Overview

As the name suggests, a master’s in public policy opens the opportunity to learn more about the development of public policies and their implementation. Courses offer advanced training in everything from public administration to global policy, so students can gain the knowledge and skills they need to manage public policy programs with varying stakeholders. The result? Degree holders often become policy analysts, directors, and city managers that lead the way to more effective and successful administrations.

The programs also offer individuals an opportunity to advance their careers. The detail-oriented coursework and practical training through internships ensures that students have the credentials they need to obtain leadership and management level positions. More importantly this also opens the opportunity for graduates to shape the direction of future policy in the public and private spheres.

Graduates go on to enjoy careers as policy analysts, city managers, and policy directors. In addition, those with advanced degrees can also teach future professionals.

Yes, many well-respected programs offer public policy degrees online. That said, students should make sure the programs they choose are accredited.

Online degrees no longer carry the stigma they once did. Advances in technology means that most employers and universities now view online degrees as equal to standard degrees.

Each school and program will have different requirements, but most will list them online. In that sense, students will want to check with the programs that interest them.

Like most master’s programs, students of public policy can obtain their degrees in 1-2 years—the exact timeline will depend on course load.

Public policy professionals play an important role in ensuring that the policies that affect daily lives are ethical and effective. The field is a great match for individuals who want to develop their critical thinking and analytical abilities while serving their communities. In short, a master’s in public policy can lead to a fulfilling and rewarding career.

Best Online Masters in Public Policy Programs

We took a deep-dive and analyzed every online Masters in Public Policy program in the nation. Below are the results of our analysis and a list of the Top 20 online Masters in Public Policy programs.

Read about our methodology here.

Graduation Rate
93%
School Type
Private, Non-profit
Tuition
$3,451 per course
Most Accelerated

Northwestern University offers an accelerated master's in public policy program to help distance learners graduate more quickly. Students can sign up for the accelerated pace, taking three or four courses per quarter to earn their degree in only one year.


Program OverviewDepartment Name: School of Professional Studies
Program Name: Master's in Public Policy & Administration
Available concentrations: Public Administration, Public Policy, Global Policy, Global Health, Data Analytics for Public Policy

DeliveryFormat: Online

Program requirementsPrerequisites: Undergraduate degree
Credit Requirements: 13 courses

Program LengthProgram Options: Full-time, part-time
Program Length: 2 years
Program start dates: Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer

Admission RequirementsApplication deadline: Fall: July 15; Winter: October 15; Spring: January 15; Summer: April 15
GPA: 3.0

Address:

339 E Chicago Ave

Chicago, IL 6061

312-503-0875

Graduation Rate
82%
School Type
Public
Tuition
$920 per credit
Most Flexible

The University of Pittsburgh's online master's in public policy program caters to part-time students, giving them the flexibility to work at a pace that's most convenient for them. Students can enroll in two courses per term and graduate after five terms or select only one course per term, which helps them to balance their studies with full-time careers.


Program OverviewDepartment Name: Graduate School of Public & International Affairs
Program Name: Master of Public Policy & Management
Accrediting body: ARC-PA

DeliveryFormat: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Program requirementsPrerequisites: Bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited US institution
Credit Requirements: 30 credits

Program LengthProgram Options: Full-time, part-time
Program Length: 2 years
Program start dates: Spring, Summer, Fall

Admission RequirementsWork Experience: At least five years of full-time work experience in positions beyond entry-level

Address:

4227 5th Ave

Pittsburgh, PA 15260

412-648-9499

Graduation Rate
58%
School Type
Public
Tuition
In-state: $14,000 per year; Out-of-state: $24,000 per year
Best for Experienced Professionals

Arizona State University designed its master's in public policy program for experienced professionals in public sectors. Students need to have at least five to seven years of experience to enroll in the program and will learn the skills to become leaders in administrative policy.


