Online public policy degrees build a student’s understanding of how governmental bodies address specific social issues through laws, regulations, funding, and other actions. Students pursuing this online degree will learn skills in public administration, policy analysis, policy advocacy, lobbying, and research.
While public policy is similar in many regards to political science, and the two programs often share certain course work, they do differ in a some significant ways. Political science deals with political decision-making and political theory, while public policy is more practice-based and focuses on teaching students how to make data-based decisions on the effectiveness of political policies and programs. Public policy is also a broader and more interdisciplinary field, encompassing economics, philosophy, and sociology to a greater degree.
Course work in a public policy program will explore global and domestic policy, highlight specific policy issues (such as health care or climate change), and explain how certain policy issues are given greater priority through public finance and budgeting. At the graduate level, a greater emphasis is placed on research methods, statistical analysis, and advanced theory analysis. While many programs are available 100% online, the best programs will require or encourage an internship where students can directly in a public policy setting.
After graduating from an online program in public policy, you may pursue careers in state, local, and federal government; nonprofit organizations; non-governmental organizations (NGOs); or trade and labor organizations. Job titles include policy analyst, survey researcher, political writer, legislator, or nonprofit administrator. With graduate education, graduates may go on to become college-level educators or political scientists.