Public Administration B.A.

Political board room

The B.A. in public administration is designed for students who wish to pursue a career in the public and nonprofit sectors at the national, state and local levels. As a pre-professional program rooted in the liberal arts, the public administration program is designed for students seeking entry-level administrative or management positions or who wish to pursue advanced degrees in a range of policy fields such as public and nonprofit administration, public law, public health and public policy among others, including information technology and security and disaster management. This degree also helps to prepare undergraduates who are seeking careers in private sector corporations such as charitable organizations, universities, hospitals, health insurers, defense contractors, publicly regulated utilities, lobbying and consulting companies.

Rhode Island College also offers the B.A.-to-M.P.A. Program in cooperation with the University of Rhode Island. This program gives Rhode Island College students the opportunity to begin their graduate training in public administration as they complete their undergraduate studies at Rhode Island College. Early advisement is essential for students seeking admission to this program. A student in this cooperative program could earn the Master of Public Administration degree in 15 months of full-time study or pursue the degree on a part-time basis. The M.P.A. prepares students for careers as professional administrators of federal, state and local government agencies and private nonprofit organizations. Students should consult with the director of the undergraduate public administration program no later than the second semester of their junior year. Also visit the URI website​ for more information.

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Interested in Graduate Programs?

Check out the Master of Public Administration program offered by the University of Rhode Island. This graduate degree program is designed to prepare its students for careers as professional administrators of federal, state and local government agencies and private nonprofit organizations.

Program Details

Course Information

Click below for information on course requirements, course descriptions and the Academic Rhode Map, which lists all the courses you will need to complete this program and graduate in a timely fashion.

Course Requirements

Course Descriptions

Academic Rhode Map

Program/Learning Goals

Upon completion of this program, students will have:

  1. 1. Substantial knowledge of current political and governmental structures and processes in the United States.
  2. 2. An understanding of current political and governmental structures and processes outside the United States.
  3. 3. An understanding of influential thinkers and ideas that have shaped democratic values.
  4. 4. An understanding of the difference between descriptive and normative theory as it applies to politics and government.
  5. 5. The ability to recognize and assess evidence that supports or contradicts ideas.
  6. 6. The ability to demonstrate a proficiency in the use technological resources such as the Internet, on-line data, and library-based search engines.
  7. 7. Skill in writing papers with a clear thesis, organization and no distracting grammatical errors.
  8. 8. Applied what they have learned in class through active participation in politics and government through internships or other experiential settings.
  9. 9. Chosen a coherent set of courses within the major under the guidance of an advisor.
  10. 10. Received active guidance in selection of post-baccalaureate opportunities including graduate schools, law schools, a range of governmental services and other employment.

Writing in the Discipline

1. In what ways is writing important to your profession?

Effective written communication is an important skill for the public administration major to acquire. Upon graduation a public administration major may choose graduate school or law school where sound writing is expected. Public administration is a pre-professional program so students often seek governmental and other public sector agency entry-level professional employment where good quality writing is expected and often visible to various audiences such as elected officials, news reporters and the broader public.

2. Which courses are designated as satisfying the Writing in the Discipline (WID) requirement by your department? Why these courses?

POL 301: Foundations of Public Administration is the required WID course for all public administration majors. This course prepares students to fulfill the research-based writing requirements of the public administration major.

3. What forms or genres of writing will students learn and practice in your department’s WID courses? Why these genres?​

The principle form of writing taught in POL 301 is the policy memorandum. POL 301 is taught as a lecture/seminar format with a number of required group collaborative projects and individual assignments, including a 10-page research paper that requires students to demonstrate they can find and effectively use academic literature, professional journals and government reports to answer a researchable question. The research paper also requires students to construct an annotated bibliography that illustrates that they can identify each type of literature. A library guide is available at Adams library for Academic journals, and in class the faculty member provides a list of professional organizations, particularly the American Society of Public Administration (ASPA), where students can access professional journals across the range of public administration subfields. Government reports are available from the rich array of professional associations such as the National Association of State Budget Offices (NASBO) that also has archives of Government Reports on a wide range of topics. Students also are required to create a one page 100-to-200-word executive summary of the 10-page paper. The executive summary is a key document in the public administration discipline because it is the one most likely to be read by policy makers. In sum, in POL 301 students learn to identify and produce the three types of professional writing typical of much writing in the field of public administration (ex., policy memorandum, research paper, executive summary).

4. What kinds of teaching practices will students encounter in your department’s WID courses?

POL 301 socializes students in the public administration major to expect to write more than one draft of papers and to receive faculty feedback following each draft. That feedback focuses on an understanding of the topic (academic context), the paper’s organization, use of evidence, and clear and correct grammar, spelling and similar writing basics. There also are a number of assignments in the class that require group collaborative writing. Students learn to share research and writing responsibilities as they create a PowerPoint presentation, to be accompanied by a brief but collaboratively written memorandum.

5. When they’ve completed your department’s WID requirement, what should students know and be able to do with writing?​

The expected outcome of the public administration major’s WID requirement is that students will gain greater understanding of and practice with the policy memorandum, a key genre of writing in public sector work, as well as the research paper and executive summary. Students will understand when and how to employ academic research, professional studies and cases, and governmental reports to construct the policy memorandum and will learn how to properly cite sources using the American Political Science Association (APSA) reference style.​​​​

Rhode Island College entrance

Program Director

Department of Political Science

The Department of Political Science oversees degree programs in political science, public administration, geography and a certificate program in international nongovernmental organizations.