Public policy affects absolutely everyone and earning a bachelor’s in public policy arms you with the expertise to make positive changes in the public sphere.
Pew Research Center reports that public trust in the government remains low. You are probably not surprised, but if you are reading this, you must be interested in how you can impact the world positively through the field of public policy. Public policy degrees prepare you to analyze local, regional, national, and even international issues and promote innovative solutions. Many public policy professionals work for the local, state, and federal government, but others work in public, private, or nonprofit organizations.
Related Resource: What is a Bachelor’s Degree?
What is a Bachelor’s in Public Policy?
A bachelor’s in public policy is the foundation program designed for students who aim to work in the public sector. These undergraduate programs may be offered as either Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BS) and include curricula that draw upon political science, economics, business, public relations, statistics, research methods, and other related fields.
The program you select will determine the degree requirements, but the best public policy undergraduate degrees equip students with an interdisciplinary background in economics, political issues, and problem-solving while providing specific concentrations or the freedom to pair this program with another field.
Undergraduate public policy degrees may be on campus or online and require a minimum of 120 credit hours, which takes the average full-time student four years to complete. Some programs (particularly online ones) utilize eight or nine-week courses, which may produce quicker completion times. The best bachelor’s in public policy offer internships and study abroad programs to allow students to apply knowledge and skills to real-world experiences.
Careers for Public Policy Majors
The expertise and skills provided by public policy programs equip students with critical skills that translate into various options for future careers. Public policy majors customize their programs to match their interests and career goals through either a specialized topic like healthcare or research or through pairing their curriculum with another major like business, economics, or criminal justice.
The following list of careers are common pathways for public policy majors:
- Policy analysis
- Survey/scientific research
- Government agencies
- Nonprofit organizations
- Public service
- Social advocacy
- Criminal justice
Whether you want to work as a policy analyst for the federal government or as a research analyst for a private business, an undergraduate public policy degree is where you will start. Public policy majors may also use an undergraduate degree as a pathway to future education, like a graduate or law degree. Additionally, many universities offer combined bachelor/master degrees in public policy that can be completed in just five years, so if you’re interested in that route, read our top 30 rankings.
Bachelor’s in Public Policy Salary Potential
Public policy careers are vast, and your future salary potential will depend on the career you seek, your level of experience, and of course, your degree/training. PayScale reports that the average public policy associate salary is $50,220 per year. Similarly, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that professionals in the field of public policy and social service bring in a median annual wage of $45,000 annually.
These income ranges are for entry-level positions, and salary potential increases with further education, additional experience, and geographical location.
The BLS reports the following median salaries for these public policy careers:
- Survey researchers: $59,870
- Public relations specialists: $62,810
- Social and community managers: $69,600
- Political scientists: $125,350
For a specific breakdown of occupational employment and wages for political scientists, check out this link from BLS. A master’s degree and/or additional certificates will always increase salary potential. Many of our best bachelor’s in public policy offer both master’s degrees and certificate programs to add to your degree program.
What are the Best Bachelor’s in Public Policy?
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Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, is an “academic powerhouse” with more than 71,000 students, 530,000 alumni, and 300 research centers throughout the state! If topics like income inequality, climate change, or healthcare cost intrigue you, you must not miss our #1 ranking: the Bachelor of Science in planning and public policy.
Through Rutger’s BS in planning and public policy, you will gain essential analytical skills to understand public problems and offer alternative solutions, which will land you careers in:
- public affairs
- public policy
- public administration
To get there, you will earn 12-13 prerequisite credits, 28 credits of core courses, and 15 credits of electives.
Another perk of Rutger’s public policy programs is that you can add additional certificates, like community development, real estate, or urban planning to your degree through 18-24 additional credits. Finally, if you’re especially driven, you may consider working towards the joint BA or BS/MPP program to earn both a bachelor’s and master’s in public policy.
