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Top 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Public Policy 2020

CVO-Most AffordableIn this article, we profile the 30 most affordable on campus and online master’s in public policy programs of 2020.

As the United States grapples with significant change and challenges, skilled professionals with knowledge and research acumen are needed to address the most pressing political concerns. Earning a master’s in public policy opens doors to employment opportunities across organizations and agencies in a variety of highly specialized roles. Today, you have a choice whether to earn an MPP degree online or on-campus. Through research, we have determined the most affordable MPP degree programs.

30 Most Affordable Master’s in Public Policy Programs Methodology

We reviewed over 105 colleges and universities listed by the Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) College Navigator and reputable online sources that offered master’s in public policy programs. We narrowed our original pool of schools by applying the following criteria: accreditation (regional and/or national) and institution or program rankings with at least one major publication, focusing primarily on U.S. News and World Report. We then narrowed our list even further by selecting programs, both online and on-campus, that cost less than $31,500 per year. We listed our selected programs according to raw affordability.

Below are the resulting selections for our most affordable master’s of public policy programs of 2020.

Reviewing Each of the Top On Campus and Online Master’s in Public Policy Programs

#30 – American University

Master’s in Public Policy

Washington, District of Columbia

Website

American University - Top 30 Most Affordable Masters in Public Policy 2020

American University’s MPP degree offers 11 concentrations.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $31,113

American University offers a campus-based masters in public policy through its renowned School of Public Affairs. Interested applicants must submit their academic record, two letters of recommendation, and GRE test scores. GMAT or MCAT scores can be used when appropriate. The 39-credit program includes 30 foundational credits and nine credits in a chosen concentration area. The degree provides 11 concentrations for students interested in a specific area of public policy. Foundational courses may include advanced quantitative methods for policy analysis, foundations of policy analysis, and legal basis of public administration. U.S. News and World Report ranks American University #14 in public policy analysis.

#29 – University of Pittsburgh

Online Master’s in Public Policy and Management

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Website

University of Pittsburgh - Top 30 Most Affordable Masters in Public Policy 2020

Experience required to apply to University of Pittsburgh’s online master’s in public policy program.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $24,480

The University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs offers an online masters in public policy designed for mid-career professionals seeking an advanced degree to boost their career opportunities and skillsets. The coursework is completed online, making it an excellent option for those looking for flexibility in addition to rigor. To be eligible for the program, individuals must have a minimum of five years of full-time work experience beyond an entry-level position, with increasing levels of responsibility in at least one of the following area: program management, finance and budgeting, human capital management, and policy development and implementation. Pittsburgh has an outstanding national reputation and is ranked #57 in national universities by U.S. News and World Report.

#28 – University of Michigan

Master’s in Public Policy

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Website

University of Michigan - Top 30 Most Affordable Masters in Public Policy 2020

10-week internship required! University of Michigan’s master’s in public policy.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $24,218

Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy offers one of the top masters in public policy, combining rigorous research and affordability from one of the most renowned policy schools in the United States. The program is especially strong in policy analysis, political and ethical analysis, communication, and leadership. Students typically spend two years at the institution in addition to a 10-week internship. 36 of the 48 credits are required to be completed in the Ford School. Core classes may include microeconomics for public policy, politics of public policy, and quantitative methods of program evaluation. Michigan is currently ranked #3 in top public schools by U.S. News and World Report.

#27 – DePaul University

Online Master’s in Public Policy

Chicago, Illinois

Website

DePaul University - Top 30 Most Affordable Masters in Public Policy 2020

13-course online master’s in public policy program – DePaul University.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $19,974

The DePaul University College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences offers a masters in public policy online with a focus on policy development and analysis. Interested applicants must provide a professional statement, resume, and transcripts in addition to the graduate school application. GRE scores are not required to apply. The program is offered in a hybrid format that blends traditional coursework with online classes, all designed for working professionals. The 13-course program may include classes such as applied statistics for public service, ethical leadership in public service, and introduction to public service management. DePaul University is ranked #125 in national universities by U.S. News and World Report.

#26 – Rutgers University

Master’s in Public Policy and Business Administration

Newark, New Jersey

Website

Rutgers University - Top 30 Most Affordable Masters in Public Policy 2020

Ranked and accredited MPP degree program! Rutgers!

