Why This Matters

  • WORK IN MORE THAN A HALF-DOZEN DIFFERENT SECTORS

    A Master’s in Public Policy is a versatile degree that can be taken into public service, nonprofit work, or private sector work. You could pursue a career in at least nine different sectors.

  • URBAN AND REGIONAL PLANNING JOBS GROW BY 11%

    Urban and regional planning positions are growing much faster than average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 11% job growth in the field through 2029.

  • GROW YOUR EARNING POTENTIAL BY $5,000 PER YEAR

    Professionals who have a Master’s in Public Policy earn $70,859 annually on average. That’s over $5,000 more than what public policy professionals with bachelor’s make on average, which is $65,224.

Our Research

We reviewed many Master’s in Public Policy degree programs, including both Master of Arts (MA) and Master of Public Administration (MPA) degrees. Our list contains hybrid, online, and traditional programs.

All of the listed programs are regionally accredited, and many also maintain a national accreditation through the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA). Accreditation ensures the quality of a program.

We evaluated each program on the basis of flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

  • 52 hours to write this article
  • 71 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 189 education programs we compared

The Top 21 Master’s in Public Policy Degree Programs

Best Master's in Public Policy Degree Programs
01
University of Pittsburgh

intelligent score 99.43

Award Intelligent Pick

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Intelligent Pick

Delivery Format On-Campus

Programs Master of Public Policy and Management

Required Credits to Graduate 30 credits

Department Graduate School of Public and International Affairs

Estimated Cost per Credit In-State: $784.33 per credit; Out-of-State: $1,329.93 per credit

accreditation National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 412-648-7640

Learn More

Delivery Format On-Campus

Programs Master of Public Policy and Management

Required Credits to Graduate 30 credits

01
SUNY Empire State College

intelligent score 96.45

Award Best Master of Arts Degree

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best Master of Arts Degree

Delivery Format On-Campus

Programs Master of Arts in Social and Public Policy

Required Credits to Graduate 30 credits

Department School of Graduate Studies

Estimated Cost per Credit In-State: $471 per credit; Out-of-State: $963 per credit

accreditation Middle States Commission on Higher Education

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 518-587-2100

Learn More

Delivery Format On-Campus

Programs Master of Arts in Social and Public Policy

Required Credits to Graduate 30 credits

01
Liberty University

intelligent score 92.45

Award Best Christian University

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best Christian University

Delivery Format On-Campus, Online

Programs Master of Arts in Public Policy

Required Credits to Graduate 36 credits

Department Helms School of Government

Estimated Cost per Credit $545 per credit

accreditation Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 434-592-3691

Learn More

Delivery Format On-Campus, Online

Programs Master of Arts in Public Policy

Required Credits to Graduate 36 credits

01
Oregon State University

intelligent score 91.8

Award Best in the Northwest

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best in the Northwest

Delivery Format On-Campus, Online

Programs Master of Public Policy

Required Credits to Graduate 62 credits

Department School of Public Policy

Estimated Cost per Credit In-State: $491 per credit; Out-of-State: $967 per credit

accreditation Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 541-737-4881

Learn More

Delivery Format On-Campus, Online

Programs Master of Public Policy

Required Credits to Graduate 62 credits

01
Regent University

intelligent score 91.45

Award Most Military Friendly

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Most Military Friendly

Delivery Format On-Campus, Online

Programs Master of Arts in Government - Law & Public Policy

Required Credits to Graduate 30-33 credits

Department Robertson School of Government

Estimated Cost per Credit $675 per credit

accreditation

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 888-800-7735

Learn More

Delivery Format On-Campus, Online

Programs Master of Arts in Government - Law & Public Policy

Required Credits to Graduate 30-33 credits

01
American University

intelligent score 87.43

Award Best Research University

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best Research University

Delivery Format On-Campus

Programs Master of Public Policy

Required Credits to Graduate 39 credits

Department School of Public Affairs

Estimated Cost per Credit $1,759 per credit

accreditation Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 202-885-6230

Learn More

Delivery Format On-Campus

Programs Master of Public Policy

Required Credits to Graduate 39 credits

01
Arizona State University

intelligent score 82.01

Award Best in the Southwest

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best in the Southwest

Delivery Format On-Campus, Online

Programs Master of Public Policy

Required Credits to Graduate 42 credits

Department School of Public Affairs

Estimated Cost per Credit In-State: $837 per credit; Out-of-State: $1,308 per credit

