Best 10 Online Master’s Degree in Public Policy in 2021

April 18, 2021 | Staff Writers

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1. Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR

Accepted candidates can complete the Masters in Public Policy online degree from Oregon State University entirely online or in a hybrid format. This program is quite competitive, with only 65 students enrolled in the 2020 – 2021 academic year. This master’s program, designed with the working professional in mind, can be completed full-time in 24 months but can be pursued on a part-time basis. Credits required for completion, divided into 36 core requirements and 36 concentration credits, including 10-credit internships in Energy Policy, Environmental Policy, International Policy, Law and Crime Policy, Rural Policy, Science and Technology Policy, or Social Policy. 

  • Tuition:  $560 per credit
  • Credits: 62 quarter credits (42-semester credits)
  • Accreditation:  NASPAA Commission on Peer Review and Accreditation
  • Estimated Time of Completion: 24 Months

2. Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO

The online Master of Public Policy Administration degree from Colorado State University requires 39 credit hours for completion. Of those 39 credits, three are a required internship, and three are a capstone project. Candidates are encouraged to choose internships and project subjects that best reflect their educational and career goals. Students can obtain an M.P.P.A. in one of the following specializations: Public Management, ideal for generalists, Public Policy, suitable for shaping policy in both the public and non-profits, and International Policy and Management, ideal for those interested in working with NGOs, intergovernmental agencies, and foreign policy.  

  • Tuition:  $586 per credit
  • Credits: 39
  • Accreditation:  Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association
  • Estimated Time of Completion: 24 Months

3. Indiana University, Bloomington, IN

The Masters of Public Affairs degree program at Indiana University is centered on six core courses: Public Management, Statistical Analysis for Effective Decision Making, Public Management Economics, Law and Public Affairs, Public Finance and Budgeting, and Capstone in Public and Environmental Affairs. These core requirements set the foundation for advancement in a career in public policy. 

Also, candidates will choose six elective courses to tailor their education to meet personal goals and career objectives. The elective choice requires that students concentrate on one of the following areas: Public Management, Nonprofit Management, Policy Analysis, or Public Budgeting and Financial Management. Students whose prior professional experience does not qualify them for exemption must also complete an approved internship or research project for 3 to 6 experiential credits. Applicants may also be eligible for as many as 12 Prior Professional Experience Credits (PPE). 

  • Tuition:  $515 per credit
  • Credits: 48
  • Accreditation:  The Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA)
  • Estimated Time of Completion: 30 Months

4. University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, MA

With ample work-related experience, candidates in the Master of Public Policy program at UMass may qualify for a waiver from 2 of the program’s required 36 credits. The remaining credits are as follows, 21 credits of the core curriculum, nine credits in a chosen public policy specialization, three elective credits, and one to three credits in related field internships. The 2-credit fieldwork component of the internship is waived for those with a minimum of two years of substantial public policy experience. 

  • Tuition:  $683 per credit
  • Credits: 36
  • Accreditation:  New England Commission of Higher Education
  • Estimated Time of Completion: 24 Months

5. Pennsylvania State University, Harrisburg, PA

Penn State’s Global Campus offers a Masters in Public Administration, which prepares candidates to assume leadership roles in public service and policy administration. Through its core curriculum and various electives, students learn the importance of management, research, and analytics in public services and democratic processes. Completion of this program allows candidates to pursue leadership roles in non-profits, policy analysis, public budgeting, state and local government administration, and area of homeland security. 

  • Tuition:  $924 per credit
  • Credits: 36
  • Accreditation:  The Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA)
  • Estimated Time of Completion: 24 Months

6. University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA

The University of Pittsburgh offers a Master of Public Policy and Management degree designed to complete in as few as 20 months. Ideal for the mid-career candidate, acceptance into the program is contingent on at least five years of full-time related work experience. The acceptance committee is looking for resumes with a track record of leadership and competence in program management, budgeting and finance, HR management, and policy formulation or implementation.  

  • Tuition:  $947 per credit
  • Credits: 30
  • Accreditation:  The Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA)
  • Estimated Time of Completion: 20 Months

7. Northwestern University, Chicago, IL

The graduate faculty in Northwestern University’s Public Policy and Administration department is a who’s who of policymakers, researchers, and academic leaders. Earning a Masters in Public Policy and Administration from Northwestern provides a strong intellectual and networking foundation. Students are allowed to choose one of five specializations: Public Administration, Public Policy, Global Policy, Global Health, or Data Analytics for Public Policy. 

  • Tuition:  $1196 per credit
  • Credits: 39
  • Accreditation:  Higher Learning Commission 
  • Estimated Time of Completion: 24 Months

8. University of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

The Master of Arts in Urban and Public Affairs obtained at the University of San Francisco is a specialized public policy degree focused on urban studies and effecting change with community engagement and grassroots organization. Exiting this program, candidates will have a fully integrated understanding of public policy design and analysis and formulating such policies with an effort toward equanimity and social justice. 

  • Tuition:  $1510 per credit
  • Credits: 36
  • Accreditation:  Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission
  • Estimated Time of Completion: 24 Months

9. Northeastern University, Boston, MA

Northeastern University’s College of Social Sciences and Humanities offers a Master of Public Policy that students complete in as little as a year and a half. Depending on interests and desired career objectives, candidates may choose to pursue a Healthcare Management and Policy or Sustainability and Climate Change Policy specialization. Additionally, electives are offered from the school of Public Policy and Urban Affairs and other departments in the College of Social Sciences and Humanities and other Colleges throughout the University’s system. 

  • Tuition:  $1550 per credit
  • Credits: 36
  • Accreditation: The Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA)
  • Estimated Time of Completion: 18 Months

10. American University, Washington, DC

American University’s School of Public Affairs offers a fully-online Master of Public Administration and Policy degree. This degree prepares candidates to enter leadership roles in advising public policy, whether in governmental, non-profit, or private sector organizations. 

The faculty of American University’s School of Public Affairs is an exceptional collection of highly educated and experienced individuals. Various faculty members currently work with well-known think tanks, conduct public policy research, advise NGOs, and have held leadership roles in government and public administration organizations. 

  • Tuition:  $1637 per credit
  • Credits: 36
  • Accreditation:  Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Estimated Time of Completion: 24 Months

Our Ranking Methodology

Graduate programs in public policy prepare candidates for a variety of roles in the public and private sectors. For this list of online master’s in public policy, we attributed a point system, ranking each program, one through 10, based on tuition and credits required. 

For more programs check out our traditional Master’s in Public Policy.

We encourage school representatives to contact us to clarify any of the above or to request a review of a particular program. 

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