Public policy schools are typically university programs which teach students policy analysis, policy studies, public policy, political economy, urban planning, public administration, public affairs, and public management. Public policy schools typically train students in two streams. The more practical stream treats the master's degree as a terminal degree, which trains students to work as policy analysts in governments, think tanks and consulting firms. A more theoretical stream aims to train students who are aiming to go on to complete doctoral studies (e.g., a PhD), with the goal of becoming professors of public policy or researchers.
Public policy schools offer a wide range of public policy degrees. At the undergraduate level, universities offer the bachelor of arts with a major in public policy or policy studies. These undergrad degrees are typically offered by a university's public administration or political science faculties. Master of Public Policy (MPP), the Master of Public Administration (MPA), the Master of Public Affairs (MPAff), the Master of Public Service (MPS), the Master of Urban Planning (MUP), and the Master of International Affairs (MIA). Schools with an international and interdisciplinary focus award the Master of Arts in International Policy Studies. Some schools also offer executive master's degrees in the same topics for mid-career individuals. Doctoral degrees include PhDs in public policy, policy studies, and public administration, as well as the Doctor of Public Administration (DPA). Some schools offer relatively short-duration certificate programs aimed at working policy analysts, government managers and public executives.
In North America, students typically pursue a graduate public policy degree after having completed an undergraduate degree, either in a public administration or political science field. Some programs admit students with any undergraduate degree; however, students without a background in public administration or political science may be required to do qualifying courses in these areas. Some universities allow students to complete both degrees concurrently.[clarification needed] North American public policy programs are generally located in an autonomous graduate or professional school within a larger university.
Most public policy programs combine elements of political science, economics, statistics, law, international relations, international development, public finance, leadership studies, ethics, sociology, and public administration. More recently, public policy schools have applied quantitative analysis, management information systems, organizational behavior, project management, and operations research to the public sector.
While degrees in Public Policy are generally at the graduate level (masters and PhD), some undergraduate degree programs still exist.
In contrast to many other graduate-level programs, applicants with various, sometimes unrelated, educational backgrounds can be admitted to public policy schools. Applicants' backgrounds can range from programs which have a significant content overlap, such as public administration, economics and political science, to undergraduate majors that are related, such as the social sciences, to undergraduate programs which may have little content overlap (e.g., physical sciences and engineering). Students without an undergraduate major in a related field may be required to complete qualifying undergraduate courses in public policy.
Admissions requirements, including standardized testing requirements, vary widely. Some schools have a second language requirement due to their global orientation. In the United States, applicants must have graduated from an accredited university and are generally required to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Many schools also accept the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) or the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) in lieu of the GRE.
Public policy schools in the United States tackle policy analysis differently. The Harris School of Public Policy Studies at the University of Chicago has a more quantitative and economics approach to policy, the Heinz College at Carnegie Mellon uses computational and empirical methods, while the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University has a more political science and leadership based approach. The Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs provides traditional public policy training with multidisciplinary concentrations available in the environmental sciences and nonprofit management. Moreover, the University of Illinois at Chicago offers public policy training that emphasizes the stages of decision-making in formulating policy (e.g. agenda setting), as well as the importance of framing effects and cognitive limits in policy formation.
Schools of public policy that have met professional standards of education and quality in the United States are accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA):
In Europe, the LUISS School of Government offers a multidisciplinary approach to public policy combining economics, political science, new public management, and policy analysis, while the French institute of political studies Sciences Po complements these core disciplines with organizational sociology, human security, political economy, and leadership.
The European Commission through its Erasmus Mundus Programme has funded the Erasmus Mundus Master Program in Public Policy since 2007. This program brings together four leading policy-oriented schools in Eurorpe: The IBEI (Spain), Central European University (Hungary), the International Institute of Social Studies of the Erasmus University Rotterdam (The Netherlands) and the Department of Politics at the University of York (United Kingdom).
Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Hyderabad launched a Masters in Public Policy and Governance in Hyderabad Campus. National Law School, Bangalore launched an MPP programme in 2014 with some of the top faculty of India, with a special focus on law as an interface between development and public policy.T he postgraduate programme in Public Policy and Management course offered by Indian Institutes of Management is a multidisciplinary course with special emphasis on select policy areas such as health policy and environment policy, and has developed an economic and quantitative approach.
The Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad & Mohali has launched an executive master's level Management Programme in Public Policy (MPPP) in consultation with one of the world's leading public policy schools, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University. Institute of Rural Manangement Anand has a center dedicated to public policy and governance. It offers courses like Public Policy and Decentralization, Public Policy Analysis, and Public Systems Management. The institute is actively involved in development consulting. School of International Relations and Politics, Mahatma Gandhi University was the first to start a Master's in Public Policy and Governance which is interdisciplinary in nature.
The Jindal School of Government and Public Policy in India offers interdisciplinary training in public policy with a focus on the policy making processes in developing and BRIC countries. The Takshashila Institution in India offers a semester-long graduate certificate in public policy instead focusing on developing public policy as an academic discipline in India as well as making public policy education accessible to working professionals.
Other programs include: