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Public administration is the management of men and materials in the accomplishment of the purposes of the state.-Leonard D. White

The right optional is the one which helps you outperform in mains, the one which fetches you maximum marks, the one which comes to your rescue when you are unable to score very well in General Studies, and last but not the least, the one which brings out the best in you. So, it is very important to analyze and check which subject the candidates have an interest in. It is also important to check whether good courses are out there in the market to help students who are completely new to this subject. However, UPSC aspirants are often faced with the dilemma of choosing the right optional subject.

This article is aimed at helping candidates who want to choose Public Administration as their Optional Subject. We shall talk about the subject, the syllabus in detail as well as the scope of this subject in scoring in the Mains paper. This article will also help you to decide why Public Administration as an optional subject can be helpful for your Mains score. Let's get started!

About Public Administration

Public administration, in simple words, refers to the task of implementing government policies. Specifically, it is the planning, organizing, directing, coordinating, and controlling of government operations.

Things to Keep In Mind While Choosing Public Administration As Optional

  1. Interest – When it comes to choosing an optional subject, it is of utmost importance that you have an interest in that subject or have the interest to learn that subject. If you want to know more about Public Administration and want to learn about the subject in-depth, then you should go for it. With interest in the subject, you will be able to score even the highest marks in Optional subject out of all your Mains papers. Also, before choosing an optional subject you should go through the syllabus and previous year's question papers and if you find interest in Public administration then you can go for it.
  2. Background- Aspirants do not require a bachelor's degree in Public Administration to choose it as an Optional. The subject can easily be studied and mastered with proper strategy and guidance, which becomes essential for people with different backgrounds. So, your academic background doesn't act as a hindrance to learning this subject. Further, many of the topics also overlap with your GS syllabus of the civil services examination.
  3. Resources- The availability of study material plays an important role in deciding the right optional for you. For a subject like Public Administration, sufficient study sources are available. But, there can be a lot of confusion regarding the subject even if you are an expert on the subject. This happens because the subject has to be studied from UPSC point of view and an experienced guide from Chahal Academy will be able to guide you through the task of selecting the right books. Also, proper coaching will enable you to understand and learn the right portion of the syllabus of the UPSC optional paper. Experts from Chahal IAS Academy will guide you on how to go about studying for this paper as an optional paper.
  4. Cost-Benefit Analysis- In case you choose any other optional subject, then also, you would have to read a considerable amount of Public Administration related topics especially in GS paper IV and GS Paper-II. If you are left with lesser time, it is safer to opt for this subject. It will reduce your burden and save you time. Even if you do not choose it as an optional subject, you would anyways have to read it for other GS papers for the Mains exam. So, Public Administration as an optional will only boost your studies for both papers. So, the input will almost remain the same, but the output will be bigger.

Reasons to Opt for Public Administrative As Optional

  1. Availability of study materials – The amount of study material available to study Public Administration has no limits. Candidates can easily find material in shops, online (books/videos), and even notes (paid as well as unpaid ones). Choosing this subject as their optional subject would have no dearth of study material and this is what saves time. Most of the time is spent on finding the right books and decide whether those are enough for the entire paper. With easy access to material, students save time and can start with early preparation. Students can find books on online platforms as well.
  2. Consistency- The Public Administration optional is performing consistently well. Also, there is an increase in the no. of students choosing this subject year after year. Moreover, students with this optional are consistently getting top ranks in UPSC. Students who gave their Mains paper with this optional have been satisfied with the outcomes. A consistent trend of students opting for this paper has been noticed.
  3. Overlapping with other papers- The subject overlaps with other GS papers especially, GS paper II and GS Paper IV, and to a great extent with Essay Paper as well. Moreover, preparation for Public Administration also helps a candidate in understanding Indian Polity which again is a major subject in UPSC Prelims GS Paper. UPSC has a concrete syllabus for students to prepare from. But, the purpose of UPSC is to check whether the student is able to study these subjects in coherence with each other. In this society, everything is interlinked. UPSC wants the aspirants to be able to put that into the paper.
  4. Syllabus- The Public Administration optional subject syllabus is relatively shorter when compared to other subjects such as, Geography, History, Political Science, etc. and contains very few core concepts to comprehend. A small syllabus helps you to finish the course on time and leaves ample room for revision. With multiple, revisions, you will be able to ace that paper.
  5. Dynamic nature of the subject- If you are someone who likes to read and then analyze things, this is the best subject as an optional for you. This subject talks about civil society, citizens, delves deeper into public policies, finances, etc. It is an all-rounder subject just like the position that you will be applying for. You do not have to stick to bookish definitions or concrete concepts. You can always put in different views and angles to look at any of the topics of this subject. After all, it is a study of the public/ society in general and if you like to challenge yourself with concepts and issues of the changing state of society, this is the best fit for you.
  6. High Scoring and Success Ratio- Public Administration is relatively easier compared to other optional subjects since the entire paper II is polity-based Question paper. The students can easily score 300+ marks if prepared with a comprehensive and well-planned strategy. So, the ratio of No. of Candidates Recommended per the total No. of Candidates who Appeared with Public Administration as optional is higher. This trend shows that the subject is not a very technical or difficult one to finish. But again, you have to put in that hard work to see results.
  7. Help in Interview- Since UPSC- Civil Services examination recruits candidates for public administration, questions related to this subject are most common and one can always expect to score more if he/she has Public Administration as his/her optional.
  8. Finally, it all comes down to your interest in the subject- It doesn't matter if there are certain pointers above that don't match your criteria for choosing this optional paper. If you have the desire to learn and explore the subject, you should go for it. The above pointers are just for your reference. The most important thing that matters while choosing an optional is the interest to keep learning and discovering the subject until you can finish the syllabus. This interest will lead you to think in terms that probably nobody else thought, thus helping you prepare the best answers with exceptional examples. When this is achieved, there is no way that you cannot score the highest marks.

