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Public Policy and Administration Careers

Public policy and administration is a subset of the social and behavioral science occupations. The public policy worker reviews, analyzes, shapes and administers high-level plans “in light of given conditions to guide and determine present and future decisions.”1 (See “What Is Public Policy?” for more general information.)

Why Choose a Master of Public Administration degree?

Those who aspire to become policymakers, public administrators or community advocates should pursue an education in public policy, such as NLU's Master of Public Administration (MPA) program, to prepare them for these roles in governmental or nongovernmental organizations. Those who specialize in Health Services Administration, Global Social Policy or Public Service Administration also typically benefit from this educational background.

An understanding of the role of government and the interface between the private and public sectors is critical for those who see their future employment in the private sector. Those who follow this career calling will be immersed in policy and program analysis, recommendations and implementation. Their work will directly impact public services and the quality of community life.

Master of Public Administration (MPA)

Popular Careers in Public Policy

Some of the top job-related searches associated with “public policy” on PayScale include:2

  • Director, Public Policy
  • Public Policy Analyst
  • Public Policy Associate
  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
  • Public Relations (PR) Manager

Political Scientists

Another role for the aspiring public policy graduate is that of political scientist, which can pull double-duty with the policy analyst. With a master’s degree or Ph.D., the political scientist “studies the origin, development, and operation of political systems” and “researches political ideas and analyzes governments, policies, political trends and related issues.”4

The median annual political scientist wage (May 2015) is $99,730, or $47.95 per hour, while the standard entry-level education starts with a master’s degree.5 Industries that employed the most political scientists in 2014 were the federal government—minus postal service— (55%); professional, scientific, and technical services (23%); and educational services (9%).6

According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, political scientists typically do the following:7

  • Research political subjects
  • Collect and analyze data
  • Develop and test theories
  • Evaluate the effects of policies and laws
  • Monitor current events and policy decisions
  • Forecast political, economic, and social trends
  • Present research results

Occupations with similar job duties to political scientists include anthropologists, economists, market research analysts, postsecondary teachers, sociologists, survey researchers and urban planners.8

Whether as policy analysts, political scientists or other occupations, general career areas in which Master of Public Administration (MPA) graduates might find themselves include:

  • Community and regional planning
  • Economic development
  • Education
  • Health care
  • Human resources administration
  • Law enforcement
  • Non-profit management
  • Transportation
  • Policy analysis
Source References [+]

1. "Policy." Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 10 June 2016.

2. “Search Results for public policy.”

3. “Policy analysts: Shaping society through research and problem-solving.” Sadie Blanchard. BLS, Occupational Outlook Quarterly, Spring 2007.

4. “Political Scientists.” December 17, 2015.

5. “Political Scientists.” December 17, 2015.

6. “Political Scientists.” December 17, 2015.

7. “Political Scientists.” December 17, 2015.

8. “Political Scientists.” December 17, 2015.


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