United States Online Government Masters Degree & Graduate Programs

If you’re hungry to contribute your knowledge, skills, and talents to create change, pursuing a master’s of public policy, government, or public administration degree online could be a great start. ​Online Government Masters Degree Programs in these areas help students learn how to analyze and assess topics and issues and take meaningful action to affect change. Students might learn, for example, how to develop physical and social infrastructure, protect and disperse resources, develop programs and communities, promote community health and functionality, identify and assess community issues, and propose and enact change. They might learn how to do so locally, nationally, or globally, for individuals, families, or communities.

In online programs, students study public policy, government, and public administration through potentially flexible and convenient programming. To learn more about online programming and master’s degree programs in these areas, read on.

How Are Online Government, Public Administration, and Public Policy Master’s Programs Structured?

Online master’s degree programs in government, public administration, and public policy typically utilize cutting-edge educational technology, social media, and other digital functions to facilitate learning. Students may access courses through platforms such as Blackboard, Canvas, or Moodle, and they commonly use functions such as chat, video, online conferencing, and others to interact, submit coursework, and otherwise engage with course materials. Through their online programs, students might gain access to digital libraries and other resources such as articles and course-specific software. Students typically need a computer, internet access, and technical savvy to navigate online programs.

How Might My ​Online Government Masters Degree Itself Be Structured? 

There are a

number of master’s degrees in online government, public policy, and public administration programs you might pursue. Some popular ones include the Master of Arts (M.A.), the Master of Science (M.S.), the Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.), and the Master of Public Policy (M.P.P.). Any of these and other degrees might cover a variety of subjects and topics within government, public administration, and public policy, most of which help students learn how to work in the public sector and towards local, national, or international change.

Some subjects students might cover in online degree programs in government, public administration, and public policy include management, leadership, public affairs, diplomacy, conflict resolution, homeland security, and numerous others. Students who pursue master’s degrees in these areas might work for governments, nonprofits, and other types of organizations including international ones.

How Long Might It Take to Earn My Master’s Degree in Government, Public Administration, or Public Policy?

While the duration of an ​online government masters degree program varies from program to program, many students earn a master’s in government, public administration, or public policy degree online through one to two years of intensive or fulltime study. To conclude their programs, students commonly take a comprehensive exam, write and defend a thesis, or complete a capstone course to prove their knowledge. Students might participate in an internship as part of their program. This final work might be completed online, on-campus, or, in the case of an internship, in students’ home location. At the ends of their programs, some students opt to transfer their master’s degree to a Ph.D. program.

What Might I Study in an Online Government, Public Administration, or Public Policy Master’s Degree Program?

Many ​online government masters degree programs present the same or similar curricula to that of on-campus ones. While what you’ll study ultimately depends on the program, many programs deliver a curriculum that emphasizes subjects’ histories, theories, and practical applications.

Here are some potential subjects you might study in online government, public administration, and public policy master’s degree programs: 

  • Economics and finance
  • Management and leadership
  • Law and ethics
  • Local, national, and international governance
  • Conflict resolution and negotiation
  • Political science and politics  
  • Quantitative and qualitative research methodologies
  • Homeland security and emergency management
  • Program evaluation and analysis
  • Community and urban planning
  • Elections
  • Political economy
  • Public health
  • Government and civilian relationships

In any program, you’ll likely take core and elective classes that help you develop your broad and specific knowledge in these and other areas. The core curriculum of an online master’s degree program in homeland security, for example, might emphasize theory, history, and applications in the field broadly, while the elective curriculum might emphasize specific areas of the subject such as emergency response, terrorism, or natural disasters. In some programs, your elective credits might come together to comprise an official specialization or concentration. 

You might also find an ​online government masters degree program that presents the opportunity to pursue two master’s degrees at once: one in an area of public policy, public administration, or government, and one in an associated field such as nonprofit management, social work, or law.

Why Pursue an Advanced Degree in Government, Public Administration, or Public Policy?

