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Public Administration Program

Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) Degree/Bachelor of Science (B.S.)

Degree in Public Service and Administration 

Minor in Public Service and Administration

Frequently Asked Questions - FAQs

What is the mission of WTAMU’s public service and administration program?

WTAMU’s public service and administration’s mission is to prepare students for public sector and nonprofit careers in the Texas Panhandle, our state, our nation and world.

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What are the goals of the public service and administration program?

The goals of our program stem from our short but comprehensive mission statement.  Our goals are:

  • Prepare innovative leaders by
    • Developing their managerial and analytical skills through a generalist-, practitioner-based program
    • Implementation of an interdisciplinary curriculum that links future employment and career advancement with
      • theory and practice
      • technical with interpersonal skills
  • Work primarily with students interested in the following areas:
    • Uniformed and protective services
      • Current or prior military personnel
      • Firefighters
      • Police officers
      • Emergency managers
    • Justice experts
      • Police officers
      • Court and prison officials
    • State, regional, and local governments
    • State and federal inspection and oversight committees
    • Non-profit organizations at the international, national, state, and regional levels
  • Advancing governance quality in the Texas Panhandle and the state of Texas by
    • Informing regional governments of programs and issues facing us as taxpayers, as Americans and Panhandle citizens
    • Confronting the challenges of justice, public safety, and public service in a free and democratic society within a republican-form of government
    • Fostering democratic discourse among
      • Citizens
      • Policy makers
      • Public sector and nonprofit managers
      • Public service and administration scholars
      • Maintaining intellectual acuity and professional competence

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How have WTAMU and the Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice implemented the mission statement and goals?

Our public service and administration courses are designed to link theories to practice. Theoretical frameworks are created at the beginning of the semester and applied to real-life situations throughout the remainder of each class. Both our face-to-face and online classes incorporate video and audio lectures, discussion forums, case study applications, and peer-to-peer reviews that assist students in thinking “outside of the box.” The application of a theory-to-practice teaching method develops our student’s managerial and analytical skills as a generalist and practitioner in the public and nonprofit sectors of our society.

To meet the area’s practitioner’s need for continued training up to and including a bachelor’s degree, our department offers the Certified Public Managers program (CPM). Our department has partnered with our Continuing Education Division, Texas Tech University, and Texas State University – San Marcos to offer the national CPM certification to practitioners throughout the Panhandle and state. The CPM allows us to meet our goal to advance the quality of governance throughout our state and region while meeting the needs of our non-traditional students who work in a variety of public and nonprofit organizations.

Another effort our department fulfills is its dedication to academic pursuits. We inform citizens and our profession of our attempts to maintain intellectual acuity through our scholarly journal, PB&J: Politics, Bureaucracy, and JusticeRecognized internationally as an academic journal by Ulrich’s and EBSCO Host databases, PB&J confronts the challenges of justice, public safety and public service by fostering democratic discourse. Our students serve as editors who work in partnership with faculty members in public service and administration, criminal justice, and political science. Both our students and the community we serve see how we encourage the discussion of alternatives that are applied in theory and practice in our classrooms.

With financial support provided by community members, The College of Education and Social Sciences has created three endowed professorships to build stronger ties between our department, our program, and the Texas Panhandle. Those professorships are: the Teel Bivins Professor of Political Science, the Teel Bivins Professor of American Politics, and the Honorable Debra McCartt Distinguished Professor of Public ServiceMore information about these distinguished chairs and the WTAMU professors who hold them.

We make every effort to assist our students, both online and face-to-face, to obtain as much public sector experience as possible prior to graduation. We encourage our students to apply for internships and encourage students in the field to seek additional experiences that will enhance their advancement opportunities. With our non-traditional students, we incorporate the students’ “real-world” experiences in every area of our field. Many of them seek advancement opportunities with programs such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) or its equivalent state agency. Our students seek internship opportunities with organizations like: the Red Cross, volunteer fire departments, political internships with area members of Congress and the Texas legislature, Panhandle Regional Planning Commission, the city of Canyon, anti-hunger programs like Snack Pack 4 Kids, and other area governments and nonprofit organizations.

