If you want to become more skilled in analyzing, designing, evaluating and advocating for public policies, you should consider earning your Master of Public Policy. Earning an online master’s degree in public policy (MPP) will provide you with the advanced skills and knowledge in areas including analysis, leadership and management. After you earn your master’s degree in public policy, you will be qualified to lead organizations whose goal is to improve public services at the community level.
To study for your master’s degree in this field, you should hold a bachelor’s degree in public administration, public management, policy studies or policy analysis. After you complete your master’s program, you will earn either a master of science or a master of arts in public policy.
In some MPP programs, you can focus on many specialties, including:
- Environment policy
- Energy policy
- International development policy
- Non-profit management policy
- Health policy
- Education policy
- Social policy
Why Earn a Master of Public Policy
Many people feel inspired to use their career to make things better in their state, city or community. They want to serve in the interests of the public. Those who feel that way often decide to earn a master’s degree in public policy so that they can help to shape laws and policies that are good for society. If you are considering an MP degree, you will be obtaining a very broad, liberal arts degree that will arm you with critical analytical skills that can help you to get into good paying work in the public and private sectors. A public policy degree will provide you with a good foundation to enjoy a successful career in the public or nonprofit sector.
Here are some key reasons that many people decide to earn their MPP:
- You like to solve public policy problems. An MPP program will have you working on all types of major public policy dilemmas. You may study the Social Security Trust Fund, the education system in large cities, the value of the mortgage interest deduction, water and air pollution and more. You will learn how to study big public policy issues and how to propose practical solutions to many of them that are politically possible.
- You want to improve your technical skills. MPP holders need to learn how to communicate complex, sometimes boring public policy proposals and information into language that laymen can understand. You will need to read a lot of academic research about public policy issues, and then digest it and be able to put it into words that the average voter can understand.
- You like to study and work on many things at once. If you enjoy politics, economics, budgets, finance and more, an MPP degree could be a great fit for you. People who work in public policy usually have to cross into different disciplines often as they are working through a public policy issue.
- You enjoy group work. Public policies are almost never arrived at through the work of one person. During your MPP program, you will be working closely with your fellow students on various public policy projects. This group work will continue in your career as well as you work on various policy issues in teams.
Featured Online Master’s in Public Policy
- Master of Public Policy: At Walden University, you will gain the skills that you need to formulate, implement and evaluate effective public policy. You can learn the skills that you learn in this online master’s program in the public, nonprofit and private sectors. You will study a curriculum that blends both theory and practice, and you will have the chance to study both policymaking and policy analysis.
- Master of Public Administration with emphasis on Government & Policy: At Grand Canyon University, The Master of Public Administration with an emphasis in Government and Policy prepares students for careers in the public sector. The program is targeted at individuals working or desirous of finding employment in all levels of government. The core coursework gives students the opportunity to apply administrative skills in the areas of economics, leadership, human capital development, and governance within the public sector environment. Emphasis courses will challenge students to identify and provide solutions for the unique issues facing public sector organizations in the areas of financial management, inter-agency cooperation, policy and law.
- Master of Science in Urban and Regional Policy: At Northeastern University, you will analyze and develop practical solutions to the economic, social, environmental and political problems that cities face today around the country. You will learn how to deal with complex issues in local governance in energy, housing, transportation, sustainability, civil infrastructure and economics.
- Master of Public Policy: At the University of Massachusetts Amherst, you will be able to earn an MPP that is designed for people who want to work in the state, federal and city government. You also can use this degree to work in business, trade and in labor organizations. This program may completed in three years and is fully accredited.
- Master of Arts in Public Policy: This program at New England College will provide you with a solid understanding of the intellectual foundations of strong public policy discussions and how these outcomes can affect political changes. This program consists of a total of nine classes and has 36 credit hours. You can complete this online program by taking two classes per semester and finish in two years.
- Master of Public Policy: At the University of Southern California-Price, you will experience how leaders in business, government and nonprofits can come together to provide the best solutions to public problems. You will gain special awareness of the political environment in which the most complex policy problems are made. You will also develop a solid grasp of the effects that policy decisions have upon the community.
- Master of Science in Public Policy: At Drexel University, you can earn your master’s degree in public policy in the following areas: Education Policy, Science and Technology Policy, Information Policy, Environmental Policy and City/Management and Governance. Most students finish this fully online degree in two years.
