Best Online Master's in Public Policy Programs 2021

Best Online Master's in Public Policy Programs 2021

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A master's degree in public policy trains students in policy analysis, public management, and project management, which can apply to many career paths.

Have you ever wanted to learn about how social services programs develop? Then you might want a career in public policy. Public policy encapsulates how government agencies and nonprofits solve real-world problems. If you want to pursue roles in public policy, you can start by earning an online master's in public policy (MPP).

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that public policy and social services graduates earned a median salary of $45,000 in 2018. The COVID-19 crisis has created new obstacles for public policy professionals to solve, meaning that the field is expected to remain in demand.

Top 10 Online Master's in Public Policy Programs 2021

#1 Northwestern University Evanston, IL
#2 American University Washington, DC
#3 Indiana University – Bloomington Bloomington, IN
#4 University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA
#5 University of Missouri – Columbia Columbia, MO
#6 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
#7 Oregon State University Corvallis, OR
#8 Eastern Illinois University Charleston, IL
#9 Regent University Virginia Beach, VA
#10 Norwich University Northfield, VT

Best Online Master’s in Public Policy Programs

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4

University of Pittsburgh 

Pittsburgh, PA Apply Now

About this school

The University of Pittsburgh is a public research school located in western Pennsylvania. Established in 1787 as Pittsburgh Academy, Pitt maintains an urban campus where it provides high-quality education and conducts cutting-edge research in the arts and sciences. Among its many programs of study is a master of public policy and management suitable for working professionals interested in expanding their knowledge of the field.

Pitt offers this 30-credit course of study with training and instruction to advance the careers of degree-seekers working in the public and nonprofit sectors. Most learners can complete this fully online master's in public policy in just 20 months with minimal professional disruption. Enrollees can engage with course material through flexible asynchronous learning modules that facilitate easy access anytime, anywhere.

Learners receive training from the same established faculty that Pitt's Graduate School of Public and International Affairs uses for its on-campus programming. Core course topics include microeconomics, public affairs administration, program evaluation, and policy management. Each enrolled degree-seeker also receives a devoted faculty advisor and full-time enrollment counselor available for assistance by phone, email, or video conference.

Successful applicants must demonstrate increasing levels of leadership and competence in program management, budget and finance, human resource management, and policy formulation or implementation. They must also provide copies of all academic transcripts, a current resume, two letters of recommendation, and a personal statement outlining broad personal and professional goals.

Accreditation

The University of Pittsburgh is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

5

University of Missouri – Columbia 

Columbia, MO Apply Now

About this school

As a public land-grant institution located in Columbia, the University of Missouri champions the values of respect, responsibility, discovery, and excellence. Established in 1839 as the first institution of public higher education west of the Mississippi River, Mizzou boasts more than 300 distinct programs of study in 21 different schools and colleges, including a master of public affairs available online.

Administered by the Harry S. Truman School of Public Affairs, this course of study involves 33 credits achievable in two years or less. Learners can satisfy credit requirements in collaborative governance, public policy strategy, and economic analysis by enrolling in nine-week course sessions delivered completely online. Degree-seekers can access materials and complete assignments through synchronous and asynchronous learning methods that blend self-paced education with collaborative experiences.

All distance learners enjoy reduced, in-state tuition rates, regardless of their location. Graduates of Mizzou's online master's in public policy typically go on to obtain work in public administration, government relations, social services, and other related fields. Potential course topics include public budgeting, group dynamics, grant writing, and organizational leadership.

Degree-seekers interested in this program must satisfy course prerequisites in microeconomics and statistical reasoning before admission. A successful application must include relevant academic transcripts indicating a minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA and evidence of at least three years of professional experience in public affairs or a related discipline. Each applicant must also provide a statement of interest, a resume or CV, and three letters of recommendation.

Accreditation

The University of Missouri is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Its public affairs programs maintain programmatic accreditation from the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA).

6

Liberty University 

Lynchburg, VA Apply Now

About this school

Located in Lynchburg, Virginia, near the banks of the James River, Liberty University offers over 600 programs to more than 100,000 learners every year. Founded in 1971 as a private evangelical institution, Liberty promotes high-quality educational experiences from a distinctly Christian point of view. For the degree-seeker interested in a career in public administration, government, or politics, Liberty grants a master of arts in public policy.

Liberty's fully online course of study requires 36 credits that many learners can complete in as little as 12-18 months. This highly customizable online master's in public policy offers several specializations in international affairs, campaigns and elections, Middle East affairs, policy studies, public administration, and leadership. All program courses are delivered in 8-week course modules through asynchronous learning formats.

Liberty's flexible virtual classrooms allow each learner to access course materials at a time and place convenient for them. The school also boasts a broad and generous transfer policy. Learners can bring in up to 50% of required credits, significantly reducing their completion time. Typical course offerings include economics and public policy, political philosophy, state and local leadership, and fundamentals of public administration.

An eligible applicant must hold a relevant bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution with a 3.0 minimum cumulative GPA. They must also pay a non-refundable application fee and provide official copies of all academic transcripts. Demonstration of English language proficiency may also be required.

Accreditation

Liberty University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

7

Oregon State University 

Corvallis, OR Apply Now

About this school

Initially founded in 1868 as a public land-grant institution, Oregon State University now stands as the largest higher education outlet in the Beaver State, administering more than 200 programs of study in 12 different schools and colleges. Located in Corvallis, Oregon, OSU promotes social, economic, cultural, and environmental progress in the state and throughout the world. Its School of Public Policy offers an online master of public policy for early and mid-career professionals.

OSU's 46-credit program develops all the knowledge and skills necessary for policy and management administration in the public and nonprofit sectors. The online programs share the same mission, faculty, and learning objectives as their on-campus counterparts with the added bonus of convenience and flexibility. Learners can access all course content through a blend of synchronous and asynchronous learning tools.

Instruction in this online master's in public policy covers core fundamentals of the field to offer degree-seekers four established concentration options: energy policy, environmental policy, rural policy, and social policy. Each learner can choose from these specializations as they work to develop a plan of study that facilitates their professional goals. Other course topics include econometrics, public policy analysis, applied research methods, and free electives.

Each application should demonstrate either five years of relevant professional experience, a recent graduate degree from an accredited program, or the submission of current GRE scores. A candidate must also provide transcripts indicating a minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA at the undergraduate level, three letters of recommendation, and a brief personal statement outlining both personal and professional goals.

Accreditation

Oregon State University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). Programs within its School of Public Policy hold programmatic accreditation from the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA).

8

Eastern Illinois University 

Charleston, IL Apply Now

About this school

Eastern Illinois University is a public state institution located in Charleston, Illinois. First established in 1895 as a two-year school for teachers, EIU now offers over 80 graduate and undergraduate programs of study. Committed to free and rigorous intellectual inquiry, EIU advances its mission of providing superior, accessible educational experiences across all of its programs, including a master of arts in political science with an option in public administration and public policy.

This fully online program requires 32 credits allocated across core courses, research methods, free electives, and a final capstone project. Learners pursuing this master's in public policy online can receive broad training in political science with a specific focus on its applications in public administration contexts. Graduates often find work in all levels of public service, nonprofit management, lobbying, and policy analysis.

Online degree-seekers enjoy the same learning objectives and mentoring opportunities available to on-campus students. The program delivers all instruction through flexible, interactive learning tools designed to expedite education without sacrificing quality or rigor. Course subjects include civic leadership, international affairs, and urban policy planning. The program concludes with an original capstone project that demonstrates a comprehensive understanding of political science, public policy, and their practical interconnections.

Each interested applicant must hold a relevant undergraduate degree from an accredited institution. They must also submit official transcripts indicating a 2.75 minimum cumulative GPA, the names of two references, and a professional statement of purpose.

Accreditation

Eastern Illinois University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

9

Regent University 

Virginia Beach, VA Apply Now

About this school

A private religious school located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Regent University provides graduate and undergraduate higher education with a Christian worldview. Established in 1977 by evangelical leaders, Regent values excellence, integrity, and innovation in its programming. The university's Robertson School of Government offers a master of arts in government with a concentration in law and public policy for learners interested in further developing their skills and knowledge in the field.

Regent's 33-credit course of study provides basic training in politics and governance with a special focus on policymaking and public administration. Most learners can complete this fully online program in 18-24 months, taking full advantage of the convenient, 8-week course session schedule. Regent delivers all course instruction through a blend of synchronous and asynchronous learning technologies and emphasizes interactive, accommodating experiences where learners can access content anytime they choose.