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $19,967

Rutgers University offers a unique masters of public policy in combination with an MBA offered in a joint partnership between the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy and the Rutgers Business School. Students must apply to each program separately and identify their interest in the dual program on each application. Each program accepts 12 credits from the other program toward the completion of the degree. This results in the student needing 48 business credits and 33 pubic policy credits. The degree prepares graduates for careers in all levels of government, private, and non-profit organizations and provides the individual with a unique skillset of quantitative policy research and advanced business skills and knowledge such as economics, finance, and the like. Rutgers is ranked #62 in national universities by U.S. News and World Report.

#25 – California Lutheran University

Master’s in Public Policy and Administration

Thousand Oaks, California

Website

California Lutheran University - Top 30 Most Affordable Masters in Public Policy 2020

Small class sizes and affordable tuition! California Lutheran’s master’s in public policy.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $19,556

California Lutheran University offers a masters in public policy, through its School of Management, that prepares graduates for top positions as policymakers and leaders in a variety of professional contexts, including government, private industry, education, and non-profit. Students engage with curriculum and faculty in deep and meaningful ways, both in and out of the classroom. With an average of only 15 students per class, voices are not drowned out and everyone has the opportunity to be heard and contribute. In addition to classroom discourse, students have the opportunity to work at the Sacramento Policy Institute and the Gallegly Center for Public Service. California Lutheran ranks #9 in regional universities West by U.S. News and World Report.

#24 – University of Virginia

Master’s in Public Policy

Charlottesville, Virginia

Website

University of Virginia - Top 30 Most Affordable Masters in Public Policy 2020

A top-ranked school with a top-ranked MPP degree – UVA!

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $19,528

The University of Virginia’s Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy offers a public policy masters program focusing on rigorous policy analysis culminating in an applied policy project where students develop a professional study for a real client. The 49-credit program entails two years of full-time study along with internships during the summers between the first and second year. Potential applicants must submit all required documents to apply. Documentation includes resume, four essays, two letters of recommendation, transcripts, and test scores. Currently ranked in 14 separate categories by leading publication U.S. News and World Report, the University of Virginia ranks #28 in national universities and #4 in top public schools.

#23 – Loyola University

Master’s in Urban Affairs and Public Policy

Chicago, Illinois

Website

Loyola University - Top 30 Most Affordable Masters in Public Policy 2020

Urban affairs and public policy! Loyola University!

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $19,498

Loyola University of Chicago offers an MPP degree ranking as one of the most affordable and respected in the country. A masters public policy degree is designed to prepare graduates for leadership roles in government, private industry, and the non-profit sector. As the relationships between public policy and organizations deepen and increase in complexity, individuals with skill and knowledge in policy will see the demand for their skills rise, along with employment opportunities. The program at Loyola University of Chicago provides the curriculum, faculty expertise, and real-world engagement that students can leverage to take advantage of these opportunities. Coursework may include analytical tools for policy analysis, policy design and analysis, and statistical methods of analysis for public policy. Loyola Chicago is ranked #104 in national universities by U.S. News and World Report.

#22 – University of Minnesota

Master’s in Public Policy

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Website

University of Minnesota - Top 30 Most Affordable Masters in Public Policy 2020

The master’s in public policy at University of Minnesota costs less than $20,000 per year.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $19,221

The Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota offers a masters in public policy designed to prepare students for top positions as they prepare to serve at the local, state, and national levels. The University of Minnesota is held in high regard among its peers and ranks #10 in best public affairs schools by U.S. News and World Report due to its outstanding faculty, graduate placements, and the like. The degree brings together several disciplines, including global policy, management, politics, leadership, and sociology, resulting in a practitioner with a broad view of the issues surrounding policy and the social forces that influence its effectiveness.