Program OverviewDepartment Name: School of Public Affairs
Program Name: Master of Public Policy
Accrediting body: HLC

DeliveryFormat: Online, On-campus

Program requirementsPrerequisites: Bachelor's degree
Credit Requirements: 42 credits

Program LengthProgram Options: Full-time, part-time
Program Length: 6 years
Program start dates: Fall, Spring, Summer

Admission RequirementsApplication deadline: Fall: July 1; Spring: November 1; Summer: April 1
GPA: 3.0

Address:

411 N Central Ave, #450

Phoenix, AZ 85004

602-496-7827

Graduation Rate
63%
School Type
Public
Tuition
$538 per credit
Best for Policy Analysts

Oregon State University prepares graduate students for careers as policy analysts with its comprehensive master's in public policy program. The curriculum includes rural and social policy, energy policy and analytics, giving graduates the skills to lead and to make positive changes in policy after earning their degree.


Program OverviewDepartment Name: College of LIberal Arts
Program Name: Master of Public Policy
Available concentrations: Energy policy, Environmental policy, Rural policy, Social policy
Accrediting body: NASPAA

DeliveryFormat: Online

Program requirementsPrerequisites: Baccalaureate degree
Credit Requirements: 62 credits

Program LengthProgram Options: Full-time, part-time
Program start dates: Winter: January 7; Spring: April 1, 2019; Summer: June; Fall: September

Admission RequirementsApplication deadline: Winter: September 1; Spring: December 1; Summer: March 1; Fall: June 1
GPA: 3.0
Work Experience: Five years of professional experience

Address:

Corvallis, OR 97331

800-667-1465

Graduation Rate
50%
School Type
Private Non-profit
Tuition
$565 per credit
Best Credit Transfer

Students who want to jump-start their public policy degree can do so with Liberty University's credit transfer policy. Distance learners can transfer as many as 15 credits from a previous graduate program to the school's master's in public policy program, allowing them to graduate more quickly.


Program OverviewDepartment Name: Helms School of Government
Program Name: Master of Arts in Public Policy
Available concentrations: Campaigns and Elections, General, International Affairs, Leadership, Middle East Affairs, Policy Studies, Public Administration
Accrediting body: SACSCOC

DeliveryFormat: Online

Program requirementsPrerequisites: Bachelor's degree
Credit Requirements: 36 credits

Program LengthProgram Options: Full-time, part-time
Program Length: 1.5 years
Program start dates: January 14

Admission RequirementsGPA: 3.0

Address:

1971 University Blvd

Lynchburg, VA 24515

800-424-9596

Graduation Rate
47%
School Type
Public
Tuition
$553 per credit
Most Reputable

The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth earns awards for its online programs, which includes the master's in public policy program, every year and continues to develop graduate students into career professionals. Students who want a quality education from a career-first curriculum and industry experts should consider enrolling at UMass.


Program OverviewDepartment Name: Department Public Policy
Program Name: Master of Public Policy
Available concentrations: Public Management, Environmental Policy, Education Policy
Accrediting body: NECHE

DeliveryFormat: Online

Program requirementsPrerequisites: Baccalaureate Degree
Credit Requirements: 36 credits

Program LengthProgram Options: Full-time, part-time
Program Length: 2 years
Program start dates: Fall, Spring

Admission RequirementsApplication deadline: Rolling
GPA: 3.0

Contact:

Daniesha Tobey-Richards

Admissions Contact

Address:

333 S St

Shrewsbury, MA 1545

508-999-9202

Graduation Rate
19%
School Type
Public
Tuition
In-state: $462 per credit; Out-of-state: $555 per credit
Best Hands-On Approach

Students in the master's in public policy program at SUNY Empire State College develop crucial skills through hands-on experience. This program includes projects that give students the chance to develop policies and to put them into practice, developing the skills to use in real-world scenarios after college.


Program OverviewDepartment Name: School for Graduate Studies
Program Name: Master of Arts in Social and Public Policy
Accrediting body: MSCHE

DeliveryFormat: Online, On-campus

Program requirementsPrerequisites: Bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution
Credit Requirements: 36 credits

Program LengthProgram Options: Full-time, part-time
Program start dates: Fall, Spring

Admission RequirementsApplication deadline: Rolling
GPA: 3.0

Address:

2 Union Ave

Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

800-847-3000

Graduation Rate
46%
School Type
Public
Tuition
$350 per credit
Best for Environmental Careers

Students who want to make changes to environmental policy can learn the necessary skills with American Public University's online master's in public policy program. Students in this program can choose the environmental policy concentration to align the coursework with their career goals.


