Are you an analytical individual looking to jumpstart your career? Do you hold an undergraduate degree? Are passionate about public policy and have an eye for nuance and detail? If so, a master of public policy (MPP) or master of public administration (MPA) might just be the perfect degree for you.

MPP degrees are prestigious, flexible, multidisciplinary, and prepare graduates for a variety of professional positions

MPP and MPA programs prepare students for an array of administrative, detail-oriented positions. These programs are ideal preparation for city manager, policy director, policy public analyst, and even law enforcement positions. As U.S. News reports, it's not uncommon for students to switch from a law degree to an MPP or MPA after learning about the field.

These degrees are prestigious, flexible, multidisciplinary, and prepare graduates for a variety of professional positions. Policy analysts, for example, draw from the social sciences to better understand which factors lead to the formulation of public policy and how future policy can be both effective and ethical. The degree can also be lucrative: according to Payscale.com, an environmental health director with 10 years of experience and a master's degree earns a median yearly salary of $111,000.

MPP and MPA course curriculums vary by institution. However, each program stresses interdisciplinary application while challenging students to examine policy from all angles. Many programs also require that students complete a relevant internship before graduation.

Every community in the United States requires policy consideration, both in the public and private spheres. As established communities grow and new communities develop, the need for MPP or MPA-holding professionals will only increase over time. By earning your MPP or MPA online, you can work toward earning your degree while maintaining a full-time job.

Learn more about what policy analysts do, why they're so important, and how an MPP or MPA can enrich you both personally and professionally with this useful guide.

Will an online MPP or MPA provide me with the skills I need to advance my career?

One of the major advantages of MPP and MPA programs is that students with any type of undergraduate degree can pursue them and shift their career toward a new, policy-related direction.

While exactly how they're defined varies from institution to institution, at their core, MPP and MPA degrees hone an analytic approach to policy. In turn, they're well-suited for city, state, and federal government positions where policy is a major factor. They're also broadly applicable within the private sphere, particularly wherever interpretation, analysis, or the crafting of internal or external policy plays a significant role.

Will an online MPP or MPA work with my schedule?

Online degrees allow students to tailor their coursework around busy schedules while meeting the rigorous demands of traditional, on-site coursework. Recent advances in technology, such as the widespread availability of handheld devices capable of live streaming, have led to major advances in online classroom capabilities.

Some schools offer hybrid programs where course curriculum is partially on-site and partially online, whereas others offer programs that are entirely web-based. Online courses are excellent options for students with professional or personal commitments that may otherwise interfere with traditional classroom schedules.

It always helps to be prepared. If you haven't taken the GRE yet, you should read our guide to the test. Be sure to pay close attention to the program's online MPP and MPA program requirements before applying to avoid any unexpected complications. For example, while a course may be conducted online, it may still require the completion of an internship before the degree is awarded.

What jobs can I get with my MPP or MPA degree?

MPP and MPA degrees are ideal for a broad swathe of positions. These positions often fuse analysis and administration: MPP and MPA-appropriate positions may either focus on analysis of current or past policy, or positions may involve the development of future policy—and its potential benefits and ramifications.

MPP and MPA holders play an integral role in day to day operations in both the public and private spheres, from all levels of government to administrative positions in the private sector. Examples positions include policy director, city manager, policy public analyst, law enforcement, and public relations consultant.

What are the best online MPP and MPA programs?

What qualifies an online MPP or MPA program as the best ultimately depends on personal preference. Only you can decide which MPP or MPA programs are best for your goals and needs. Consider the list below as a starting point for that very personal decision.

The first step in identifying the best program for you should involve a comparison of available programs and how they differ from one another. The list below is an excellent place to begin that search.

Our rankings are based on a variety of factors. These factors include career support services, available specializations, student outcomes, and course availability.

Before deciding on a program, we strongly recommend contacting college admissions specialists to discuss program specifics, including MPP or MPA programs requirements.

Rank School Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1

Northwestern University

Evanston, IL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 94%

Founded in 1851, Northwestern officially opened in 1855 with 10 students and two faculty members. The campus consisted of one building on 379 acres of land along the shore of Lake Michigan. Currently, Northwestern enrolls more than 21,000 undergraduate and graduate students and offers over 190 academic programs at the certificate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, Northwestern today is ranked as one of the top 10 national universities in the country by U.S. News & World Report.

The School of Professional Studies at Northwestern offers an online master's in public policy and administration degree (MPPA) that prepares students for leadership roles in fields such as finance, social service, foreign affairs, and political science research. The school offers a full-time and part-time MPPA program. The full-time program follows a cohort model, with students starting during the fall semester and enrolling in 3-4 courses per quarter. Classes are a combination of on-campus and online sessions, and it takes one year to earn the degree. The accelerated MPPA program offers three specialization areas: public policy, public administration, and global policy.

Students interested in the part-time MPPA program can begin during any quarter and go through the program at their own pace. Students can choose to enroll in only online courses or take a combination on-campus and online classes. The part-time MPPA offers two additional specializations in global health and data analytics. Students can choose to complete a capstone project or write a research-based thesis as the culminating experience prior to graduation.


Program Overview
Program Name: MA in Public Policy and Administration
Available Concentrations: Public policy; public administration; global policy; global health; data analytics
Tuition: $3,451/course
Credit Requirements: 13 courses
Program Length: 2-5 years part-time; 1-year accelerated hybrid program

Delivery
Format: Online or hybrid
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE (if GPA requirement not met)

Contact
Phone: (312) 503-6950
Email: studysps@northwestern.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

2

Indiana University - Bloomington

Bloomington, IN Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 77%

A legislative act in 1820 provided for the construction of State Seminary, the institution that would later become Indiana University. Classes began in 1825 with an initial enrollment of 10 students, all of them male. State Seminary became Indiana College in 1828 before finally becoming Indiana University in 1838. IU Bloomington started admitting women in 1867, one of the first state universities in the country to do so.

Close to 44,000 students currently attend IU Bloomington, and there are more than 500 academic programs available at the certificate, undergraduate, and graduate levels. IU Bloomington holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission and is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top universities in the United States.

IU Bloomington offers an online master's in public affairs (MPA) through the O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA). The school holds accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration, and U.S. News & World Report rates SPEA as offering the best public affairs program in the country.

The MPA program consists of 48 credit hours and three components: 18 credit hours of core courses, up to 30 credit hours of advanced electives, and an experiential component. The number of credit hours for the experiential component varies depending on a student's academic and/or professional background. Students with significant relevant professional experience can receive up to 12 credit hours toward the experiential component of the MPA. Students without relevant prior experience can complete a three- to six-credit internship.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Public Affairs
Available Concentrations: Public management; nonprofit management; policy analysis; public financial administration
Tuition: $619/credit in-state; $1,279/credit/out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 48 credits
Program Length: 2.5 years

Delivery
Format: Online or hybrid
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Contact
Phone: (812) 855-2840
Email: speagrad@indiana.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

3

American University

Washington, DC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 79%

Chartered by Congress in 1893, AU had an initial enrollment of 28 students, five of whom were women. Today, AU enrolls over 12,000 undergraduate and graduate students and offers 71 bachelor's, 87 master's, and 10 doctoral degrees, as well as several online graduate certificates and master's programs. AU holds accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and ranks among the top national universities in the country per U.S. News & World Report.

AU offers an online master's in public policy and administration through the School of Public Affairs. The two-year program consists of 36 credit hours and shares foundational competencies with the university's master's in public affairs and master's in public administration programs. Students enroll in classes on leadership and management of human resources, foundations of policy analysis and public administration, and financial and budgetary management.

The program requires the completion of a three-credit public policy practicum wherein students carry out a policy analysis or a management project for an actual client. Applicants must submit the results of a recent GRE for consideration. Applicants with significant work experience in the field can apply for a waiver of the GRE requirement. The program considers results of the Law School Admission Test or the Graduate Management Admission Test in lieu of GRE scores on a case-by-case basis.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Public Administration and Policy
Tuition: $1708/credit (fall and spring); $1642/credit (summer)
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Contact
Phone: (855) 725-7614
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

4

University of Missouri

Columbia, MO Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 68%

The Missouri Legislature established MU in 1839, locating the school in Columbia after residents of the county donated both cash and land for the university. At MU's first commencement ceremony in 1843, the graduating class consisted of two students. Today, MU enrolls nearly 30,000 students representing all counties in the state, all 50 states, and more than 100 countries. MU comprises 19 schools and colleges offering over 300 academic programs at the certificate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. MU holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission and is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top public affairs schools in the country.

MU offers a fully online master of public affairs degree (MPA) through the Harry S. Truman School of Public Affairs, which holds accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration. The 33-credit program comprises courses following a nine-week delivery schedule. Most students enroll in one course during each nine-week session and graduate from the program after two years of continuous enrollment.

The core curriculum of 21 credit hours includes courses in public service and democracy, collaborative governance, organizational dynamics and leadership, and public policy processes and strategies. The remaining coursework comes from specialization courses and approved electives (six credits each). Online graduate students pay in-state tuition regardless of residency.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Public Affairs
Tuition: $368/credit
Credit Requirements: 33 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum
Work Experience: 3 years

Contact
Phone: (573) 882-2491
Email: mizzouonline@missouri.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

5

University of Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, PA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 82%

Pitt began in 1787 and was originally known as the Pittsburgh Academy. Due to its continued growth and expansion, the Pennsylvania legislature rechartered the academy as the Western University of Pennsylvania in 1819. The school went through another name change in 1908 when it became known as the University of Pittsburgh. Pitt currently enrolls more than 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students and offers over 480 academic programs at the certificate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. Pitt holds accreditation from the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.

Pitt's Graduate School of Public & International Affairs offers a master's in public policy online that comprises 30 credit hours. Students who graduate from the program earn a master of public policy and management degree (MPPM). By enrolling in two, three-credit classes each term, students can complete the program in five terms, or 19 months. The MPPM curriculum includes courses in strategic personnel and resources management, public affairs administration, policy analysis, and leadership.

For consideration, applicants need a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university and a minimum of five years of related professional experience beyond an entry-level position. The MPPM program at Pitt holds accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration. Additionally, U.S. News & World Report rates the university as one of the best schools of public affairs in the country.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Public Policy and Management
Tuition: $920/credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 1.5 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
Work Experience: 5 years

Contact
Phone: (412) 648-7643
Email: rizzim@pitt.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

6

Liberty University

Lynchburg, VA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 47%

When Liberty began in 1971 as the Lynchburg Baptist College, it enrolled a total of 154 students. Liberty achieved university status just 14 years after its founding and now hosts more than 100,000 students from all 50 states and over 80 countries. Comprising 16 colleges and schools, Liberty offers more than 550 academic programs both on campus and online and holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Liberty offers an online master's in public policy through the Helms School of Government and the School of Law. The program in public policy comprises 36 credits, and classes follow an eight-week delivery schedule. Students can take all of the required coursework for the degree online, but some elective coursework may not be offered online. Liberty allows students to transfer up to 50% of the required credits for this program from another accredited institution.

The master of arts in public policy at Liberty offers several specialization areas, including international affairs, policy studies, public administration, and campaigns and elections. The curriculum includes coursework in core government functions, the legal and political issues shaping American public policy, and leadership skills for public administration. Students can choose to complete a thesis project as the culminating activity of the program or take two additional approved electives.


Program Overview
Program Name: MA in Public Policy
Available Concentrations: Campaigns and elections; international affairs; leadership; middle east affairs; policy studies; public administration
Tuition: $565/credit
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 1.5 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact
Phone: (800) 424-9595
Email: luograd@liberty.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

7

Norwich University

Northfield, VT Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 59%

Norwich began as the American Literary, Scientific and Military Academy in 1819. One of the first private military colleges in the country, Norwich is also considered the birthplace of the Reserved Officers' Training Corps. It merged with Vermont College in 1972 and two years later began admitting women. More than 2,400 on-campus students and over 1,600 online students currently attend Norwich, and the university receives accreditation from the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Norwich offers a master's degree in public administration (MPA) with nine concentration areas, including one in public policy. Students can complete the MPA degree mostly online, with one mandatory on-campus requirement that consists of a one-week conference toward the end of the program. The 36-credit program comprises six courses of six credits a piece, each delivered over 11 weeks. Students enroll in one course per 11-week term and select from four start dates throughout the year. Most students graduate from the program within 18-24 months.

