Public Administration Vs Political Science

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Public Administration vs Political Science

Public Administration Vs Political Science is an age-old dilemma faced by students who wish to make a career in the political and social domain. While inherently different in nature and purpose of study, both disciplines together form the backbone of Social Sciences. Often, students find it difficult to choose between them as there seems to be too little difference, coupled with vague descriptions provided about the courses online. Hence, with this article, we would try to give you clarity about the courses and what your prospective career would look like after making either choice.

“Political questions are not Administrative questions.” – Woodrow Wilson

What is Political Science?

Aristotle, also known as the father of Political Science defined it as a practical science which focuses on the happiness of citizens. But how do states ensure that people are happy? The most obvious way of doing the same is by following a structured approach in governing the masses. A study of these structures and the overall working of government at national, state and district levels within a country falls under Political Science. Pursuing a full time course in domains will introduce you to different policies across varied time periods along with their after results. This stream is a blend of various other subjects like Economics, History, Sociology and Geography. The scope of courses in Political Science can be divided into – Political Theory, Comparative Politics, Public Administration, International Relations and Public Laws.

What is Public Administration?

It is very clear from the above states paragraph that Public Administration is a subpart of Political Science only. But the functions covered under this particular topic is so vast that it is also studied as an individual discipline in itself. Public Administrations involves operations required to bring in changes or implement of right policies for the betterment of the public. If Political Science suggests the idea, Public Administration makes sure that it is executed well. The operations involved under this stream includes planning, directing, organising and controlling government formulated laws and policies. Some popular topics taught in Public Administration courses include – Good Governance, Political Theory, Public Administration and Society, Working and Functions of the Government, e-Governance, etc.

DisciplinePublic AdministrationPolitical Science
Duration2- 3 years (degree level)2- 3 years (degree level)
Eligibility 10+ 2/Bachelors/Masters from any discipline with 50% or more10+ 2/Bachelors/Masters from any discipline with 50% or more
DescriptionKey features of Public Administration are: Development of Communication
Construction Of New-Liberal States
Good Governance
People’s participation
Environmental Concerns
Welfare to all
Development of the Society
Key Topics of Political Science are
Political Theory
Political Thinkers
Public Administration
Comparative Politics
International Relations
Public Laws
India and the World
Popular CoursesBSc in Public Administration
MA/MSc in Public Administration
MA/MSc in Public Policy
MA/MSc in Public Management
BA in Political Science
MA in Political Science
MPhil in Political Science
PhD in Political Science
Average FeesINR 30,000 to 10,00,000INR 30,000 to 7,00,000
Average SalaryINR 6,28,310 (Post- Masters)INR 4,78,756 (Post- BA)
Job OptionsInternational aid/development worker
Public Administration Consultant
Budget analyst
Tax examiner
Civil Servant
Social Work
NGO worker
Financial Analyst
Political Analyst
Public Policy Analyst
Communications Officer with a government organization
Non-government organizations (NGO’s)
Researcher in private companies
Political Figure
Political representative
Political Writer
Civil Servant
Political Analyst

Public Administration Vs Political Science: Key Differences

To start with, Public Administration and Political Science have a lot in common. Both the courses are socially centred, focusing on the administration and workings of Public Policies and the Government. Students from any stream who have completed their high school education with respectable marks can apply for the courses offered by either field of study. Professionals can often comprehend the type of work in the other discipline, while some courses have so many common subjects that they are almost interchangeable. Nevertheless, here are a few points of discussion regarding Public Administration Vs Political Science:

  • Political Science studies the operations, organisation and history of governments across different countries at all levels. It uses the events from history to understand and evaluate the current political and social position of a state. Public Administration, on the other hand, works upon the policies of the state. It designs, regulates and implements the laws set up in a country while keeping the benefit of the masses at its core.
  • Political Science is a broader Social Science, encompassing the scope of Public Administration. However, Public Administration in itself has grown so much in importance that most educational institutions recognise it as an individual and unique discipline.
  • Students with a background in Political Science generally go for professional pursuits in political analysis and consultancy, while Public Administration students find it easier to pursue professions like Civil Services and Policy Planning.

Wondering which one has a better scope out of these two?
Why don’t you decide it for yourself by reading our blog on
Scope of Political Science and Scope of Public Administration!

