Students in the United States usually pursue a degree in Public Policy after completing an undergraduate degree in another field, such as psychology. Public policy programs are usually offered in graduate or professional schools within a university. Though the Public Policy degrees offered are generally at the masters and PhD graduate level, there are schools that still offer undergraduate degree programs.
The course curriculum offered by Public Policy schools usually include an introductory course in Public Policy followed by courses in policy studies, policy analysis, political economy, public policy, urban planning, public administration, public affairs, policy management, social policy, health policy, social welfare and public management.
For those who intend to pursue careers in Public Policy, they apply for internships and take up master's degree courses like a Master of Public Administration (MPA), Master of Public Policy (MPP), Master of International Affairs (MIA), Master of Public Affairs (MPAff), or a Master of Urban Planning (MUP). For those interested in completing doctoral degrees, what usually is offered are PhDs in Policy Studies, Public Policy, and Public Administration, or a Doctor of Public Administration (DPA).
The majority of public policy programs offered combine aspects of political science, international relations, economics, law, statistics, ethics, sociology, public finance, international development, and public administration in the curriculum. Some schools provide additional theories in management information systems, quantitative analysis, organizational behavior, operations research to the public sector, and project management.
To get a degree in Public Policy, it is a requirement that the applicant must have graduated from an accredited school or university. He should pass the Graduate Record Examination or GRE, an admission requirement for most graduate schools in the United States. There are schools though that accept the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), in lieu of taking the GRE. The LSAT is administered by the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) and aims to measure a person's verbal reasoning and logical skills.
Admission and acceptance requirements may differ depending on the school you intend to get a degree in Public Policy at. The following schools in the United States are known to offer top programs in Public Policy:
- Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University
- John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
- School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University Bloomington
- Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University
- School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Georgia
- Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley
- University of Kansas Department of Public Administration at the University of Kansas
- Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan
- USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development at the University of Southern California
- H. John Heinz III College, School of Public Policy and Management at Carnegie Mellon University
Take time to read the curriculum offered by the various public policy schools before you choose the program that best suits you. Make sure the course you choose includes the basic course requirements like courses in psychology, public administration, public affairs, policy management, policy analysis, social policy, and health policy. Complete your basic coursework and internship to pursue a serious career in Public Policy.