#21 – Michigan State University

Master’s in Public Policy

East Lansing, Michigan

Website

Michigan State University - Top 30 Most Affordable Masters in Public Policy 2020

Ranked and accredited! Michigan State’s

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $18,858

The Department of Political Science within the Michigan State University College of Social Science offers a masters of public policy that provides students with the real-world engagement, innovation, and leadership skills to make an impact on the world through effective policy and policy analysis. Students learn essential research skills needed to critically engage with, develop, and evaluate public policy. Admission policies include submitting a resume, transcript, three letters of recommendation, personal statement, and GRE scores. Courses may include issues in public policy, policy development and administration, and quantitative methods. Michigan State University has an excellent academic reputation and ranks #84 in national universities by U.S. News and World Report.

#20 – Temple University

Master’s in Public Policy

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Website

Temple University - Top 30 Most Affordable Masters in Public Policy 2020

An affordable MPP degree! Temple University.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $17,846

The College of Liberal Arts at Temple University offers an MPP degree focusing on policy development and analysis through rigorous research. In addition, the program helps develop soft skills in leadership and political thought that are needed to navigate the various institutions that drive policy. With a location like Philadelphia, students have access to policy organizations such as the Institute for Public Affairs. The end goal of the program is to develop public policy generalists that can work in both the public and private sectors creating, informing, and researching public policy for the betterment of society. Temple University ranks #104 in national universities and #44 in top public schools according to U.S. News and World Report.

#19 – Trinity College

Master’s in Public Policy

Hartford, Connecticut

Website

Trinity College - Top 30 Most Affordable Masters in Public Policy 2020

Offering both part-time and full-time MPP degree options! Trinity College.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $17,500

Trinity College offers an mpp degree that prepares students for analyzing policy within a variety of contexts. The program accepts both full- and part-time students with full-time enrollment resulting in finishing the degree in just one year. The degree consists of ten courses including budget management in public policy, leadership in a policy arena, and methods and statistics for policy research. Graduates have gone on to high-level policy jobs for private industry, all levels of government, and non-profits. Trinity has a lengthy track record of preparing adept policy analysts and is currently ranked #46 in best liberal arts colleges in the country by U.S. News and World Report.

#18 – Regent University

Online Master’s in Government – Law and Public Policy

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Website

Regent University - Top 30 Most Affordable Masters in Public Policy 2020

Study law and public policy at Regent University.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $16,592

Regent University offers an online masters in public policy through its Robertson School of Government. The school is a member of the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, & Administration, and follows the guidelines set forth by the network to ensure students receive a rigorous policy education taught by highly qualified faculty. Featured courses include healthcare policy and ethics, international and comparative human rights, and issues in media law and ethics. The program is designed for full-time professionals and can be completed entirely online. The 30-33 credit degree is delivered via 8-week sessions that balance rigor and flexibility with a value placed on efficiency.

#17 – University of Massachusetts

Online Master’s in Public Policy

Amherst, Massachusetts

Website

University of Massachusetts - Top 30 Most Affordable Masters in Public Policy 2020

UMASS Amherst offers an online master’s in public policy.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $16,209

The School of Public Policy within The College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at UMass Amherst offers a masters in public policy online that is structured as a one-year program but can be completed on a part-time basis as well. The curriculum is delivered in a hybrid format with a mixture of online and in-person courses that provide a balance for busy working professionals to still be able to engage in person while maintaining their responsibilities, such as family and work. Core classes may include economics and public policy, introduction to statistical methods, politics and the policy process, and public policy analysis. UMass – Amherst is ranked #64 in national universities by U.S. News and World Report.

#16 – Georgia Institute of Technology

Master’s in Public Policy

Atlanta, Georgia

Website

Georgia Institute of Technology - Top 30 Most Affordable Masters in Public Policy 2020

Georgia Tech’s master’s in public policy requires the GRE.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $16,088

The Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts School of Public Policy offers a masters in public policy that focuses on combining theory and practice with the goal of using knowledge to inform action with regards to policy formation, implementation, and analysis. Students from all academic backgrounds are welcome, with the preference being those with a strong analytical background no matter the degree they possess. Candidates are required to submit GRE scores only, as the department will not accept other types of test scores as a replacement. In addition, an introductory statistics course is required as a prerequisite. For context, the fall 2019 admission rate was 67.4%. Georgia Tech has an excellent reputation and is ranked #29 in national universities by U.S. News and World Report.

