Public Policy Degree Guide
Learn the origins of public policy, which degrees you should look for if you want to work within public policy, and find specific programs online that are accepting applicants.

What is Public Policy?


Public policy at its roots is the study of the development, implementation, and enforcement of policies that are relevant to the public. This can be relevant to government practices, business, law, health care, or even politics.

If you are considering public policy for your degree program, you should be aware of the various topics that are discussed throughout this degree program, most of which are suitable for increasing your skills in the analysis and application of policies in different settings. Most programs have similar goals, such as teaching the history of public policy and helping students understand how policies are developed and implemented in different geographical areas. During this program, you may be taught to understanding the difficulties that are associated with social cooperation.

Public Policy Degree Guide

Within a Public Policy degree program, you may also be expected to use analytic skills to investigate cultural norms in an effect to develop policies that are suitable and reasonable for the average citizen. Using the existing policies and what you have learned through cultural research, you should gain the skills to effectively make changes and evolve policies to fit societal standards.

Public policy is a subject that can be attributed to many different political, social, and governmental aspects of society.

Online public policy degrees

Online degree programs in public policy are becoming more prominent within the educational community. Over the years, using online platforms for higher education has become more accepted, which has led to more programs from reputable institution. If you are looking for the most convenient option for your bachelors, masters, or even doctoral programs, online degree programs may be the answer for you.

These programs allow students to take courses through virtual class settings. Within these classrooms, students are able to access their study materials, contribute to group discussions and question/answer threads, and take tests or submit homework. Most online degree programs provide the same curriculum as their in-class alternatives, with some even being taught by the same instructors.

Flexibility of scheduling and attending class is also another benefit to online degree programs. Students are given the opportunity to complete course work at their own pace throughout the duration of each course. This is an exceptionally desired benefit for those with full-time careers or families to manage.

Online Bachelor of Public Policy

The online bachelors degree option for public policy is an excellent starting point for new high school graduates or adults that are looking for higher education as a means for a better life. Public policy in a degree program provides students with the knowledge of policy-forming procedures, as well as a basic knowledge of how policies affect businesses and other professional entities.

Online degree programs are a great choice for those that wish to have a flexible collegiate option that allows them to get the most out of their experience without having to sacrifice the time. The bachelors program for public policy online includes around 4 years of instruction, but can be completed sooner at some universities. Most students within this program are responsible for the completion of a general education requirement, which goes alongside all undergraduate specialty programs. While in this program, students will learn the basic policies created for the public domain, as well as the history surrounding their formation. If you are in this program, you may also be expected to understand the different aspects considered when developing policies. Management strategies, financial planning, and ethics are also discussed in length throughout this program. After completion of the bachelors program, students can pursue careers in the field or move forward into graduate-level educational programs.

Online Master of Public Policy

Public policy at the masters level provides a more educated view of policy formation and implementation. Since all of the general education requirements are completed at the bachelors level, masters programs focus on the major specifically. Course projects, group studies, and discussions are typically utilized to test your understanding of the information provided and give you the opportunity to show your skills among your peers.

This program also allows students to choose a specialty, which will change the direction of the curriculum entirely. Specializations such as public health, administration, and global policy allow students to choose a curriculum that is better suited for the career they intend to pursue. Most online masters programs can be completed in 1-2 years and require 36-50 credit hours for graduation.

Online Doctorate in Public Policy

The Doctorate in Public Policy or Ph.D. is the most prestigious program available for interested students. Most online programs require that students have previous completion of a relevant masters program in public policy as well as field experience. All previously acquired degrees must be from accredited universities and applicants must provide official transcripts as well as any graduate test scores.

This program includes a more theoretical approach to public policy development, making it a great option for students that wish to pursue careers in the research, development, and implementation of public policies in society. The completion time for the doctorate program can vary depending on the highest degree obtained prior to entry. Most students find that the program can be completed in 3-4 years on average.

What can you do with a public policy degree?