Is Public Administration A Scoring Subject

Many candidates are opting for Public Administration as their optional based on the success ratio that this subject has to offer. Many candidates have been able to score 300+ in this subject and many have managed to even bag top ranks. However, UPSC does not have a favorite optional subject. So, you do not have to worry about which subject will fetch you the highest marks according to USPC. The only subject that will help you score 300+ is the one that will interest you 100%. So be sure to pick the one that will not end up on your bookshelf before the syllabus is complete. Below is the data of some students who scored well in this optional paper.

Marks of Some Toppers in Public Administration Optional:
Name of the Candidate Year of Passing Total Marks (500) Pub. AD Paper I (250 Marks) Pub. AD Paper II (250 Marks)
Tushar Singla CSE-2015 257 107 140
Aparajita Singh CSE-2017 287 138 149
Ishwar Kumar Kandoo CSE-2017 316 160 156
Nidhi Siwach CSE-2018 290 150 140
Chitra Mishra CSE-2018 300 139 161
Nupur Goel CSE-2019 302 142 160
Pradeep Singh CSE-2019 293 148 145

Optional subject marks play an important role in improving your UPSC-CSE all India ranking. Also, if you have not scored well in GS papers, and if you can score well in optional papers, you can still find your name in UPSC-CSE final list.

Public Administration Optional Coaching Fees:

Sr. Course & Features Fees
1. Online Video Lectures for Both Optional Papers 1 & 2 + Study Material in Soft Copy + Test Series Rs. 30,000/-
2. Online Video Lectures for Both Optional Papers 1 & 2 + Study Material in Soft Copy Rs. 20,000/-

Public Administration Optional Test Series Schedule:

Test No. Test Name Syllabus (Chapters)
1 PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION TEST-01 (SECTIONAL) 1. Administration Theory : Introduction
2. Administrative Thought :
3. Administrative Behaviour :
4. Organisations :
2 PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION TEST-02 (SECTIONAL) 5. Accountability and Control :
6. Administrative Law :
7. Comparative Public Administration :
8. Development Dynamics :
3 PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION TEST-03 (SECTIONAL) 9. Personnel Administration :
10. Public Policy :
11. Techniques of Administrative Improvement :
12. Financial Administration :
4 PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION TEST-04 (SECTIONAL) 1. Evolution of Indian Administration :
2. Philosophical and Constitutional framework of Government :
3. Public Sector Undertakings :
4. Union Government and Administration :
6. State Government and Administration :
7. District Administration since Independence :
8. Civil Services :
9. Financial Management :
6 PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION TEST-06 (SECTIONAL) 10. Administrative Reforms since Independence :
11. Rural Development :
12. Urban Local Government :
13. Law and Order Administration:
14. Significant issues in Indian Administration:
FEE (Inclusive of all taxes): Rs.10000/*- only
Note:The date of Mock Test can be rescheduled on the demand of the aspirants. (POSTPONE, BUT NOT PREPONE)

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Why One Should Join Chahal Academy For Public Administration Optional course?