Degree-seekers can engage with many topics in political science and public policy. Core courses like economic policy and constitutional law examine the fundamentals of the field, while electives like media law and human rights let learners explore possible areas of interest that align with their professional goals. The program concludes with a focused thesis project that synthesizes gained skills and knowledge through critical analysis and original research.

Competitive applications for this online master's in public policy should include evidence of a relevant, accredited bachelor's degree and a professional resume. Each applicant must also complete a short questionnaire and submit a copy of their government-issued ID. Prospective learners may also submit GRE scores to strengthen their applications.

Accreditation

Regent University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The programs in its Robertson School of Government hold programmatic accreditation from the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA).

10

Norwich University 

Northfield, VT Apply Now

About this school

Located in Northfield, Vermont, Norwich University is a private higher education institution and the oldest private military college in the United States. Founded in 1819 and hailed as the birthplace of ROTC, Norwich promotes an atmosphere of excellence through quality educational experiences in science, humanities, and the liberal arts. Its online master of public administration is an ideal option for learners interested in pursuing careers in nonprofit management and public service.

Norwich's program requires 36 credits and offers nine concentrations in subject areas like criminal justice and public safety; international development; public administration leadership and crisis management; procurement and government contract management; fiscal management; and municipal governance. Courses in these and other subject areas are delivered in 11-week sessions through flexible and accommodating learning tools.

Most learners can complete this online master's in public policy in 18-24 months, depending on enrollment status and outside commitments. Core courses provide instruction in the fundamentals of the field, like organizational leadership, finance, planning, and policy development. The course of study concludes with a capstone project where each learner can choose between an original research paper that solves a practical or theoretical problem in the field, or a scholarly paper suitable for academic publication.

Each degree-seeker must possess an accredited bachelor's degree in a pertinent field for admission. They must also provide a current resume, official academic transcripts, a letter of intent, and at least one letter of recommendation from a professional or academic contact. A transfer student can bring in up to 12 credits and must complete appropriate paperwork before admission.

Accreditation

Norwich University is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

11

Valdosta State University 

Valdosta, GA Apply Now

About this school

Established in 1906 as a teachers college, Valdosta State University provides comprehensive education focused on human, environmental, and financial sustainability. A public university located in the southern Georgia city for which it takes its name, VSU administers nearly 100 different programs to over 11,000 learners every year. Among these programs is a master of public administration designed to cultivate knowledge and skills in the discipline.

As a non-thesis program, VSU's 36-credit course caters to working professionals in the field looking to complete educational requirements quickly and efficiently. Depending on their career goals, each learner can choose a specialized area of interest -- public sector management or public policy -- that focuses their study, complimenting general instruction with increased expertise.

VSU delivers all coursework for its master's degree in public policy entirely online through innovative learning technologies. These tools easily accommodate busy lives and work schedules with minimal interruption. In addition to coursework, each enrolled degree-seeker can complete 300 hours of internship and practicum work during the program. Graduates of the program often go on to find work as municipal administrators, policy analysts, and nonprofit directors.

Each applicant must hold relevant undergraduate credentials with a 2.5 minimum cumulative GPA. They must also submit recent GRE scores, a current resume, and provide three recommendations from professional or academic references familiar with their work and readiness for graduate-level study.

Accreditation

Valdosta State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Its public administration programs maintain programmatic accreditation from the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA).

12

Park University 

Parkville, MO Apply Now

About this school

Park University is a private, nonprofit liberal arts school located in the greater Kansas City metropolitan area of Parkville, Missouri. The school first opened its doors in 1875 as an outlet for technical and vocational training. Today, Park boasts broad degree offerings centered on academic excellence, inclusivity, and social responsibility. Park features a master of public administration for learners interested in developing their leadership skills in public service.

Launched in 1982 as Park's first graduate degree, this 36-credit program provides general instruction in public affairs, qualitative research methods, leadership development, and professional ethics. The program also offers several areas of specialization, including criminal justice administration, disaster and emergency management, global governance, management information systems, and public and project management.

The school delivers all course content completely online via accelerated, 8-week course modules throughout the calendar year. These options let learners work at their own pace and strike a balance between education and outside personal or professional commitments. Following coursework, a learner with less than two years of professional experience can complete an internship designed to facilitate career development.

Each applicant to this online master's in public policy must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with a 2.75 minimum cumulative GPA. They must also provide official academic transcripts verifying their education, a current resume, and a statement of professional experience.

