Make a Difference in Public Administration and Urban Studies

Have you ever visited a city and been frustrated by the lack of infrastructure, like public transportation or bike lanes? Or wondered at the ineffectiveness of municipal programs or the unavailability of affordable housing? Or wished that your own city were more cohesive, and had a stronger sense of community?

If any of these scenarios sound relatable to you, then you understand the importance of public administration and urban studies.

Put simply, urban studies (which includes majors such as urban administration, urban planning, and urban management) is the field associated with understanding the factors and needs that shape urban environments and learning how to create and maintain safe, functional, and sustainable cities. Public administration, on the other hand, is the study of the design and implementation of public policies and programs. While government officials are the ones who pass laws and allocate funding for programs, public administrators are the ones who make them happen. 

While these disciplines are technically distinct from one another, in reality, there’s a lot of overlap and interconnection between them. Both public administration and urban studies look at how the various components of a city (such as policies, infrastructure, physical environment, and people) interact, and how to optimize city environments to make them more livable. 

As a public administration or urban studies major, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about various aspects of urban development and administration. Your coursework might cover topics such as public policy analysis, emergency management, public financial management, urban governance and planning, community development, social and economic inequities in urban spaces, and more.

The Importance of Diversity in Public Administration and Urban Studies

Diversity in public administration and urban studies is pivotal for fostering inclusive governance and addressing the complex challenges of urban environments. Historically, these fields have grappled with the underrepresentation of Black voices, stemming from systemic barriers such as institutionalized racism and limited access to education and opportunities. This exclusion has perpetuated inequalities and hindered the development of comprehensive solutions to urban issues. However, as more Black students pursue education and careers in these fields, they bring their perspectives and lived experiences that enrich discourse and drive positive change. Increased representation challenges problematic existing power structures, advocates for equitable policies, and fosters greater inclusivity within urban governance.

Black students of public administration and urban studies amplify the voices of marginalized communities and are well positioned to advocate for policy changes that address their needs. By mobilizing their peers and fostering collaboration, Black students play a crucial role in shaping more responsive and culturally competent governance, with the ultimate goal of a more diverse and well-rounded landscape that meets the needs of every population in the city.

Want to be a part of molding cities into stronger and more efficient communities? Get your start in public administration and urban studies today!

Careers in Public Administration and Urban Studies

A degree in public administration or urban studies can prepare you for a rewarding professional life in public service or other sectors. Below are some of the careers that you might consider:  

  • Civic professional (within areas such as housing development, public administration, transportation administration, public health, and more)
  • Politician or government official
  • Policy analyst
  • Political scientist
  • Teacher
  • Program administrator
  • Lobbyist 
  • Urban or regional planner
  • Nonprofit professional
  • Consultant

Want to learn more about public administration and urban studies as a possible major or career path? Have questions about which UNCF colleges and universities offer this program? Looking for help with financing this degree? 

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Tougaloo College Students

How to Prepare for Success

Urban studies and public administration is a diverse field, and as such, individuals who are interested in pursuing either as a major will benefit from a well-rounded education. In particular, the following courses and subjects will likely prove helpful:

  • Government
  • History
  • Social studies
  • Economics and math
  • Communications (English and writing)

UNCF Schools to Consider

Three UNCF-member schools offer degrees in urban studies and affairs, urban planning, urban administration, and urban management:

Additionally, six UNCF-member schools offer degrees in public administration:

Professional Organizations

If you’re thinking about majoring in urban studies or public administration, it may be helpful to familiarize yourself with some of the programs, membership options, and resources offered by professional organizations. Exploring these will also give you a good idea of the scope and professional opportunities the field has to offer. 

Scholarships Available

There’s no better way to start on your path to a successful career in public administration or urban studies than with a solid financial foundation. Fortunately, many scholarships are available through UNCF, including some specifically for public administration and urban studies majors. Keep an eye on the UNCF website for current scholarship opportunities and announcements. 

Search for specific scholarships and view those that are currently accepting applications here! Students should also check with each college or university to see if there are additional scholarships available to study public administration or urban studies.

As you explore your options, be sure to use our guide to applying for scholarships and grants. You can also receive guidance by submitting a major interest form if you are interested in a career in public administration or urban studies. Submit the form on our website to get started. And follow us on UNCF social media channels to receive notifications about our scholarships and member HBCUs. Reach out today!

You can also show your support for students pursuing careers and furthering equity in public administration and urban studies by making a contribution to UNCF member schools. Education is the greatest tool we have in creating a just and equitable society in which economic mobility is available to all. Help us achieve this future by donating today!