accreditation Higher Learning Commission

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 602-496-7827

Learn More

Delivery Format On-Campus, Online

Programs Master of Public Policy

Required Credits to Graduate 42 credits

01
Grand Canyon University

intelligent score 80.2

Award Best MPA Degree

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best MPA Degree

Delivery Format On-Campus, Online

Programs Master of Public Administration in Government and Policy

Required Credits to Graduate 38 credits

Department College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Estimated Cost per Credit $550 per credit

accreditation Higher Learning Commission

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 602-639-7700

Learn More

Delivery Format On-Campus, Online

Programs Master of Public Administration in Government and Policy

Required Credits to Graduate 38 credits

01
John Jay College of Criminal Justice

intelligent score 78.89

Award Best in the Northeast

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best in the Northeast

Delivery Format On-Campus, Online

Programs Master of Public Administration: Public Policy And Administration

Required Credits to Graduate 42 credits

Department Department of Public Management

Estimated Cost per Credit In-State: $545 per credit; Out-of-State: $1,010 per credit

accreditation Middle States Commission on Higher Education

more program informationEmail: [email protected] jjay.cuny.edu
Phone: 929-242-7347

Learn More

Delivery Format On-Campus, Online

Programs Master of Public Administration: Public Policy And Administration

Required Credits to Graduate 42 credits

01
DePaul University

intelligent score 77.52

Award Best Catholic University

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best Catholic University

Delivery Format On-Campus, Online

Programs Master in Public Policy

Required Credits to Graduate 52 credits

Department School of Public Service

Estimated Cost per Credit $715 per credit

accreditation Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 773-325-7315

Learn More

Delivery Format On-Campus, Online

Programs Master in Public Policy

Required Credits to Graduate 52 credits

01
Best in the Southeast
George Washington University
01
Best International Focus
Johns Hopkins SAIS
01
Best in the Midwest
Northwestern University
01
Best Specialization Options
Pennsylvania State University
01
Best Science Focus
Rochester Institute of Technology
01
Best MPP Degree
Simmons University
01
Best Public Health Focus
Thomas Edison State University
01
Best Education Policy Focus
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
01
Most Flexible
University of Nebraska
01
Best in the West
University Of Southern California
01
Best in the South
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

What You Should Know About This Degree

The Master’s in Public Policy degree is a highly versatile credential that can lead to government, nonprofit, or private-sector jobs. Graduates work in all levels of government, while private-sector jobs are usually tied to corporation-government relations. Because this is such a flexible degree, programs offer a wide array of emphases.

MA in Public Policy degrees and MPA degrees are similar to one another, but they also have points of distinction. MA degrees tend to focus more on research and analysis of public policy, while MPA degrees tend to have a greater focus on the implementation of public policies. Consider your interests and future aspirations as you evaluate programs, and choose one that’s suited to your goals.

Experience is highly valued in the field of public policy, so some programs have required optional in-person experiential learning components. For example, even online programs might have a residency, seminar, or internship. Review a program’s in-person requirements before applying, and make sure your schedule allows time to complete any such requirement.

Should you choose a degree that contains an in-person internship, try to complete the internship in the area where you want to serve. Internships can be valuable networking opportunities.

What’s Next?

As you evaluate different Master’s in Public Policy degrees, consider these questions:

  • How long does it take to complete this online degree? Most of these degree programs range from 30 to 45 credits. This quantity of credits usually requires two to three years of full-time study to complete.
  • Are courses offered synchronously or asynchronously? These programs may offer courses synchronously or asynchronously, and many use a combination of the two modes. Synchronous courses have work that must be completed at a set time, while asynchronous coursework is done on your schedule. Consider your schedule’s flexibility as you evaluate which mode is better for you.

When you know what program you’d like to apply to, get the details on the admissions process. Contact the program or check its website to see what materials you must send in and the relevant deadlines.

Also consider how you’ll cover the cost of a degree program. Talk with programs about scholarship and financial aid opportunities that are available. You might also qualify for tuition reimbursement from an employer.