Accreditation

Park University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Its public administration program possesses programmatic accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).

13

University of Nebraska at Omaha 

Omaha, NE Apply Now

About this school

A public research institution located in the Cornhusker State's easternmost plains, the University of Nebraska Omaha cultivates a learning environment characterized by excellence, engagement, inclusion, and discovery. Initially founded in 1908 as a small, non-sectarian college by Presbyterian ministers, UNO now acts as Nebraska's premier metropolitan university. Its School of Administration offers a master of public administration with a concentration in public policy.

Most learners can complete this 39-credit program in two years or less, going on to obtain work as policy advisors, urban planners, and nonprofit directors. UNO's curriculum develops basic skills and knowledge in public administration and organizational leadership. The public policy concentration offers granular, expert-level training in policy development and implementation. This includes analysis, evaluation, strategic planning, and foundational research methods.

The school delivers all course material completely online through asynchronous learning tools. By using these flexible technologies, degree-seekers can access courses and complete assignments anytime they choose without career interruption. Each learner can also complete an internship experience and a final capstone project designed to join acquired skills and knowledge in practical contexts.

Each interested candidate to UNO's online master's in public policy should provide official academic transcripts verifying reception of an accredited bachelor's degree. Their application should also contain recent GRE scores, a resume, a statement of purpose, and two letters of recommendation.

Accreditation

The University of Nebraska Omaha is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Its School of Administration programs hold programmatic accreditation from the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA).

14

SUNY Empire State College 

Saratoga Springs, NY Apply Now

About this school

One of 13 schools comprising the State University of New York public system of higher education, SUNY Empire State College has provided high-quality educational services with broad access since its inception in 1971. Located in Saratoga Springs, the school supports its mission with many professional and academic degrees, including a master of arts in social and public policy.

ESC's 36-credit program entails four core courses, four electives, and four research-based modules that conclude with a final capstone project. Many learners can complete the program in two years or less, going on to work in policy administration at state, local, and federal levels of government. Transfer learners can finish even quicker, as ESC accepts up to nine credits from outside institutions.

ESC delivers all instruction for this online master's in public policy through a combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning technologies. These accommodating and flexible tools allow learners to access material at a time and place convenient for their busy schedules. Topics in the course of study include policy process and implementation, research methods, social perspectives, administrative analyses, and professional ethics.

Each applicant must hold an accredited bachelor's degree in a relevant field. They must also provide a current resume and two letters of recommendation. International applicants must also submit TOEFL scores demonstrating their proficiency in the English language.

Accreditation

SUNY Empire State College is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

15

University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth 

Dartmouth, MA Apply Now

About this school

Located in Dartmouth, Massachusetts, less than 50 miles south of the greater Boston metropolitan area, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth provides educational programming in science, the humanities, and the liberal arts. Founded in 1895 as one of five campuses administered by the larger University of Massachusetts system, UMass Dartmouth supports nearly 10,000 learners through more than 100 different programs of study. For degree-seekers interested in careers in nonprofits and other organizations, the school offers a fully online master of public policy.

Designed to provide career advancement in state, federal, and municipal governments, UMass Dartmouth's program requires 12 courses and offers three distinct areas of concentration in educational policy, environmental policy, and public management. The course of study provides further instruction in administrative law, policy analysis, and organizational behavior through expert faculty and seasoned practitioners in the field.

UMass Dartmouth delivers all course material completely online through a combination of innovative modules that blend self-directed education with interactive structure. These tools let learners pursue their education at their own pace, while also providing some space for peer network and collaboration on relevant projects.

Learners interested in pursuing this master's in public policy online must possess pertinent undergraduate credentials and provide copies of all academic transcripts. Each candidate must also submit a brief statement of purpose, two letters of recommendation, and current GRE scores.

Accreditation

The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

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End of list, bravo!

Ranking Methodology
Best Online Programs

Online Master's in Public Policy Programs Ranking Guidelines

We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

What Is an Online Master's in Public Policy?

An online master's in public policy is a specialized degree that prepares you for leadership roles in public policy creation. People who complete this degree typically pursue management or urban and regional planning roles with government agencies, nonprofits, or other public service organizations. Other students pursue private sector global development jobs, which require in-depth knowledge of regional, national, and international policy.

This degree takes two years to complete and covers a more broad curriculum than related specialties, such as nonprofit management or public administration. Graduates typically leave online master's in public policy programs with strengthened skills in research and statistical analysis, along with an understanding of public policy's effect on economics, society, and law.

