Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration

School of Public Affairs


Degree: BA

Classroom Type: Fully Online Online and on campus classes

The Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration prepares you to lead in government agencies, nonprofits and nongovernmental organizations. Explore public service, management of people and resources, program design and evaluation, collaboration and communication across sectors, and ethical decision making.

Application deadlines

Fall: July 31; Spring: December 31; Summer: May 31

Program Details

Interest Categories: Criminology & Law Public Administration & Policy

Campus: CU Denver

Our graduates have a passion for helping people and making the world a better place. The Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration (BAPA), offered by the School of Public Affairs, prepares the next generation of civic-minded leaders to take active roles in organizations that promote the common good, such as local, state, and federal government agencies and nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations. We build on this passion, in concert with your work and life experiences, to encourage and develop learning opportunities where we examine how systems, institutions, communities, and organizations influence social or policy change. Public Administration degrees allow students to engage with communities in building their future. Specifically, we prioritize commitments to public and social issues, develop the capacity for organizations to help individuals reach their goals, and allow you to hone your own skills for leadership, management, collaboration, budgeting, and evaluation. Coursework explores the history and values of public service, while building real-world skills in areas such as managing people and resources, designing and evaluating programs, conducting human resources functions, collaborating with others and across sectors, making ethical decisions and communicating effectively in diverse environments. Students interested in careers in nonprofit organizations may choose to earn a concentration in Nonprofit Management.

All courses are available online, and many are also offered in person on campus. The program provides students with the flexibility to schedule courses around the reality of family and work demands while also engaging both local and fully online students in public service opportunities in their own communities. The BAPA program has been ranked #9 overall by SR Education Group’s 2018 Best and Most Affordable Online Colleges, based upon a mix of #3 for quality and #22 for affordability.

General requirements

To earn a degree, students must satisfy all requirements in each of the areas below, in addition to their individual major program requirements.

Review CU Denver's Undergraduate Academic Policies.

Program requirements

  • The Bachelor's of Arts in Public Administration degree requires 48 credit hours of coursework, 39 of which must be PUAD courses offered by the School of Public Affairs. Up to 9 credit hours of electives outside of PUAD coursework may be applied to major requirements with advisor approval.
  • A maximum of 12 transfer credit hours may be applied to the major.
  • Up to 30 credits of CTE coursework (Police Academy, Emergency Medical Career, and Fire Career) can be transferred as general elective credit.
  • Students must receive a minimum C- grade in each undergraduate course applied to satisfy major degree requirements and must maintain a 2.0 GPA overall in major courses.

Required courses

Students must complete the required courses below, for a total of 39 credit hours. See which courses are being offered next semester. All course descriptions can be found in the Undergraduate Academic Catalog.

  • PUAD 1001 - Introduction to Leadership and Public Service (3 credit hours)
  • PUAD 2002 - Policy and Advocacy (3 credit hours)
  • PUAD 3001 - Financial Management for Public Service (3 credit hours)
  • PUAD 3002 - Program Design, Evaluation, and Decision-Making (3 credit hours)
  • PUAD 3600 - International and Global Organizations (3 credit hours)
  • PUAD 4001 - Ethics in Public Service (3 credit hours)
  • PUAD 4002 - Leading for the Public Good (3 credit hours)
  • PUAD 4003 - Effective Communication for Public Service (3 credit hours)
  • PUAD 4011 - Community Resilience, Climate, and Energy Response (3 credit hours)
  • PUAD 4939 - Public Service Internship*
  • PUAD 4941 - Integrating Professional Public Administration (3 credit hours)
*The internship course, PUAD 4939, is required as one of the electives for the major unless officially waived by the Program Director, in which case a regular elective may substitute. See CU Denver School of Public Affairs Graduation Requirements for more information.

Elective courses

In addition to the required courses, students must complete 9 credit hours of elective courses, which may be taken from other departments with academic advisor approval. All course descriptions can be found in the Undergraduate Academic Catalog.

