Public Policy: Definition, Courses, And Universities

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Public Policy

An exciting field of interest within administration and governance, Public Policy is an emerging area of study that focuses on finding solutions to socio-economic issues extending into areas of public affairs, management, development, media, security, psychology, and law, amongst others. With the growing need to analyze issues from different perspectives, like historical, area-based, normatively, etc, policy studies dive deep into the mechanics of designing and implementation of efficient strategies. This blog aims to summarise all the details relevant to policy and administration starting from a brief overview of what you will need to study at the leading universities.

Also Read: BSc in Public Administration

What is Public Policy?

Offered typically at master’s and higher level, policy studies courses aim to provide a solid base for students to effectively analyze and interpret the policy issues. With this respect, the program curriculum not only involves the study of a multitude of fields but also equips students with the quantitative and qualitative methods of research. Further, the different study tracks offered with the program provide the learners with a platform to delve into a specific subfield within public policy. Listed below are some common specializations options are:

  • International Development
  • Public Administration
  • Social Policy
  • Environment & Sustainability
  • Health Policy
  • Security & Governance
  • International Affairs
  • Media & Communication
  • Education
  • Law
  • Social Justice

As for the study structure of courses in this field, students undertake thesis writing, research projects and participate in designing and delivery policies across various settings. Individuals graduating from the course enter as policy analysts and consultants into think-tanks, national and international governmental organizations as well as social sector firms, amongst others. Following up on a master’s degree with a PhD is recommended for those looking to enter research.

Also Read: Master in Public Health

Public Policy vs Political Science

A degree in Public Policy differs from a degree earned in Political Science. A lot of people have this confusion that they are similar and one and the same. In short, a degree in the field of Political Science is the study of a broad field and aspect of politics and the systems of government. It helps students to analyse political activities and behaviours. On the contrary, a degree in Public Policy is the study of one of the branches of Political Science and addresses public concerns and problems. Having said that, a degree in this field rightfully prepares an individual to analyse the community and society with a better vision and try to analyse the problems so that they can influence the people via new laws, policies at different levels.  With the growing need to analyze issues from different perspectives, like historical, area-based, normatively, etc, public policy studies dive deep into the mechanics of designing and implementation of efficient strategies.

Types of Courses

As discussed, Public Policy courses are typically offered at the postgraduate and doctoral levels, owing to the heavy amount of analysis and research involved. Additionally, many leading universities across the world also offer dual and joint degree programs, for instance, an MPP/MBA and MPP/MIM, etc. Students can also go for a more research-inclined MPP/PhD in any field of interest.

Also Read: International Relations Courses

Top Courses & Universities 2021

Courses on public policy form part of offerings at some of the elite institutions in the USA, UK, and Europe, amongst others. They have been not only recognized for the outstanding study curriculum but also for experienced faculty members and a competitive study environment. Further, graduates have gone on to work at leading organizations in sectors of policy, administration, governance and much more. Here is a list of 7 institutes you must consider:

Name of the University Location Course
University of Oxford Oxford, UK Master in Public Policy (MPP)
Georgetown University Washington DC, USA MPP;
Master in Policy Management;
Master in International Development Policy;
Master of Data Science for Public Policy;
Executive Master in Policy Leadership;
MPP/MBA;
MPP/PhD in Psychology; etc
Hertie School of Governance Berlin, Germany MPP
Doctoral Program in Governance;
Dual Degree Programs
Central European University Budapest, Hungary MA in Public Policy
Sciences Po France MPP
The London School of Economics & Political Science London, UK MSc Public Policy & Administration;
MSc International Social & Public Policy;
MSc Philosophy & Public Policy
University of Chicago Chicago, USA MPP
MSc in Computational Analysis & Public Policy;
MSc Environmental Science & Policy;
MSc International Development & Policy;
MA in Public Policy with Certificate in Research Methods (also offered in Executive mode)
PhD
Dual Degree Programs
University of Birmingham Birmingham, UK Online Masters of Public Administration 
Tufts University  Medford, USA MSc in Cybersecurity and Public Policy 
Masters of Public Policy 
The George Washington University Washington, USA Masters of International Policy and Practice 
Barcelona Graduate School of Economics  Barcelona, Spain  Masters Program in Economics and Public Policy 
University of Southern Denmark  Odense, Denmark  MSc in Social Sciences in Comparative Public Policy and Welfare Studies 

Note: The above-mentioned universities have not been ranked in the order that they appear.

In order to be eligible for the above-mentioned courses, possessing an undergraduate degree in any field from a regionally accredited university and a few years of industry experience is a common prerequisite. Further, the application materials include submission of GRE/GMAT, IELTS/TOEFL/PTE scores, statement of purpose and letters of recommendation, amongst others. However, these eligibility and admission criteria are flexible and students must peruse the official university websites for specific information.

Careers in Public Policy

A career in the field of Public Policy and Administration heavily depends on empirical research and policy-making. Having said that, those who are qualified in a degree in this field must be possessing skills such as data analysis, critical thinking, decision making, analytical skills and more. The students are prepared in such a manner so that they can be able to solve the difficulties and problems of the public and formulate suitable policies for different levels. Popular careers and jobs in Public Policy include:

  • Research Analyst
  • Research Officer 
  • Policy Advisor 
  • Civil Service Administrator 
  • Foreign Affairs Officer 
  • Foreign Affairs Diplomat 
  • Trade Officer 
  • Government Policy-maker Consultant 
  • Political Speechwriter 
  • Public Relations Specialist
  • Survey Researcher 
  • Research Scientist 
  • Professor 

As per Payscale, the average salary of a Public Policy Analyst in India is ₹10,00,000 and graduates with a Masters in Public Policy can also expect to earn an average salary of ₹660,000 per annum.

Public policy is a highly technical field of study that offers lucrative job opportunities in a variety of sectors. Needless to say, choosing a career path according to one’s interests and aspirations is paramount to building a vibrant career. The AI-tool at Leverage Edu is a step in this direction, suggesting fields of study based on personalized algorithmic mapping of skills and abilities, thus helping individuals to take an informed decision towards a rewarding career. 

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