A field that is as rewarding as it is impactful, public policy is expected to grow in employment in the next few years. A Master’s Degree in Public Policy is perfect for analytical and conscientious workers who want to push their career to the next level. Unlike a bachelor’s degree program, a public policy master’s degree program will qualify you for several executive and administrative roles.
A master of public policy (MPP) and master of public administration (MPA) are two of the most prestigious public policy degrees. Employers are looking for graduates who possess one of these two degrees for several reasons. These multidisciplinary degree programs offer invaluable knowledge and skills to enhance your career. From the public sector to the private sector, there’s a variety of occupations you can choose to pursue.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of public policy should grow by 13 percent by 2024. Moreover, PayScale reports that master’s degree graduates in public policy possess a high average salary of $70,321. A Master’s Degree in Public Policy will allow you to work in a variety of subfields like public health and public administration. From information on the best online colleges to the best careers, CareerKarma has got you covered in the following guide to Master’s Degree in Public Policy programs.
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Benefits of Earning Your Master’s Degree in Public Policy Online
Today, millions of graduate students are choosing to pursue their degrees online. In fact, 22 percent of graduate students in the United States exclusively study online. Choosing to earn an online master’s degree will be beneficial for several reasons. Due to factors such as cost, convenience, and even quality, online degree programs may be your best bet.
Flexibility of an Online Master’s Degree in Public Policy
Most online programs are asynchronous, meaning you can complete your studies whenever and wherever you want to. Not only will you be able to save money by earning your degree online, you’ll also be able to do it from your home. This will allow you to continue your education whenever and wherever you’re comfortable, instead of sacrificing your leisure or livelihood. Whether you’re working a full-time job or taking care of your loved ones, the flexibility of online classes will surely make your learning stress free.
Cost-Savings of an Online Master’s Degree in Public Policy
A major issue regarding most college programs is how costly they are. However, online programs and courses are often much less expensive than their traditional counterparts, as you’ll see from the programs listed below.
If you partake in an online master’s program, then you’ll save a fortune as you won’t be paying pesky fees for boarding, meal plans, or transportation. Financial aid is also available for online learners, which should never be overlooked.
Quality of an Online Master’s Degree in Public Policy
According to a LinkedIn survey, 58 percent of employees prefer self-paced learning over instructor-led learning. Though online degrees previously held a stigma of not being legitimate or thorough enough, that is far from the truth today.
Online, accredited college programs are held to very high standards in terms of curricula and resources, similar to on-the-ground universities. You can utilize video lessons, personal interaction with instructors, virtual collaboration with classmates, and several meticulous guides and other information on the Internet to assist your learning.
What You Should Know Before Pursuing an Online Public Policy Master’s Degree
As you can see, online learning may be considered a better option than the old-fashioned method of attending a physical college. However, online learning takes place in a very different environment than your traditional brick-and-mortar institution and there are some factors you should look out for when choosing the right online program.
For instance, when it comes to expenses for graduate programs, you may be in luck as certain companies (such as Amazon and P&G) offer to pay for employees’ online degrees. Some may take more convincing than others, so prospective students should check into flexible payment options. In any case, it never hurts to ask whether you can study for free.
On that note, it is important to note whether your program requires you to travel. In many cases, it’s up to the student to pay travel expenses, though these expenses may be reimbursed by your employer as well. You should check whether there are any on-site components beforehand and whether you are comfortable partaking in them.
You should also make sure that the programs and schools you research are legitimately accredited. This ensures that you will not face any issues if you choose to transfer your credits, and ensures the authenticity of your degree. Visit school websites, check reviews of your instructors or programs, or contact the schools directly to make sure.
In the end, choosing the right program is a difficult decision, but the most important factors include cost, convenience, and reputation. You may even choose to pursue your degree in a brick-and-mortar setting, though the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic may affect your progress. Doing your research will save you from program remorse in the long run.
Online Master’s Degree in Public Policy Coursework
Although an MPP and MPA are mostly similar, their course curriculums may vary by institution. Each program stresses multidisciplinary applications while challenging students to examine policy from all angles. Many programs also require students to complete a relevant internship before graduation. At the end of each program, you will have completed many hours of professional integration regarding public policy affairs and administrations.