Pennsylvania State University
Penn State is not only a top-ranked research university known for its mission of “high-quality teaching, expert research, and global service,” this academic institution includes a World Campus where you will find our #2 ranking. Penn State’s online BS in health policy and administration is nationally recognized as one of the top ten online bachelor’s degree programs by U.S. News & World Report.
While Penn State’s HPA program is flexible and convenient, you won’t lose any of the quality instruction given in traditional on-campus programs. Highly respected and experienced Penn State faculty teach courses that involve a blend of liberal arts, business administration, and health sciences to give you the expertise to work in the health care system.
To stand out on the job market, you will complete an HPA program internship during your final year. The program’s 4,000+ alumni can attest to the fact that you won’t have any issues finding employment after graduation. HPA graduates work anywhere from major teaching hospitals to small physician’s offices all over the globe.
Driven by its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech is a top-ranking research university with nine colleges, 110 majors, 170 master’s and doctoral majors, and nearly 35,000 students who call themselves Hokies! Virginia Tech offers a unique Bachelor of Arts in international public policy where alumni work to plan, implement and evaluate development programs across the globe.
With a liberal arts and foreign language background, VT’s BA in international public policy will give you the knowledge, skills, and experience in “areas of sustainable international development, governance and political economy, environment and development, and international public health.” Expect to take courses like:
- Global Governance and Public Policy
- Global Environmental Issues
- Human Security
You will have the opportunities to engage in research, join student organizations, and of course, travel abroad! VT alumni find work as policy analysts, policy developers, political organizers, journalists, lawyers, foreign aid administrators, to name a few. Some graduates have also been admitted to some of the best law and graduate schools in the country.
Ohio State University
Established in 1870, Ohio State University is one of America’s largest, most comprehensive, and top-ranked academic institutions. OSU’s impact is far-reaching, with a prestigious medical center, premier cancer hospital, research center, 68,300 students, and 580,000 alumni. You could join the vibrant Buckeye community and pursue causes you are passionate about through earning a Bachelor of Science in public policy analysis.
Through OSU’s BS in public policy analysis, you will learn how to develop policies that make positive changes in the world. You will take core public affairs classes and then focus on an area of specialization like:
- education policy
- technology policy
- health policy
In addition to coursework, you will complete an internship, study abroad, and work on a capstone research project.
OSU public policy analysis graduates are ready to jump into careers in management/analysis with government agencies and nonprofit organizations. Current alumni hold positions as budget analysts, special projects coordinators, benefit analysts, legal analysts, and legislative assistants. If you’re interested in joining the Buckeye family, check out OSU’s admission details here.
University of Central Florida
Founded in 1963, the University of Central Florida is among the nation’s top 20 Most Innovative Colleges, according to the U.S. News & World Report. Additionally, Forbes, The Princeton Review, and Kiplinger rank UCF as a best-value university. USF Online features a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with an emphasis on American Politics and Policy.
As a UCF online student, you will be in good hands, fully supported by academic advisors who help you tailor your program to match your future career goals. You will gain critical thinking and analytical skills through coursework in government, politics, international relations, public policy, and more. Additionally, you have the opportunity to complete an internship through local, state, or national government offices.
UCF public policy graduates are employed as:
- congressional office staffers
- foreign service officers
- intelligence officers
Some students also use UCF’s undergraduate program as a pathway to graduate or law school. Get connected to UCF by speaking to a success coach, creating a plan, and applying online.
University of Maryland-Global Campus
Founded more than 70 years ago to help working adults and service members earn online degrees, the University of Maryland Global Campus is currently the largest online state university in the country! Whether you are in the military, a working adult, or don’t fall into either category, you can certainly find an online program from the UMGC’s 90+ academic degrees.
UMGC’s Bachelor of Science in political science will give you a comprehensive background in U.S. government and global politics, which can translate into careers like policy development, research at intelligence agencies, or political campaign management. You will learn from world-class faculty who have worked as attorneys, lobbyists, and contractors for organizations like the U.S. Department of Defense and Homeland Security.