Lastly, our faculty members are involved in professional and regional organizations that provide them the opportunity to practice what they preach about community involvement. All of our faculty members are involved with organizations such as Panhandle Regional Planning Commission, the Amarillo Area Foundation, Snack Pack 4 Kids anti-hunger program, Panhandle Community Services, the American Society for Public Administration, American Political Science Association, Texas City Managers Association, and League of Women Voters

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When was the program created?

WTAMU’s undergraduate public service and administration program was created in the late 1950s by late Professor George Ritter. Directed by Professor Emeritus J. Pat Stephens from 1968 until 1998, our public service and administration graduates have served our region and state in a variety of positions. 

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Where have your graduates worked?

Many WT graduates served as city managers and assistant city managers throughout Texas. Others have served our state in a variety of state-level and academic positions.  Our more recent graduates are continuing the same tradition established by our predecessors over 50 years ago.

Blake Adams is a 2009 WTAMU graduate.  His interest in both law, business, and public administration is evident with his work in our departmental journal, PB&J.  Both cowboy and academic, Adams is currently enrolled at Texas Tech University's law school.

Jonathan Ellis is a 2007 and 2009 of our undergraduate and graduate public administration programs.  His work linking microeconomics to public administration was featured at the 2010 International Public Administration Conference in Canberra, Australia.  Ellis was a frequent contributor to PB&J.  He is a full-time law student at Texas Tech University.

Selden Hale, a 1965 graduate of our department, is one of the nation’s leading criminal attorneys. Director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice from 1992-1993, Hale is responsible for establishing a statewide punishment standards as well as a drug and alcohol treatment program within the state prison system. He was instrumental in advancing the Panhandle’s academic standing throughout Texas and the nation through a community partnership that brought Texas Tech University’s School of Pharmacy to Amarillo.

Karen Logan, a 2012 graduate, was recently accepted into the Master of Public Administration (MPA) program at the University of Southern California (USC).  The program is ranked in the top 10 percent of MPA programs in the United States.

Dr. Travis McBride, also a graduate of our university, was the chairperson of the political science department when our public service and administration program was created in the late 1950s. Dr. McBride served as chairman from 1957 to 1986.

Michael Nino received his master's degree in 2010 interdisciplinary studies combining his interest in sociology and public policy.  Working with WTAMU's outreach programs in downtown Amarillo, Nino also served on the editorial board of the college journal, PB&J.  His publications in a variety of subject and journals.  He co-authored a teacher's guide to coincide with Dr. Vick's book, Drugs and Alcohol in the 21st Century.  Nino is now working toward a Ph.D. in the areas at the University of North Texas.

Joseph Price earned both a 2009 political science undergraduate and 2011 graduate degree in public administration from WTAMU.  Employed with Panhandle Regional Planning Commission's Local Government Division, Joseph is part of a team of local government experts who works with all cities, counties, elected officials, and bureaucrats located within the Texas Panhandle.

Donna Raef, a 2009 graduate with interests in political science, public administration, and education, was the first WTAMU student to win a Fulbright Scholarship

Dr. J.Pat Stephens graduated from WT’s political science undergraduate program. Upon earning his doctorate at the University of Missouri, Stephens returned to WT. He served as first full-time director of the public service and administration program from 1969 until his retirement in 1998. Stephens was elected to six terms a Canyon, Texas city council member and is now a WT Professor Emeritus.

Claudia Stravato graduated from our program with her master’s degree in government in 1973. From 1983 to 1990, Stravato served the state of Texas as its deputy comptroller. She was the chief of staff in the Lieutenant Governor’s Office from 1991 to 1993. Serving 10 years as second-in-command to the legendary Texas politician, Bob Bullock, Stravato later worked as the director of continuing education for physicians prior to returning to Amarillo. Here, she served as director of Planned Parenthood prior to her retirement. Now semi-retired, Stravato is an instructor in our department.

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What are the admission requirements?

Freshmen applicants can file general admission requirements by visiting our website at http://www.wtamu.edu/admissions/apply_freshman.aspx.

Transfer applicants should refer to our website at http://www.wtamu.edu/admissions/apply_transfer.aspx

WTAMU has Transfer Plans available to transfer students from the following colleges: Amarillo College, Clarendon College, Frank Phillips College, Midland College, and South Plains College. These plans outline required courses for an associate’s degree at the community college AND a bachelor’s degree at WT by major program.

