5 Best Online Master of Public Policy Graduate Schools

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Updated: March 13, 2024, Reading time: 15 minutes

online master's in public policy

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A Master’s in Public Policy is usually confused with a Master’s in Government Service. While public policies become regulations or laws for government service, MPP is a multidisciplinary, cross-sector program involving the public, nonprofit, or private sector, thus, your job options and careers are varied.

If you’re contemplating enrolling in a public policy graduate program, you might wonder what lies ahead of you after you complete the degree. Today, working professionals holding a Master’s in public policy degree can work for people in political offices, performing legislative tasks, or working on public relations or campaign operations.

A graduate degree also qualifies you for research-intensive roles in the field.

Quick audio summary:

Public Policy professionals are usually in demand in government agencies or the public sector. However, the private sector is now beginning to scout for MPP graduates, especially as businesses now recognize the crucial role of policy implementation and development in affecting and influencing their business decisions.

These jobs include government and advocacy relations roles, and other traditional roles in business administration like communications, marketing, public relations, program management, development, or consulting.

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If Public Policy is your cup of tea, climb the career ladder with enhanced credentials! By getting graduate-level education and training, you get an in-depth look into the many aspects of the discipline and become eligible for top-level work positions.

The Online Master of Public Policy graduate schools on our list all share these features that exhibit excellence in the delivery of the program:

For more details on our graduate program selection process, read our Methodology page.

Grad School Center is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

The 5 Best Online Master of Public Policy Schools

Liberty University

Liberty University

Lynchburg, Virginia

Online Master of Arts in Public Policy

Liberty University’s MA in Public Policy understands how paramount importance of this field in today’s world. This online degree program teaches you the crucial concepts surrounding political philosophy influence how people think.

At present, the majority of the critical political issues center around public policy opinions. Immigration, taxation, international relations, and healthcare are all issues in public policy. This online master’s in public policy will prepare you for the many interesting opportunities in different career fields, including politics, government, and public administration.

Students interested in this program have the chance to choose from the different areas of study for specialized expertise. Specializations include:

Standout Features:

The online master’s degree in public policy at Liberty University is recognized by different institutions for its affordability, academic quality, and accessibility. Because of its commitment to excellence, the school is ranked one of the top 5 best online schools in the US by Niche.com.

This nonprofit university will help you set yourself apart from the rest in this field. The school is bent on providing quality education at an affordable tuition rate. Aside from scholarships and federal financial aid, the school has frozen its tuition rates for all its programs for the past seven years.

Did You know?

Liberty University provides world-class education to military students around the world. Whether you are presently serving, discharged, retired, or a spouse of a veteran or serviceman, you may qualify for a special military discount.

Admission requirements for prospective students include a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college and at least a 3.0 GPA, proof of English proficiency (for international students or applicants whose native tongue is other than English), and official transcripts.

Regent University

Regent University

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Online Master of Arts in Government

Regent University’s MA in Government is a combination of competitive politics, policy, and law so that students are prepared to handle issues affecting today’s modern society. After you complete this online program, you will be able to:

Public service careers awaiting online students in this public administration degree program include:

Standout Features:

This online MPP program offers three major concentrations:

Applicants are required to have at least a 3.0 GPA from their bachelor’s degree. You can also submit postgraduate test scores, such as the LSAT or GRE.

Did You Know?

In any school search, Regent University is always one of the top options for online degree programs. For three years (2019, 2020, and 2022), the US News and World Report ranked Regent University among one of the Top National Universities school rankings. It is also recognized as one of the top 10 military-friendly schools (2022-2023) by Military Times.

All the on-campus and online programs are presented from a Christian perspective. On-campus students and online enrollees also have the same instructors handling this accredited online master’s.

The University of Massachusettes-Dartmouth

The University of Massachusettes-Dartmouth

Dartmouth, Massachusetts

Online Master’s in Public Policy

This online master’s program at the Umass Dartmouth gives graduate students the preparation they need for employment or advancements in a municipal, state, or federal government. Mid-career professionals can also take advantage of this as this will also prepare them for leadership roles in nonprofit organizations, business, trade, non-government agencies, and labor associations.

Standout Features:

UMass Dartmouth’s online master’s in public policy students are required to complete 12 courses. The classes are taught and handled by seasoned faculty and practitioners in public administration, some even with past experience working at government agencies, aimed at providing the best quality education while giving personal attention to every student.

Since this master’s degree is online, students have the flexibility to adjust their school, work, and home responsibilities according to their schedules. This also makes a perfect choice for out-of-state students as well.

Did You Know?

Regardless of which advertising-supported site you check as you narrow down your options for the best online master’s degree in public policy, UMass Dartmouth is a good choice. To be considered for the program, you need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school, along with letters of recommendation, official transcripts, your current resumé, and a statement of purpose.

The program is accredited by the New England Commission on Higher Education.

Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, Maryland

Online Master’s in Public Management Program

John Hopkins University offers a flexible master’s in public management that advances your public service or government career, whether you prefer to enroll online or settle in an on-campus program.

The program will give you several lessons that will help you deal with real-world governance and other policy issues in nonprofit sectors, political organizations, public organizations, the job market, economic development, and rural policy.

Standout Features:

The Krieger School of Arts & Sciences of John Hopkins University is proud of its long list of esteemed and experienced faculty members. Instructors include current and former senior government officials, policy analysts, economists, attorneys, project directors, and leaders of various foundations.

Students interested in the program are fortunate considering the program director of the school is a veteran of two presidential administrations that once was the Chief of Staff of the White House Domestic Policy Council.

Did You Know?

The program helps your goals and interests through its electives. Elective classes include Defense Policy, The Budgetary Process, Negotiating as a Leadership Skill, Legislative Language, and Policymaking, Energy Policy and Security, Political Science, and Liberal Arts.

Prospective students can take advantage of the school’s financial aid options including Federal Loans, Outside Scholarships, Employer Tuition Benefits, and Veteran Benefits.

Oregon State University

Oregon State University

Corvallis, Oregon

Online Master of Public Policy

Community service managers, research methods specialists, public health advocates, and policy analysts make perfect students for the online public affairs programs at Oregon State University. This regionally accredited college by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, the school has trusted partner programs suitable for professionals in nonprofit organizations and public sectors who are planning to move their positions up.

Standout Features:

Oregon State University is very keen on its admission requirements. The acceptance is based on different factors like the applicant’s previous scholastic accomplishments, academic standing during the bachelor’s degree days, personal statement of purpose, recommendation letters from professors, performances in achievement and aptitude tests, and relevant work experience.

The screening process alone can tell how high the standards of the school are for its online master’s in public policy.

The master’s in public policy coursework provides students the practical experience in collaboratively working with the public, making sure the needs of the community and the society as a whole, are prioritized.

These can be accomplished thru:

Did You Know?

The online master’s in public policy at OSU no longer requires the GRE tests. Students may enroll in any of the four academic calendars of the program (fall, winter, spring, and summer).

Students in this online program can also choose to focus on an area from different established concentrations or graduate certificates. You can even self-design a concentration with the help of an advisor and the approval of the school’s graduate program director.

The Top Industries for Master’s in Public Policy

Federal Executive Branch: Federal government firms usually employ public policy analysts in the military, civil service, and political appointments. Master degree holders in this field can specialize in any area of public policy like agriculture, housing, economic development, or foreign affairs.

Social Advocacy Organizations: Degree holders with master’s in public policy are of great help in social advocacy organizations since they have the knowledge of developing community awareness campaigns. Unlike bachelor’s degree professionals in the field, master’s holders can lobby government agencies or lawmakers for policy changes.

Scientific Research and Development Services: Master’s degree professionals can do research work for nonprofit organizations, private businesses, and government agencies. They can even conduct studies in policy analysis or political science to gauge the opinion of the public on certain issues. They will then use their findings in program implementation or policy development.

What You Can Do with a Master’s Online Program in Public Policy

Master’s degree programs for public policy usually need students to complete around 30-40 credit hours (usually two years). Through this program, you can cultivate leadership skills that will gear you into becoming directors and managers. Some careers for those who hold master’s degree programs in public policy include:

Political Scientists: These professionals are also considered research scientists. They study political topics on a national and global scale. They create and test political theories usually via public opinion surveys.

Political scientists usually work in the academe, publishing their research findings or teaching at universities or colleges. They are also qualified to monitor current events or forecast political updates for private enterprises and government entities.

Survey Researchers: Master’s in public policyholders can also become survey researchers. They collect data for nonprofits, private companies, polling organizations, and government bodies, or design sampling tools.

Survey researchers can specialize in many fields, including political science, social sciences, public service, public affairs programs, policy analysis, public administration, and consumer research.

Advancing Your Career in Public Policy

Advancing Your Career in Public Policy

Your school search should not stop the moment you find one that provides trusted partner programs in public policy, policy analysis, public service, or public affairs. 

Your Master’s in Public Policy degree can still improve so you can advance further your career. How do you achieve this? Through:

Public Policy Licensure and Certifications: Aside from a master’s in public policy, try to scout for professional development programs that obtain more licensure and certifications. Today, there are a lot of public policy organizations that offer these certifications to help build your knowledge in specific areas and improve your leadership skills.

For instance, the Aspiring Leader Program provides professional coaching, mentoring, and individual development for employees working in the Department of Agriculture. Furthermore, lobbyists can get their public policy certification provided by the National Institute for Lobbying and Ethics.

Public Policy Fellowships: Fellowships can boost your resumé and give you a unique work experience not only in public policy but also in policy analysis, public administration, or public affairs.

Targeting younger professionals or graduate students in public policy, some examples of these fellowships are:

How much is the potential earning for a Master's in Public Policy holder?

Frequently Asked Questions

How much is the potential earning for a Master’s in Public Policy holder?

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics said that the median annual salary for political scientists (in general) is $128,020. On average, they earn somewhere between $65,200 and $176,280. Those employed in the scientific, technical services, or professional sectors have a median annual salary of $99,640.

In which sectors can a Master’s in Public Policy degree holder get hired?

In editorially independent information published, the nature of the online master’s in public policy is multidisciplinary, and the private, government and nonprofit sectors tend to recruit graduates with a solid background in public policy.

In some data provided by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration, those who hold master’s degree programs in administration or public policy can secure careers in the following areas:

Are online Master’s in Public Policy degrees worth it?

Whether it’s an on-campus or online master’s, getting a graduate degree in public policy is worth it for so many students. The American Bureau of Labor Statistics has stated that occupations in the physical and social science fields are said to grow 7% in the next decade.

The usual careers in public administration and public policy include public policy historians, political scientists, public relations specialists, social scientists, survey researchers, and community service managers. The number of career paths in this field is proof that public policy is indeed a rewarding program for most people, knowing that this is one way for them to help their respective communities.

How can you find a job in Public Policy?

Just like any other job hunting, you can find public policy jobs in so many ways. You can start by visiting different job listing boards online like publicservicecareers.org, usajobs.gov, or idealist.org for your job search.

Key Takeaways

When pursuing a Master’s in Public Policy and improving your knowledge of how government regulations work, explore your options. Ideally, going to a traditional on-campus class is a wise move; however, online programs are just as effective since distance learning options offer you flexibility… something that you need when you’re always balancing a work-life lifestyle.

Start your master’s in public policy today and explore what each school can offer you.

Additional Resources:

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