Online Public Policy Master's Degree Programs

Public Policy is for students interested in careers with in the public sector as they explores actions and legislative created and carried out by the legislative and executive branches of government – local, state, and even national. Below are some of the highest-rated online public policy programs.

Walden University Walden University has several specializations in the MPA program, including Health Policy, Homeland Security Policy, Interdisciplinary Policy Studies, Law & Public Policy, and Policy Analysis. Students in these programs explore the interaction between government and the healthcare industry. Graduates work in government affairs offices for large hospitals and all levels of government.
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New England College The New England College offers a dynamic Master of Arts in Public Policy program that explores intellectual foundations for policy decision points and how the outcomes of these decisions affect change in the political process. Courses teach how citizens and government interact and teach skills required to influence policy at all levels of government.
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Kaplan University The MPA at Kaplan University is built on the theory that the public sector needs strong, educated leaders who can lead positive change at the local, state, and federal level. As the nation is facing troubling economic, social, and international challenges, more then ever graduates with these skills are in high demand.
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Liberty University Liberty University's Master of Arts in Public Policy teaches students the principles of public policy to prepare them for careers in public administration, government and politics. The 39 credit hour program features courses that include topics such as ethics and management practices. Faith is integrated into the learning environment.
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Northwestern University The MA in Public Policy & Administration from Northwestern University teaches students how to effectively create agents for change in the fast moving world of public policy. The program includes several specialties, including Health Services Policy, Public Policy, Public Safety and Security, and Urban Policy and Administration.
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South University The MPA in Public Policy from South University offers a dynamic program that gives you the tools required to advance your public sector and non-profit career. Students are afforded the convenience and flexibility of online education, which enables them to continue to work while completing their degree. Specializations include Public Administration and Non-Profit Management.
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Capella University The MPH in Health Management & Policy from Capella University empowers graduates to influence public health policy and lead efforts to improve the health of communities and populations. This specialization features a multidisciplinary approach that mixes the study of public health issues and concepts with management, organizational theory, public administration, and economics.
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University of Phoenix The MPA from the University of Phoenix is designed to instruct the next generation of leaders the skills required for policy and decision marking in the public sector. Courses explore institutions and processes, human capital development in the public sector, law and public administration, and data analysis for public policy.
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Complete Guide to Master of Public Policy

Public policy comprises the rules and regulations, legislation, and the way that the government interacts with the citizens of a given legal, social, and political entity. Working in public policy involves using data and experience to influence the interface between a government and its people, and public policy decisions can affect every area of our daily lives. From choosing a course of action, finding sources of funding, and deciding laws, the complicated process of policymaking is the focus of a Master of Public Policy program.

Master of Public Policy Courses

Master of Public Policy Programs focus on both policy analysis and program evaluation. Students review policies and programs covering a variety of topics and learn how to determine their effectiveness and efficiency. It is truly a multidisciplinary degree, combining diverse subject fields such as economics, sociology, and politics and drawing connections between them. Courses cover topics like ethics, public finance, urban policy, and research methods.

Requirements for a Master of Public Policy Program

As a graduate degree, Master of Public Policy programs will generally require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree or equivalent. While all degrees are accepted, those with related degrees such as economics, political science, or sociology will likely have a better chance of being admitted into the program. Some programs may also require applicants to have at least one year of related professional experience. They may also recommend or require scores from a standardized test such as the GMAT or GRE. Additional requirements may include one or more letters of recommendation, a resume, a personal statement, and an academic transcript. Keep in mind that competitive programs will have certain requirements for GPA and test scores as well.

Length of Master of Public Policy Program

A Master of Public Policy program will typically last one or two academic years with a full-time schedule. However, some schools may have an option to take classes part-time, which allows students to continue working part-time or care for children. It’s important to remember that programs may also include a practicum requirement that must be completed once a student finishes classes – this may extend the amount of time it takes to complete the program.

Careers for Master of Public Policy Graduates

Since public policy covers such a wide range of topics, graduates of a Master of Public Policy Program can find jobs in many fields, whether in the commercial, non-profit, or government sectors. Most public policy jobs work to promote certain issues and solutions in order to impact those in legislation and stakeholders.

