Public Policy Jobs

Graduates of MPP programs find public policy jobs as managers in the middle to upper levels of regional and national government. They are employed in the management and executive levels of nonprofits and private organizations. They find employment with universities and think tanks in need of experts who can analyze different public policy approaches, publish research and educate others about policy ideas. MPP graduates also work as consultants and contractors for organizations that have an interest in public policy.

A degree in public policy opens the door for a variety of top-level career positions in what is being called the new public sector: government, nonprofits, academia and NGOs. Here are just a few examples:

  • Policy advisor for a federal health agency
  • Executive director of a community social services organization
  • Consultant at an environmental institute
  • University faculty member
  • Senior project manager at a nonprofit organization
  • Energy policy research analyst
  • Superintendent of schools
  • Management analyst for a county health department
  • Political news editor for a major social media website

The federal government is the largest employer of public policy experts. According to the Partnership for Public Service, the top areas of the federal government that are currently experiencing job growth include security and protection, compliance and enforcement, public health and program management. Public policy jobs are available within each of these areas. Policy analysts can also focus on political careers and run for office or work for political campaigns and political parties.

Many federal government jobs are located in Washington, D.C., but there are also positions in regional offices of federal agencies across the nation. Several agencies also employ experts in international relations who work overseas. Eighty-five percent of federal positions are located outside the nation’s capital and about 50,000 are located abroad.

MPP graduates who don’t work for the federal government may find a career with a nonprofit or NGO, working on issues they are passionate about. Some create their own careers as public policy entrepreneurs, addressing an unsolved public problem or unmet need. Visit the NASPAA Recent Alumni website to see profiles of recent MPP graduates who are pursuing careers in public policy.

According to PublicServiceCareers.org, an employment website sponsored by three major public policy organizations, earning an MPP degree as part of a career in public service can lead to a substantial increase in salary. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that political scientists earned a median salary of $100,420 in 2010. Employment of political scientists is expected to increase due to a growing interest in political issues and public policy. Job titles in this category include policy analysts, program specialists, program analysts and policy coordinators.