Having a degree in public policy can introduce you to a wide range of skills that can be applied in many different settings. During these degree programs, you may take courses in economics, law, policy analysis, public service, and statistics. With knowledge in these areas, you could potentially seek out careers working in law, such as law enforcement, judicial careers, or even politics. Most public policy programs also include a deep look into proper management tactics and other implementations of policy within the corporate domain. What this means for you is that there is potential working in higher positions in organizations – working in budgeting, management, or analysis of different sectors. This is a great degree choice for those that wish to gain expertise in policy development and implementation, which can be a skill that is applicable to many different careers throughout the country.

Law

Public policy plays a large role in the development and implementation of new laws. Many law-related positions such as attorneys, law enforcement professionals, and judicial careers can benefit from having an educational background within public policy. If you are interested in any of these fields and wish to play a role in the creation of policies that are vital to a stable society, then public policy may be for you.

Business

Since a lot of the curriculum centers around economics and finance, business careers are also available with a degree in public policy. Budget analysts, management consultants, and even public relations are career options within the business perspective. These careers provide support and insight to companies that are wanting to provide a service that follows the standard policies and procedures required, while still being a public-friendly organization that can sustain financially.

Health Care

The health care field is riddled with various policies and principles for operation. Having an extensive skill in public policy can allow you to work in management or consultant positions for centers that provide health care to the public. Administration specialists, risk management, and human resources departments within hospitals and health care centers are in need of professionals with the skills required to help them conduct business in accordance to the law.

Top Online Schools for Public Policy

  • Oregon State University – Master of Public Policy
  • New England College – Master of Public Policy
  • SUNY Empire State College – Master of Social and Public Policy
  • Northwestern University – Master of Public Policy and Administration
  • American Public University – Master of Public Policy

Coursework to expect

The diverse course load for degrees on public policy try to enhance learner knowledge of the many aspects involved in the development of public policy. Our experts looked into several degree programs in public policy to find common courses that may be taken within each one. Some of the courses are listed below with their descriptions so that you can have a better outlook of what you will be learning throughout this program. Choosing specific concentrations can change the scope of your course work, so researching various specialties can assist you with getting a more specialized look at the courses you may be taking during this educational program.

Public Policy Analysis

Students in this course will explore how individual preferences are converted into specific public policies. Students will also learn how to manage difficult policy-related issues and solve problems related to policy implementation.

Public Administration

This course outlines the basic issues associated with public administration including management, organization, personnel, finance, and policies. Students in this course will learn how to apply policy knowledge to different channels of management from a leadership perspective.

Social Research

Social research provides students with the skills needed to properly use general research methods in a social setting. Research design, data collection, and analysis are covered within this course, as well as uses for research and implementations from a social standpoint.

Microeconomics

This course introduces students to the concepts of microeconomics including supply and demand, individual and business behavior, competition, and welfare economics. Through structure learning, students should gain a better understanding of how economics works from an inside perspective in varying agencies.

Rural Sociology

Students taking this course will be instructed on social change, the principles of society, and rural life from an outside viewpoint. Family living and population changes will also be discussed.

Masters in Public Policy

Most Masters in Public Policy programs allow students to choose a specialty and an application for their degree program. Students that choose to administrative route will often take courses that are related to management and organizational practices in coordination with public policy. Students that choose to take a more analytical route may take courses that are relevant to research and development of public policies, which is more applicable to careers working for the government, non-profit agencies, or with local policy-making entities. Our experts wanted to give you the most helpful information regarding this degree program. The guide below gives some insight on what to expect from masters programs in public policy.

  • Length – 1-2 years on average
  • Credit Hours – 36-50 for most

Typical Admissions Requirements

In order to be admitted into a masters program in public policy, most applicants must have graduated from an accredited undergraduate program, provide official transcripts, and have a minimum GPA of 3.0 on average. The GRE is required by some colleges, so students are encouraged to review the specific requirements of each prospective university prior to appling. Some universities may also require some relevant work experience, especially at schools with a higher enrollment rate.