#15 – George Mason University

Master’s in Public Policy

Fairfax, Virginia

Website

George Mason University - Top 30 Most Affordable Masters in Public Policy 2020

Ranked and affordable! George Mason’s master’s of public policy.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $15,648

George Mason’s masters of public policy is designed for current or aspiring policy professionals. The degree emphasizes research and policy analysis along with the social and organizational contexts and forces that influence and guide policy. Graduates are equipped with the global insight and technological skills that are rapidly changing and advancing the policy process. The program is geared towards working professionals with classes scheduled in the late afternoons and evenings. Required courses may include advanced data analysis for policy and government, geographic information systems and spatial analysis for public policy, introductory data analysis for policy and government, and macroeconomic policy in the global economy. George Mason is ranked #153 in national universities by U.S. News and World Report.

#14 – Oregon State University

Online Master’s in Public Policy

Corvallis, Oregon

Website

Oregon State University - Top 30 Most Affordable Master's in Public Policy 2020

OSU’s online master’s in public policy is less than $15,000 per year.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $14,802

Oregon State University’s online masters in public policy provides an opportunity for current policy professionals to take their career to the next level with a graduate degree. Designed with the early or mid-career professional in mind, the program follows the principles as established by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration. The online degree carries the same faculty, mission, and curriculum as the on-campus program. Students can choose a policy area of emphasis – such as energy, environmental, rural, and social – that best fits their career aspirations and passions. Candidates with a bachelor’s degree and 3.0 GPA are welcome to apply. Oregon State is ranked #139 in national universities by U.S. News and World Report.

#13 – University of Maryland

Master’s in Public Policy

College Park, Maryland

Website

University of Maryland - Top 30 Most Affordable Masters in Public Policy 2020

The MPP degree program at University of Maryland ranks among the top programs.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $14,793

The University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy offers an MPP degree where students learn both the art and science public policy and governance in today’s global economy dominated by advances in technology and an increasingly quantitative environment. With its location in the Washington D.C. area, students will have the opportunity to engage in the policy-making progress directly. 24-credits of core courses are highlighted by a quantitative skills sequence featuring budgeting and finance, macroeconomics, microeconomics and policy analysis, and quantitative aspects of public policy. Backed by an excellent administration and faculty, the University of Maryland ranks in several U.S. News and World Report categories including #64 in national universities and #24 in top public schools.

#12 – University of California Berkeley

Master’s in Public Policy

Berkeley, California

Website

University of California Berkeley - Top 30 Most Affordable Masters in Public Policy 2020

UC Berkeley offers a top ranked master’s in public policy degree.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $14,187

The Goldman School of Public Policy at UC-Berkeley offers a masters public policy graduate degree that can be completed in two years full-time. The courses are offered during the fall and spring semesters, with an internship during both summers of the program. Candidates are required to submit a resume, public policy statement of purpose, personal history statement, letters of recommendation, and GRE scores not older than five years at the time of application. Admission is competitive, with approximately 16% of applicants accepted. Courses include advanced policy analysis, foundations for public policy analysis, and the politics of public policy. UC-Berkeley is highly regarded and ranks #22 in national universities by U.S. News and World Report.

#11 – University of California Riverside

Master’s in Public Policy

Riverside, California

Website

University of California Riverside - Top 30 Most Affordable Masters in Public Policy 2020

UC Riverside’s public policy master’s degree is highly affordable.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $13,584

The University of California Riverside offers a masters of public policy focusing on policy development, implementation, and analysis. Students interested specifically in researching public policy should consider applying to the program. The evidence-based curriculum prepares graduates to work for a variety of public, private, and non-profit entities where policy analysis is a salient factor of the job. In addition, students learn skills in communication and leadership that augment their policy skills in the workplace and result in a well-rounded policy professional. Backed by an outstanding academic and professional reputation, the University of California Riverside ranks in multiple U.S. News and World Report categories, including #39 in top public schools and #1 in top performers in social mobility.

