New Program Spotlight: Public Administration

DCTC began piloting new course, Intro to Public Administration, in August 2022

The Business Management department at Dakota County Technical College was granted funding from the DCTC Foundation to develop a new Public Administration (PA) certificate program to serve public sector staffing needs in state, county, and city governments due to retirements and shrinking recruitment pools.

Business Management faculty Scott Gunderson, MPNA, Harold Torrence, EdD, and Leonard Axelrod, MPA, JD, consulted with public sector leaders to determine what essential skill sets they are seeking in job candidates. Discussions also focused on the best ways to provide professional development opportunities to their existing employees.

“In August of 2022, DCTC began piloting the new program’s first course, Introduction to Public Administration,” Scott Gunderson reported. “DCTC has assembled an advisory group of leaders in the public administration field to guide our department’s further development of our new PA program.”

Scott added that the PA certificate can be completed in as little as one or two semesters online with some Zoom requirements. “The certificate can be combined with other courses to earn the Technical Management A.A.S. degree.”

More about BUSN 1600: Introduction to Public Administration

BUSN 1600 is a 3-credit introductory course that provides an overview of the field of public administration by focusing on the theoretical and practical knowledge. The aim of this course is to familiarize students with the basic principles, context, environment, organizational structure, and contemporary issues in public administration.

Course objectives

  • Recognize the complexities of government, both state and federal, and the competing interests of the various levels of government
  • Explore, read, examine, discuss, and solve various problems and cases that relate to the functional levels of public administration, including, but not limited to: organizational design, personnel management, fiscal and budgetary aspects; ethics, technology
  • Appreciate the challenges of public administration and political constraints
  • Identify the competing interests of stakeholders, including, but not limited to employees, unions, elected officials, competing department heads
  • Navigate in a diverse and ethical workplace
Learn more…

PA professional perspectives

“Perhaps more than ever, professionally trained and qualified managers in the public sector are needed. The challenges facing cities, counties, and other units of government are many—financial pressures, staffing shortages, polarized constituencies, and the constant requests to do more with less are just a few of the pressing issues of the day. However, the rewards are many—the feeling of helping the greater good, providing services people rely on, and simply improving the daily lives of residents make the challenges of the job worth it.
“The DCTC certificate in Public Administration is going to be a valuable tool to expose students to the satisfaction of a public sector management career. Whether you are in mid-career looking for advancement or an existing student seeking a future path, this program will serve you well.”
Justin Miller
City of Lakeville, Minnesota

“As an HR professional, one of the things I look for in quality job candidates and employees is an eagerness toward continual self-improvement. Those who seek out knowledge, have a willingness to learn, and a curiosity about how things fit into the big picture, tend to stay more engaged in their work. They see things through a broader lens and find practical applications for their new skills and knowledge within their job and organization. When assessing individuals for hire or promotion, I often consider these traits as a sign of their capability.
“In local government, those in senior management positions often have master’s degrees in public administration. Mid-level managers and supervisors tend to have degrees and/or experience more specific to their industry profession. For those individuals that show growth potential, I believe it is wise to invest in their broader education toward understanding the whole. It’s good for both the organization and the individual, and can be instrumental in succession planning.
“Of course, retaining quality staff will only become more critical as time moves on. That is why I truly believe DCTC’s program would be an asset that will propel potential leaders and organizations toward a brighter future.”
Janet Shefchik
Human Resources Manager
City of Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota
Learn more about the new Introduction to Public Administration course and the upcoming Public Administration certificate program by contacting:

Scott Gunderson, MPNA
Business Management Chair and Faculty
Dakota County Technical College

Top Executives

Mayors, city managers, county administrators, and governors are chief executive officers of governments. They usually oversee budgets, programs, and the use of resources.
Mayors and governors must be elected to office, whereas managers and administrators are typically appointed.

What Top Executives Do

Top executives plan strategies and policies to ensure that an organization meets its goals.

Work Environment

Top executives work in nearly every industry, for both small and large organizations. They often have irregular schedules, which may include working evenings and weekends. Travel is common, particularly for chief executives.

How to Become a Top Executive

Top executives typically need at least a bachelor’s degree and considerable work experience to enter the occupation.


The median annual wage for chief executives was $179,520 in May 2021.

The median annual wage for general and operations managers was $97,970 in May 2021.

Job Outlook

Overall employment of top executives is projected to grow 6 percent from 2021 to 2031, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

About 318,100 openings for top executives are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook