Public policy is an ideal field for students who want to make a difference in society. Every aspect of our lives is impacted by laws and regulations, and public policy majors are trained to analyze and judge the soundness of the rules that we live by. Obtaining a public policy degree is the first step to entering this rewarding field.
What is Public Policy?
A public policy degree prepares students to research and analyze laws, regulations, and mandates that are imposed by the government. In order to assess the advantages and disadvantages of policy decisions, public policy students study:
- The political theories that influence public policy positions.
- How different constituent groups are impacted by public policy outcomes.
- The analytical tools that are used to evaluate public policy choices.
A major in public policy prepares students to work for the many industries that public policy effects, including law, business, public health, and social work. Education, healthcare, national defense, criminal justice, and environmental policy are just a few of the issues that policy analysts research.
Public Policy Courses
Public policy courses provide students with the analytical tools they need to work as policy analysts.
Public policy programs include these following courses:
- Issues in Public Policy
- Methods of Social Research
- Microeconomics and Macroeconomics
- Principles and Methods of Statistics
- Political Theory
Types of Public Policy Degrees
There are three main types of public policy degrees:
- Bachelor’s Degree
A bachelor’s degree in public policy qualifies students for many entry-level positions or prepares students to enter a graduate program. Students can earn a bachelor’s degree after four years of study.
- Concentration in Public Policy
Many schools offer majors in political science rather than public policy. However, an increasing number of schools offer a concentration option that will prepare political science students for careers in public policy.
- Master of Public Policy Degree
Also known an M.P.P., a master of public policy degree is a professional degree that can be completed in two years. Most public policy careers require a graduate degree, and an M.P.P. is required for many entry-level positions.
- Doctorate Degree
A doctorate degree in public policy will qualify professionals for top-level positions. Ph.D. holders can direct teams of policy analysts, head entire organizations, or pursue careers in academia.
Many schools offer a joint bachelor’s and M.P.P. program that allows students to complete their master’s degree in a shorter period of time.
Benefits of Studying Public Policy Online
Reputation is a factor that students should consider when they are pursuing a career in public policy. Obtaining a degree from a reputable program offers networking opportunities that will benefit students throughout their careers. With distance learning, students do not have to relocate to enter a top-notch program. Many respected colleges and universities allow students to earn a degree in public policy degree entirely online.
Careers in Public Policy
According to the Georgetown Public Policy Institute, public policy majors earn a median income of $48K, and top earners receive a salary of $75K. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, analysts working for the federal government can be well paid for their expertise. High-level government analysts typically earn between $93K and $145K.
Public policy majors can be employed by any organization that needs advice on public policy issues. The top employers of public policy majors include:
- Non-governmental Organizations
- Non-profit Organizations
- Private Businesses
- Private Think-Tanks
- State and Federal Government
Because public policy is wide reaching, the opportunities for public policy majors are expected to expand. A public policy degree will introduce students to the many opportunities available to entry-level and experienced policy analysts.
Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2007). Policy Analysts: Shaping Society through Research and Problem-Solving.
Georgetown Public Policy Institute. (2011). The Economic Value of College Majors – Law and Public Policy.