How do I Choose the Best Public Policy School?

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  • Written By: Ken Black
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 29 December 2019
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Finding the best public policy school is not only a matter of finding one with the best programming, but also finding one that is the best fit for you. Public policy schools focus on curriculum that is related to pubic management such as policy analysis, urban planning, fiscal management, and other similar areas. Depending on the field you want to go into, some schools may provide more specialized training in certain areas than others.

In order to find the best public policy school, you must first determine what field of public policy you wish to go into. For example, being a city zoning administrator or urban planner requires a different set of skills than being a county clerk or city finance director. Schools may offer classes and degree programs in all of these areas and others, but some may do a better job than others in certain areas. Ask schools about these specific areas of interest.

Next, you should visit your public policy school preferences, asking them about the various strengths of their schools. For example, you may want to know how much experience the faculty has, both in teaching, and in real-world experience. You may also want to inquire about graduation rates, support after graduation, and other alumni services. An academic adviser should help you find the answers to these questions and even possibly introduce you to students and teachers in your chosen department.


If you are planning to get a master's degree in public policy or even a PhD, you may also want to inquire about graduate programs. Some students will stay at the same public policy school for both degrees. Others may choose a different school for the graduate degree, based on their own personal preferences and life circumstances. Many times, after receiving a bachelor's degree, students may join the workforce in a different location, and be unable to attend the same school.

If you are looking at getting an advanced degree, and need a different school, then the process of searching for a public policy school starts over. By this point, you probably already will have an idea of what you are looking for. Still, knowing the faculty and finding a school that has classes that work with your schedule is important. Many schools with advanced degree programs offer evening, weekend, and online classes for working students.

No matter what level of education you are at, you may also look at outside sources to determine what the best public policy school may be for you. For example, U.S. News & World Report takes an annual survey and ranks schools in public affairs. You may still want to consider lower-ranked schools because you may weigh some aspects differently than the ranking system does.



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