The MPA coursework covers topics such as effective organizational leadership, public policy development, finance, and strategic planning. As a culminating experience, students can complete a capstone project that offers a practical or theoretical solution to an existing policy problem, or they can write a research-based paper of publishable quality.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Public Administration With a Concentration in Policy Analysis and Analytics
Tuition: $704/credit
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 1.5 years

Delivery
Format: Hybrid
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.75 minimum

Contact
Phone: (800) 460-5597 ext. 3241
Email: rpellet2@norwich.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

8

Valdosta State University

Valdosta, GA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 37%

Although founded in 1906, VSU (formerly known as South Georgia State Normal College) did not open until 1913. At that time, VSU offered a two-year teacher preparation program and enrolled only women, becoming coeducational in 1950. VSU currently enrolls more than 10,500 undergraduate and graduate students and holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

VSU offers an online master of public administration (MPA) degree with three concentration areas: public sector human resource management, public sector management, and public policy. The program offers only the last two concentrations fully online. The MPA program holds accreditation from the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration and comprises 36 credit hours -- 24 credit hours of required core courses and 12 credit hours of concentration courses. Required coursework includes classes in governmental budgeting and finance, performance analysis, and organizational theory and behavior.

Applicants must submit the results of a standardized graduate entrance exam such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT). VSU designed the online MPA program for students currently employed in a government or nonprofit agency. Traditional students without related professional experience can enroll in the on-campus MPA program. Students complete a 300-hour internship and a capstone project prior to graduating from the program.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Public Administration With a Concentration in Public Policy
Tuition: $293/credit
Credit Requirements: 36 credits

Delivery
Format: Hybrid
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.5 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE, GMAT, or MAT
Work Experience: Currently employed or relevant experience with a governmental or nongovernmental organization

Contact
Phone: (229) 293-6058
Email: pa@valdosta.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

9

Oregon State University

Corvallis, OR Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 65%

OSU started out as the Corvallis State Agricultural College in 1868. The school's mission expanded rapidly from its original mandate as a land-grant institution, and each major growth period resulted in a name change until the university became OSU in 1961. OSU currently offers more than 200 undergraduate programs and 80 master's and doctoral degrees while supporting a student population of almost 32,000. OSU holds accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

The university offers an online master's degree in public policy (MPP) that holds accreditation from the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration, and U.S. News & World Report includes OSU in its list of schools offering top public affairs programs. The program comprises 62 quarter credits, 46 of which must consist of core requirements.

OSU's MPP degree offers concentrations in energy policy, environmental policy, rural policy, and social policy. In lieu of any of these areas, students can opt to earn a graduate certificate in other fields as their concentration. The program offers coursework that can lead to a graduate certificate in various disciplines, including public health, sustainable natural resources, urban forestry, and water conflict management.

The MPP program requires students to pass a final oral exam prior to graduation; students and/or examiners can participate from off-campus locations. The program also requires an applied policy capstone project that examines a policy issue relevant to the student's professional goals or interests.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Public Policy
Available Concentrations: Energy policy; environmental policy; rural policy; social policy; forests and climate change; geographic information science (giscience); public health; sustainable natural resources; urban forestry; water conflict management
Tuition: $538/credit
Credit Requirements: 62 credits

Delivery
Format: Hybrid
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum
Work Experience: 5 years

Contact
Phone: (541) 737-5370
Email: sakins@oregonstate.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

10

Eastern Illinois University

Charleston, IL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 56%

EIU began in 1895 as the Eastern Illinois State Normal School, a teacher's college offering two-year degrees. The school opened with 18 faculty members and an initial enrollment of 125 students. Earning its current moniker in 1957, EIU's current enrollment stands at just under 7,500 students, and offerings include 51 undergraduate programs, 32 graduate degrees, and 10 post-bachelor's certificate programs. EIU holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission and ranks as one of the best universities in the Midwest according to U.S. News & World Report.

