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Jobs For Those Who Earn a Master’s Degree in Public Policy

There are those who go to graduate school to maximize their career mobility and salary potential. Others earn a degree to become a master of a discipline. And then there are those who want to change the world. Graduate students in a public policy program tend to fall into that latter group.

Earning a Master of Arts in Public Policy prepares graduates to take a leading role in some of the biggest issues facing modern society. Public policy experts work with governments, think tanks, advocacy groups, and in the private sector.

They develop fresh ideas for solving intransigent problems. They can range to funding social security and providing services to underserved communities to environmental protection and social justice.

What Is Public Policy

Like many of the issues involved in public policy, it’s difficult to get everyone to agree on an exact definition of public policy itself.

It’s easier, perhaps, to look at some of the major players involved in public policy.

Elected officials. They pass the laws that set policy. At the federal level, it is Congress and the President, but this also includes city council members, county commissioners, school district superintendents, and school board members.

Advisors. These are the people who work directly with elected leaders, such as legislative aides. There are also people on the staff of larger government agencies who work in public policy research and development. Also, the heads of various departments provide input into the creation of public policy.

Outside agencies: These include nonprofit organizations that serve as advocates on any number of public policy issues. But this also includes think tanks that can heavily influence public policy, as well as governmental relations people from private industry.

Taken together, people who work in these different areas come together to create public policy. It’s a complicated, sometimes messy process, but it can be effective if the right public policy people are involved.

Jobs in Public Policy

There are numerous jobs available with a public policy degree. Positions depend on what area graduates plan to enter. For example, the following jobs fall under these different areas.

Government: city or county manager, program analyst, budget analyst, elected official, legislative aide

Non-profit: policy research manager, program manager, community services manager, lobbyist

Private sector: government relations, community relations manager, public relations

All have their own unique set of challenges and rewards. What they have in common is the need for people with a solid understanding of what drives public policy – particularly the place where public policy and politics meet.

What You’ll Learn in a Master’s Degree Program

Graduates from a quality master’s degree program have expertise in all areas of public policy development and implementation.

Skills that students should expect to develop include the ability to analyze information to better understand contemporary policy debates and the issues behind them, expertise in working on teams researching public policy, and an understanding of all the key government agencies at the local, state, and federal level.

And that’s just scratching the surface. They must also understand the details of political structures, how public budgets are created and how resources are allocated, how to properly measure the impact of public policy, and possess or develop outstanding communication skills.

Quality programs give students the opportunity to hear influential speakers who have reached some of the pinnacle positions in public policy. NEC excels in this area, as New Hampshire has been the first state to vote in presidential primaries for decades, and campaigning begins very early. That offers many leaders the chance to speak to public policy students.

Entering public policy is a serious decision made by people who want to have a hand in guiding the direction of society in the future. Those who wish to be as prepared as possible for this role should consider earning a master’s degree in public policy.