  • Non-Profits: Non-profit organizations exist for every issue concerning our nation. Members of such groups perform various tasks such as research, organizing and implementing advocacy efforts, or lobbying legislative representatives. Some organizations may focus on a specific part of the public policy process, such as think tanks, trade associations, or lobbying firms.
  • Government: Almost any job in government can be filled by someone with a background in public policy, but it takes hard work, patience, and good networking to get you to the top. Many people start as government interns doing clergy work and research, then work to become legislative representatives or members of governmental agencies. Some people may prefer to work on a local level, while others aspire to working at a higher level in state or federal government.
  • Media: Another option for those who study public policy is a career in the media. Many political analysts, reporters, and journalists use their background in public policy to help the public understand policymaking in our country.
  • Consulting/Public Relations: Job positions in public policy can also be found on the commercial level. Large companies and organizations hire public policy graduates as consultants and public relations managers to help them create lobbying and communications strategies.

Public Policy Organizations

Here are some links to a few of the major public policy organizations promoting a wide variety of issues and viewpoints.

  • American Enterprise Institute – AEI promotes liberty, opportunity, and free enterprise through research and education on issues including the government, economics, and social welfare. Its collaborators are located at universities across the country.
  • Campaign for America’s Future – This progressive political organization is a think tank that promotes issues such as health care reform, education, and protecting the environment. Each year, they hold a “Take Back America” conference to bring together progressive stakeholders including activists, government officials, and the media.
  • Carter Center – The Carter center was founded by President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn to advance human rights. It is a nongovernmental, nonpartisan organization that advocates issues such as peace and freedom as well as the rights to health care, food, shelter, and opportunity.
  • Center for Public Justice – This Christian think tank seeks to bring a nonpartisan Christian perspective to public policy. They advocate strongly for individual civil rights, including freedom of religion and justice for all citizens.
  • Competitive Enterprise Institute – This think tank advocates limited government action and free markets, believing that economic freedom leads to creativity and prosperity. They act on multiple levels of the public policy ladder, from performing research, marketing proposals and advocacy campaigns, and provide analysis for major news organizations.
  • Heritage Foundation – This is a think tank that promotes conservative policies such as American values, free enterprise, and strong national defense. They are considered as one of the country’s most influential conservative research organizations.
  • Hudson Institute – This conservative think tank promotes various topics with an emphasis on global affairs in economics, science and technology, law, and international relations. They use their research to make recommendations to government and business leaders around the world.
  • National Center for Policy Analysis – The goal of this nonpartisan think tank is to promote private alternatives to government regulations. They have promoted solutions for diverse issues including health care, taxes, small business, and the environment.
  • Reason Foundation – Reason is a nonpartisan think tank that performs research and publishes studies based on libertarian values such as free markets, individual freedom, and limited government. Reason promotes free society and has been endorsed by the editorial staff of The Wall Street Journal.

What is the Difference Between an MPP and an MPA?

A Master of Public Policy (MPP) degree is closely related to another degree, the Master of Public Administration (MPA). Both lead to careers in the public service sector. However, there are certain differences between them.

  1. Focus – One of the main differences between the MPP and MPA degrees is the focus of the curriculum. A Master of Public Policy program focuses mainly on analyzing and evaluating public programs for efficiency and effectiveness. On the other hand, a Master of Public Administration focuses more on how public programs can be implemented. Some MPA degree programs are quite similar to MBA programs, but focus on the public sector rather than the commercial sector.
  2. Courses – Many schools offering both MPP and MPA degrees will have overlapping core classes. Depending on which of the degrees students choose, their electives or advanced level classes will be more specifically tailored to Public Policy or Public Administration. Public Policy courses may cover topics such as economics, data analysis, and program evaluation, with the option to focus on specific areas such as human rights, national security, or international trade. Public Administration courses will focus more on the implementation of programs and cover topics like ethics, leadership, and decision-making. It is also important to note that the length of MPP and MPA may differ at the same school, depending on the curriculum.
  3. Admissions – While admissions requirements may vary by university, many schools have different requirements for those applying to MPP degrees compared to MPA degrees. In general, those applying to Master of Public Administration programs are expected to have some professional experience in the field of public service. In comparison, some schools accept students to Master of Public Policy programs right after they earn a bachelor’s degree in a related area, with little or no work experience. Of course, this is not always the case.
  4. Careers – The variations in the MPP and MPA programs tend to lead students toward different career paths. Those who earn a Master of Public Policy degree will likely have careers involving a lot of research and analysis – they often work for think tanks, lobby groups, and other non-profit organizations. They will likely use skills in statistics, economics, and mathematics to analyze the effectiveness of programs. Someone with a Master of Public Administration degree will be more likely to have a career in management with a non-profit or advocacy group. However, it is also possible for a MPP graduate to work in management and a MPA graduate to become an analyst – it’s just less common.