Masters in Public Policy

A Masters in Public Policy requires concentrated classroom experience, and helps prepare students to work in a variety of positions in the public sector depending on what their degree focus is. Some of the courses that could be included as part of this program include: research methods for public policy, accounting, legal frameworks for public policy, and economics. Most of the time at this level of study, the students will want to choose a definitive focus, either in the legal or financial side of public policy and what that means, as well as completing an internship in a public office.

When interested in pursuing Public Policy Master's programs, many students are turning to the possibility of obtaining an online degree. This carries many advantages over the traditional campus method of learning, because the coursework can be completed on a student's own time, allowing them to continue working full time if they wish. Another benefit is that online degree programs are usually more cost effective, because there is less of a need to pay for facility fees. Employers tend to respect online degrees just as much as the alternative, but it's a good idea to first conduct some research into the different schools' reputations and track records of career placement.

There is a wide range of different positions that a graduate of this type of program could expect to be placed in, depending on what the field of interest is. Some job titles could include work in public relations, the media, non-profit organizations, public advocacy groups, or within government agencies, for example. On the government end of this salary spectrum, the average salary according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics is $32,589, while those who work for private agencies can earn far more, depending on experience.

Additional Public Policy Grad Resources

Carnegie Mellon University has a Master of Public Policy & Management degree that folds technology and quantitative studies into the standard public affairs courses, creating a degree that is founded in public finance as well as policy matters. Management and technical expertise are at the core of this program. There is also a Master in Public Management degree program option.

American University has one of the top School of Public Affairs in the United States as ranked by US News & World Report. The Master of Public Policy (MPP) is a 39 credit hour program with multiple options for areas of concentration that include: Social policy; Science, Technology & Environmental Policy; Crime; Public Law & Policy, Public Financial Management, International Development, Advanced Policy Analysis, and several more.

University of California/Los Angeles Master of Public Policy degree has more of an urban focus and less of a federal focus than some of the programs offered by schools in the Washington DC area. Specializations for the MPP at UCLA include Transportation, Social Policy, Poverty, Urban & Regional Development, Nonprofits, Health, Environment, Labor, Education, Crime & Drugs, and International.

Georgetown University offers the MPP as a full time campus program and an evening option for students who have already embarked on careers. There are three certificate options that can be appended to the MPP program: Nonprofit Management, International Program Evaluation, and Legislative Studies. There is also a Master of Policy Management degree available.

University of Minnesota Hubert Humphrey School of Public Affairs is one of the best in the country. There are five masters' degree programs available through the school, with a MPP that offers seven areas of concentration: Women & Public Policy; Social Policy; Advanced Policy Analysis Methods; Economic & Community Development; Global Public Policy; Science, Technology & Environmental Policy; and Public & Nonprofit Leadership.

Professional Public Policy Associations

Public Affairs Council is a government affairs and public policy organization organized in 1954 as an umbrella organization for public affairs professionals, institutions and companies with public policy concerns. The PAC offers professional development programs for its members and employees of members, several newsletters and many online educational resources, and a very active advocacy program.

American Society for Public Administration was founded in 1939 and is based in Washington, DC. The organization provides professional education programs for its members, and publishes a newsletter and the journal Public Administration Review. There are more than eighty chapters and university based affiliates that provide networking opportunities for both working professionals and students.

National League of Cities is an organization for the nation's smaller cities and municipalities, providing legislative advocacy services and a source of information on federal activities for member jurisdictions. The NLC takes positions regarding federal funding programs and policy issues on behalf of its members and hosts a large annual convention.

United States Conference of Mayors is an organization for cities with populations of 30,000 or more, of which there are just over 1,200 in the United States. This organization is a strong lobby for urban interests in Washington and an excellent networking organization for public policy professionals working at the municipal level.

Federal Managers Association is the largest organization for management level federal employees in the nation. Publications put out by the Association include the Federal Manager and the Washington Report, along with periodic legislative updates and issue briefs. The website provides several networking resources for members and produces training seminars in several locations for purposes of professional development.

Public Policy Accreditation and Credentials

National Association of Schools of Public Affairs & Administration is the organization for accrediting schools of public affairs that is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Member organizations include 267 schools of public affairs, public policy and public management.

American Academy of Certified Public Managers is affiliated with the CPM certification program that is offered as an exam based program at the state level. It is open to professionals with appropriate educational credentials and sufficient work experience.

International City/County Management Association is an organization that policy makers at the local and regional level find to be an invaluable networking tool and resource for problem solving and local innovation. The Association has a program for ICMA Credentialed Manager (ICMA - CM).

Certified Government Financial Manager is a credential for public policy professionals that work in the budget and finance fields of public management. Most careers in this area are launched with a degree in finance or accounting, but some public policy graduates become budget experts as a result of professional experience.

Association for Public Policy & Management is an organization of accredited institutions with programs in public policy and public management along with non-academic institutions that are active in public policy or consulting.

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