EIU offers a master's in political science with an option in public administration and public policy. The program consists of 32 semester hours comprising courses in research methodology, two seminar courses, electives in public administration and public policy, electives in political science, and additional approved graduate-level coursework. The public administration and public policy courses expose students to topics such as international policy issues, human resource management in public and nonprofit organizations, and environmental politics and policy.

EIU maintains a residency status for students pursuing a master's degree. Of the 32 required semester credits for this program, at least 21 semester credits must be completed as an enrolled EIU student. The program requires the completion of a capstone project prior to graduation.


Program Overview
Program Name: MA in Political Science With an Option in Public Administration and Public Policy
Tuition: $302/credit
Credit Requirements: 32 credits
Program Length: 1 year

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.75 minimum

Contact
Phone: (217) 581-8418
Email: jsashley@eiu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

11

Regent University

Virginia Beach, VA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 61%

Regent began in 1978 as the Christian Baptist Network University, an institution focused on graduate education, and became known by its current moniker in 1990 as an acknowledgement of the expansion and diversification of the school's academic programs. Ten years later, Regent started a degree-completion program for working professionals wanting to complete their bachelor's degrees.

Today, the university enrolls more than 10,400 undergraduate and graduate students and offers 132 fields of study. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges first accredited Regent in 1984. U.S. News & World Report ranks the university among the top national universities in the country.

The Robertson School of Government at Regent offers an online master of arts in government with a concentration in law and public policy. The degree comprises 30 credit hours that full-time students typically complete in 18-24 months; part-time students take 3-5 years. Courses follow an eight-week delivery schedule, and coursework covers topics such as public policy initiatives, the law and governance of higher education, organizational theory, and public budgeting and taxation policy.

Students undergo an internship experience, and the program culminates in a thesis. Students can transfer up to nine credit hours of the required total from another accredited school or program.


Program Overview
Program Name: MA in Government With a Concentration in Law and Public Policy
Tuition: $675/credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 18 months

Delivery
Format: Hybrid
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact
Phone: (757) 352-4962
Email: garyrob@regent.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

12

University of Nebraska at Omaha

Omaha, NE Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 47%

UNO started in 1908 as a private college founded by the Presbyterian Theological Seminary at Omaha. The coeducational institution set out to make higher education opportunities available to people from different walks of life. In 1930, the university came under the control of the municipality of Omaha and remains the only municipal university in the region to this day. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, UNO currently hosts a student population of more than 15,000 and offers undergraduate, master's, and doctoral degrees in diverse fields of study.

UNO's College of Public Affairs and Community Service (CPACS) offers an online master of public administration degree (MPA) with six concentration areas, including one in public policy. The university's MPA program holds accreditation from the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA) and remains the only NASPAA-accredited program in Nebraska. In addition, U.S. News & World Report includes UNO in its list of universities offering one of the best public affairs programs in the country.

The MPA program consists of 39 graduate credit hours comprising 12 credit hours each of foundation courses and core coursework, nine credits of concentration courses, and six credits of approved electives. The public policy concentration focuses on policy evaluation, administrative law, and policy analysis. The program culminates in a capstone project. CPACS administers several scholarship programs for graduate students pursuing a degree in the college.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Public Administration With a Concentration in Public Policy
Tuition: $357/credit in-state; $600/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 39 credits
Program Length: 2.5 years

Delivery
Format: Hybrid

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE

Contact
Phone: (402) 554-2625
Email: gradschool@unomaha.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

13

Park University

Parkville, MO Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 23%

Founded as Park College in 1875, Park's enrollment during its first year consisted of 17 students, with five women making up the first graduating class. Park currently supports a population of more than 11,000 students and offers degrees at the associate, bachelor's, and master's levels. Students can also pursue several undergraduate and graduate certificate programs. Park began offering online courses in 1996, four years before it achieved university status and took on its current name. Park holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

The Hauptman School of Public Affairs at the Park's College of Business offers an online master's degree in public administration (MPA) with a concentration in public management. MPA students need 36 credits to graduate, 18 of which must come from core courses. Concentration coursework and approved electives comprise the remaining credit requirement. The public management concentration gives students the opportunity to focus on topics such as public management, administrative leadership, personnel systems of public organizations, and policy development and evaluation for public organizations.

