Government and Public Service Career Degree Statistics

For years, colleges and universities produced steadily growing numbers of graduates with degrees related to public service professions. Degree completions for majors like criminal justice, education administration and public administration all continued to climb until the past few school years.

The latest federal statistics compiled by Governing suggest the upward trend in numbers of degrees awarded has halted for several public sector fields. With the exceptions of public health and fire prevention degrees, all other top government-related majors reviewed have either plateaued or started to decline in recent years.

Nationally, increases in degree completions for all fields, including those not related to the public sector, have also slowed in recent years. The decline for government-related fields has been somewhat more pronounced, however.

Annual Totals by Degree Field
Corrections Degrees
Criminal Justice Degrees
Education Administration and Supervision Degrees
Fire Prevention Degrees
Library Science Degrees
Political Science and Government Degrees
Public Administration and Public Policy Degrees
Public Health Degrees

 

About the Data

Degree statistics were compiled from data schools report to the National Center for Education Statistics, published in annual Digest of Education Statistics reports. Degrees are categorized using Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) codes. Graduation figures listed for fire prevention, education administration and supervision and public health degrees represent aggregate totals of multiple related degrees. Figures reflect national totals for the vast majority of all institutions. They do not include, however, a small number of schools not eligible to participate in Title IV financial aid programs or non degree-granting institutions.

Public Administration and Public Policy Degree Completions

Numbers of public administration graduates have declined slightly the past two years after steady growth. Totals reported for public policy analysis graduates depict similar trends. 

Year Public Administration Bachelor's Public Administration Master's Public Policy Bachelor's Public Policy Master's
2014-15 3,304 12,813 1,462 2,791
2013-14 3,247 13,252 1413 2960
2012-13 3,240 13,562 1356 2980
2011-12 3,259 12,926 1175 2819
2010-11 2,930 11,957 1226 2679
2009-10 2,796 10,801 963 2476
2008-09 2,548 9,669 994 2163
2007-08 2,587 9,669 876 2163
2006-07 2,582 9,163 887 2019
2005-06 2,567 9,149 820 1838
2004-05 2,630 8,982 799 1865
2003-04 2,515 8,129 808 1658
2002-03 2,394 7,504 760 1366
2001-02 2,318 7,411 704 988
2000-01 2,230 7,293 638 864
SOURCE: Governing compilation of Digest of Education Statistics reports; National Center for Education Statistics

Political Science and Government Degree Completions

Degree completions for general political science and government degrees have fluctuated little over the past decade, but have started to decline more recently.

Year Bachelor's Degrees Master's Degrees
2014-15 34,321 1,803
2013-14 36,258 2,018
2012-13 37,378 2,077
2011-12 38,789 2,226
2010-11 39,123 2,247
2009-10 38,534 2,136
2008-09 38,394 2,051
2007-08 39,369 1,984
2006-07 38,915 1,941
2005-06 38,384 1,907
2004-05 37,198 1,890
2003-04 34,761 1,748
2002-03 32,501 1,570
2001-02 29,354 1,641
2000-01 27,792 1,596
SOURCE: Digest of Education Statistics reports; National Center for Education Statistics

Criminal Justice Degree Completions

Criminal justice degrees are primarily classified as either related to law enforcement administration or safety studies. Degrees awarded for both types have increased sharply over the longer term.

Year Law Enforcement Administration Bachelor's Law enforcement Administration Master's Safety Studies Bachelor's Safety Studies Master's
2014-15 18,817 3,023 31,288 3,027
2013-14 19,363 3,039 31,415 2,869
2012-13 18,849 2,813 30,698 2,938
2011-12 16,435 2,240 28,064 3,641
2010-11 14,940 2,167 25,125 3,192
2009-10 14,574 2,932 23,230 2,028
2008-09 13,224 1,846 22,137 2,024
2007-08 11,028 1,666 23,087 2,059
2006-07 10,592 1,382 22,684 2,061
2005-06 9,015 1,373 21,185 1,827
2004-05 7,771 1,582 18,867 1,562
2003-04 7,228 1,683 17,416 1,370
2002-03 8,424 1,378 14,401 1,068
2001-02 7,485 1,391 14,840 1,195
2000-01 7,282 1,117 14,536 1,054
SOURCE: Governing compilation of Digest of Education Statistics reports; National Center for Education Statistics

Corrections/Correctional Administration Degree Completions

Degree completions for corrections have changed little in recent years.

Year Bachelor's Degrees Master's Degrees
2014-15 592 25
2013-14 601 35
2012-13 590 44
2011-12 712 26
2010-11 587 19
2009-10 521 17
2008-09 540 19
2007-08 504 16
2006-07 585 20
2005-06 553 14
2004-05 573 32
2003-04 591 44
2002-03 577 35
2001-02 602 16
2000-01 617 37
SOURCE: Digest of Education Statistics reports; National Center for Education Statistics

Education Administration and Supervision Degree Completions

Education administration and supervision is a broad category that includes the following degrees: educational leadership and administration, general; administration of special education; adult and continuing education administration; educational, instructional, and curriculum supervision; higher education/higher education administration; community college education; elementary and middle school administration/principalship; secondary school administration/principalship; urban education and leadership; superintendency and educational system administration; educational administration and supervision, other.

Education administration master's degrees have dipped slightly over the past few years.

Year All Bachelor's Degrees All Master's Degrees Higher Education Administration only (Master's)
2014-15 356 24,411 2,780
2013-14 242 26,277 2,712
2012-13 202 26,629 2,578
2011-12 142 27,326 2,315
2010-11 139 28,157 2,053
2009-10 119 29,967 2,410
2008-09 222 27,500 2,065
2007-08 164 25,917 1,888
2006-07 138 24,864 1,541
2005-06 133 23,901 1,056
2004-05 146 22,745 786
2003-04 170 21,343 676
2002-03 66 19,326 608
2001-02 30 17,187 491
2000-01 47 16,033 431
SOURCE: Governing compilation of Digest of Education Statistics reports; National Center for Education Statistics

Public Health Degree Completions

Statistics for public health degrees encompass aggregate totals for several related degrees. They include public health, general; environmental health; health/medical physics; occupational health and industrial hygiene; public health education and promotion; community health and preventive medicine; maternal and child health; international public health/international health; health services administration; behavioral aspects of health; public health, other.

Year Total Public Health Degrees (Bachelor's) Total Public Health Degrees (Master's) Public Health Education and Promotion only (Bachelor's) Public Health Education and Promotion only (Master's)
2014-15 10,592 12,129 2,455 777
2013-14 9,308 11,833 2,493 815
2012-13 7,801 11,088 2,299 853
2011-12 6,203 10,708 1,872 758
2010-11 5,090 9,811 1,632 616
2009-10 4,308 8,935 1,403 569
2008-09 3,671 8,148 1,330 536
2007-08 3,209 7,568 1,228 502
2006-07 2,699 7,198 952 444
2005-06 2,095 6,764 666 479
2004-05 1,734 6,295 498 434
2003-04 1,407 5,946 403 423
2002-03 1,309 4,890 345 377
SOURCE: Governing compilation of Digest of Education Statistics reports; National Center for Education Statistics

Library Science Degree Completions

Numbers of library science master's degree graduates had gradually climbed, but have since decreased each of the past four years.

Year Bachelor's Degrees Master's Degrees
2014-15 99 5,259
2013-14 127 5,839
2012-13 102 6,983
2011-12 95 7,441
2010-11 96 7,727
2009-10 85 7,448
2008-09 78 7,091
2007-08 68 7,162
2006-07 82 6,767
2005-06 76 6,448
2004-05 76 6,213
2003-04 72 6,015
2002-03 99 5,314
2001-02 74 5,113
2000-01 52 4,727
SOURCE: Digest of Education Statistics reports; National Center for Education Statistics

Fire Prevention Degree Completions

Total fire prevention degrees shown here include the following degree classifications: fire prevention and safety technology/technician, fire services administration, fire science/firefighting, fire/arson investigation and prevention and fire protection, other.

Year Bachelor's Degrees Master's Degrees
2014-15 1,448 215
2013-14 1,390 135
2012-13 1,398 86
2011-12 1,118 44
2010-11 1,024 60
2009-10 900 83
2008-09 734 121
2007-08 613 103
2006-07 530 54
2005-06 448 49
2004-05 389 53
2003-04 393 53
2002-03 361 82
SOURCE: Digest of Education Statistics reports; National Center for Education Statistics

Visit Governing U, our an index of public sector management and policy degrees from universities across the country. It provides a single source for browsing offerings from Master of Public Administration (MPA) , the Master of Public Policy (MPP) and the Executive MPA and certificate and other professional programs designed specifically for the education needs of working professionals in public service.