- Master of Arts in Public Policy: At Liberty University, you will be prepared for a rewarding career in many areas, including public administration, politics and government, nonprofits and more. The courses in this fully online program will prepare you to become an expert in the field of public policy, and you will learn how important it is to apply ethics to the management practices that you learn. Most students finish this online degree in three years.
- Master of Public Policy: At Northwestern University, this MPP program will provide you with a strong grounding in policy analysis so that you can grasp the complex factors that go into good public decision making and policy formulation. Some of the classes that you need to take to complete this rigorous online degree include Strategic Policy Implementation, Intergovernmental Relations and Regulatory Policy.
- Master of Public Policy and Administration: This degree program from Sacramento State University is an ideal one if you are interested in a public service career. This online degree program covers diverse perspectives, skills and technologies that are most important for you to have a successful public management career. You will learn essential skills in management, budgeting, analysis and research.
Popular Career Paths for Master’s in Public Policy
Some of the career fields, with salaries, that you can enter with your MPP include:
- Policy analyst: $85,000
- Economist: $79,000
- Strategic management consultant: $100,000
- Public affairs and communication: $60,000
- Public policy consultant: $80,000
- Executive director – nonprofit: $60,000
- HR director: $88,000
- Program administrator – nonprofit: $46,000
- Purchasing manager: $52,000
- Research director: $66,000
- Research manager: $58,900
- Education director: $59,800
- Development executive: $86,500
Below is more information on two of the most popular public policy-related career paths:
Political scientists analyze the origin development and operation of our political system. They analyze and research political ideas, and also analyze governments, policies, political trends and issues related to politics.
Some of their common duties as political scientists include:
- Conduct research on political matters, including the US political system, foreign relations between the US and other countries
- Collect political data from various sources, including political opinion polls and the results from elections
- Devise theories with the help of qualitative analysis to study public policy issues
- Evaluate the many effects that new policies can have on government, people and businesses
Political scientists often study national politics, comparative politics, international politics or political theory. They will often use qualitative research methods and collect information from many sources. They may use historical documents to conduct an analysis of past governments and policies. They also rely on proven quantitative methods to devise political theories.
The job outlook for political scientists is average, and is anticipated to decline by 2% by 2024. Many political scientists are employed by the US government. These professionals still are needed to assess how government policies affect people and the economy. But there are efforts underway to cut public spending and there could be a reduction of federal government employment.
However, there are also political organizations and lobbying firms that also employ political scientists. These organizations rely heavily on political science professionals to manage complex legal and regulatory matters.
The median salary for political scientists in 2015 was $99,700.
A survey researcher analyzes data and designs surveys. Many people with a public policy degree today are working in the area of survey research. Survey researchers are used today to collect factual data about where and how people are employed, as well as what they earn. They also are used by public and private companies to understand what people’s preferences and desires are for public policy matters.
Common duties for survey researchers include:
- Doing background research public policy survey topics
- Planning and designing surveys to determine what the appropriate survey methods are
- Test surveys to ensure that people will be able to understand what is being asked
- Analyze survey data and public response information using advanced statistical software
- Summarize public policy survey data with tables, graphs and fact sheets
Survey researchers are used to design and conduct surveys for a wide variety of research reasons. Surveys for scientific or public policy reasons may cover government, health, education and the social sciences. For instance, a survey researcher could work on getting information about the use of drugs in a community, and possible public policy responses to this problem.
This field will see 12% job growth by 2024. This is faster than average than other occupations. It is believed that more organizations will be relying on data and information gotten through research. Government organizations and nonprofits in the public policy sphere often use public opinion research to learn what people think about various solutions to societal problems.
Survey researchers also are used to design surveys for private businesses. Our global economy is very competitive, and companies will use survey researchers to determine the best new products and services to offer.
The median pay in this field was $53,920 in 2015.
- Eber, David. (2011, Nov. 21). What Is the Value of a Graduate Degree in Public Policy?. Retrieved from http://www.mba.com/us/the-gmat-blog-hub/ask-the-expert/2011/nov/what-is-the-value-of-a-graduate-degree-in-public-policy.aspx
- Survey Researcher. (2015, Dec. 17). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/survey-researchers.htm#tab-2
- Political Scientist. (2015, Dec. 17). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/political-scientists.htm#tab-2