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What are the required courses for the public service and public service and administration degree?

For information about a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in this field, please go to our website for an alphabetical listing of all of our degree programs and course requirements: http://www.wtamu.edu/student-support/advising-degree-checklists-2011-2012.aspx

I like the idea of serving my community but I also have interests in other majors. Does public service and administration fit as a minor in my area?

Absolutely!

The public and nonprofit sectors comprise 25 to 33 percent of the total U.S. economy. Anyone majoring in the social sciences, education, business, or the arts will find that minoring in public service and administration and public service will teach them the skills to become administrators in their chosen fields. 

To obtain a minor in public service and public service and administration, a student earns a total of 18 hours in political science, public service, or public service and administration. The requirements are: 

  • POSC 2304 – Introduction to Political Science
  • POSC 2305 – American National Government
  • POSC 2306 – American State and Local Government

Nine hours of 3000- or 4000-level political science courses with a focus on public service and administration

    • POSC 3318 – Federalism and Intergovernmental Relations
    • POSC 3362 – Statistics for the Social Sciences
    • POSC 4307 – Municipal Government
    • POSC 4331 – Administrative Law
    • POSC 4348 – Ethics in Justice and EMA Systems
    • POSC 4350 – Public service and administration
    • POSC 4351 – Public Sector and Nonprofit Marketing
    • POSC 4354 – Public Personnel Administration
    • POSC 4355 – Public Financial Administration
    • POSC 4356 – Principles of Emergency Management
    • POSC 4357 – Public Policy Formulation
    • POSC 4359 – Organizational Theory in the Public Sector
A listing of requirements for a minor in our field can be found at http://www.wtamu.edu/student-support/minor-information-2010-2011.aspx

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Is the program completely online?

The public service and public service and administration program is not completely online. While most of the public sector and public service and administration classes are online, several required courses offered in WT’s College of Business is only offered in-person.

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When can I begin the program?

WTAMU’s Public Service and Administration program allows students to begin classes at the start of any semester.

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Is on-campus residency required?

No.

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Is this program limited only to citizens of Texas?

No.

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Is the program self-paced?

No. Courses begin and end within a semester.

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Am I required to pass a comprehensive examination to graduate?

No.

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Am I required to complete a thesis or comprehensive study?

No.

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How does a student apply to the program?

The application process is easy. It is a three-step process: a) apply, b) send transcripts, and c) establish a degree plan.

First, a student must apply to West Texas A&M University at the state’s universal, online application program at https://www.applytexas.org/adappc/gen/c_start.WBX

Secondly, a student will request official transcripts from all colleges and universities to be sent to our Admissions Office. We do not accept transcripts sent from the student even if the student sends the Admissions Office an unopened, official transcript that was issued to the student.   Please send all transcripts to the following address: Office of Admissions, West Texas A&M University, Box 60907, Canyon, Texas 79016. Any additional questions can be answered by referring to the Admissions website at http://wtamu.edu/admissions/default.aspx. Admission counselors will review your application, transcripts, etc.

If you are accepted to the university, each student will be notified by U.S. Postal Service of their admission to the university. WTAMU identification numbers, college e-mail accounts, and other services will be provided at this time. All official information will be sent to you by either e-mail or by letter. It is imperative that each student rely upon their WTAMU e-mail account for all official communication with their professors, staff, and administrators. Do not use personal e-mail accounts to talk with professors, staff, or administrators.

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For transfer students only

Once you are admitted to the university, each student is required to complete an application for a degree plan. This is an extremely important requirement. An advisor will analyze your transcripts and apply the transfer classes to your degree plan checklist. This application is made directly to the individual’s college located within the university. EMA students make this application through the College of Education and Social Sciences’ website at https://apps.wtamu.edu/forms/degree.php.

Students with less than 30 hours of credit are advised by Advising Services. Those with more than 30 hours are advised by Dr. Dwight Vick or another faculty member in our department.

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How is a student advised? 

Students are required to contact their advisor each semester and discuss the classes they should take in the coming semester. Students are unable to register for classes until they have done this. This process helps to ensure that students are taking the right classes and are progressing toward graduation. 

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What is greenlighting?

