What is the value of a graduate degree in Public Policy?

Nov 21, 2011
Tags: B-School, Career, Choosing the Right School, MBA, School Selection

Provided by David Eber, Director of Admissions & Financial Aid at Carnegie Mellon University’s H. John Heinz III College

Students who study public policy are driven to serve the public interest.  They work in governments, non-profits, consulting firms and international organizations.  They are social entrepreneurs, policy analysts, lead consultants to government and they hold public office.  These graduates want to address the huge global challenges we face today.  They use the same tools as their counterparts in business:  quantitative analysis, economics, finance, management skills, etc., but they apply those tools to social problems.  As a result, a public policy graduate is someone who can truly the change the world. 

A public policy degree is a vital component when it comes to preparing future generations to tackle some of society's biggest problems. 

By combining public policy with management, students gain strong skills – both quantitative and qualitative – that allow them to thoroughly analyze problems and develop effective solutions. 

Today's schools of public administration and public policy offer a range of degree programs to prepare you for launching and sustaining a desirable career in the field. The schools also offer mid-career and executive education programs designed specifically for the ongoing education needs of the working professional. 

Degrees related to the field of public policy go by many names- Master of Public Affairs, Master of Public Administration, Master of Public Policy, or a Master of Science in Public Policy and Management. 

Regardless of the name, public policy programs offer their graduates an excellent foundation for successful professional careers in the public sector, the nonprofit sector, and those parts of the private sector that supply consulting and other services to governments and nonprofits. Compared with MBA programs, the public policy degree option often is more affordable and better suited to public service. Compared with law school, public policy degrees include training in economics, policy analysis and statistics, and other vital skill areas that make the alumni competitive on the job market. If you seek a career that will "make a difference" then a graduate degree in public policy is the ideal option for you. 

Similar to business schools, you will find many public policy programs provide a skills-based curriculum that integrates information technology, quantitative analysis and management skills. This combination prepares students to solve complex policy problems in all levels of government, Nonprofits/NGOs, international organizations, consulting and education.  According to PublicServiceCareers.org, “These opportunities provide good pay and benefits, numerous choices of where to work in the United States and around the world, and resources for further training and education”. 

A degree in public policy is an excellent option for students who want to make a difference. Whether your focus is the local community or society at large, a public policy degree provides the necessary knowledge, skills and experience to inform the next generation of impact-makers.