Public Administration Certificate

The online Public Administration Graduate Certificate prepares individuals to strengthen organizations and communities by collaborating to solve complex problems and deliver public value. Regardless of whether you come from the federal, military, private, non-profit or local government sector, you’ll develop or enhance skills for engaging diverse stakeholders in implementing public policy and improving quality of life in a rapidly changing world.  

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With course content emphasizing intergovernmental and cross-sector networks and evidence-informed service innovation, you’ll expand your ability to see beyond your role, develop collaborative solutions and solve issues facing your broader community. Core courses build the knowledge you'll need to guide effective decision making, planning and design thinking, policy analysis, organizational improvement and budgeting to advance your career and help strengthen public service.  

Our online format allows you to build relationships with peers working in local, state, and federal government in addition to nonprofit organizations. You'll grow your educational qualifications and experience while expanding your network and understanding the broader picture of how roles and organizations are interconnected.

Key Takeaways:

  • Graduate Certificate 
  • 15-credits / 5 courses, can be completed in 12-18 months
  • Appropriate for employees working in public or nonprofit organizations, career changers and pre-career students interested in entering the public or nonprofit sectors
  • Gain a critical understanding of public administration within the government and democratic context, including managing stakeholder needs
  • Improve skills in areas of communications, project management and leadership while you gain confidence in analyzing complex problems
Joceline Nahigian

Thanks to the Certificate in Public Administration program, I feel more confident pursuing positions of more responsibility knowing that I can meet the challenge.

Meet Joceline

Career Highlights

Historically, jobs aligned with the government sector have been among the most resilient, and the current industry is experiencing exciting growth. Individuals in the Public Administration field typically enjoy stable careers and the opportunity to give back and make an impact in their communities. 

Individuals who complete the Public Administration certificate are prepared for more advanced roles in their industry.

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SCPS Advantages:

  • Flexible programming: with core courses offered regularly, you can stay on your desired learning journey.
  • One tuition rate: you’ll pay the same tuition whether you reside in Virginia or out-of-state.
  • Expert Faculty: in their industries and in teaching. They understand the demands adult learners need to juggle and structure courses so you can balance your personal and professional life while learning.
  • Synchronous learning opportunities: you’ll join online classes and can ask questions, dig deeper and learn from instructors and classmates.
Tuition & Fees
  • Estimated cost: $629 per credit hour or $9,435 for the entire program. Students pay per course, per semester.
  • Pay the same tuition rate whether you are in-state or out-of-state.
  • This program is not eligible for financial aid but may be covered by your employer’s education benefits program. 
  • You may take advantage of an optional, interest-free semester-based payment plan offered by the University to help spread the cost of eligible charges over monthly payment.
  • Additional fees may apply, including course materials. Tuition rates are adjusted annually.

See tuition details


New and returning students in certificate or degree programs in the School of Continuing and Professional Studies are eligible to apply for the Enslaved Ancestors College Access Scholarship Program

Admission Requirements & Deadlines


  • To begin in the fall (August): application must be submitted by July 1
  • To begin in the spring (January): application must be submitted by November 1
  • To begin in the summer (May): application must be submitted by April 1


This is a graduate-level certificate course. Applicants must have an undergraduate degree, but college seniors who have met entry requirements are also eligible to apply.

To apply:

  1. Complete an online application, including:
    1. Submit your unofficial transcripts. Offers of admission are not binding until official transcripts are received and verified.
    2. Application for Virginia In-State Education Privileges to establish residency.


Public Administration Certificate

Student Experience

Learn about the annual schedule and courses for the Public Administration Certificate.

Required Courses (4)

  • Course schedules and program electives are currently under review in order to increase student options and flexibility.
  • Current and prospective students may contact with questions related to their journey and course schedule. 

Provides students with an overview of the theory and practice of public administration. Covers topics such as the historical development of public administration, public organizational dynamics, public personnel administration, public budgeting, public policy, and ethics. Applies analytical skills using case studies focusing on current issues.


Introduces tools and concepts in performing policy analysis. Focuses on critical thinking skills to synthesize and evaluate theoretical models and policy alternatives. Covers environmental policy, healthcare, welfare, terrorism, immigration, and foreign policy. Examines links between federal, state, and local public policy and public administration.


Familiarizes students with public organization management literature. Covers historically important works in the field, major current schools of thought, and writers in organization theory and behavior. Examines different ways to view organizations.


Exposes students to the theoretical foundations and applied practices of public budgeting and financial management of public organizations. Focuses on the issues of budgeting and finance in a broad sense and specifically as it pertains to public administration.

Elective Courses (1)


Introduces and explores the philosophical and practical issues related to ethical decision making. Emphasizes the analysis of ethical problems and the development of analytical skills and values. Incorporates case studies, journal articles, current events, and debates as practical examples of ethical issues.


Provides an overview of current environmental policies and practices at the federal, state, and local level as well as global environmental issues.  Covers such topics as environmental justice, sustainable development, resiliency; environmental risk, economic environmental issues; and the distributed effects of environmental pollution aross ethnic, racial, income and occupational groups.


Public Administration Certificate

Public Administration FAQ

Find answers to your questions about the Public Administration Certificate.