#10 – University of Kentucky

Master’s in Public Policy

Lexington, Kentucky

Website

University of Kentucky - Top 30 Most Affordable Masters in Public Policy 2020

Ranked with U.S. News! University of Kentucky’s master’s in public policy.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $13,404

The Martin School of Public Policy offers a public policy masters for individuals seeking research and quantitative careers in a variety of contexts. Graduates go on to careers in public, private, and non-profit agencies where developing and evaluating policy is an integral function of the job. Candidates should possess passing grades in microeconomics, calculus, and statistics. These courses can be taken at Kentucky or from other institutions. The program is divided into four major components: core policy classes, concentration courses, the internship, and capstone. Concentration policy areas include education, environmental, health, international, and public finance. Kentucky ranks #132 in national universities by U.S. News and World Report.

#9 – University of California Irvine

Master’s in Public Policy

Irvine, California

Website

University of California Irvine - Top 30 Most Affordable Masters in Public Policy 2020

UC Irvine offers a highly affordable master’s in public policy.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $13,349

The University of California Irvine’s public policy masters program prepares the next generation of public policy researchers and practitioners that will tackle society’s complex issues through effective policy development, implementation, and analysis. The program welcomes candidates from all academic backgrounds and seeks those with a passion for solving complex societal problems and an interest in multidisciplinary learning. The 72-credit program follows a two-year graduation timeline and features classes such as collaborative governance and public management, policy processes and institutions of governance, qualitative methods of public policy, and statistical methods for public policy. UC Irvine is a respected institution throughout the region and country, and ranks #36 in national universities by U.S. News and World Report.

#8 – University of Missouri

Master’s in Public Policy Administration

Saint Louis, Missouri

Website

University of Missouri - Top 30 Most Affordable Masters in Public Policy 2020

The MPP degree program at University of Missouri does not require the GRE for admission.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,007

Similar to an MPP degree, the University of Missouri-St. Louis offers a graduate degree in public policy administration that prepares its graduates for leadership and administrative positions in government, private industry, and non-profit organizations that are a part of the policy process. Graduates move on to successful careers as community development directors, non-profit executive directors, and more. Candidates should possess a bachelor’s degree with a 3.0 GPA at the time of application. In addition, a complete application includes personal statement, three letters of recommendation, and proficiency in college algebra. GRE scores are not required. UMSL is ranked #140 in top public schools by U.S. News and World Report.

#7 – SUNY Empire State College

Master’s in Social and Public Policy

Saratoga Springs, New York

Website

SUNY Empire State College - Top 30 Most Affordable Masters in Public Policy 2020

No GRE! SUNY Empire State College’s master’s in public policy.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,845

State University of New York Empire State College offers a public policy masters ranked #7 on our list of most affordable public policy masters programs. The curriculum prepares graduates for top positions in government and private organizations involving public policy, advocacy, policy research, and the like. Students can also specialize in areas such as public administration, human services, health care policy, poverty alleviation, child welfare, and aging and veteran services. Candidates must possess a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution and submit a completed application to the School for Graduate Studies. GRE scores are not required to apply to the program.

#6 – Eastern Illinois University

Online Master’s in Political Science with Public Policy Emphasis

Charleston, Illinois

Website

Eastern Illinois University - Top 30 Most Affordable Masters in Public Policy 2020

No GRE required for the online master’s in public policy at Eastern Illinois University.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,144

Eastern Illinois University offers an online masters in public policy featuring a full range of robust courses that can be completed in just one year (two semesters and one summer). The courses are delivered online, making it an excellent choice for working professionals or those who do not live near a college or university. Students that live near the campus may choose a mixture of online and campus courses. Candidates must have a bachelor’s degree with a minimum 2.75 GPA. The GRE is not required to apply to the program. Eastern Illinois is ranked #40 in regional universities Midwest by U.S. News and World Report.

#5 – Delaware Valley University

Master’s in Public Policy

Doylestown, Pennsylvania

Website

Delaware Valley University - Top 30 Most Affordable Masters in Public Policy 2020

Earn an affordable master’s in public policy from Delaware Valley University.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,580

Delaware Valley University offers a masters of public policy focused on developing policy leading to social equity and a sustainable environment. The program seeks candidates interested in policy research and analysis, along with the passion to help advocate for communities through policy efforts. The 36-credit degree features core classes such as American public policy, budget and finance in the public sector, community based research, and political economy. Students can choose a concentration from the list of choices such as food and agriculture, community and international development, and sustainability and environment. Delaware Valley is ranked #119 in regional universities North by U.S. News and World Report.

