (3 units)
    • Prerequisite: Upper division or graduate standing. Recommended: Public Administration 301 with a grade of C (2.0) or better. Defense and security challenges through U.S. perspectives. Budgetary, intelligence, leadership, logistical, military, organizational, policy, political, and strategic factors confronted by government via case studies.
  • P A 596 - Experimental Topics (1-4 units)
    • Selected current topics in public administration. May be repeated with new content. See Class Schedule for specific content. Limit of nine units of any combination of 296, 496, 596 courses applicable to a bachelor’s degree. Maximum credit six units of 596 applicable to a bachelor’s degree. Credit for 596 and 696 applicable to a master’s degree with approval of the graduate advisor.

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