Once a student is advised on the courses that can be completed in the upcoming semester, the advisor will approve this student for course registration. This process is known as greenlighting.

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How do I register for classes?

It is the student’s responsibility to register for classes after advising. Students register by entering WTAMU’s website, www.wtamu.edu and clicking the Registration button at the bottom of the main web page. This button connects the student to Buff Advisor where he or she can register for classes. Faculty members do not register students for classes unless  there are unusual, extenuating circumstances or teacher permission is required to register for a specific course. Otherwise, class registration is a student responsibility that occurs after consulting with one’s advisor.

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Will I register after or during orientation?

Most on-campus students attend campus orientation. Most online students cannot for various reasons. Students register for classes after developing a degree plan and talking with their advisor. Registration usually opens about two months prior to the beginning of the upcoming semester. Please contact your advisor to schedule an appointment to discuss your plans by telephone or electronic mail.

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What are the tuition rates?

WTAMU is one of the lowest-cost, public institutions of higher education in Texas. To determine what the cost will be to you, please go to our Cost Calculator at http://apps.wtamu.edu/calculator/.

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Are scholarships available?

Yes. 

There are 10 scholarships that are available to public service and administration students. They are: the John D. And Mary O. Coleman Scholarship, Judge Marvin Jones Scholarship, Lassiter – Looney Scholarship in Political Economics, Travis McBride Political Science Scholarship Fund, Jesse and Grace Osborne Endowment Fund, Retired Professors Scholarship for Criminal Justice and Political Science, Walter L. Shelley Political Science Scholarship, Max and Jean Alice Sherman Public Affairs Scholarship, Claudia D. Stravato Women in Government Scholarship, John Ward Administration Scholarship. For more information about each of these scholarships please go to our website, http://www.wtamu.edu/student-support/scholarships-list-of.aspx#19.

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Does WTAMU accept GI Bill and Hazelwood Scholarships?

Absolutely! We are considered to be one of the nation’s more military-friendly campuses by Military Advanced Education. For more information about this honor, please visit Veterans Services.

For more information about our programs for active military, prior military, and their families, please go to our website at http://www.wtamu.edu/student-support/cs-stu-military-veterans.aspx

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When do I apply for graduation?

Students apply for graduation during the first month of their last semester. To apply students need to fill out a form entitled Application for Graduation and Tuition Rebate. It needs to be submitted to Kathy Lefever, Assistant to the Dean of the College of Education and Social Sciences via e-mail at klefever@wtamu.edu or by fax at 806-651-3602. She can be reached by phone at 806-651-2600.

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How much can I anticipate earning upon graduation?

Public service and administration employment opportunities vary by region and specialty. Public sector jobs are expected to grow at an average to above-average rate through 2014. Entry-level positions range between $25,000 to $45,000 depending upon one’s field of interest and expertise. 

Perhaps most obviously, chief executives of government often hold degrees in public service and administration. As a government executive such as a Governor, Mayor or Township Supervisor, it is one’s responsibility to direct and coordinate the administration of city (or township, county, State, etc.) government in accordance with policies determined by an authorized legislative body. They also appoint department heads and staffs as provided by state laws or local ordinances.  Salary information varies widely depending on the location and policies of the local legislature, as well as the scope of one’s responsibility. However, the average wage reported in 2003 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for Chief Executives in government was $67,230.

There are several other public servant occupations that one can pursue with a degree in public service and administration. The following is a list of some of the more common positions, including information on the average annual salary made by employees in 2008, as reported by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA):

  • City or County Clerks - $49,414
  • City or County Treasurers - $46,020
  • City Managers - $94,992
  • Health Officer - $70,966
  • Human Resources Directors - $78,234
  • Information Services Directors - $83,000
  • Financial Officer - $79,045
  • Fire Chiefs - $79,123
  • Park Superintendents - $71,593
  • Police Chiefs - $54,143

It is important to note that although each of these sectors may possess entry-level positions where a Bachelor’s degree is sufficient requirement, for most executive-level positions (and the salary levels reported here), an advanced degree in public service and administration (or a related field such as Business or Policy) may be necessary.

For more information about employment opportunities, please contact WTAMU's Career Services Center at http://www.wtamu.edu/student-support/cs-home.aspx.

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