Public Administration program

Undergrad major Undergrad minor

Are you interested in how our government works?

Every day new policy decisions are made that change our lives from gun control to K-12 school budgets to mass vaccination plans. Public Administration is the study of how we design and implement public policies such as these. If you want to learn how public policy decisions are made and get involved in this process, public administration might be the right field for you.

A public administration degree offers broad skills and serves as a strong foundation for careers in government, consulting, public policy, business, political communication and the non-profit sector. In the UW-La Crosse Public Administration program, instructors challenge, mentor, advise and support students as they pursue internships, research projects, study abroad, and other hands-on learning opportunities.

Public administration jobs

Many graduates choose career paths associated with the public administration major. Other graduates choose unrelated careers that use skills and experiences developed during their time in college. Keep in mind that some fields will require graduate study or further training. The list below offers a few examples of possible career paths.


  • City manager
  • Campaign manager
  • Congressional or white house aide
  • Contract specialist
  • Educator
  • Election supervisor
  • Environmental activist
  • Foreign services officer
  • Government officer
  • Labor relations specialist
  • Law enforcement officer
  • Lawyer
  • Legislative assistant
  • Lobbyist
  • Paralegal or legal assistant
  • Peace corps officer
  • Policy staff assistant
  • Political consultant
  • Program evaluator
  • Public interest group director
  • Speech or technical writer
  • Urban/ regional planner

What distinguishes UWL's Public Administration program?

Top program nationally

UWL's program has been nationally ranked No. 29 for the Best Affordable Degree for Public Administration by University HQ. The rankings consider a variety of factors such as cost of tuition, admission rate, retention rate, graduation rate, graduating salary, diplomas awarded and more.

Commitment to community involvement

UWL's Department of Political Science and Public Administration places a high value on the Wisconsin Idea, which is the idea that the university's boundaries extend beyond the classroom. The department faculty and students are frequently engaging in outreach and developing projects and other connections that extend into the community.

Student organizations

Students interested in getting involved and exploring interests in political science, public administration, and legal studies, can choose from several department-affiliated student organizations. These include the Political Science and Public Administration Association, Pre-Law Society, College Republicans and College Democrats.

Ample opportunities to participate in undergraduate research

Students find many ways to conduct research within the department such as working jointly with a faculty member on a project, pursuing their own research opportunity, or engaging in original research as part of class. Because of UWL's size and the dedication of faculty in the department, many students are able to engage in research opportunities with faculty mentors.

Internships and study abroad

Students in the department engage in many hands-on methods to learn material such as study abroad and internships. The Political Science & Public Administration Department works closely with Career Services to help students find opportunities for internships and register for internship credit. Students find study abroad opportunities through International Education and Engagement.

Network connects student projects to civic leaders

The UWL Policy Research Network was created to help undergraduates conduct research and prepare reports for civic leaders. The goal of this network is to provide students with valuable, real-world experience and to strengthen ties with civic leaders.

Transferable skills

Political science offers great training for careers in politics, but it also offers foundational skills that can be applied to any career such as quantitative and qualitative analysis, advanced written communication, research methods and critical thinking.

Unique program

The Public Administration program is one of the only undergraduate public administration programs in Wisconsin.

Sample courses

PUB 320 Public Budgeting and Finance An examination of the public budgetary process. Included are studies of the various approaches to taxation, decision-making and policy evaluation. Prerequisite: PUB 210. Offered Fall.

PUB 334 Health Policy An intensive, in-depth analysis of health policies - their development, administration, effects and relationship to the broader political system. The perspectives of the policy maker and public policy analyst are emphasized. Prerequisite: POL 102 or junior standing. Offered Alternate Years.

PUB 338 Environmental Policy An in-depth exploration of environmental politics and policy making beginning with American environmentalism in the 1960s and concluding with global environmental politics in the 21st century. Environmental issues, ethics, institutional problems, philosophical approaches, economic analyses and implementation problems will be studied. Prerequisite: POL 102 or junior standing. Offered Occasionally.

PUB 346 Ethical Decision Making in Government This course familiarizes students with a set of concepts, frameworks, and approaches for reasoning, arguing, and writing about the normative issues that confront public administrators. We will connect concepts from political philosophy and applied ethics - including utility, liberty, justice, rights, and deliberative democracy - to assess real-world challenges facing government administrators. The course also addresses why ethical failures occur by explaining such concepts as administrative evil, lying, blind spots, moral hazard, and how deviancy is justified. Last, students will understand the various ways of combating unethical behavior, to include whistleblowing, inspectors general, and expressing loyal dissent. Prerequisite: PUB 210 or legal studies minor. Offered Annually.

PUB 451 Civic Engagement and the Wisconsin Idea The study of the Wisconsin Idea of Community Service and late twentieth century communitarian and service learning philosophies are examined. The course includes service learning work in non-profit and local governmental agencies as well as the study of the meaning of democracy, citizenship, personal political efficacy, leadership and political culture. Lect. 1, Lab 4. Prerequisite: junior standing. Offered Occasionally.

PUB 453 Nonprofit Organizations The management of nonprofit organizations has become an increasingly important field of study given the importance and role of nonprofit organizations within our society. This course will provide students with a general overview of management practices that are specific to nonprofit organizations. Specifically, this course will examine the scope, dimensions, and roles of nonprofit organizations, particularly those designated by the IRS as 501(c)(3), in order to understand their distinctive characteristics and functions in society. Prerequisite: POL 102 or junior standing. Offered Occasionally.