Top Concentrations at the Masters Level

  • Public Administration
  • Global Policy
  • Public Health
  • Global Health
  • Non-Profit Management

Career Outlook

A degree in public policy can lead in you in many different directions depending on your skills, previous work experience, and degree concentrations. When considering this path for your degree program, you may wish to take into consideration the potential job outlook for the career you have chosen. Public policy is a major program that can be applicable in many different settings.

In relationship to business, public policy is a major component in the planning and development of effective business practices, which is something that all businesses need at some point in time.

How to Translate to a Political Policy Career

Public policy also has a part in political careers as well as careers in policy development. Most local and governmental policies are relevant for the time period, but require adjustment and evolution as the world changes. Professionals in this field are needed to ensure that policies are suitable for the communities in which they are introduced.

Statistically, public policy-related fields have the potential to grow significantly over the next 10 years. Management consultants may see a 14% growth from now until 2024 (BLS; 2015). Careers working as public relations specialists may also see up to a 7% growth, as well as a1 11% increase for environmental specialists (BLS; 2015). This diverse field has many different occupations that have a great outlook in the years ahead.

All Programs

See below for the list of programs. You can filter down by state, accrediting board, or program to find the best program for you.
Programs That May Be Currently Accepting Applicants
Adler University - Master of Public Administration (MPA)
Accredited
Chicago IL
American University - Master of Public Policy
NASPAA Accredited
Washington DC
Arizona State University-Downtown Phoenix - Master of Public Administration (MPA)
Accredited
Phoenix AZ
Brandeis University - Masters Degree in Public Policy
Accredited
Waltham MA
Brigham Young University-Provo - Master of Public Policy
Accredited
Provo UT
Brown University - Master of Public Affairs
Accredited
Providence RI
Carnegie Mellon University - Master of Science in Public Policy and Management
NASPAA Accredited
Pittsburgh PA
Claremont Graduate University - Master of Public Health
Accredited
Claremont CA
College of William and Mary - Master of Public Policy
Accredited
Williamsburg VA
Delaware Valley University - Masters Degree in Public Policy
Accredited
Doylestown PA
NASPAA Accredited
Chicago IL
Drexel University - Masters Degree in Public Policy
Accredited
Philadelphia PA
Duke University - Master of Public Policy
Accredited
Durham NC
Duquesne University - Masters Degree in Public Policy
Accredited
Pittsburgh PA
George Washington University - Master of Public Administration (MPA)
Accredited
Washington DC
Georgetown University - Master in Public Policy
Accredited
Washington DC
Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus - Masters Degree in Public Policy
Accredited
Atlanta GA
Harvard University - Masters Degree in Public Policy
Accredited
Cambridge MA
Jacksonville University - Master of Public Policy
Accredited
Jacksonville FL
Johns Hopkins University - Master of Arts in Public Management
Accredited
Baltimore MD
Liberty University - Master of Arts in Public Policy and Public Administration
Accredited
Lynchburg VA
Accredited
Chicago IL
Marshall University - Master of Public Administration (MPA)
Accredited
Huntington WV
Michigan State University - Master of Public Policy
Accredited
East Lansing MI
Michigan Technological University - Master of Business Administration and MBA
Accredited
Houghton MI
Mills College - Master in Public Policy
Accredited
Oakland CA
Accredited
West Long Branch NJ
National Louis University - Master of Public Policy and Administration Degree
Accredited
Chicago IL
New England College - Masters Degree in Public Policy
Accredited
Henniker NH
New Jersey Institute of Technology - Masters Degree in Public Policy
Accredited
Newark NJ
Northwestern University - Master of Public Policy and Administration
Accredited
Evanston IL
Oregon State University - Master of Public Policy
NASPAA Accredited
Corvallis OR
Pardee RAND Graduate School - Masters Degree in Public Policy
Accredited
Santa Monica CA
Pepperdine University - Master of Public Policy
Accredited
Malibu CA