#4 – Liberty University

Online Master’s in Public Policy

Lynchburg, Virginia

Website

Liberty University - Top 30 Most Affordable Masters in Public Policy 2020

Liberty University’s online master’s in public policy takes 1.5 years to complete.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,400

Liberty University offers a masters in public policy online that can be completed entirely online in just 1.5 years. The degree focuses on political philosophies that impact how people view their world. Students can choose from a wide variety of specializations such as campaigns and elections, international affairs, leadership, Middle East affairs, policy studies, and public administration. Liberty University is a Christian institution and infuses a Christian worldview into its curriculum. Potential candidates must have a nationally or regionally accredited bachelor’s degree with a 3.0 minimum GPA. Test scores not required. Liberty is ranked #293-381 in national universities by U.S. News and World Report.

#3 – University of Utah

Master’s in Public Policy

Salt Lake City, Utah

Website

University of Utah - Top 30 Most Affordable Masters in Public Policy 2020

Ranked with U.S. News! University of Utah’s master’s in public policy.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,396

The University of Utah offers a masters in public policy that combines rigorous quantitative analysis that prepares graduates to be policy leaders at organizations and think tanks. With policy analysis becoming more complex, graduates with the skills and knowledge are in high demand. Candidates should possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, along with a 3.0 minimum GPA. Other considerations include transcripts, recommendations, and test scores. Prerequisite courses include statistics, microeconomics, and U.S. Government. The University of Utah ranks in several U.S. News and World Report categories, including #165 in top value schools and #44 in top public schools.

#2 – American Public University

Online Master’s in Public Policy

Charles Town, West Virginia

Website

American Public University - Top 30 Most Affordable Masters in Public Policy 2020

No GRE required for APU’s online master’s in public policy program.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,005

American Public University offers an online masters in public policy for those seeking a graduate degree from an accredited institution that places a high value on academics, flexibility, and efficiency. The curriculum focuses on essential functions and areas of knowledge needed in policy careers such as analysis, communication, research acumen, and problem solving. Candidates need to possess a bachelor’s degree from an institution with accreditation recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Students can choose from concentrations in the following policy areas including cybersecurity, environmental, health, national security, public policy and law, and space policy. No GRE is required to apply.

#1 – University of New Mexico

Master’s in Public Policy

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Website

University of New Mexico - Top 30 Most Affordable Masters in Public Policy 2020

#1 most affordable master’s in public policy – University of New Mexico.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $6,456

Coming in at number one on our list of most affordable masters in public policy is the University of New Mexico’s program, administered through a unique partnership by the School of Public Administration and the Departments of Economics, Political Science, and Sociology. A masters public policy program like this one brings a wealth of disciplinary knowledge and skill to the program and provides both depth and breadth to the tool belt of the graduate as they move into their post-graduation policy careers. Graduates from the UNM program are well-rounded experts adept at policy analysis and research that know how to navigate the complexities and challenges of the organizations in which they work. UNM is ranked #218 in national universities by U.S. News and World Report.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Master’s in Public Policy Programs

What can you do with a master’s in public policy degree?

Public policy professionals hold roles in leadership and government, and work in various agencies. By earning an advanced degree, such as the master’s in public policy, a number of career opportunities are available. We discuss a few career options here:

Legislative analyst: A legislative analyst’s primary role is to assist organizations respond to legislative changes. Often, this specialized type of analyst focuses on legislation in areas like environmental regulations, health care, and labor. Employers look for professionals with a master’s in public policy or closely related degree.

Policy analyst: A policy analyst is usually employed by both private and public sectors and hired to analyze legislation or lobby for political action that benefits the organization. A strong background in public policy and government is required.

Political scientist: Political scientists generally need a master’s degree in public policy for entry-level positions. And, in some roles, a PhD may be required. Political scientists analyze political systems, trends, and governments, while also monitoring current events.

Survey researcher: A master’s degree in public policy is often required for roles as survey researchers. Survey researchers conduct surveys, analyze and create statistical methods, and design public opinion polls. In some positions, market research analyzation is a critical aspect of the job.

What is the average master’s in public policy salary?