Program OverviewDepartment Name: School of Security & Global Studies
Program Name: Master of Public Policy
Available concentrations: Environmental Policy, Health Policy, National Security Policy, Public Policy and the Law
Accrediting body: HLC

DeliveryFormat: Online

Program requirementsPrerequisites: Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution
Credit Requirements: 36 credits

Program LengthProgram Options: Full-time
Program Length: 2 years
Program start dates: Fall: November 5; Winter: January 7; Spring: April 1; Summer: July 1

Admission RequirementsGPA: 3.0

Address:

111 W Congress St

Charles Town, WV 25414

877-755-2787

Graduation Rate
33%
School Type
Private, Non-profit
Tuition
$490 per quarter hour
Best for Policy Consultant Careers

Walden University prepares students for careers as policy consultants with its extensive master's in public policy program. Students complete the coursework entirely online and develop the skills to analyze policies and to act as liaisons between their organizations and elected officials, community partners and other involved parties.


Program OverviewDepartment Name: School of Public Policy and Administration
Program Name: Master of Public Policy
Available concentrations: General Program, Criminal Justice, Emergency Management, Global Leadership, Homeland Security Policy and Coordination, International Nongovernmental Organizations, Law and Public Policy, Local Government Management for Sustainable Communities, Nonprofit Management and Leadership, Public Management and Leadership, Terrorism Mediation and Peace
Accrediting body: HLC

DeliveryFormat: Online

Program requirementsPrerequisites: Bachelor's degree
Credit Requirements: 48 credits

Program LengthProgram Length: 24 months
Program start dates: December 10

Admission Requirements

Address:

100 Washington Ave, #900

Minneapolis, MN 55401

844-675-1108

Graduation Rate
45%
School Type
Public
Tuition
In-state: $357 per credit; Out-of-state: $600 per credit
Best for Administrative Careers

Students who want to advance in their careers and become professional administrators should consider the University of Nebraska Omaha. The online master's in public administration program, which includes a public policy concentration, develops the students' skills to lead an organization and to create effective policy changes to address existing issues.


Program OverviewDepartment Name: School of Public Administration
Program Name: Master of Public Administration
Specialized concentration: Public Policy
Accrediting body: Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration (NASPAA)

DeliveryFormat: Online, On-campus
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Program requirementsPrerequisites: Bachelor's or master's degree at a regionally accredited college or university in the U.S.
Credit Requirements: 39 credit hours

Program LengthProgram Options: Full-time, part-time
Program Length: 2 years
Program start dates: Fall, Spring

Admission RequirementsApplication deadline: Fall: June 1; Spring: October 1
GPA: 3.0

Address:

6001 Dodge St

Omaha, NE 68182

402-554-2341

School Type
Public
Tuition
$824 per credit
Best for Nonprofit Director Careers

The University of Baltimore's online master's in public policy program prepares graduates for leadership roles in nonprofits. With courses in human resource management in nonprofit organizations and practices in nonprofits, students develop the knowledge and the skills to assume upper-level positions, such as executive directors, in the nonprofit sector.


Program OverviewDepartment Name: College of Public Affairs
Program Name: Master of Public Administration
Specialized concentration: Public Policy & Administration
Accrediting body: National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA)

DeliveryFormat: Online, On-campus

Program requirementsPrerequisites: Bachelor's degree
Credit Requirements: 42-45 credits

Program LengthProgram Length: 3 years
Program start dates: Fall; Winter; Summer

Admission RequirementsApplication deadline: Fall: Rolling; Spring: Dec 1; Summer: April 1
GPA: 3.0

Address:

10 W Preston St

Baltimore, MD 21201

410-837-6565

Graduation Rate
78%
School Type
Public
Tuition
In-state: $619 per credit; Out-of-state: $1269 per credit
Most Customized

Indiana University gives distance learners the freedom to combine two master's in policy analysis concentrations to enhance their degree. This option is perfect for students who have a specific career goal in mind and want to pursue a position in policy analytics after college.


