Earning a Degree in Public Policy
Public policy is a very broad field with many options available after graduation. You can pursue careers in a variety of educational and professional settings. With a degree in public policy, you can search for government and non-government jobs at various levels. A master’s degree in public policy qualifies you for more challenging roles with higher levels of responsibility. What’s more, you’ll be part of a team or teams that strive to improve the health and economic well-being of our country.
Types of Public Policy Degree Programs
There are many degree options for students interested in working in public policy. If you’re just starting out, you might consider earning a Bachelor of Arts in public policy or public administration. Both degrees prepare students to work entry-level positions within a variety of settings. A Bachelor of Arts in public policy or public administration is typically comprised of the following courses:
- Social Sciences
- Public Health
You’ll also take a series of general education courses in English, math, science, and other disciplines. As part of a liberal arts education, you’ll sharpen your interpersonal and communications skills as well as your understanding of government and policy.
If you confident that public policy is the right field for you, pursuing your master’s degree is the next logical step. With an advanced degree on your resume, employers will take notice. You can earn a Master of Arts in public policy, a Master of Public Policy degree, or a Master of Science in public policy. These degrees focus heavily on the following areas:
- Statistical Methods for Policy Analysis
- Public Policy Process
- Ethics, Values and Public Policy
- Public Management and Organizational Behavior
Many programs often incorporate a substantial thesis project or an internship at a government agency. A thesis and/or internship provide students opportunity to further develop and strengthen their skills by working alongside staff in a professional setting. Each program is unique and offers students a different set of benefits. However, the objective is the same: to prepare graduates for advanced-level professional policy positions. You’ll have the opportunity to work with teams of people from a wide variety of backgrounds and experience levels.
Jobs in Public Policy
The interdisciplinary nature of public policy makes for challenging and fulfilling careers. Public policy encompasses a variety of academic disciplines such as economics, political science, sociology, and public management. The study of public policy applies these academic studies to problems of governmental administration, operations, and management. Students learn how to tackle complex issues facing our government and other public organizations which creates jobs in many sectors.
Graduate programs in public policy often allow students to select on area of concentration such as health economics, program evaluation, health care management, policy, just to name a few. By focusing on a particular aspect of public policy, you become highly skilled in your area of specialization. Based on your interests and career goals, here are just a few of the different types of public policy jobs:
- Policy Advocate
- Policy Analyst
- Urban and Regional Planner
Each of these roles requires an extensive knowledge of how public policy is made at the local, state, and national levels of government. Additionally, it’s important to know how the media impacts public opinion and public policy as well as how policies are developed, analyzed, implemented, and evaluated. By earning a master’s degree in public policy, you’ll be able to apply this knowledge in real-world settings.
Earning a Master of Public Policy Online
Advancements in technology has made it possible to take classes online. The Internet allows students to take the classroom with them wherever they go. Many schools now offer full online graduate programs in public policy or hybrid programs that involve a mix of face-to-face and online activity.
If you’re working full-time or have other obligations that make it difficult to attend scheduled classes, enrolling in an online program provides many benefits for busy adults. The flexibility and convenience of distance learning allows you to obtain a graduate degree while remaining employed.
Other benefits of online learning include:
- Learn at your own pace: Online learning allows you to earn your degree at your own pace, wherever and whenever you choose.
- Avoid schedule conflicts: You can continue your career or fulfill other responsibilities if you take classes online.
- Personalized learning: Online programs enable you to customize your learning to fit your personal style of learning and devise ways of studying that suit you.
- Saves money: You’ll save money on your commute, room and board, and other college costs that can substantially increase the cost of your education.
- Networking opportunities: When taking classes online, you’ll have access to students from all over the country, possibly overseas, which affords networking and professional connection opportunities.
There are just a few of the many perks of taking classes online. If you’re not sure if online learning is right for you, it’s important to consider all education options and your own personal situation. If you need to maintain employment or care for a family, distance learning allows you to maintain your job and spend time with your family. Our list of programs below will connect you with a variety of programs that offer various concentrations and subspecialties in the field of public policy.