Foundational coursework for a Master’s Degree in Public Policy program focuses on applied research methods, public policy analysis, economics and governance. Students can also take unique electives that align with their career goals, such as economic development policymaking. Here are some specific courses you can expect to take for an MPP or MPA:
- Fundamentals of Public Administration
- Economics for Public Policy
- Strategic Planning in the Public Sector
- Research Methods
- Program Evaluation and Policy Analysis
- Global Economic Policy
- Ethics and Leadership
- Law and Public Affairs
There are also several specializations learners can choose according to their aspirations. Students who opt for a law and public policy specialization may focus on national and state regulations. Some other options include international affairs, global policy, and Middle East affairs.
Best Online Master’s Degree in Public Policy Programs
Based on factors such as quality, cost, and flexibility, we found these to be the best programs for you to get your Master’s Degree in Public Policy.
Indiana University Bloomington (Bloomington, IN)
Starting off our list is IU’s excellent online program, which is both versatile and valuable. Regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), IU Bloomington offers a unique program that combines the curricula of its MPA and MPP degrees. Graduates are prepared for careers in public service in ways unmatched by other universities.
This 48-credit online master’s degree consists of core courses, advanced electives, and an experiential component. Students take classes like public management economics, law and public affairs, and public finance and budgeting. The experiential component can be satisfied by an approved internship, prior professional experience or volunteer work, or an independent or group project.
Admission Requirements: Applicants must submit three letters of recommendation and unofficial transcripts. Furthermore, they must also submit personal statements and additional writing samples as prompted on the application. GRE and GMAT scores are optional.
University of Northern Iowa (Cedar Falls, IA)
With dozens of positive testimonials, UNI’s flexible online MPP program is another great option. The University of Northern Iowa offers an online master of public policy for students interested in making a policy impact at the community, state, national, or global level. Regionally accredited by the HLC, this program consists of asynchronous and synchronous components.
This Master’s Degree in Public Policy requires 39 credits and takes two years to complete. The curriculum covers politics and public policy, policy analysis, policy budgeting, and education policy. Students are also required to complete an internship; however, individuals who have sufficient prior work experience in public policy may have this requirement waived.
Admission Requirements: Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and meet graduate student admission requirements. The GRE is not required.
University of Missouri (Columbia, MO)
The University of Missouri offers a flexible and popular master of public affairs for students who want to dominate in public service. This program is available entirely online, and courses are delivered in nine-week sessions. UM is regionally accredited by HLC and also the NASPAA.
This master’s degree requires 30 credits and includes five core courses. Students can choose from a variety of electives and complete at least five. Elective options include collaborative governance, organizational dynamics and leadership, and regional and economic development policy.
Admission Requirements: Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and have at least three years of experience in public affairs. Prospective students must have earned a minimum 3.0 GPA over the last 60 credits of their undergraduate education.
University of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, PA)
Another versatile option, the University of Pittsburgh offers an online Master of Public Policy and Management program. This one is ideal for mid-career public service professionals who want to obtain their degree on a part-time basis while working. This program helps students advance their careers in areas like public administration, public policy, and security and intelligence. The University of Pittsburgh is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
This online master’s degree in public policy requires 30 credits and can be completed in 20 months. Students explore topics in microeconomics, program evaluation, public policy analysis, quantitative methods, and financial management. Tuition costs the same for all online students, regardless of residency.
Admission Requirements: Applicants must demonstrate leadership and competence in various areas, including program management, budgeting and finance, human resource management, and policy formulation or implementation. Candidates must hold a bachelor’s degree. GRE scores are not required.
Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD)
Perhaps the most popular option, Johns Hopkins University offers an online MA in Public Management that prepares graduates for leadership roles within nonprofit and government organizations. Their alumni have careers across all levels of the public spectrum, including such places as the White House, Department of Homeland Security, and even the Embassy of Ecuador. Johns Hopkins is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
One of the best schools of public policy programs, JHU will allow you to study with an experienced faculty and enhance your professional network. This master’s degree program requires 12 courses and takes 16 to 24 months to complete. Core courses include public policy evaluation and the policy process, economics for public decision-making, and analysis in the public sector. In their final semester, students must complete a capstone project.
Admission Requirements: Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and have earned a minimum 3.0 GPA. Candidates must also provide a resume, a statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, and a writing sample.
It is important to stay motivated and keep searching for the right tools and resources to pursue your Master’s Degree in Public Policy. Here is a website that will provide you with additional resources. Additionally, this website may help you find jobs or internships for work experience.
With a Master’s Degree in Public Policy, there’s no limit to what you can accomplish in several booming job positions. All you need now is the motivation to start your successful journey. With the tools provided in this guide, we here at CareerKarma wish you all the best.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.