Navigating societal governance and change is a complicated matter. Whether you’ve been working in the field or want to enter it, pursuing advanced education might be a smart idea. Studying subjects such as those mentioned above could be a great way to enhance your knowledge and skills and explore how to cause change. And, besides helping you grow and develop your talents professionally, having a master’s degree in government, public administration, or public policy may help you enhance your resume and open paths to particular careers.

Here are some examples of positions you might pursue or enhance by earning a master’s degree:

  • Political scientist: people in this profession commonly study political systems from multiple perspectives and analyze problems, propose solutions, and make predictions.[i] In many cases, political scientists must have a master’s degree to enter the field.[ii] In 2015, they earned a median annual salary of $99,730.[iii]
  • Urban or regional planner: people in this profession commonly help establish, protect, and revitalize physical facilities and land in neighborhoods and communities.[iv] In many cases, they must have a master’s degree to enter the field. In 2015, they earned a median annual salary of $68,200.[v]
  • Social and community service manager: people in this profession commonly coordinate, supervise, and assess programs and organizations that support communities.[vi] In many cases, social and community services managers must have a bachelor’s degree to enter the field.[vii] However, having a master’s degree might help professionals develop their talents in the occupation and potentially pursue particular jobs. In 2015, they earned a median annual salary of $63,530.[viii]
  • Management analyst: people in this profession commonly consult with clients to assess, improve, and transform organizations’ effectiveness and efficiency.[ix] In many cases, management analysts must have a bachelor’s degree to enter the field.[x] However, having a master’s degree in public policy, public administration, or government could help you specialize your knowledge to appeal to a particular client base. In 2015, they earned a median annual salary of $81,320.[x]

What Are the Benefits of Online Programming?

Why pursue your master’s degree in public policy, public administration, or government online? For students who depend on flexible scheduling, distance education, and digital learning, online programming has a host of benefits. Here are some:

  • Online programming may be flexible: if you enroll in an asynchronous online program, you’ll likely be able to access coursework at times convenient to you. While you might still need to meet assignment and course deadlines, you’ll at least be able to access coursework and participate in the online class at times convenient to your schedule. This may help you balance your academic schedule with work, family, and other important obligations.
  • Online programs may be convenient: with online programming, gone are the days of commuting to and from school, leaving somewhere early to make it to class, searching for a parking spot and paying for parking, and navigating a potential large or confusing campus. In your online program, you may be able to simply go to your computer, sign on, and get to work. Unless you’re in a hybrid online/on-campus program, you may never have to set foot on campus. 
  • Online programs may be great for shy students. For some students, participating in class face-to-face with other students is very uncomfortable. Online education may help those students avoid the limelight while still building their capacities to think, write, and engage in discussions.
  • Accredited schools are adding more and more online programming. This may make finding an online program from an accredited school easier. Some employers may prefer to hire employees with a degree from an accredited school, and some doctorate programs will only accept students who earned a degree from an accredited school.

How Do I Find an Online Government, Public Administration, or Public Policy Master’s Degree Program?

If you’re ready to pursue your online government masters degree, public administration, or public policy online, why not get started today? Finding your perfect program could be as simple as clicking a few buttons. To begin, browse through the online programs on this page. When you find one you like, click on the link for more details. There you can learn more or contact a program directly for more information.

Why wait to begin or enhance the career of a lifetime? People and communities await the gift of your hard-earned knowledge! Begin your journey now.


Sources: [i] http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/political-scientists.htm#tab-2 | [ii] http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/political-scientists.htm#tab-4 | [iii] http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/political-scientists.htm#tab-1 | [iv] http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/urban-and-regional-planners.htm#tab-2 | [v] http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/urban-and-regional-planners.htm | [vi] http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/social-and-community-service-managers.htm#tab-2 | [vii] http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/social-and-community-service-managers.htm#tab-4 | [viii] http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/social-and-community-service-managers.htm#tab-1 | [ix] http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/management-analysts.htm#tab-2 | [x] http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/management-analysts.htm


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