Program OverviewDepartment Name: School of Public and Environmental Affairs
Program Name: Master of Public Affairs
Advanced Curriculum Area:: Policy Analysis
Accrediting body: HLC

DeliveryFormat: Online

Program requirementsPrerequisites: Must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university.
Credit Requirements: 48 credits

Program LengthProgram Options: Full-time, part-time
Program start dates: Spring: January; Summer: May; Fall: August

Admission RequirementsApplication deadline: Spring: November 15 (Priority), December 1 (Final); Summer: March 15 (Priority), April 1 (Final); Fall: July 15 (Priority), August 1 (Final)
GPA: 3.0

Address:

1315 E 10th St

Bloomington, IN 47405

812-855-2840

Graduation Rate
82%
School Type
Private, Non-profit
Tuition
$1,708 per credit
Best Networking

American University prepares graduates for career advancement thanks to invaluable networking opportunities during their time in school. Distance learners in the master's in public policy program gain invaluable insight from an industry-leading faculty, including numerous policy experts, as well as have access to a strong alumni network for future career possibilities.


Program OverviewProgram Name: Master of Public Administration & Policy
Accrediting body: MSCHE

DeliveryFormat: Online

Program requirementsPrerequisites: Bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university
Credit Requirements: 36 credits

Program LengthProgram Options: Full-time, part-time
Program Length: 2 years
Program start dates: Spring: January 14

Admission RequirementsApplication deadline: Rolling
GPA: 3.0

Address:

4400 Massachusetts Ave NW

Washington, DC 20016

885-725-7614

Graduation Rate
50%
School Type
Private Non-profit
Tuition
$650 per credit
Best Faith-Based Program

Regent University's master's in public policy program is ideal for students who want to develop policy changes from a Christian point of view. Students learn from a faith-based curriculum, which includes courses in Christian foundations of government, allowing them to explore religion and politics and how they affect social policy.


Program OverviewDepartment Name: Robertson School of Government
Program Name: Master of Arts in Government in Law & Public Policy
Accrediting body: SACSCC

DeliveryFormat: Online, On-campus

Program requirementsPrerequisites: Undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution or an equivalent degree from a foreign university
Credit Requirements: 30-33 credits

Program LengthProgram Options: Full-time,part-time
Program Length: 2 years
Program start dates: Session C: January 14; Session T: February 11; Session D: March 18; Session E: May 13; Session F: June 24

Admission RequirementsApplication deadline: Session C: January 2; Session T: January 30; Session D: March 6; Session E: May 1; Session F: June 12
GPA: 3.0

Address:

1000 Regent University Dr

Virginia Beach, VA 23464

800-373-5504

Graduation Rate
43%
School Type
Public
Tuition
$444 per credit
Best Interdisciplinary Program

The University of Texas Rio Grande offers an entirely interdisciplinary program for students who want to earn their master's degree in public policy. This program covers numerous branches of social policy and provides courses in public administration, local government management and more to give students a well-rounded skill set for career advancement.


Program OverviewProgram Name: Master of Public Affairs
Accrediting body: SACSCC

DeliveryFormat: Online

Program requirementsPrerequisites: Bachelor Degree
Credit Requirements: 36 credits

Program LengthProgram Options: Full-time
Program Length: 12 months
Program start dates: Fall I, Fall I, Spring I: January 2; Spring II: February 27

Admission RequirementsApplication deadline: Fall I: August; Fall II: October; Spring I: January 2; Spring II: February 27
GPA: 3.0

Address:

1201 W. University Drive

Edinburg, TX 78539

833-887-4842

Graduation Rate
58%
School Type
Private
Tuition
$704 per credit
Best for Working Professionals

Norwich University designed its master's in public administration program for working professionals, such as law enforcement officers and nonprofit administrators, who want to advance their careers in public policy. Students can choose to concentrate in policy analysis and will develop the skills to create solutions for current issues in their respective field.


Program OverviewDepartment Name: College of Graduate & Continuing Studies
Program Name: Master of Public Administration
Specialized Concentration: Policy Analysis and Analytics
Accrediting body: New England Commission of Higher Education

DeliveryFormat: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Program requirementsPrerequisites: Bachelor's degree from a regionally or nationally accredited institution or an equivalent degree from a foreign institution
Credit Requirements: 36 credit hours

Program LengthProgram Length: 18-24 months
Program start dates: March 4

Admission RequirementsApplication deadline: February 4

Address:

158 Harmon Dr

Northfield, VT 5663

866-684-7237

Graduation Rate
59%
School Type
Public
Tuition
In-state: $299 per credit; Out-of-state: $302 per credit
Best Curriculum

Eastern Illinois University's master's in public policy curriculum is highly rated and includes topics that many other schools fail to include as courses. Students study everything from classical political theory to international policy, giving them indispensable knowledge to use for career advancement after graduation.


