School of Public, Nonprofit and Health Administration

Public & Nonprofit Administration Major

The baccalaureate program provides professional orientation and career specialization along with a sound liberal arts foundation. It provides students with the skills and knowledge necessary for success in public and nonprofit organizations. The curriculum emphasizes general public administration knowledge but also allows students to concentrate in selected specialties.

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Why Study Public Administration at Grand Valley?

There are many good reasons to choose a public and nonprofit administration degree at Grand Valley, including:
  • The major offers small classes sizes. In 2012-13, the median undergraduate PA class size was 20-24 students.
  • Classes are offered both day and evenings and on both the Allendale and Pew campuses. Some courses are also offered in Holland and Muskegon.
  • The Steelcase Library’s Johnson Collection on Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership, with over 4,000 items, is one of the most comprehensive collections in the country in the areas of philanthropy, volunteerism, service learning, and nonprofit management. 
  • Another unique research resource is The Johnson Center’s Philanthropy Archives, which includes organizational records, speeches, community foundation annual reports, youth philanthropy program materials, field notes, and other primary sources.


Both freshmen and transfer students who are admitted to Grand Valley are eligible for admission to the program. Students interested in public and nonprofit administration should seek the advice in the program, especially when choosing courses to fit various needs and interests.

Student and Graduate Profile

Demographics of graduates who majored in PNA, at time of graduation, August 2002 to April 2012

  • Total graduates: 446
  • Age under 25: 75% 
  • Age 25-29: 12%
  • Age 30-39: 8%
  • Age 40+: 4%
  • Female: 68%
  • Male: 32%
  • White: 70%
  • African-American/Black: 18%
  • Hispanic: 4%
  • Asian: 3%
  • Mixed-race: 1%
  • Foreign citizen: 0.4%

Demographics of PNA majors, Winter 2013

  • Total students: 157
  • Age under 25: 82% 
  • Age 25-29: 8%
  • Age 30-39: 6%
  • Age 40+: 3%
  • Female: 73%
  • Male: 27%
  • White: 66%
  • African-American/Black: 21%
  • Hispanic: 6%
  • Asian: 4%
  • Mixed-race: 2%
  • Part-time: 83%
  • Full-time: 17%
  • Michigander: 94%
  • Out-of-state: 5%
  • Foreign: 0.6%

Tuition and Financial Aid

Please see the following information:

Degree Requirements

The public and nonprofit administration major consists of 36 credit hours.


The prerequisite for the public and nonprofit administration major is Political Science 102 - American Government and Politics. This course does not count toward the degree program's 36 credit hours.

Core Courses

Majors must complete 24 credit hours of core courses by taking all of the following:

  • PA 270 - Public and Nonprofit Administration
  • PA 307 - Local Politics and Administration
  • PA 360 - Voluntarism and the Nonprofit Sector
  • PA 375 - Public Budgeting and Finance Administration
  • PA 376 - Personnel Policy and Administration
  • PA 420 - Organization Theory and Dynamics
  • PA 490 - Public Administration Internship
  • PA 495 - Community Analysis (Capstone)


Majors must also complete 3 credit hours of elective by taking one of the following:

  • PA 311 - Public Sector Information Technology (required for information technology specialty)
  • PA 330 - Health Care Financing (required for community health specialty)
  • PA 335 - Grant Writing
  • PA 372 - International and Comparative Public Administration


Majors must select one specialty for nine credit hours. Some specialties also require that a specific PA course be taken as an elective. With an advisor's approval, PA 372, PA 380, PA 490 and PA 491 may count toward any specialty.

Community Development and Planning involves the creation of community visions and transform them into physical and social infrastructures. Community development and planning professionals work in community development corporations, neighborhood associations, and public planning agencies. They are engage in a variety of activities including organizing older city neighborhoods, designing innovative residential communities, preserving historic structures, building affordable housing, and curbing urban sprawl. Preparing for a career in community development and planning includes studying the economic, social, political, physical, and environmental dimensions of communities and developing strong organization, leadership, planning, and management skills. Students desiring recognition for this specialty must complete at least three of the following courses, including GPY 309:

  • GPY 309--City and Regional Planning (Required)
  • GPY 307--Introduction to Computer Mapping/GIS
  • HST 327--Urban History
  • PLS 338--Citizenship
  • SOC 382--Minority and Ethnic Relations
  • PA 390--Leadership Dynamics

Public Personnel Management involves attracting job applicants and volunteers, creating professional development opportunities, managing complex benefit packages, promoting workforce diversity, encouraging ethical behavior, and enhancing staff morale. Preparing for a careers in public personnel management requires development of skills and techniques for selecting candidates, evaluating performance, promoting diversity, developing staff expertise, imbuing agency mission, and fostering ethical conduct. Students desiring recognition for this specialty must complete at least three of the following courses:

  • PHI 325--Ethics in Professional Life
  • PSY 317--Human Relations
  • LIB 331--Person and Profession
  • MGT 334--Labor and Employment Law
  • MGT 355--The Diversified Workforce
  • PA 390--Leadership Dynamics
  • MGT 432--Grievance Administration, Arbitration, and Collective Bargaining

Information Technology involves computer literacy, generating, processing, and locating information, presenting information graphically, documenting and disseminating electronic public data, recognizing organizational opportunities created by the Internet and social media, overseeing the creation and maintenance of computer network and information systems, and managing technical support and training needs