This program entails 30 credits of major courses, 49 credits of minor and elective courses, and 41 credits of general education courses. Notable courses include:
- American Government
- Comparative Politics and Government
- Global Policy Economy
- Global Terrorism
If you see yourself at UMGC, check out admission details here.
Oregon State University
Oregon State University includes campuses and centers all over the state and online, earning it the title of the largest university in Oregon. OSU’s online Bachelor of Science in public policy is an interdisciplinary program, focused on economics, political science, and sociology, the perfect combination for gaining a well-rounded and flexible approach to solving the world’s problems.
OSU’s BSPP program offers one of three specializations: environmental policy, rural policy, or social policy. You will take courses in areas related to state and local politics, public policy programs, public administration, policy research, population trends and policy, and more. While you will complete your classes online, you are required to complete an internship in a public policy-related setting.
OSU graduates are prepared for employment as:
- administrators for the government
- administrators for nonprofit
- administrators for academia
- administrators for private businesses
Some graduates also use OSU’s BSPP program as a gateway for graduate programs, such as the online Master of Public Policy. It is also worth noting U.S. News & World Report ranks OSU’s online bachelor’s programs among the best in the country!
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Founded in 1795 as the nation’s first public university, UNC Chapel Hill holds a three-fold mission of teaching, research, and public service, which translates into all its degree programs. UNC’s Bachelor of Arts in public policy is an interdisciplinary social science degree that provides “theoretical perspective, analytical skill, and substantive knowledge needed to respond to major domestic and global policy problems.”
Through UNC’s BA in public policy, you will take classes in economics, policy analysis, political science, research, statistics, and philosophy. This will prepare you for careers in fields such as:
- public policy
- public and international affairs
You may also choose to pair this program with another like business administration, global studies, journalism, or social and economic justice.
You will gain hands-on experience through internships, research opportunities, and community partnerships, which will prepare you for careers in business, economics, public policy, social work, management, and more. UNC public policy graduates may work for think tanks like the Rand Corporation, the Urban Institute, or the Brookings Institute. They may also work as lobbyists, policy advocates, or legislative/policy analysts.
Georgia Institute of Technology
Georgia Institute of Technology consists of its main campus in Atlanta, as well as campuses in France, China, and online. With nearly 40,000 students from all 50 states and 149 countries, it’s no surprise U.S. News & World Report ranks Georgia Tech among the top 10 public research universities in the nation.
Georgia Tech’s Bachelor of Science in public policy is designed to provide students with strong critical thinking, analytical, communication, and leadership skills. These are necessary for future careers in public service, law, or the private sector. You will gain a core background in politics, economics, and philosophy. You can choose elective clusters, such as environment and energy policy or science and technology policy, to customize your program.
You have opportunities for internships, study abroad trips, and research projects, along with a required two-semester capstone project where you work in teams with real clients. Georgia Tech also offers a BS/MS in Public Policy for undergraduate students who complete 30 credit hours and are eligible.
Indian River State College
Indian River State College is known as a leader in innovation and provides affordable and accessible academic, career, and technical programs both on its campus in Fort Pierce, Florida, as well as online. You may be interested in IRSC’s Bachelor of Science in public administration with a public policy and leadership concentration if you are looking to be a manager/leader in the public policy field.
IRSC’s undergraduate program provides a solid foundation in leadership, public personnel management, and strategic planning. You will begin by earning IRSC’s associate’s in public administration and then starting your junior year well equipped. You will take courses like:
- Organizational Behavior
- State and Local Government
- Public Relations for Public Managers
You will complete a capstone during your final year.
The great part about IRSC’s BS in public administration/public policy and leadership is that graduates are ready to start working in careers like urban and regional planning, compliance management, social and community service management, supply chain management, and more. For more information about this program, click on this link to connect with an IRSC information specialist.
