Students interested in earning an accelerated online Master’s in Public Policy degree will be happy to find out that more schools are making their programs available online for working professionals. This means that the hardest working public servants now have access to a graduate degree that will open their career up to a wide range of possibilities, all while continuing in their continuing profession. In the current climate of employers requiring even their current employees earn a graduate degree, the influx of these degrees can only be seen as an improvement to the field.

Professionals need flexible degrees that can be completed when it is most convenient for them; so many of these individuals travel regularly for their positions and work long hours, making a traditional campus program harder to complete. They also need degrees that can be reasonably completed in two years or less, ensuring that their investment in their degree is met with a relatively quick resolution. The programs on this list feature these aspects as well as being the most affordable public policy graduate degrees in the country.

Methodology

This ranking required an update from last year and this was completed by completing research on the National Center of Education Statistics and its publicly available College Navigator database. An initial group of 25 schools was created simply by searching for online Master’s in Public Policy degrees. Each school was then reviewed and compared to the list based on several factors, including tuition rates as well as average time to completion for each degree. The final 15 schools, which are found below, were chosen based on the school’s total estimated in-state graduate tuition cost for the entire program.

Ranking Low-Cost Accelerated Master’s in Public Policy

15. The University of Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Online Master of Public Policy and Management

Top 15 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's in Public Policy Online for 2019
The online Master of Public Policy and Management requires 30 credit hours of coursework.

Website

Tuition: $27,600

The University of Pittsburgh confers an accelerated online Master’s in Public Policy that was developed for mid-career professionals who are ready to move into senior-level roles within the field. This is a wholly online course of study that can be completed in just 19 months when students just take two courses every term. This program has a sequential curriculum, one that was created by public policy professors who have experience in the field as practicing professionals. All courses are delivered asynchronously in 14-week sessions through the school’s learning management system. Students will need to complete a minimum of 30 credit hours of coursework, a capstone project, and a comprehensive exit exam. Sample courses include Administration of Public Affairs, Grant Writing and Fundraising, and Public Policy Analysis.

14. Norwich University

Northfield, Vermont

Online Master of Public Administration

Top 15 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's in Public Policy Online for 2019
The online MPA requires 36 credit hours of coursework.

Website

Tuition: $25,344

The affordable accelerated online Master’s in Public Administration available from Norwich University was designed for in-service and pre-service professionals that need a flexible program that can be completed in two years or less. There are eight concentrations, including Public Administration Leadership and Crisis Management, Policy Analysis and Analytics, and International Development and Influence. This is a low-residency program; students will need to participate in a residential conference for graduation. All of the coursework for the program, however, is available online through the school’s virtual portal. Courses are held live or on-demand and are completed in 11-week terms. Students will be able to complete this degree in less than two years, all while building their exit portfolio. This degree requires a minimum of 36 credit hours of coursework, the exit portfolio, and a comprehensive exam. Sample courses include Public Administration Research and Analysis, Public Organization Resources and Processes, and Foundations of Public Administration and Policy.

13. Oregon State University

Corvallis, Oregon

Online Master of Public Policy

Top 15 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's in Public Policy Online for 2019
The online Master of Public Policy requires 46 credit hours of coursework.

Website

Tuition: $24,748

Oregon State University confers an accelerated online Master’s in Public Policy that was designed to be completed in two years or less. This program follows the principles of the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration that were laid out specifically for mid-career individuals interested in high-level positions within the non-profit and government sectors. This degree is a near-identical copy of the school’s traditional program; the only difference is the delivery format of the coursework. Instead of relying on face-to-face interaction, students take their courses online through the school’s learning management system. Courses are held asynchronously or synchronously in the traditional 16-week academic term format. This degree requires a minimum of 46 credit hours of coursework, an optional internship, a capstone project, and a comprehensive oral exit exam. Sample courses include Public Policy Theory, Understanding Social Research, and Public Policy Analysis.

12. Bellevue University

Bellevue, Nebraska

Online Master of Public Administration

Top 15 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's in Public Policy Online for 2019
The online MPA has no residency requirement.

Website

Tuition: $20,700

Students enrolled at Bellevue University are offered the opportunity to complete an accelerated online Master’s in Public Policy that was designed for in-service and pre-service professionals who are interested in becoming mid-level managers and supervisors in the field. This degree is offered 100 percent online; there are no residency requirements. All coursework and assignments are held on the school’s virtual portal where courses are offered live or on-demand and in the traditional 16-week academic term format. This degree was designed to be completed in two years when students choose to study full-time. Students can expect to complete a minimum of 36 credit hours of coursework, a capstone project, and a comprehensive exit exam. Sample courses include Finance for the Public Administrator, Human Resources and Organizational Effectiveness, and Communications in the Public Sector.

11. Liberty University

Lynchburg, Virginia

Online Master of Arts in Public Policy

Top 15 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's in Public Policy Online for 2019
The online MA in Public Policy offers courses asynchronously in eight-week sessions.

Website

Tuition: $20,340

Liberty University delivers an affordable accelerated online Master’s in Public Policy that is offered to students who are interested in becoming mid-level administrators and supervisors in the field. This degree comes with seven concentrations: Campaigns and Elections, International Affairs, Policy Studies, Middle East Affairs, Leadership, Public Administration, and General Public Policy. This is a 100 percent online degree with no residency requirements. This degree is housed on the school’s learning management system; courses are held asynchronously in eight-week sessions, ensuring that students can attend as part-time candidates and still graduate within two years. Students can expect to complete a minimum of 36 credit hours of coursework, a thesis, and an oral defense of their thesis. Sample courses include Introduction to Geopolitics and International Diplomacy, Economics and Public Policy, and Fundamentals of Public Administration.

10. The University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth

Dartmouth, Massachusetts

Online Master of Public Policy

Top 15 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's in Public Policy Online for 2019
The online  Master of Public Policy has no residency requirement.

Website

Tuition: $19,908

Students at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth can pursue an accelerated online Master’s in Public Policy that was designed specifically to prepare students for positions within the public sector. It is a great choice for mid-career professionals or those interested in beginning a second career in the field. This is a 100 percent online degree that has no residency requirements. There are three concentrations available for this degree: Environmental Policy, Education Policy, and Public Management. Students will complete all of their coursework online through the school’s virtual portal; courses are held asynchronously and synchronously in the traditional 16-week academic term format. It is possible for students to complete this degree in two years or less. This program requires a minimum of 36 credit hours of coursework, a capstone project, and a comprehensive exit exam. Sample courses include Research Methods for Public Policy, Environmental Consequences of Globalization, and Organizational Behavior in Educational Settings.

9. Indiana Wesleyan University

Marion, Indiana

Online Master of Public Administration

Top 15 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's in Public Policy Online for 2019
The online Master of Public Administration offers three degree concentrations.

Website

Tuition: $19,584

Indiana Wesleyan University delivers an affordable accelerated online master’s degree that is offered to mid-career professionals who are ready to take on leadership roles in the government and public sectors. This degree is offered 100 percent online; there are no residency requirements. There are three concentrations: Non-Profit Leadership, Public Management, and Criminal Justice. This degree is offered as a cohort program, meaning that students will progress through the degree together. Courses are offered live or on-demand through the school’s learning management system in the traditional 16-week academic term format. Students complete this degree in two years when they choose a full-time plan of study. This degree requires a minimum of 36 credit hours of coursework, a culminating experience, and a comprehensive exam. Sample courses include Ethical Leadership in the Public Sector, Introduction to Public Management, and Quality and Productivity Improvement in Government.

8. Grand Canyon University

Phoenix, Arizona

Online Master of Public Administration with an Emphasis in Government and Policy

Top 15 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's in Public Policy Online for 2019
The online MPA requires 38 quarter credit hours of coursework.

Website

Tuition: $19,570

Students at Grand Canyon University will graduate with an accelerated online Master’s in Public Policy. This degree was designed for early-service and mid-service professionals who wish to work at the highest levels of government. This degree is delivered as an entirely online program; there are no campus residency requirements. Students will instead complete all of their courses online through the school’s virtual portal; sessions are held live in eight-week sessions that generally take place during the evenings or on weekends. This degree requires that students complete a minimum of 38 quarter credit units of coursework, a capstone project, and a comprehensive exam. Sample courses include Leading Public Organizations, Economics for Public Administrators, and Influence, Power, and Politics in Public Administration.