Relationship & Similarities

Political Science and Public Administration are both closely associated. In fact, public administration is a subset of Political Science and did not become a separate discipline until 1887. Woodrow Wilson, the father of Public Administration in 1887 acknowledged the need to study public administration from a scientific lens and argued that the two disciplines were similar in the sense that they serve people, yet different in their approaches. Political Science and Public Administration are closely linked; while the former is responsible for making policies, the latter ensures a smooth implementation of policies. Both disciplines study the state, government and its functions to understand and develop effective tools of political management and ensure maximum satisfaction.

While both the studies offer educational degrees at all levels, there is a sharp distinction between the courses offered under Public Administration vs Political Science. Political Science courses are centred towards Political Theory and regulations around the world, Public Administration courses prepare the students to work for public welfare at administrative as well as representative positions. To give you an overview, here are the top courses offered from both disciplines at different levels worldwide:

Public AdministrationPolitical Science
B.Sc in Public AdministrationBA Political Science
Masters of Public AdministrationM.Sc / MA Political Science
Policy EvaluationM.Sc in International Politics
Public Administration (Finance)M.Sc Political Theory
PhD in Public AdministrationPhD Political Science
MA Public Service LeadershipM.Sc Environmental Policy and Regulation
M.Sc International Development: Public Policy and ManagementM.Sc Global Politics

Public Administration Vs Political Science: Top Universities

There are many universities around the world that offer courses in both of these fields of Education. As both Public Administration and Political Science are covered under the domain of Social Sciences, there are many study areas that coincide between the two. As a result, top universities that offer courses in Social Sciences generally top the list for both of these subjects. Here are some of the world-leading universities for Public Administration and Political Science, as per QS World University Rankings:

Public AdministrationPolitical Science
Harvard UniversityHarvard University
University of OxfordPrinceton University
London School of Economics and Political ScienceSciences PO
University of CambridgeUniversity of Oxford
Stanford University London School of Economics and Political Science
University of California, BerkeleyUniversity of Cambridge
The University of TokyoStanford University 
Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyThe Australian National University
Johns Hopkins UniversityYale University
University of YorkThe University of California, Berkeley
Best Colleges for Public Administration in IndiaBest Colleges for Political Science in India
St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai
Christ University, Bangalore
Presidency College, Chennai
Madras Christian College
Loyola College, Chennai
IIT, Kanpur
Presidency College, Kolkata  
Lady Shri Ram College for Women, Delhi.
Xavier’s College, Mumbai
Christ University, Bangalore
Miranda House, Delhi
Presidency College, Chennai
Hindu College, Delhi
Kautilya School of Public Policy
Jindal School of International Affairs
Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI)
Lucknow University

Public Administration vs Political Science: Which is the better optional for UPSC?

Public Administration is the popular choice for an optional in UPSC. This is primarily because the subject is easy to score in and the syllabus is less comprehensive than in political science. Public administration is a part of political science and hence, the latter covers all its subsets making the syllabus lengthier. Another subset under political science that is commonly opted by aspirants is International Relations. Here is the syllabus for public administration and political science for you to compare-

Public Administration Syllabus for UPSCPolitical Science Syllabus for UPSC
Public Administration EvolutionIndian Public AdministrationAdministrative BehaviourAccountability and ControlAdministrative LawPersonnel AdministrationPublic PolicyTechniques of Administrative Financial AdministrationPolitical theory and thinkers Political Ideologies Indian Political Thought Western Political Thought Indian NationalismMaking of Indian ConstitutionComparative PoliticsIndia and the World

Career Scope

While both the disciplines of study offer their own opportunities for higher studies, it would be easier to understand the difference between them on the basis of the field of work they relate to. While Political Science does not offer is strictly related to critiquing and working upon Governmental structures and policies, Public Administration works upon the application of these policies on the ground level. Public Administrators get to work hands-on with the problems faced by the public and ensure there are no problems in the functioning of the system. To help you make the distinction, here are a few career options for students to decide between Public Administration Vs Political Science:

Public AdministrationPolitical Science
Budget AnalystPolicy Analyst
Public Administration ConsultantPublic Relations Specialist
City ManagerLegislative Assistant
Fundraising ManagerIntelligence Analyst
Tax ExaminerPolitical Consultant

“Man is by nature a political animal.” – Aristotle

Hope this article helped you clear the air around Public Administration Vs Political Science. It can be a worrisome task for young students to choose among similar courses on their own, and if you are still confused among the two courses and what they offer, worry not. At Leverage Edu, we have a team of experts to provide you with the best career support guidance. We help you select the course which suits you the best and inform you about all the leading Universities around the world that you should target. What’s more, we offer specialised test prep, as well as aid you through your application and admission process. To avail, all these career utilities, connect with us with a free e-meeting today!

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