Choosing an Online Master's in Public Policy Program

To find the best online master's in public policy, you must consider several factors that influence the learning experience. Program cost is often a major sticking point; research whether in-state public schools offer discounted tuition, especially for online students. You should also consider program length and whether prospective programs fit into your career timeline.

Pay special attention to whether programs offer concentrations or dual-degrees relevant to your career plans. Also, consider whether prospective programs have practicum requirements or internships, and research whether you can meet those requirements locally.

Accreditation for Public Policy Programs

When researching online MPP programs, it's necessary to ensure both program and university accreditation. For graduate and academic degrees, you should only consider regionally accredited schools; national accreditation is best suited to vocational or career schools.

Programmatic accreditation demonstrates that a specific degree program meets the field's professional standards. The Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA) accredits master's programs in public policy, public administration, public affairs, and nonprofit management. Attending a NASPAA-accredited public policy program ensures a quality education.

What Can I Expect When Pursuing an MPP Online?

Though schools vary in course and concentration offerings, public policy master's programs generally share courses in economics, law, management, and policy analysis. The following list includes some common course offerings in a typical online master's in public policy.

Common Courses in Public Policy Programs

  • Introduction to Public Policy: In introductory courses, graduate students learn about policy analysis, the economics of public policy, and the political context for public policy. Coursework may also cover public management skills, policy implementation, and negotiating in the public sector.
  • Advanced Policy Analysis: Many courses incorporate policy analysis projects. Enrollees conduct research and create a detailed policy analysis from a case study as part of their training. Programs may connect students with real-world clients for their projects.
  • Law and Public Policy: Graduate learners study the laws and regulations that affect public policy, including court decisions, legislation, and administrative regulations. Coursework emphasizes legal research skills, the relationships between lawmaking agencies, and the connection between law and public policy. Enrollees may review case studies as part of their training.
  • Public Management: Degree-seekers learn to manage people and respond to crises. Enrollees apply data and evidence to public management problems at the local, national, and international levels.
  • Politics and Public Policy: Coursework examines the influence of politics on the development of new policies, including their acceptance and implementation. The course uses case studies and interpretative works.

Public Policy Concentrations

Education Policy

This concentration explores the intersection between public policy and educational policy, reviewing the history of education regulations and how they impact school operation today. Course topics include urban education, economics in higher education, and organizational analysis.

Health Policy

The health policy concentration prepares enrollees for careers in medical and health services management. Students graduate with a better understanding of how national and global healthcare public research can influence healthcare management policy. Common course topics include the economics of behavioral health and state health policy.

International Development

This concentration investigates policywork aimed at assisting developing or recovering nations. Topics include conflict and post-conflict recovery, political development, and economic planning. Graduates can effect positive change for struggling nations by working with NGOs and intergovernmental organizations, like the U.N.

Politics and Governance

Students interested in working in local and regional government can pursue a politics and governance concentration, exploring the impact of government policies in regional, national, and international contexts. Course topics include politics of public affairs, economics for policy analysis, and economics of development.

Public and Nonprofit Management

Students interested in a management career spent helping public and nonprofit agencies with fundraising, self-advocacy, and program development should consider this concentration. Coursework explores econometrics, stakeholder communication, and how to evaluate programs and policies.

Science and Technology Policy

This concentration explores how policy influences the pace of scientific research. Course topics include economics of innovation, design thinking for public policy innovators, and ending poverty with technology.

Social Policy

The social policy concentration investigates the design and analysis of social policy. Topics in this track include child welfare, community organization, and the role of courts in public policy. Students receive a broad view of how social policy affects society at all levels.

Urban Policy

Students interested in working in urban or regional planning should consider this concentration. Coursework focuses on policy issues faced by local and regional governing bodies and agencies, exploring topics like global urban culture and sustainable transportation planning.

Public Policy Joint and Dual Degrees

Many public policy master's programs offer joint or dual-degree options. A joint or dual-degree program can increase chances of employment, especially in niche careers. For example, a management/public policy dual master's degree can help you secure a job in nonprofit or public management. Urban and regional planning jobs might also call for a public policy dual degree in urban planning.

Below, you will find some common programs available for public policy joint or dual degrees.