University of Colorado-Denver
The University of Colorado includes four campuses (Boulder, Colorado Springs, Denver, and Anschutz) that make up CU Online, a dynamic university that U.S. News & World Report ranks among the Best Bachelor’s Online Programs. CU Online-Denver features a fully online Bachelor of Arts in public administration, designed for students who aim to become leaders in their communities through public policy.
CU’s BA in public administration allows you to focus on one of three specializations: emergency management, environmental policy and management, and nonprofit management. Along with general education requirements, you will complete 21 credits of core classes, 24 credits of approved electives, and a three-credit internship. CU reports that full-time students may complete this program in just eight semesters, but you can determine your own pace.
CU public administration graduates find fulfilling careers as:
- city/county managers
- management consultants
- homeland security officers
- nonprofit executive directors
- urban planners
Whether you plan to start as a freshman, transfer student, or international student, check out the details on CU admissions here.
Georgia State University
Georgia State University is an urban public research institution and known as “the leading cultural and economic center of the Southeast.” Georgia State consists of six campuses, 12 colleges and schools, over 54,000 students from more than 167 countries, and 250+ degree programs. Georgia State’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies offers a Bachelor of Science in public policy with three distinct concentrations.
Depending on your interests and career goals, you will choose to focus on nonprofit leadership, planning and economic development, or public management and governance. You will gain skills in professional writing, critical thinking, policy analysis, and leadership through 120 credits of coursework. These courses include Policy Leadership, Policy Data Analysis, Critical Policy Issues, as well as a required internship.
Georgia State public policy graduates may work as:
- city managers
- community relations specialists
- local or regional planners
- policy analysts
- political or campaign strategists
- nonprofit leaders
Georgia State’s admission webpage states, “You apply to us as a person, not just a test score.” Check out this link for more information.
University of Delaware
Founded in 1743, the University of Delaware has graduated three signers of the Declaration of Independence, a signer of the Constitution, and a President of the United States! This university, dedicated to excellence in education, research, and service and is where you will find a Bachelor of Arts in public policy, our #13 ranking.
UD’s BA in public policy includes four concentrations:
- state and local government administration
- nonprofit administration
- urban planning
- historic preservation
Along with coursework in political science, law, sociology, geography, economics, and history, you will gain hands-on experience through working with faculty and professionals to solve complex problems that communities face.
You will have opportunities to get involved through student organizations like the Public Policy Fellows and World Scholars, study abroad trips, and internships. UD also features 4+1 programs, which offer both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in just five years. With UD’s BA in public policy, you may pursue careers in:
- city/county administration
- policy research
- program analysis
Eastern Kentucky University
Established in 1906, Eastern Kentucky University is a regional public academic institution dedicated to “high-quality instruction, scholarship, and service,” in that order. EKU Online offers more than 40 undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs with six convenient start dates throughout the year. EKU’s bachelor’s degree in political science is 100% online, flexible, and geared towards working adults and active-duty military.
EKU’s bachelor’s in political science includes an emphasis in political administration/public policy and blends academic. It offers professional training in courses like:
- American Government
- Comparative Politics
- Public Administration
- Political Philosophy
You can also choose from an array of minors to further customize your program.
At EKU, you will take 8-week courses with six start points each year, which adds to the flexibility. As an online student, you have access to free online tutoring and the same quality courses that on-campus political science students take. If you’re in the military, you will receive reduced tuition from $409 per credit hour to $250 per credit hour, along with a generous transfer policy
University of Mississippi
The University of Mississippi, fondly known as Ole Miss, is not only the state’s flagship university but was awarded the elite group of R-1: Doctoral Universities-Highest Research Activity by the Carnegie Classification. With more than 24,000 students, Ole Miss is among one of the largest and fastest-growing universities in the state.
Ole Miss offers a Bachelor of Arts in public policy leadership, an interdisciplinary program that incorporates geography, history, political science, economics, philosophy, and public administration and requires an additional minor (with 50 to choose from!) Through this program, you will gain essential skills for leadership like critical thinking, communication, and policy analysis.