Program OverviewDepartment Name: Department of Political Science
Program Name: Master of Arts in Political Science
Specialized concentration: Public Administration & Public Policy
Accrediting body: HLC, NCATE

DeliveryFormat: Online

Program requirementsCredit Requirements: 32 credits

Program LengthProgram Options: Full-time, part-time
Program start dates: Fall, Spring, Summer

Admission RequirementsApplication deadline: Fall: May 15; Spring: October 15
GPA: 2.75

Address:

600 Lincoln AVe

Charleston, IL 61920

217-581-2523

Graduation Rate
39%
School Type
Public
Tuition
$293 per credit hour
Best Internship

Valdosta State University offers a master's in public administration program with a concentration in public policy for distance learners. Students not only receive a quality education from intensive coursework but also massive hands-on experience thanks to a 300-hour internship.


Program OverviewProgram Name: Master of Public Administration
Specialized concentration: Public Policy
Accrediting body: NASPAA

DeliveryFormat: Online

Program requirementsPrerequisites: Bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university
Credit Requirements: 36 credit hours
Field Education Requirements: 300-hour internship

Program LengthProgram start dates: January 14

Admission RequirementsApplication deadline: Rolling

Address:

1500 N Patterson St

Valdosta, GA 31698

229-333-5694

Graduation Rate
36%
School Type
Private, Non-profit
Tuition
$555 per credit
Best Virtual Campus

New England College's completely online master's in public policy program creates a lively virtual campus for distance learners. Students can access their coursework and classes 24/7 and participate in live discussions, project collaborations and more, giving them the feeling of an on-campus classroom from a distance.


Program OverviewProgram Name: Master of Arts in Public Policy
Accrediting body: NECHE

DeliveryFormat: Online
Instruction Style: Synchronous

Program requirementsPrerequisites: Bachelor's degree
Credit Requirements: 36 credits

Program LengthProgram Options: Full-time, part-time
Program Length: 2 years

Admission RequirementsGPA: 3.0

Contact:

Stephanie Kelliher

Admissions Contact

Address:

98 Bridge St

Henniker, NH 3242

603-428-2297

School Type
Public
Tuition
$668 per credit
Best Cohort

Thomas Edison State College has one of the best cohort formats for students who want to advance through the online master's in public policy program together. Students in the cohort are able to collaborate with one another and to build relationships that not only lead to friendships but also networking opportunities after college.


Program OverviewDepartment Name: Watson School of Public Service
Program Name: Master of Public Service Leadership
Specialized concentration: Public Health/Public Policy
Accrediting body: National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA)

DeliveryFormat: Online

Program requirementsPrerequisites: Baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college or university
Credit Requirements: 36 credits

Program LengthProgram Length: 2 years
Program start dates: January, April, July, October

Admission RequirementsApplication deadline: November 15; February 15; May 15; August 15
GPA: 2.75

Address:

111 W State St

Trenton, NJ 8608

609-777-5680

What Can I Expect from an Online Master’s Public Policy Program?

Master’s in public policy degrees are flexible, multidisciplinary degrees that prepare graduates for a variety of professional positions that often merge analysis and administration tasks. You’ll learn key skills that are in high demand in careers across the public, private, nonprofit and governmental sectors. Online programs still meet the rigorous demands of traditional, on-campus coursework but offer distinct benefits. One of the biggest benefits of obtaining your master’s in public policy online is the ability to tailor your coursework around your professional and family obligations. Since programs vary between schools, compare program descriptions and curriculum to ensure you find the right program that aligns with your career goals.

Degrees Offered for an Online Master’s in Public Policy

CONCENTRATIONDESCRIPTIONCAREERS THIS CONCENTRATION PREPARES FOR
Nonprofit SectorA master’s in public policy that concentrates on the nonprofit sector focuses on the role of nonprofits in society, especially the role of managers.Manager of a nonprofit, lobbyist for a nonprofit
Public AdministrationPublic policy master’s programs with a concentration in public administration focus on the American governmental system from an administrative perspective instead of a political one.Administrative services manager, public administration consultant, city manager, mayor, foreign service officer
International AffairsAn online master’s in public policy with a concentration in international affairs prepares graduates for careers as an expert in international public policy with an emphasis on foreign policy.Foreign affairs specialist, foreign service officer, international business manager, career military officer
Campaigns and ElectionsOnline public policy master’s programs with a concentration in campaigns and elections examine the techniques and trends in modern political campaigns and elections, including the most effective communication, marketing and writing techniques.Political campaign manager, political consultant, career politician

Curriculum for an Online Master’s in Public Policy

While online master’s in public policy curriculums vary by educational institution, each program typically blends the analytical and administrative aspects of public policy to provide graduates with an overall perspective of the field. Program requirements are usually divided into core and elective courses, with elective courses allowing you to customize your degree. Compare programs carefully, because some require you to complete a relevant internship before your degree is awarded and others may require a thesis or capstone project. Also, some programs are completed completely online, while others are hybrid programs that incorporate both online and on-campus courses. Whichever type of program you choose, common courses you may encounter include:

COURSESDESCRIPTION
Policy AnalysisExplores the policy-making process, including how policies are formed, and the assessment and evaluation of these policies.
Legal Issues in Public AdministrationInsights into the legal issues in government and cover topics like the delegation of legislative power, administrative appeals and judicial review.
Budgeting and Financial ManagementExamines budgeting in the public sector and budgetary processes, including issues like cost estimation, capital financing, cost-benefit analysis, debt management, performance budgeting and financial statements.
Public Policy for ManagersStrategic planning, implementation and evaluation of public policy and the functions of policy analysis in political and administrative decision-making.
Government Regulations and Administrative LawProbes the impact of regulations and laws on federal and state governments and the American people.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master’s in Public Policy?

The amount of time it takes to complete your master’s degree online largely depends on the type of program you choose. Self-paced programs allow you to work at your own pace, while cohort-based programs require you to log in at specific times for live classes with your fellow classmates. Depending on your motivation, individually paced programs can often be completed much sooner than normal, but cohort classes stick to a set schedule. On average, an online master’s degree in public policy includes 36 credit hours that you can complete in two years when attending full-time.

Certifications and Licenses an Online Master’s in Public Policy Prepares For

CONCENTRATIONCERTIFICATION
Certified in Public PolicyAfter earning a master’s in public policy and obtaining three years of professional experience in political, public policy or governmental service, you can apply for board certification in public policy from the Academy of Certified Political Analysts.

Accreditation for Online Master’s in Public Policy Degrees

Before signing up for a master’s in public policy program, ensure the college or university has accreditation status. While many online master’s programs don’t receive programmatic accreditation, the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration’s Commission on Peer Review and Accreditation is the authoritative accreditor of master’s degree programs in public administration, public policy and public affairs, as recognized by the Council for Higher Education (CHEA). This doesn’t mean every master’s in public policy program has received accreditation. However, the college or university itself should always be accredited through an agency recognized by the Department of Education or CHEA to ensure eligibility for financial aid.

Employment Outlook for Master’s in Public Policy Graduates

Job Placement: Master’s v. Bachelor’s

While some organizations require only a bachelor’s degree for entry-level positions in the public policy field, others require a master’s degree. No matter their educational requirements, most organizations give preference to applicants with advanced degrees. Earning your online master’s degree not only makes you more appealing as a job candidate for popular, often lucrative, careers in this field; you may also qualify for higher-level positions and/or salaries from the outset based on your advanced expertise.

Expected Salary

Completing an online master’s in public policy makes you well-suited for city, state and federal government positions where policy is a major factor. Your degree also opens up career opportunities within the private and nonprofit sector, especially where analysis of previous policy or crafting of future policy is an important aspect of the job. The sector you work in can impact your expected salary as demonstrated by the following table.