  1. Detailed coverage of both Public Administration Paper I & II for UPSC mains - We make sure that you are taught from zero level so don't worry about being able to grasp everything in the class. We believe in steady progress rather than a fast pace because we want you to retain all that you learn. If things are done in a haste, they are easily forgotten.
  2. Current Affairs updated teaching for dynamic sections of Public Administration - We make sure that your dynamic portion is covered equally well because you will have to produce holistic answers.
  3. Explanation of the interlinks between Public Administration and GS papers - As a beginner, you might not know how to write to gain marks in the UPSC Mains exam. This paper is very different from your school or college exams. You have to include any aspect that can possibly be linked to any of the subjects that exist. We will explain how to analyze and link relevant topics.
  4. Availability of topic-wise module with coverage of each topic - We have compiled the best study material for you which has been divided topic-wise. We stress on the topic module because it leads to major events fall under one large topic/heading making it easy for students to remember. Our aim always remains to keep finding tricks to help students retain what is being taught. So, guidance from our team will prove to be fruitful as the exam is a tough nut to crack!
  5. Special lecture series on answer writing practice - Also, studying this subject will help you to form answers with a futuristic vision. This means that when you study Public Administration, you understand how the society functions based on policies, laws, etc. With this line of thought, you will be able to think of ways in which the future may/should look like. This helps with answer writing for all the Mains paper because almost all the questions are related to issues in India/world and it is expected of the candidates to write way forwards in almost all of them. As an administrator, you are expected to find solutions to problems. The purpose of the Mains exam is to see whether you have what it takes to analyze situations and find a solution for the future. So, Public Administration teaches you how to deal with the social realities.
  6. Access to the best lecturers anytime and anywhere - Our team prepares video lectures for easy access by students. This has been done to ensure that not a single student who wishes to study Public Administration is left out. People who don't have the time to attend physical classes need such lectures to boost their preparation. You can access these classes from any corner of the world and at any time you find viable.
  7. 150+ hours of Offline/online lectures by Delhi based faculty members - Our Delhi office comprises renowned faculty members who have been teaching Public Administration almost all their life. For offline classes, teachers from Delhi travel back and forth to deliver lectures. We do so because we want you to learn Public Administration from the best teachers. We also invite important members for guest lectures to include variety in teaching. At Chahal, you will get the best learning experience!

Reasons to Join Online Coaching

  • Super Affordable fees:
    Usually, the cost of the Public Administration optional coaching fee is approx. Rs.50,000/- to Rs.75,000/- whereas online coaching costs very less. You can easily compare and see for yourself how you can get the best guidance at a minimal cost. Quality teaching at minimal cost is our aim because we believe that every student deserves the best guidance and a push in the right direction.
  • Your time, Your Place:
    While offline IAS coaching has a fixed schedule, online coaching is flexible. With online coaching, one no longer has to compromise wasting time as online coaching is flexible. Aspirants can save time because the cost and time of travel are zero. Also, the best part of online coaching is that you can access the best lecturers anytime and from anywhere. You are your own boss!
  • Rescheduling:
    One of the biggest advantages of online Public Administration coaching optional coaching is that no lecture or topic will be missed. This is possible because you can record your lectures and watch it only when you have space and time. you can either watch it on your laptop or mobile. Online classes just need a good internet connection and a will to learn
  • Experienced Faculty:
    Our highly accomplished faculty is lauded for redefining the approach to seeing optional subjects as an easy one if one plays with the right strategy. You don't have to worry about your optional once you join us. We will guide you all along your preparation journey and mold you for your optional. Once you join us, you become our responsibility!

Chahal Academy's Specialized Online Course for Public Administration Optional Subject

This course has been specially designed for those who -
  • Are interested in opting for Public Administration as an optional with or without an academic background in Public Administration. Your background hardly matters as we start teaching from the basics. At Chahal Academy, we do not consider some students to be well-read and some as naive. Every student is equal and when they are taught from level zero, they can grasp the events in Public Administration with gradual and continuous progress.
  • Are facing problems in correlating and connecting theories and concepts. Our classes are based on the concept of reading texts in a related manner. Remember that nothing in this world can be learned in isolation. So why should be Public Administration? We practice a comprehensive approach to this subject.
  • Have studied the subject on their own but are facing problems in writing standard answers. If you can read well, it doesn't mean that you can write well. You may understand Public Administration in its entirety but not be able to frame an answer which would reflect what you know. Many students find it difficult to frame structured answers which leads them to score poorly. We make sure our students practice answer writing to an extent that they no longer need a teacher to check and evaluate them. After all, the UPSC examiner will not be lenient while checking your answers. So, you have to put your best foot forward.
  • Are facing challenges to get their basics cleared. Students who find it difficult to grasp concepts at the classroom teaching pace can get in touch with the faculty easily. So, students can get hold of one on one study sessions for certain topics. Teachers are always keen to solve your issues and help you proceed further. Anyways, we at Chahal academy believe in starting with the basics and we do not move ahead without making a strong base for any subject. So, you will start from scratch with us!