In addition to general education courses and electives, you will complete 33 credit hours in public policy leadership courses. Coursework is divided into three categories:
- domestic policies
- international policies
You also have opportunities to complete an internship and study abroad at Ole Miss. For more information, including how to apply, check out this link.
SUNY Empire State College
Founded in 1971, SUNY Empire State College offers flexible, accessible academic programs with personalized degree plans, affordable tuition, and generous transfer policies. SUNY Empire’s bachelor’s in public affairs comes with an array of options: you can earn a BA, BS, or bachelor’s of professional studies and choose one or more concentrations to further tailor your program.
Through SUNY Empire’s public affairs degree, you will choose one or more concentrations, including:
- public policy
- public administration
- health policy
- political science
You can also create an interdisciplinary concentration that connects various fields. You will gain knowledge and skills in leadership, communication, and decision-making for social and societal concerns.
SUNY Empire public affairs graduates can work anywhere in any field, depending on their program focus. If you’re interested in communication, you may work in public communications, journalism or public relations. If you see yourself working for the government, you may work in public administration, public policy, international affairs, or urban planning. SUNY Empire’s bachelor’s in public affairs can get you to your future career, no matter what it is.
Central Washington University
Central Washington University reports its “secret formula” for success: “Small classes + professors passionate about teaching + hands-on experience—in the field and around the world.” Among CWU’s 125+ degree programs is a Bachelor of Science in public policy, which includes the exploration and analysis of history, theory, and philosophy to address the needs of today’s society.
CWU’s BS in public policy is not a stand-alone degree and should be combined with another discipline like economics, environmental studies, geography, or political science. You will gain expertise in current political and economic trends. You will gain an understanding of:
- public-private partnerships
- international relations
- environmental law
- energy policies
- government agencies
CWU Public Policy students have excellent networking opportunities through student organizations and clubs. Depending on your emphasis area, CWU’s BS in public policy can be a pathway to careers with:
- government agencies
- energy policy
- non-profit organizations
- public administration
- human rights
- public health
- international development
If you’re interested in becoming a CWU Wildcat, check out application details here.
Wilmington University is a private, nonprofit institution known for both its flexible academic programs and affordable in-state tuition rates for all students. WilmU’s Bachelor of Science in law, policy, and political science can be customized to match your interests and career goals. Whether you see yourself working in the fields of law, government, or politics, WilmU’s unique program is worth checking out.
WilmU’s academic program includes three concentrations: legal studies, government, and public policy, or political science. You will complete 40 courses totaling 120 credit hours and can earn this degree either on-campus at the New Castle or Dover location or entirely online. In addition to coursework, you will complete 42 credits of hands-on experience through internships and cooperative learning experiences with local firms and organizations.
You can use electives to earn dual-credit certificates in a related field like:
- conflict resolution
- criminal justice
- nonprofit management
Wilmington University boasts an acceptance rate of 100%, so you will get in! If you’re interested in all WilmU has to offer, check out this link.
For 16 consecutive years, Troy University has been awarded “Best in the Southeast” by Princeton Review, and for good reasons. Founded in 1887, TROY boasts a rich history of providing top-notch academic programs through four campuses and an online campus, TROY Online. Through TROY Online, you can earn a Bachelor of Science in political science, American affairs and public administration.
TROY’s political science program is 100% online and can be completed in nine-week classes. You can either choose to concentrate on American politics and public administration or international politics. Along with 51 credits in general studies, you will earn nine credits of major requirements, 27 credits of concentration requirements, 18 credits of minor requirements, and 15 elective credits.
TROY’s political science graduates gain a great foundation for careers in:
- government work
- foreign service
- international security
- private-enterprise business
Whether you aim to begin a career after graduation or use this degree as a pathway to graduate or law school, TROY’s program will get you to your goals.
Founded in 1971, Liberty University is one of the largest Christian universities in the nation, with more than 100,000 students and 700 unique academic programs, both on campus and online. Many students earn degrees from Liberty completely online, like this ranking, a Bachelor’s of Science in Government – Politics and Public Policy.
A perk of Liberty’s degree programs is they are formatted in 8-week courses, and the average bachelor’s degree takes just 3.5 years to complete. Through this program, you will gain expertise in comparative politics, modern politics and economics, international relations, and American constitutional history. Graduates become:
- government officials
- nonprofit directors
- policy analysts
- political consultants
- public administrators
Liberty is known for its affordability and accessibility and offers reduced tuition for military personnel. All undergraduate textbooks are electronic and provided to you, which also saves at least $800-2,000 yearly. Applicants must have at least a 2.0 cumulative GPA and submit official college transcripts, a high school self-certificate form, and an application fee.
The University of Maine
The University of Maine, called UMaine or UMO, was founded in 1865 and serves as the flagship campus of the University of Maine system. UMaine is incredibly diverse, with students from all 50 states and over 75 countries. Among the 100+ degree programs, you will find a Bachelor of Arts in political science offered 100% online.
Don’t let the fact that UMaine’s program is online lead you to think it won’t be as intellectually stimulating as if it were on campus. You will learn from internationally recognized faculty who offer outstanding teaching and advising. Expect to take courses like:
- American Politics
- International Relations
- Comparative Politics
- Political Theory
UMaine political science students are involved in their communities and research inside and outside of the classroom. Graduates begin careers in the national, state, or local government and work for various political parties, campaigns, and nonprofits. Many also continue their studies at graduate or law school, including:
- Harvard University
- University of Maine School of Law
- Columbia University
- University of Toronto
Arizona State University
Arizona State University is known as the nation’s most innovative school (U.S. News & World Report), one that produces NASA researchers, Nobel laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners, and graduates who make an impact on the world. ASU’s Bachelor of Science in public service and public policy will prepare you for careers in government, nonprofit organizations, and public leadership and management.
ASU’s program is offered both on the downtown Phoenix campus or online. The unique curriculum pairs public service, policy, and administration with a professional focus that best fits your interests and career goals. You will choose a concentration like:
- health policy
- law and policy
- science and technology
- urban studies
Along with an excellent foundation in public policy, you will apply your skills through an internship, and you may have opportunities to travel abroad to increase your understanding of how the government works internationally. ASU graduates have no trouble finding employment after completing this degree. Many work as:
- community specialists
- political analysts
- urban planners
University at Albany SUNY
With a rich history dating back to 175 years, the University at Albany, part of the State University of New York system, has been awarded the title “One of America’s Top Colleges” by Forbes. UAlbany includes nine colleges and schools, 1,200+ devoted faculty, 200+ academic programs, and 18 NCAA Division I athletic teams.
UAbany’s Department of Public Administration and Policy at Rockefeller College offers diverse academic programs with more than 30 specialization areas. One of these programs is a Bachelor of Arts in public policy and management, an interdisciplinary degree with foundational coursework. Electives include:
- policy, management
- quantitative methods
You can also choose among the 12 concentration areas, ones like:
- environmental policy
- law and civil rights
- technology and policy
- world affairs
UAlbany’s ideal location gives you opportunities to gain practical experience through a required internship. You may find yourself interning in cities like New York, Washington D.C., or in another country through the study abroad program. Interested in UAlbany? Check out application details here.
University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth
The University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth holds many awards and rankings, including #217 among national universities and the 3rd highest-ranked public university in the state (U.S. News & World Report). UMass Dartmouth’s online and continuing education school provides students with top-quality, flexible academic programs, including a Bachelor of Arts in political science that is completely online.
If you’re aiming for a career in law, business, international studies, government, and/or non-profit organizations, UMass Dartmouth’s political science program will get you there. You will gain skills in research, professional writing, argument analysis, and oral presentations through courses like:
- Public Policy in America
- Civil Liberties and Rights
- Constitutional Law
- Public Administration
UMass Dartmouth’s online bachelor’s degree program is not only flexible, but it is also affordable at just $332 per credit hour. With a generous transfer policy, personal advising, and free online (and in-person) tutoring, UMass Dartmouth is worth checking out if you need the flexibility and convenience of an online program without sacrificing quality. If you’re ready to apply, check out this link.
