Updated on Friday 1 March 2013
International students may be interested in studying for a career in public administration. This career is a very exciting and intellectually demanding one, yet can be very challenging as well. The questions remains, why should an international students study public administration?
Public administration attempts to explain how decisions in government are made as well as administrating projects to carry out those decisions. A public administration degree prepares international students for a career in government or non-profit work. Studying public administration can be a very rewarding experience for anyone looking to give back to their community by solving difficult problems.
US President Woodrow Wilson, one of the great proponents and teachers of public administration, wrote, “It is the object of administrative study to discover, first, what government can properly and successfully do, and, secondly, how it can do these proper things with the utmost possible efficiency and at the least possible cost either of money or of energy.” This is no easy task! Thus, the study of public administration helps students realize the different ways to accomplish these two objectives.
While elected officials are the most visible part of our government, it is the daily government workers, or “bureaucrats,” who do the majority of governmental tasks and functions. Some of these bureaucrats are public administrators and have a difficult job. They have to come up with implementing solutions to the most daring of society’s challenges. They advise elected officials of the strengths and weaknesses of public programs. A public administrator manages public agencies, sets budgets, and creates government policies. Luckily, a public administration degree prepares international students to successfully problem solve and find solutions.
Simply, public administration attempts to decipher how decisions in government are made as well as administrating government projects to carry out those decisions. A diverse background is required for the degree, with classes in public policy, management, sociology, and political theory.
To illustrate the many decisions an administrator must handle, pretend for example, there is an increase of violent crimes affecting a particular neighborhood. Public officials must come up with the most effective and efficient solutions in order to decrease the crimes in the area. How? One idea is to increase the number of police officers in the region, but how many are needed? Where should they be located? As more officers are moved, does this take away from serving residents in other neighborhoods?
Another idea is to develop after-school programs for trouble teenagers. However, where is the money going to come from to do this? How do you entice adults and teenagers alike to participate? How can the police win the trust of the public in those areas? Perhaps, the solution is to advocate increased jail time for repeat offenders, yet challenges exist with this as well. Does punishing a person, rather than trying to rehabilitate them, serve society better?
All these questions are small examples a public administrator must answer to solve a single problem. This is an ongoing endeavor, as government has many problems—from healthcare to technology to finance—to solve in order to create a more perfect society.