Public Administration elective courses

  • PUAD 1000 - Public Service Online Success and Career Exploration (3 credit hours)
  • PUAD 3005 - Collaboration Across Sectors (3 credit hours)
  • PUAD 3110 - Seminar in Nonprofit Management (3 credit hours)
  • PUAD 3500 - Managing and Leading in Environmental Organizations (3 credit hours)
  • PUAD 3600 - Managing and Leading in International Development (3 credit hours)
  • PUAD 4006 - Organizational Development (3 credit hours)
  • PUAD 4008 - Current Issues in Public Sector Organizations (3 credit hours)
  • PUAD 4009 - Human Service Organizations (3 credit hours)
  • PUAD 4010 - Public Service in Emergency Management and Homeland Security (3 credit hours)
  • PUAD 4012 - Principles of Emergency Management (3 credit hours)
  • PUAD 4020 - Social Entrepreneurship (3 credit hours)
  • PUAD 4140 - Nonprofit Financial Management (3 credit hours)
  • PUAD 4145 - Philanthropy (3-6 credit hours)
  • PUAD 4160 - Nonprofit Boards and Executive Leadership (3 credit hours)
  • PUAD 4220 - Human Resource Management (3 credit hours)
  • PUAD 4325 - Public Private Partnerships (3 credit hours)
  • PUAD 4440 - Negotiations and Conflict Resolution (3 credit hours)
  • PUAD 4600 - Special Topics in Public Service (3 credit hours)
  • PUAD 4630 - Economic Development (3 credit hours)
  • PUAD 4638 - Colorado Politics, Policy, and Administration (3 credit hours)
  • PUAD 4740 - Sustainable Energy Policy (3 credit hours)
  • PUAD 4995 - Global Study Topics (3 credit hours)

Please consult your advisor for any other PUAD course you are considering as an elective.

Other elective courses

All courses taken from another department that you would like to have counted as an elective must be approved by your advisor. Please contact your advisor directly to discuss any class you may be considering for elective credit that is not listed above.

Areas of Concentration

Students pursuing the Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration may elect to graduate with a concentration in Nonprofit Management. The concentration prepares students for a wide variety of careers in the exciting world of nonprofit organizations. Students learn about the history and context of nonprofit organizations, while gaining practical skills needed to manage and lead in this sector.  

The Nonprofit Management Concentration requires 15 credit hours of courses related to nonprofit management, which will count towards the elective requirement for the Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration degree.

Required Courses:

Students must complete all of the required courses below. All course descriptions can be found in the Undergraduate Academic Catalog.

  • PUAD 3110 - Seminar in Nonprofit Management (3 credit hours)
  • PUAD 4140 - Nonprofit Financial Management (3 credit hours)

Elective Courses:

In addition to the required courses, students must complete three of the courses below:

  • PUAD 3005 - Collaboration Across Sectors (3 credit hours)
  • PUAD 4004 - Building Public and Financial Support for Nonprofit Organizations (3 credit hours)
  • PUAD 4006 - Organizational Development (3 credit hours)
  • PUAD 4007 - Nonprofit HR: Governance, Staff, Volunteer Management (3 credit hours)
  • PUAD 4009 - Human Service Organizations (3 credit hours)
  • PUAD 4020 - Social Entrepreneurship (3 credit hours)
  • PUAD 4145 - Philanthropy (3 credit hours)
  • PUAD 4160 - Nonprofit Boards and Executive Leadership (3 credit hours)
  • PUAD 4600 - Special Topics in Public Service (Study Abroad in East Africa) (3 credit hours)
  • PUAD 4628 - Social Problems and Policies in the Urban Environment (3 credit hours)

Recommended Completion Time:4 Years

Max Transfer Credits:12

Max Credits Per Year:In most cases, students wishing to take more than 18 credit hours per semester (12 in the summer session) must have the overload approved by the dean.

Required Credits for Completion:48

Admission Requirements

View the admissions requirements for the School of Public Affairs.

Learning Objectives

  • Obtain a broad based knowledge of the history, evolution and roles of the government and nonprofit sectors in a market-based economy and democratic society
  • Understand the key elements of public service and the variety of organizations involved in public service activities
  • Develop skills to work productively with others in collaborative environments within and across public service organizations and sectors
  • Develop aptitudes and skills needed for the responsible management of financial resources in public service organizations
  • Understand and/or develop skills needed to design and implement service delivery and other types of programs intended to address public problems
  • Learn to assess public policy and management issues from a multi-disciplinary perspective
  • Develop the skills necessary to analyze information, think critically, and problem solve effectively in a public service environment
  • Gain an appreciation for the issues related to diversity, cultural awareness, and sensitivity to diverse values and differences and develop the aptitudes and skills to promote inclusiveness
  • Gain awareness of the democratic values and ethical concerns applicable to government and nonprofit organizations and develop aptitudes and skills to act ethically
  • Develop effective oral and written communication skills in the context of public service organizations and activities
  • Understand and apply interpersonal and leadership skills through multiple opportunities for exposure to or practice in public service environments