The MPA program requires students without at least two years of professional experience in public administration or a closely related field to undergo an internship experience. Students who meet the minimum two-year requirement can request for a waiver. In lieu of an internship, students can pursue an independent study project to meet the credit requirements of the program. U.S. News & World Report includes Park in its list of schools offering some of the top public affairs programs in the country.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Public Administration With a Concentration in Public Management
Tuition: $560/credit
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online or hybrid
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.75 minimum

Contact
Phone: (816) 746-2530
Email: Ldipadovastocks@park.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

14

SUNY Empire State College

Saratoga Springs, NY Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 14%

ESC was founded in 1971 as an institution focused on meeting the educational goals and needs of working professionals and continues to uphold this mandate today. The college recognizes the value that life and work experiences bring to the learning table and follows a clear and well-established process of awarding college credits for relevant experience. Accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, ESC supports a population of 11,000 students and offers associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees.

ESC offers an online master's in public policy through the School for Graduate Studies. Students who graduate from the program earn a master of arts degree in social and public policy. The program comprises 36 credits (12, three-credit courses), and the curriculum includes courses in public policy analysis, social policy perspectives, policy implementation, and emerging ethical issues in social policy. The program requires students to either complete a professional project or write an academic thesis as the culminating experience prior to graduation.

Students can transfer up to nine graduate-level credits toward the MA degree as long as the credits were earned at an accredited college or university and taken no more than seven years from the time of the student's admission to the program. Most students opt to earn an advanced certificate along with their MA degree in social and public policy by enrolling in elective courses in the certificate field. Examples of advanced certificate areas currently offered by the university include child and family advocacy, healthcare management, social entrepreneurship, and workforce development.


Program Overview
Program Name: MA in Social and Public Policy
Available Concentrations: Child and family advocacy; community advocacy; healthcare management; nonprofit management; project management; social entrepreneurship; veterans' services; women's and gender studies; workforce development
Tuition: $462/credit in-state; $555/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 36 credits Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Hybrid
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Contact
Phone: (518) 587-2429
Email: grad@esc.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

15

University of Massachusetts - Dartmouth

Dartmouth, MA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 48%

Two schools, one chartered in 1895 (New Bedford Textile School) and another in 1899 (Bradford Durfee Textile School), formed the foundation of what was to become UMass Dartmouth. By the time the two schools merged to comprise the Southern Massachusetts Technological Institute in 1960, both schools had already become multipurpose institutions. When the school joined a newly structured University of Massachusetts system in 1991, it took on its current name.

Today, UMass Dartmouth supports a student population of 8,500 and offers 82 undergraduate fields of study, 33 master's programs, and 14 doctoral degrees, plus several undergraduate and graduate certificates. The New England Commission of Higher Education has accredited the university since 1963.

UMass Dartmouth offers a fully online master's in public policy (MPP) comprising 36 credits, or 12 courses. Classes include administrative law, regional economic development policy, administrative law, and policy analysis -- as well as three available areas of concentration: educational policy, environmental policy, and public management. Students can earn a graduate certificate on the way to the MPP degree in any of the concentration areas by enrolling in at least four courses offered under the discipline.

The MPP program requires students with less than two years of professional experience in the public policy arena to complete an internship experience prior to graduation. All students must complete and present an e-portfolio summarizing the key learning points of their graduate education before completing from the program.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Public Policy
Available Concentrations: Educational policy; environmental policy; public management
Tuition: $553/credit
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
Standardized Tests: GRE

Contact
Phone: (508) 999-9202
Email: online@umassd.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

Timeline 2 years; Full-Time
Credit Hours 36
Concentrations Some programs offer public or private sector specialization options.
Accreditation Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA)
Additional Considerations Programs may require completion of a relevant internship before graduation.