7. Regent University

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Online Master of Arts in Government, Specialization in Law and Public Policy

Top 15 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's in Public Policy Online for 2019
The MA in Government can be completed in 18 months of study.

Website

Tuition: $19,500

Regent University is home to an accelerated online Master’s in Public Policy that can be completed in two years or less. This program is available entirely online; there are no residency requirements. All courses for this degree are available through the school’s learning management system and are delivered in asynchronous or synchronous sessions that are offered in eight-week sessions. Students can easily complete this degree in 18 months with part-time study. This degree requires a minimum of 30 credit hours of coursework, a capstone project or thesis, and a comprehensive written and oral exit exam. Sample courses include International Religious Freedom, The Law and Governance of Higher Education, and International and Comparative Human Rights.

6. SUNY Empire State College

Saratoga Springs, New York

Online Master of Arts in Social and Public Policy

Top 15 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's in Public Policy Online for 2019
The online MA in Social and Public Policy requires 36 credit hours of coursework.

Website

Tuition: $16,632

The accelerated online Master’s in Public Policy that is delivered by SUNY Empire State College is a program that was designed for in-service professionals who are interested in advanced study in the field. This degree can be completed with a concurrent advanced stand-alone graduate certificate, providing them with a second credential. These certificates include Nonprofit Management, Social Entrepreneurship, and Community Advocacy, just to name a few. All courses for this degree are available online through the school’s virtual portal; courses are held live and on-demand in the traditional 16-week academic term format. Students will be required to complete a minimum of 36 credit hours of coursework, a research project, a culminating experience, and a comprehensive final exam. Sample courses include Social Policy Perspectives, Ethical Issues in Social Policy, and Policy Process.

5. The University of Missouri

Columbia, Missouri

Online Master of Public Affairs

Top 15 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's in Public Policy Online for 2019
The online MPA requires 33 credit hours of coursework.

Website

Tuition: $14,014

The University of Missouri provides its students an accelerated online Master’s in Public Policy that can be completed in two years or less. This degree was designed to be completed entirely online; there are no residency requirements. All courses are held within the school’s learning management system and are held in live or on-demand sessions that are delivered in nine-week sessions. Students generally take just one course every term in order to graduate within two years; those who wish to take more courses may be required to seek approval from the department prior to creating their degree plan. This degree requires a minimum of 33 credit hours of coursework, a capstone project, and a comprehensive exam. Sample courses include Public Service and Democracy, Public Budgeting and Taxation, and Budgeting and Financial Management in the Nonprofit Sector.

4. The University of Nebraska at Omaha

Omaha, Nebraska

Online Master of Public Administrator

Top 15 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's in Public Policy Online for 2019
The online MPA requires 33 credit hours of coursework.

Website

Tuition: $11,661

Students enrolled at the University of Nebraska at Omaha have the opportunity to pursue an affordable accelerated online Master’s in Public Policy. This degree was designed to be completed 100 percent online through the school’s virtual portal. Students will never have to attend campus and will instead utilize the portal to attend their live and on-demand classes, complete quizzes, and turn in assignments. Students will be able to choose between being focused on policy or analysis throughout the course of their degree, enabling them to tailor a program that fits their career goals. Students will be required to complete a minimum of 33 credit hours of coursework, a capstone project, and a comprehensive exit exam. Sample courses include Administrative Law, Policy Analysis, and Policy Evaluation.

3. Valdosta State University

Valdosta, Georgia

Online Master of Public Administration

Top 15 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's in Public Policy Online for 2019
The online MPA offers courses in 16-week academic term format.

Website

Tuition: $10,548

Valdosta State University confers an accelerated online Master’s in Public Policy that is offered to mid-career professionals that want to complete a flexible degree in just two years or less. This degree was designed as a non-thesis program aimed at professionals who have work experience in the field. There are three concentrations available; only the Public Sector Management and Public Policy concentrations are available online while the Public Sector Human Resource Management is only offered on-campus. This degree is fully accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration. This program can be found through the school’s learning management system; courses are offered live or on-demand and are held in the traditional 16-week academic term format. More information on this degree, graduation requirements and a list of course offerings can be found by contacting the school’s graduate admissions office.