  • Business
  • Economics
  • Education
  • Government
  • International policy
  • Law
  • Management science
  • Medicine
  • Psychology
  • Sociology

Public Policy Professional Organizations

  • American Society for Public Administration ASPA represents professionals working in public and nonprofit administration. This organization offers networking events and professional development opportunities through its local chapters and sections. ASPA also publishes research and maintains a job board
  • Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management APPAM promotes excellence in public policy research, analysis, and education. The association hosts an annual research conference, publishes a peer-reviewed journal on public policy and management, and encourages student participation in its offerings. Members have access to the association's career advice and job listings.
  • American Association for Budget and Program Analysis Founded in the 1970s, AABPA represents federal, state, and local government managers and analysts. It provides resources, hosts symposia with networking opportunities, and offers publications for budget and program analysis professionals. The association also hosts a student research competition.
  • International City/Council Management Association This professional organization for city and county managers offers career resources, financial management tools, and information on building sustainable communities. The association also provides educational tools, credentialing, and a job center, as well as published research.
  • Emerging Local Government Leaders ELGL supports local government professionals through events and an annual conference. The organization also offers awards to recognize excellence in local government. Students receive a membership discount, which includes access to the ELGL job board, vendor directory, and webinar library.

Public Policy Careers

An online master's in public policy provides a solid foundation for careers in the private and public sectors. Public policy majors typically work within three main areas: management, urban and regional planning, and political science. Keep in mind that some public policy careers require additional education or credentialing for entry-level roles.

Political Scientist

Political scientists conduct research on political systems and collect data about policy impact, usually for government agencies, nonprofits, or news publications. They then gather their findings to present in papers or to stakeholders. They often weigh in on policy decisions and forecast projections for social, political, or economic trends.

A political scientist needs a master's in political science or a related field, like public policy, to practice. Currently, no state has licensure requirements for political science. Working in this field requires a passion for politics and political theory, along with strong writing skills.

Median Annual Salary

$122,220

Projected Growth Rate

6%

Medical and Health Services Managers

Medical and health services managers manage the business activities of healthcare providers, such as hospitals, group practices, and nursing homes. Their duties include managing healthcare facility staff, maintaining patient databases, and developing new programs.

Working as a medical and health services manager requires at least a bachelor's in a management-related major. A public policy major may need to first earn a bachelor's in management or include a management concentration in their public policy master's degree to qualify. Currently, no state has licensure requirements for this career. This field typically appeals to people with strong interpersonal, communication, and problem-solving skills.

Median Annual Salary

$100,980

Projected Growth Rate

32%

Urban and Regional Planners

Urban and regional planners decide how local government managed and develops property. They help create communities, accommodate population growth, plan public transit, and implement sustainable city practices.

Working as an urban or regional planner requires a master's in urban and regional planning from a program accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board. A public policy student may consider earning their master's as a dual degree with a planning master's. Only a few states require licensure for this profession. Urban and regional planning usually appeals to people with strong skills in project evaluation and management, along with a curiosity for how cities and communities function.

Median Annual Salary

$4,350

Projected Growth Rate

11%

Social and Community Service Managers

Social and community service managers oversee social and community welfare programs and organizations. They often work with organizations that serve specific populations, such as children, veterans, or unhoused people, or they tackle specific societal problems, such as substance abuse or hunger.

Social and community service managers typically need a bachelor's in a management-related major. A public policy graduate needs to hold a management degree or relevant previous experience to enter the field. Currently, no states have licensure requirements for these managers. Social and community service managers need strong interpersonal skills and a deep interest in supporting social welfare to succeed.

Median Annual Salary

$67,150

Projected Growth Rate

17%

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Difference Between Public Policy and Public Administration

Public policy creates laws and frameworks for society with the help of statistics and research, while public administration implements those rules.

What Can You Do With a Master's Degree in Public Policy?

A master's degree in public policy prepares you for planning, management, and political science roles in the private and public sectors.

What Is the Difference Between a Master of Public Administration (MPA) and an MPP?

An MPP focuses on public policy alone, whereas the less-specialized MPA takes a broader focus, preparing graduates for public service careers in administration.

Does Public Policy Pay Well?

A public policy career can pay well. PayScale reports that the 90th percentile of political scientists — a common career in this field — earn over $99,000 annually.

What Does MPP Degree Mean?

A master's in public policy curriculum focuses on policy analysis, economics, and law. It prepares graduates for a highly specialized career influencing policy creation.

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