When examining the average master’s in public policy salary, it is important to remember that the number varies by position. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for political scientists in May 2019 was $122,220. Political sociologists earned a median wage of $83,420, and market research analysts earned a median wage of $63,790.

According to BLS, the highest ten percent of earners working as political scientists made in excess of $164,210. Earnings are contingent on industry. In fact, BLS reports that the highest-paying industry for political scientists is professional, scientific, and technical services. These specialized political scientists earn an average salary of $133,200. The next highest paying industry for political scientists is federal government, excluding the postal service. The median annual wage for political scientists working in this industry is $126,060. Religious, civic, and grantmaking organizations pay their political scientists an annual median wage of $80,800.

Most political scientists and other public policy professionals work full-time in an office. A large number of them work in specific geographic locations, such as Washington, D.C. or state capitols. During deadline time, these professionals often exceed the forty-hour work week. It is not uncommon to work evenings and weekends, especially when projects are due. This concludes our analysis of the master’s in public policy salary.

What professional associations are available to students enrolled in a master’s of public policy program?

Whether you are enrolled in a traditional master’s of public policy program or an online master’s in public policy, you don’t need to wait until graduation to join a professional association. Several professional associations are open to graduate students earning their MPP degree. These associations benefit students by offering access to networking, internship information, job opportunities, and conferences.

American Society for Public Administration

The American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) represents the interests of both nonprofit and pubic administration professionals. This association provides career development and networking opportunities, as well as an annual conference. The ASPA welcomes students and offers group membership rates for faculty and their graduate students.

Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management

The Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM) offers conferences and a multidisciplinary journal that recognizes research in the field of public policy.

International Public Policy Association

The International Public Policy Association (IPPA) is an organization that promotes scientific research in the field of public policy. Graduate students gain access to networking opportunities and job listings. The IPPA also offers the opportunity to apply for the student internship available only through this organization. The internship is offered at the University of Lyon, France.

What are the admission requirements for a master’s in public policy program?

Admission requirements for master’s in public policy programs vary by program and school. However, most MPP degree programs have similar requirements that must be met prior to admission. On our list of top master’s in public policy programs, whether online or traditional, an earned bachelor’s degree is required for admission. The bachelor’s degree must be earned from a regionally accredited college or university; however, some schools will allow a degree earned at a nationally accredited institution.

Other admission requirements include undergraduate performance. Your undergraduate performance is usually evaluated based on your GPA. Some schools have a minimum undergraduate GPA requirement that must be met before applying to the MPP degree program. Top-tier colleges and universities require a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.5 or 3.0. Some schools, often those less competitive, require a minimum 2.5 undergraduate GPA for admission.

In addition to GPA requirements, some schools require satisfactory performance on the GRE or GMAT. Research universities and top-ranked institutions require the GRE or GMAT for admission. In some cases, scoring in the 80th or 85th percentile is required for admission eligibility. However, many of the schools on our list do not require these test scores. In fact, some of the top schools allow experience in lieu of graduate test scores. This means volunteer work or internships may satisfy the GRE or GMAT requirement.

How long does it take to earn an MPP degree?

Once you have decided to earn an MPP degree, your next step will be to choose which kind of program you want to pursue – online or traditional. The online master’s in public policy usually takes less time to complete than the traditional MPP degree. However, the typical time to earn a master’s degree, whether online or on-campus, is two years. You will find that the traditional master’s in public policy degree takes two years to complete.

If time is a factor, you may want to consider enrolling in an online MPP program. Online public policy programs typically require 32 to 42 credits, depending on specialization options and overall program stipulations. Most online programs require an average of 36 credits, with classes delivered over a four-semester format. While most online programs take between 1.5 and two years to complete, fast-track programs are available.

A fast-track program allows students to earn their degree in a compressed amount of time. Fast-track options are rigorous and lead to the online master’s in public policy in up to 18 months. In fact, some of the programs on our list take 12 months to earn the online master’s in public policy.

Another factor to consider is whether you want to enroll as a full-time or part-time student. Part-time enrollment options lead to a slightly longer completion time, while full-time options can cut your time spent in school.

CVO Staff
June 2020

Related:

This concludes our list of the top 30 most affordable master’s in public policy programs of 2020.

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