Princeton University - Master of Public Administration (MPA)
Accredited
Princeton NJ
Accredited
Virginia Beach VA
Rochester Institute of Technology - MS of Public Policy
Accredited
Rochester NY
Rutgers University-New Brunswick - Master of Public Administration (MPA)
Accredited
New Brunswick NJ
Rutgers University-Newark - Master of Public Administration (MPA)
Accredited
Newark NJ
Rutgers University, New Brunswick - Master Of Public Policy
NASPAA Accredited
NJ
Stanford University - Master of Public Policy
Accredited
Stanford CA
Stony Brook University - Master of Arts in Public Policy
Accredited
Stony Brook NY
SUNY at Albany - Masters Degree in Public Policy
Accredited
Albany NY
The George Washington University - Master Of Public Policy
NASPAA Accredited
DC
The New School - Master of Science in Urban Policy Analysis & Management
NASPAA Accredited
NY
The New School - MS in Urban Policy Analysis and Management
NASPAA Accredited
New York NY
The Ohio State University - Master of Arts in Public Policy and Management
NASPAA Accredited
OH
The University of Tennessee-Knoxville - Master of Public Policy and Administration
Accredited
Knoxville TN
The University of Texas at Austin - Masters Degree in Public Policy
NASPAA Accredited
Austin TX
The University of Texas at Dallas - Master of Public Policy
NASPAA Accredited
Richardson TX
Trinity College - Master of Arts in Public Policy
Accredited
Hartford CT
Trinity Washington University - Master of Science in Administration
Accredited
Washington DC
Tufts University - Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning
Accredited
Medford MA
University of California-Berkeley - Master of Public Policy
Accredited
Berkeley CA
University of California-Irvine -
Accredited
Irvine CA
University of California-Los Angeles - Masters Degree in Public Policy
Accredited
Los Angeles CA
University of Chicago - Master of Public Administration (MPA)
Accredited
Chicago IL
University of Denver - Master of Arts Program in International Administration
Accredited
Denver CO
University of Maryland-Baltimore County - Master of Public Policy
Accredited
Baltimore MD
University of Maryland-College Park - Masters Degree in Public Policy
Accredited
College Park MD
University of Maryland, Baltimore County - Master Of Public Policy
NASPAA Accredited
MD
University of Maryland, College Park - Master Of Public Policy
NASPAA Accredited
MD
University of Massachusetts-Amherst - Masters Degree in Public Policy
Accredited
Amherst MA
University of Massachusetts-Boston - Masters Degree in Public Policy
Accredited
Boston MA
Accredited
North Dartmouth MA
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor - Master of Public Policy
Accredited
Ann Arbor MI
University of Michigan-Dearborn - Master of Public Policy
Accredited
Dearborn MI
University of Minnesota - Master Of Public Policy
NASPAA Accredited
MN
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities - Masters Degree in Public Policy
Accredited
Minneapolis MN
University of Nevada-Las Vegas - Master of Arts in Public Policy
Accredited
Las Vegas NV
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill - Master of Public Administration (MPA)
Accredited
Chapel Hill NC
University of Northern Iowa - Master of Public Policy
Accredited
Cedar Falls IA
University of Pennsylvania - Masters Degree in Public Policy
Accredited
Philadelphia PA
University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh Campus - Master of Public Administration (MPA)
Accredited
Pittsburgh PA
University of Rhode Island - Master of Public Policy
Accredited
Kingston RI
University of Southern California - Master of Public Policy
NASPAA Accredited
Los Angeles CA
University of Southern Maine - Master of Public Policy
Accredited
Portland ME
Accredited
Saint Paul MN
University of St Thomas - Master of Public Policy and Administration
Accredited
Houston TX
University of Utah - Master of Public Policy
Accredited
Salt Lake City UT
University of Virginia-Main Campus - Public Administration Graduate Certificate
Accredited
Charlottesville VA
University of Washington-Bothell Campus - Master of Public Administration (MPA)
Accredited
Bothell WA
University of Washington-Seattle Campus - Masters Degree in Public Policy
Accredited
Seattle WA
University of Wisconsin-Madison - Master of Public Affairs
Accredited
Madison WI
Walden University - Master of Public Administration (MPA)
Accredited
Minneapolis MN
Washington State University - Master of Public Affairs
NASPAA Accredited
Pullman WA