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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- International policy
- Management science
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.