2. Western Carolina University

Cullowhee, North Carolina

Online Master of Public Affairs

Top 15 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's in Public Policy Online for 2019
The online MPA requires 39 credit hours of coursework.

Website

Tuition: $9,616

The accelerated online Master’s in Public Policy that is available from Western Carolina University was designed to combine academic and practical theories and concepts into a two-year program aimed at mid-career professionals. This degree is offered entirely online; there are no residency requirements. Students will be able to complete all of their coursework online through the school’s virtual portal. Courses are held live or on-demand and in the traditional 16-week academic term format, meaning that students who study full-time can complete the program in two years or less. Students will be expected to complete a minimum of 39 credit hours of coursework, an internship, and a comprehensive exam. Sample courses include Public Personnel Management, Research Methods, and Public Financial Management.

1. Eastern Illinois University

Charleston, Illinois

Online Master of Arts in Political Science with an Option in Public Administration and Public Policy

Top 15 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's in Public Policy Online for 2019
The online MA in Political Science requires 32 credit hours of coursework.

Website

Tuition: $9,568

Eastern Illinois University confers an accelerated online Master’s in Public Policy that can be completed in two years or less. This degree was designed for early service and mid-service professionals that need a flexible degree that provides them with a way to advance in their careers. As a wholly online course of study, students will never have to attend campus. All of the courses are available online through the school’s learning management system; sessions are available asynchronously or synchronously that are held in 16-week sessions. This degree requires a minimum of 32 credit hours of coursework, the Political Science Capstone Project, and a comprehensive final exam. Sample courses include International Policy Issues, Civic and Nonprofit Leadership, and Cities and Urban Policy in the United States Federal System.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Career Options for an Affordable Accelerated Online Master’s in Public Policy?

  • Budget Manager
  • Advancement or Development Manager
  • Foreign Service Officer
  • Politician
  • United States Ambassador
  • Legislative Aide
  • Government Relations Manager
  • Political Scientist
  • Public Relations and Marketing Manager
  • Election Campaign Staffer
  • Grassroots Organizer and Advocate
  • Community Outreach Manager
  • Non-Profit Policy Analyst
  • Public Affairs Officer
  • City Manager

How Much Can You Earn in this Field?

The average salary for public policy professionals is $67,000. The salary range for the field is between $45,000 to $175,000. This range doesn’t include positions at the highest level of government, such as President of the United States of America or Vice President, or high-level positions within intelligence agencies or the military because of the vast amount of training and additional education that is required.

However, it is still important for professionals to note that additional training, qualifications, and education may still be required for any of the positions listed above. It may also be necessary to campaign for an elected position, something that is common for the field. This means that the positions that are most lucrative in public policy also require a great deal of investment; students should be aware of this prior to choosing to pursue a graduate degree.

What are the Various Disciplines of Public Policy?

Public policy is both an applied and academic discipline. Professionals not only research and analyze previous and current policies, but they are also tasked with creating and implementing new policies to move the country or their community forward. This means that professionals in the field may either work in academia or in practice; the two rarely intersect.

Public policy is at the intersection of political science, international affairs, domestic affairs, history, philosophy, public administration, management, and leadership. These are the main disciplines at play in the field, especially if professionals are working in the government in some aspect.

However, public administration can be narrowed down to other, related disciplines. These can include single issues, such as trade, reproductive rights, international affairs, armed conflicts, and healthcare. The discipline in which a professional has a stated interest in then becomes one of the major disciplines in their career.

Professionals who work in public policy are generally the politicians, lawyers, and public figures that society sees as the ones who truly shape America’s policies on everything from health care to foreign affairs. This is an extremely important position that must be taken on by qualified candidates, which generally requires a graduate level as a base standard. An accelerated online Master’s in Public Policy degree, such as the ones listed in this ranking, are great options for professionals looking for a flexible alternative to the traditional campus programs.

This concludes our ranking of the Top 15 Most Affordable Accelerated Master’s in Public Policy Online.