University of North Alabama
Established in 1830, the University of North Alabama is the oldest public university in the state with a mission to be “innovative, inclusive, engaged, evolving, and global.” Accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), UNA is ranked #17 among public regional universities in the South, according to U.S. News & World Report.
UNA features both a Bachelor of Arts and Science in political science, emphasizing public policy and administration. This program can be completed either on campus or online and entails 36 credits hours of required courses, along with general education courses, concentration courses, and general electives.
Expect to take courses like:
- United States Government and Politics
- Public Policy and Administration
- Political Science Scope and Research
- World Politics
To further customize your program, you can also choose a minor in legal studies or public administration. Check out this link for how to apply to UNA and why you should!
Established in 1868, SUNY Cortland is one of New York’s top universities with a mission “to learn, to search, to serve.” Among the 67 undergraduate majors is a 124-credit Bachelor of Arts in public administration and public policy with a core curriculum of U.S. and world politics, political theory, and research methods.
Along with general education requirements, you will complete 18 credits of required courses, nine credits of public administration and policy electives, nine credits of cognate requirements, and a capstone internship either locally in Washington D.C. or Albany or overseas in London or Belize. Get involved with student organizations/clubs like the New York Public Interest Research Group or the Student Government Association.
SUNY Cortland’s public administration and policy degree leads to careers such as:
- press secretaries
- government officials
- policy researchers
Some Cortland graduates use this program as a pathway to law school, including Cornell and George Washington University! If you’re interested in all Cortland has to offer, check out the application details here.
St. Mary’s College of Maryland
Founded in 1840, St. Mary’s College of Maryland is a public, non-religious liberal arts college accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. St. Mary’s offers 38 academic programs across 25 majors, including a Bachelor of Arts in public policy that focuses on either American public policy or international public policy.
Within St. Mary’s Bachelor of Arts in public policy, you can either combine this program with another major like political science or economics. You can choose a concentration in either American or international public policy. The program allows a lot of customizing through electives and includes:
- field experiences
- independent study
- senior projects
St. Mary’s offers exciting opportunities like The Washington Program, designed to help students gain internships in Washington D.C., and study abroad trips to Ireland or India. St. Mary is looking for motivated, intellectually curious, community-minded students. If this is you, fill out this form to request more information or if you’re ready to apply, click on this link.
University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma
Oklahoma’s only public liberal arts college, the University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma is nationally ranked for both quality and value and recognized as a “leader and innovator in interdisciplinary studies.” Science & Arts offers small classes, an inclusive campus culture, award-winning faculty, and plenty of research opportunities.
Science & Arts’ Bachelor of Arts in public policy is one of the only undergraduate programs in the area and includes opportunities to get involved both in and outside of the classroom. The interdisciplinary curriculum combines political science, economics, sociology, and American Indian studies that focus on the various forces that shape public policy.
Along with coursework that provides a range of knowledge and expertise in policymaking, you have the opportunities to attend state and regional conferences, workshops, and leadership programs. You will also gain real-world experience through internships and externships. Science & Arts graduates become:
- public policy advocates
- political analysts
Known as “America’s Premier Christian University,” Regent University was founded in 1978. With more than 150 areas of study, Regent is consistently ranked among the best in both online bachelor’s programs and top national universities (U.S. News & World Report). Regent’s online Bachelor of Arts in Leadership – Government & Public Policy will prepare you for a future in politics.
Anchored in Christian values, Regent’s BA in leadership will equip you with a background in leadership, ethics, communication, critical thinking, and decision making. You will gain knowledge in interpreting political data and various viewpoints through courses like:
- The American Presidency
- The Legislative Process
- State and Local Government
You can also tailor this program by choosing electives that support your interests. You can also pair this program with another concentration like business, criminal justice, information justice, or Christian ministry. Regent graduates pursue careers in:
- corporate communications
- congressional offices
Applying to Regent is simple, and sessions start every eight weeks, so you can apply at any time during the year.