Answer Writing Tips for Public Administration:

  • While writing Public Administration optional paper, candidates must keep in mind that their answer for Public Administration should look different from the GS answers. So, your answers should reflect a more well-informed and subject-specialist approach. In other words, your answer should look different from the other GS papers because GS papers test your general understanding of the subject whereas you have to showcase your specialty here.
  • You may add scholarly views, facts & data from surveys in your optional subject to score well. This will show that you have read relevant authors and thinkers. Also, adding domain specific jargon provide variety in your answer that helps your answer stand out amongst the entire lot.
  • Supreme Court and High Court judgments can be cited in the answer wherever necessary.
  • Type of questions based on thinkers; start with books and quotations written by them. A brief life of the thinker can also be added.
  • To add value to the answers and to score well try to interlink the subject with contemporary polity and other GS subjects. The importance of interlinking subjects cannot be stressed enough. UPSC doesn't want you to study Public Administration as a subject only. Its purpose lies in the fact that everything in this world is interrelated and that should reflect in the answers of the candidates.
  • Usually, types of questions asked in Paper I are of the static type and that of Paper-II are of dynamic type. For optional Paper-II, try to interlink your answer with current events as mentioned above.

Syllabus for Public Administration

  1. Introduction:
    • Government strives to have a workforce which reflects gender balance and women candidates are encouraged to apply. Meaning, scope, and significance of Public Administration, Wilson’s vision of Public Administration, Evolution of the discipline, and its present status. New Public Administration, Public Choice approach; Challenges of liberalization, Privatisation, Globalisation; Good Governance: concept and application; New Public Management.
  2. Administrative Thought :
    • Scientific Management and Scientific Management movement; Classical Theory; Weber’s bureaucratic model its critique and post-Weberian Developments; Dynamic Administration (Mary Parker Follett); Human Relations School (Elton Mayo and others); Functions of the Executive (C.I. Barnard); Simon’s decision-making theory; Participative Management (R. Likert, C. Argyris, D. McGregor.)
  3. Administrative Behaviour :
    • Process and techniques of decision-making; Communication; Morale; Motivation Theories content, process and contemporary; Theories of Leadership: Traditional and Modern:
  4. Organizations :
    • Theories systems, contingency; Structure and forms: Ministries and Departments, Corporations, Companies; Boards and Commissions; Ad hoc, and advisory bodies; Headquarters and Field relationships; Regulatory Authorities; Public-Private Partnerships.
  5. Accountability and Control :
    • Concepts of accountability and control; Legislative, Executive and Judicial control over administration; Citizen and Administration; Role of media, interest groups, voluntary organizations; Civil society; Citizen’s Charters; Right to Information; Social audit.
  6. Administrative Law :
    • Meaning, scope, and significance; Dicey on Administrative law; Delegated legislation; Administrative Tribunals.
  7. Comparative Public Administration :
    • Historical and sociological factors affecting administrative systems; Administration and politics in different countries; Current status of Comparative Public Administration; Ecology and administration; Riggsian models and their critique.
  8. Development Dynamics :
    • Concept of development; Changing profile of development administration; ‘Anti-development thesis’; Bureaucracy and development; Strong state versus the market debate; Impact of liberalization on administration in developing countries; Women and development of the self-help group movement.
  9. Personnel Administration :
    • Importance of human resource development; Recruitment, training, career advancement, position classification, discipline, performance appraisal, promotion, pay and service conditions; employer-employee relations, grievance redressal mechanism; Code of conduct; Administrative ethics
  10. Public Policy :
    • Models of policy-making and their critique; Processes of conceptualization, planning, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and review, and their limitations; State theories and public policy formulation.
  11. Techniques of Administrative Improvement :
    • Organization and methods, Work study and work management; e-governance and information technology; Management aid tools like network analysis, MIS, PERT, CPM.
  12. Financial Administration :
    • Monetary and fiscal policies: Public borrowings and public debt Budgets types and forms; Budgetary process; Financial accountability; Accounts and audit.