The basics of Information Technology for public and nonprofit administration are taught in PA 311, Public Sector Information Technology. Students who have a serious interest in IT need additional experience with a variety of software applications. Students desiring recognition for this specialty must complete PA 311 and at least three of the following courses:

  • CS 231--Problem Solving Using Spreadsheets
  • CS 233--Microcomputer Database Management
  • CS 238--Desktop Media
  • CS 237--Microcomputer Communications
  • GPY 307--Introduction to Computer Mapping / GIS
  • MGT 368--Management Information Systems
  • GPY 407--Advanced GIS

Local Economic Development professionals bring public, private and nonprofit organizations together to attract, create, retain and expand local businesses. Thus Economic Development involves interacting with public officials like city managers, community planners, civil engineers, zoning commissioners, and fire marshals; with private businesspersons like commercial real estate brokers, multinational corporate executives, sports team owners, small business entrepreneurs, and light manufacturing plant owners; and with community leaders with local development corporations, labor unions, religious organizations and chambers of commerce. Students desiring recognition for this specialty must complete at least three of the following course:

  • HTM 101--Fundamentals (of Hospitality and Tourism)
  • ECO 200--Business Economics
  • BUS 201--Legal Environment for Business
  • CAP 220--Fundamentals of Public Relations
  • MGT 339--Business and Society
  • ECO 435--Urban Economics
  • ECO 436--Real Estate Economics

Budgeting and Finance are closely related sub-fields within public and nonprofit administration. Finance refers to the raising and spending of funds and the management of debt. It encompasses taxation, the bond market, insurance, and portfolio management. Budgeting is the analytical and political process by which moneys are allocated for specific purposes. As such, budgeting is the single most important decision making process in the public sector. Budgeting procedures also serve as a vital mechanism to hold agency personnel accountable for their expenditures. Students desiring recognition for this specialty must complete at least three of the following courses:

  • ECO 210--Principles of Macroeconomics
  • ECO 211--Principles of Microeconomics
  • ACC 212--Principles of Financial Accounting
  • ACC 213--Principles of Managerial Accounting
  • CS 231--Problem Solving Using Spreadsheets
  • FIN 331--Risk and Insurance
  • PA 335--Grant Writing

Community Health is the combined efforts of public health agencies, nonprofit hospitals and clinics, and business employers to promote healthy lifestyles, reduce drug use, teen pregnancy and infant mortality, maintain safe homes and workplaces, prevent the spread of communicable diseases, and assure access to cost-effective medical care. Preparing for a career in Community Health includes study of nonprofit management, public health, health care delivery, occupational safety, and the complexities of health organization finance. Students desiring recognition for this specialty must complete PA 330 and at least three of the following courses:

  • OSH 110--Introduction to Occupational Safety and Health
  • REC 110--Foundations of Recreation and Leisure
  • COM 309--Health Communication Systems
  • HS 220--Health Care Delivery
  • HS 222--Introduction to Public Health
  • PLS 310--Politics and Health Policy
  • HS 340--Health Care Management
  • MKT 350--Marketing Management

Degree Cognates

Majors must choose between a B.A. degree and a B.S. degree.

  • Majors seeking a B.A. degree must demonstrate third-semester proficiency in a foreign language.
  • Majors seeking a B.S. degree must complete the cognate sequence:
    1. STA 215 - Introductory Applied Statistics
    2. PA 300 - Research Methods in Public Administration
    3. PA 449 - Policy Research and Evaluation

Employment Outlook

Please see the following information:


Please see the following information:



Jamon Alexander, BS '05, is currently annual fund director at YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids..

Amanda Beyer, BS '09, went on for her MPA and is currently TANF support services coordinator for Metro Detroit with Refugee Services of Lutheran Social Services of Michigan.

James Bruckbauer, BS '07, is currently a policy specialist with the Michigan Land Use Institute in Traverse City.

Marlene A. Corrado, BA '09, went on for her MPA and is currently assistant to the president at the National Center for Family Philanthropy.

Andy Crosby, BA '09, went on for his MPA and is currently a doctoral student at the University of Illinois - Chicago.

Donald Curry, BS '11 is currently a planning assistant at the City of Grand Rapids Economic Development Office.

Chris Gale, BA '12, is currently manager of literacy initiatives at Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia and is pursuing his masters at Villanova University.

Cory Jackson, BS '12, is currently youth program director at YMCA of Western North Carolina in Asheville, North Carolina

Bunmi Parks, BS '08, went on for her MPA and is currently human resources representative at Cascade Engineering.

Tera Qualls, BS '06, went on for her MPA and is currently director of communications and advancement for the College of Community and Public Service and project manager for the Johnson Center for Philanthropy.

Jon Schneider, BS '10, is currently the city manager of Newaygo, Michigan.

Anna Schrotenboer, BS '11, is currently program relations manager at Kids Hope USA.

Emily Walters, BS '11, is currently Marketing and Communications Coordinator, Johnson Center for Philanthropy

Michael Wottreng, BS '10, went on for his MPA and is currently project manager of the medical staff at St. Joseph Mercy, in Ann Arbor.

Jessica Young, BA '11, is a residence coordinator for the Summer Bridge program at the University of Michigan and is pursuing her MSW at Eastern Michigan University.




Page last modified March 14, 2014