Job placement: MPP and MPA graduates

Because MPP and MPA degree programs don't require a specific undergraduate area of study, candidates considering the employment benefits of MPP or MPA degrees are wise to consider the benefit of graduate degrees in general. Individuals with graduate degrees generally earn more and have lower unemployment rates. Additionally, more and more jobs are only available to individuals with master's degrees: According to U.S. News, "in many career sectors, such as higher ed administration, public affairs, and social services, a master's degree is replacing a bachelor's as the minimum requirement for employment."

Degree Level Median Weekly Earnings Unemployment Rate (2016)
Master's Degree $1,341 2.4%
Bachelor's Degree $1,137 2.8%
Associate's Degree $798 3.8%
Some College, No Degree $738 5.0%
High School Diploma $678 5.4%
No Diploma/GED $493 8.0%

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2015)

MPP and MPA Salary

MPP and MPA graduates see widely varying salary rates. According to U.S. News, an MPP or MPA-holding individual's decision to go into the private or public sphere has a major influence on salary levels. For example, while a court administrator with ten years of experience and a graduate degree in MPP or MPA makes an annual salary of $61,000, an environmental policy director stands to make nearly double that figure.

Position Median Annual Salary
Environmental Health Director $111,000
Compliance/Policy Director $101,000
Consultant, Public Relations $80,000
Public Policy Analyst $75,000
Court Administrator $61,000

Source: Payscale.com (2017)

Professional Organizations

There's no reason to go it alone. Professional connections are crucial aspects of getting the absolute most out of your MPP or MPA degree. By connecting with others within the field, you stand to gain invaluable advice, make important contacts, and benefit from crucial resources.

Below are three of the most notable organizations for professionals with MPP or MPA degrees. All three regularly host events and provide a variety of useful services for members. Some provide online job boards, continuing education, and a variety of other services. These resources are particularly valuable once your MPP or MPA degree has been completed and you prepare to enter the job market.

  • Association for Public Policy Analysis & Management (APPAM): APPAM focuses on not only connecting professionals with MPP or MPA degrees but also providing resources and opportunities.
  • The American Society for Public Administration (ASPA): The ASPA is the largest organization for public and nonprofit administration in the United States. The ASPA connects professionals in the field, including MPP and MPA degree holders.
  • Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA): Focused specifically on individuals holding MPP or MPA degrees, NASPAA seeks to connect professionals while promoting ethical public service.

While online programs are generally more affordable than their on-site counterparts, the majority of students still require financial assistance. To learn more about loans, grants, and other opportunities offered to students by the United States government, complete a Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA).

Additionally, scholarships and grants from private, non-government sources are frequently available by way of companies, nonprofits, and others. Browse our handy collection of resources below to start your search.

AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID

Approximately two-thirds of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.

UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.

FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE STUDENTS

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you'll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn't always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS

Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family's financial future. We've compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.

FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY

Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.

Rankings Archive

Best Online Master's in Public Policy of 2018
Ranking School Location
1 Northwestern University Evanston, IL
2 American University Washington, DC
3 Indiana University-Bloomington Bloomington, IN
4 Norwich University Northfield, VT
5 University of Missouri-Columbia Columbia, MO
6 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
7 University of Nebraska at Omaha Omaha, NE
8 Valdosta State University Valdosta, GA
9 Park University Parkville, MO
10 University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth North Dartmouth, MA
Best Online Master's in Public Policy of 2017
Rank School Location
1 Northwestern University Evanston, IL
2 American University Washington, DC
3 Indiana University-Bloomington Bloomington, IN
4 Norwich University Northfield, VT
5 University of Missouri-Columbia Columbia, MO
6 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
7 University of Nebraska at Omaha Omaha, NE
8 Valdosta State University Valdosta, GA
9 Park University Parkville, MO
10 University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth North Dartmouth, MA