  1. Evolution of Indian Administration :
    • Kautilya Arthashastra; Mughal administration; Legacy of British rule in politics and administration Indianization of Public services, revenue administration, district administration, local self Government.
  2. Philosophical and Constitutional framework of Government :
    • Salient features and value premises; Constitutionalism; Political culture; Bureaucracy and democracy; Bureaucracy and development.
  3. Public Sector Undertakings :
    • The public sector in modern India; Forms of Public Sector Undertakings; Problems of autonomy, accountability, and control; Impact of liberalization and privatization.
  4. Union Government and Administration :
    • Executive, Parliament, Judiciary-structure, functions, work processes; Recent trends; Intra-governmental relations; Cabinet Secretariat; Prime Minister’s Office; Central Secretariat; Ministries and Departments; Boards; Commissions; Attached offices; Field organizations.
  5. Plans and Priorities :
    • Machinery of planning; Role, composition, and functions of the Planning Commission and the National Development Council; ‘Indicative’ planning; Process of plan formulation at Union and State levels; Constitutional Amendments (1992) and decentralized planning for economic development and social justice.
  6. State Government and Administration :
    • Union-State administrative, legislative and financial relations; Role of the Finance Commission; Governor; Chief Minister; Council of Ministers; Chief Secretary; State Secretariat; Directorates.
  7. District Administration since Independence :
    • Changing role of the Collector; Union-State-local relations; Imperatives of development management and law and order administration; District administration and democratic decentralization.
  8. Civil Services :
    • Constitutional position; Structure, recruitment, training, and capacity building; Good governance initiatives; Code of conduct and discipline; Staff associations; Political rights; Grievance redressal mechanism; Civil service neutrality; Civil service activism.
  9. Financial Management :
    • Budget as a political instrument; Parliamentary control of public expenditure; Role of finance ministry in the monetary and fiscal area; Accounting techniques; Audit; Role of Controller General of Accounts and Comptroller and Auditor General of India.
  10. Administrative Reforms since Independence :
    • Major concerns; Important Committees and Commissions; Reforms in financial management and human resource development; Problems of implementation.
  11. Rural Development :
    • Institutions and agencies since independence; Rural development programs: foci and strategies; Decentralization and Panchayati Raj; 73rd Constitutional amendment.
  12. Urban Local Government :
    • Municipal governance: main features, structures, finance, and problem areas; 74th Constitutional Amendment; Global-local debate; New localism; Development dynamics, politics, and administration with special reference to city management.
  13. Law and Order Administration:
    • British legacy; National Police Commission; Investigative agencies; Role of Central and State Agencies including paramilitary forces in maintenance of law and order and countering insurgency and terrorism; Criminalisation of politics and administration; Police-public relations; Reforms in Police.
  14. Significant issues in Indian Administration:
    • Values in public service; Regulatory Commissions; National Human Rights Commission; Problems of administration in coalition regimes; Citizen administration interface; Corruption and administration; Disaster management.

Recommended Sources:

Paper I
  1. Administrative Thinkers- D. Ravindra Prasad & V.S. Prasad
  2. New Horizons of Public Administration- Mohit Bhattacharya
  3. Public Administration & Public Affairs- Nicholas Henry
  4. Administrative Theories And Management Thought – Sapru
  5. A Dictionary of Public Administration – Maheswari
  6. Public Administration- Fadia and Fadia

Paper II

  1. Public Administration – Laxmikanth
  2. Introduction to the constitution of India – D.D.Basu
  3. Indian Public Administration: Institutions and Issues - Ramesh K. Arora and Rajni Goyal
  4. IGNOU Study Material
  5. Administrative Reforms Commission Reports
  6. Various Reports of NITI AYYOG
  7. IIPA Journals - (Indian Journal Of Public Administration)

Although you can study Public Administration as an optional all by yourself, a proper guidance pays off when you have to sit for the exam. Experts who have been teaching Public Administration almost all their life will teach you in a way that will open doors to understanding new concepts. Many toppers took up this Optional course and they were able to score really high. You can visit our centre and check the type and quality of teaching we impart. You can also attend our mock classes to be sure before enrolling. Also, it really depends on your hard work and dedication towards the subject that makes you score well. Whether or not the subject is scoring, is a different argument.

FAQs Regarding Public Administration Optional:

1. Is Public Administration Good Optional For UPSC Exam?
Many candidates are opting for Public Administration as their optional based on the success ratio that this subject has to offer. Many candidates have been able to score 300+ in this subject and many have managed to even bag top ranks. However, UPSC does not have a favorite optional subject. So, you do not have to worry about which subject will fetch you the highest marks according to USPC. The only subject that will help you score 300+ is the one that will interest you 100%. So be sure to pick the one that will not end up on your bookshelf before the syllabus is complete. Below is the data of some students who scored well in this optional paper.