Job TitleSalary Range
City Mayor$29,880-$110,221
City Manager$50,289-$160,856
Public Policy Analyst$39,376-$83,859
Public Policy Director$49,960-$127,659
Nonprofit Program Manager$35,845-$74,068

Source: PayScale.com

Besides earning an advanced degree, such as an online master’s in public policy, your time on the job greatly influences how much you can expect to earn. For example, a director in public policy earns more than twice as much late in their career compared to those with little experience, as the following table demonstrates.

Average Total Salary of a Public Policy Director based on Years of Service

Source: PayScale.com

Career Opportunities

Whether you opt for a general public policy education or focus on a specialized area, there are numerous fields and sectors open to you. Graduates often pursue careers domestically within local, state or federal government offices or branch out to governmental positions abroad. You may also strive to obtain a leading role in a nongovernmental position or with a nonprofit organization. No matter which career path you follow, an online master’s degree in public policy sets you up for a rewarding career in public service that can provide a better-than-average salary compared to the median household income of $61,372 reported by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2017.

JOB TITLEJOB DESCRIPTIONMEDIAN SALARYPROJECTED GROWTH RATE
Social and Community Service ManagersSocial and Community Service Managers coordinate and supervise social service programs and community organizations, including managing staff members.$64,100 per year18%
Chief Executive in the Public SectorChief Executive Officers work in nearly every industry in the public sector, but some nonprofits also employ chief executives. Primary duties of chief executives are to devise strategies and policies to ensure the business meets its overall goals.$107,700 per year8%
Political ScientistPolitical Scientists study the origin, development and operation of political systems. They also help in the planning and development of new policies by analyzing previous policies, political trends and other related issues.$115,110 per year3%

Professional Organizations

Establishing professional connections is a crucial part of getting the most out of your master’s in public policy degree. Connecting with other professionals within the field allows you to build valuable networks that offer beneficial resources, including invaluable advice and support from those with more experience. One way to achieve these goals is through professional organizations that cater to public policy professionals.

Many of these organizations regularly host networking and/or career development events, online job boards, continuing education opportunities, professional awards and other members-only services. While these organizations are beneficial at any stage of your career, they’re particularly valuable as you enter the workforce after completing your online master’s in public policy degree. Some notable organizations for professionals with master’s public policy degrees include:

Association for Public Policy Analysis & Management (APPAM): Promotes excellence in public policy and management, with memberships available to institutions, professionals and students. It hosts multidisciplinary annual conferences, including spring, fall, international and regional student conferences. It also publishes a peer-reviewed multidisciplinary journal four times a year and offers a mentor matching program for student members in search of guidance and support in their career development endeavors.

American Society for Public Administration (ASPA): A leading interdisciplinary public service organization with memberships available to students, new and long-term professionals, and retirees. It hosts networking events, as well as annual conferences and free professional development webinars. It also publishes scholarly journals both in print and electronically, presents professional awards and posts job listings. Besides the national chapter, it also has local chapters that allow you to meet and network within your own geographic area.

Financing Your Online Master’s in Organizational Leadership Degree

Although online master’s degree programs often cost less than traditional on-campus programs, many students still need financial aid to cover tuition and associated fees. The most important step to finding financial assistance is by filling out the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA), which is required to apply for loans, grants and other financial aid opportunities offered by the federal government. Some state governments also use the FAFSA, but others may require you to fill out a separate form to apply for state aid. Many educational institutions also utilize the FAFSA to determine whether you qualify for institutional aid, but some have a separate application for scholarships, work-study programs and other assistance. Scholarships and grants from private sources are also frequently available through corporations, nonprofits and other sources that require specific application steps. For more information about obtaining financial assistance, investigate the following resources.

Resources

Scholarships

Scholarships

Details

Corey L. Richards Memorial Scholarship

Award: $15,000

Deadline: February

Eligibility: Graduate students pursuing a master’s in public policy or public health committed to advancing public policy related to sexual and reproductive rights.

Michael Lindberg Scholarship at Portland State University

Award: $2,000

Deadline: May

Eligibility: Graduate students enrolled in the public administration program in the College of Urban and Public Affairs at Portland State University.

Clarence E. Ridley Scholarship

Award: $3,500

Deadline: January

Eligibility: Graduate students attending any accredited Texas university, pursuing a master’s in public policy or administration and taking at least six credit hours/semester.