Types of Degrees Public Policy Majors Are Getting
The following table lists how many public policy graduations there were in 2018-2019 for each degree level.
|Education Level||Number of Grads|
What Public Policy Majors Need to Know
O*NET surveyed people in occupations related to public policy and asked them what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important for their jobs. The responses were rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being most important.
Knowledge Areas for Public Policy Majors
Public Policy majors often go into careers in which the following knowledge areas are important:
- English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
- Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
- Law and Government - Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
- Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
- Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Skills for Public Policy Majors
A major in public policy prepares you for careers in which the following skill-sets are crucial:
- Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
- Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
- Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
- Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
- Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Abilities for Public Policy Majors
As a public policy major, you will find yourself needing the following abilities:
- Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
- Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
- Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
- Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
- Speech Clarity - The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
What Can You Do With a Public Policy Major?
People with a public policy degree often go into the following careers:
|Job Title||Job Growth Rate||Median Salary|
|Health Specialties Professors||25.9%||$97,370|
|Medical and Health Services Managers||20.5%||$99,730|
|Political Science Professors||10.4%||$83,370|
Who Is Getting a Master’s Degree in Public Policy?
At the countrywide level, the racial-ethnic distribution of public policy majors is as follows:
|Race/Ethnicity||Number of Grads|
|Black or African American||225|
|Hispanic or Latino||261|
Public Policy appeals to people across the globe. About 23.6% of those with this major are international students. The most popular countries for students from outside the country are:
- South Korea
How Much Do Public Policy Majors Make?
Master’s Degree Starting Salary
The median starting salary of students who graduated in 2015-2017 with a master’s degree in public policy was $58,650 per year. These stats come from the U.S. Department of Education. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $52,750 (25th percentile) and $65,575 (75th percentile).
One thing to note here is that not all of these people may be working in careers related to public policy.
Salaries According to BLS
Public Policy majors often go into careers where salaries can range from $73,680 to $115,300 (25th to 75th percentile). This range includes all degree levels, so the salary for a person with just a bachelor’s degree may be a little less and the one for a person with an advanced degree may be a little more.
To put that into context, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.
Amount of Education Required for Careers Related to Public Policy
Some degrees associated with public policy may require an advanced degree, while others may not even require a bachelor’s in the field. In general, the more advanced your degree the more career options will open up to you. However, there is significant time and money that needs to be invested into your education so weigh the pros and cons.
Find out what the typical degree level is for public policy careers below.
|Education Level||Percentage of Workers|
|Post-Secondary Certificate - awarded for training completed after high school (for example, in agriculture or natural resources, computer services, personal or culinary services, engineering technologies, healthcare, construction trades, mechanic and repair technologies, or precision production)||0.4%|
|Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree)||3.8%|
|Post-Baccalaureate Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Baccalaureate degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees carrying the title of Master.||1.3%|
|Post-Master’s Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Master’s degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees at the doctoral level.||0.0%|
Online Public Policy Programs
In the 2018-2019 academic year, 195 schools offered some type of public policy program. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.
|Degree Level||Colleges Offering Programs||Colleges Offering Online Classes|
|Certificate (Less Than 1 Year)||4||0|
|Certificate (1-2 years)||0||0|
|Certificate (2-4 Years)||0||0|
|Doctor’s Degree (Research)||54||0|
|Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice)||0||0|
|Doctor’s Degree (Other)||0||0|
Is a Degree in Public Policy Worth It?
The median salary for a public policy grad is $99,480 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.
This is 149% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $1,191,600 after 20 years!
Explore Major by State
Majors Related to Public Policy
You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to public policy.
|Major||Number of Grads|
|Community Organization & Advocacy||541|
|Other Public Administration||386|
- College Factual
- College Scorecard
- National Center for Education Statistics
- O*NET Online
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Usual Weekly Earnings of Wage and Salary Workers First Quarter 2020
- Image Credit: By The Official CTBTO Photostream under License
More about our data sources and methodologies.
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