Grand Canyon University
Grand Canyon University is a private, rapidly growing Christian university located in Phoenix, Arizona. GCU’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences offers a Bachelor of Arts in government with an emphasis on state and local public policy, available both on-campus and online. If your passion is serving others and impacting the world, this degree is worth checking out.
GCU’s BA in government—state and local public policy prepares students for a constantly evolving political landscape. You will address complex problems while creating ethical and creative solutions and then learn how to communicate them to others effectively. Course topics include:
- American government
- political theories
- qualitative and quantitative research
- homeland security
- environmental protections
GCU graduates may pursue work as advocates for reform of healthcare, education, security, or human rights. Some also become research analysts, public administrators, campaign workers, or run for an elected office in local or state communities. GCU welcomes applicants 16 years and older and seeks students “with diverse interests, experiences and perspectives, ready to capture academic opportunities with creativity and enthusiasm.”
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a degree in public policy worth it?
A bachelor’s in public policy is a broad interdisciplinary degree that equips students with essential skills like critical thinking, problem-solving, research analysis, and communication. These skills translate into excellent careers in the public sector. Public policy degrees encompass fields such as business, economics, political science, sociology, and research methods, which makes them worthwhile for developing expertise and landing fulfilling careers.
If improving the political and community landscape is what you’re after, then a degree in public policy is absolutely worth your time.
What can I do with a bachelor’s in public policy?
Public policy branches into many careers and possibilities in government, private, and nonprofit settings. Many public policy graduates work in settings, such as:
- Local, state, and federal legislation
- Government agencies
- Nonprofit organizations
- Large corporations
- Small businesses
With a bachelor’s in public policy, you could land one of the following careers:
- Policy analysts
- Regional government officers
- Social research officers
- Survey researchers
- Political scientists
- Urban planners
- Public service administrators
Regardless of what type of career you are seeking, you will likely find it in the public policy field. Within these careers, you will find subfields like education, energy, food science, technology, transportation, and more. Public policy is an umbrella term for any type of social science you can imagine.
What is the difference between public policy and political science?
Political science is the social science of politics, and public policy is a branch of political science that analyzes and addresses public concerns and issues. You will see that some of our rankings are bachelor’s in political science with concentrations in public policy, which works well since political science encompasses the public policy field.
What is the difference between public policy and public administration?
Public policy and public administration industries overlap, but there are some key differences. The main distinction is that public administration degrees prepare students for managing agencies, and public policy degrees equip students to analyze policies and create solutions for the public well-being. These industries merge in many programs, like our #10 ranking, Indian River State College, for example. IRSC’s Bachelor of Science in public administration with a public policy and leadership concentration is an excellent program to prepare you for leadership positions within the public policy field.
How much does a public policy bachelor’s degree cost?
The cost of a public policy bachelor’s degree will depend on factors such as state residency, room and board (if you are staying on campus), technology fees, and of course, the tuition rates for the specific school.
Typically, public universities are more affordable than private ones, but that’s not always the case. The National Center for Educational Statistics breaks down the data, reporting that attendance at public four-year universities costs $20,598 for 2018-2019. Additionally, students at private schools paid an average of $44,662. Both of these numbers include room and board, so naturally, online degrees will cost less.
For more information about the cost of an undergraduate degree, check out NCES “Fast Facts” Tuition Costs of Colleges and Universities here.
How long does it take to earn a bachelor’s in public policy?
The time it takes to complete a bachelor’s in public policy will depend on whether you are a full-time or part-time student. Typically, a public policy undergraduate degree is 120 credit hours, and a full-time student can finish in four years. Part-time students will take longer, depending on how many courses they take each semester. Do note that some online programs are accelerated, offering eight-week courses, and these programs may be finished in just three to three and a half years.
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