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CIGI Campus, previously housed in the former Seagram Museum, and the Balsillie School of International Affairs (BSIA) in Waterloo, Ontario
CIGI Campus, previously housed in the former Seagram Museum, and the Balsillie School of International Affairs (BSIA) in Waterloo, Ontario

A public policy school is typically a university program that teaches students policy analysis, policy studies, public policy, political economy, urban planning, public administration, international relations, security studies, political science, urban studies, intelligence studies, global studies, emergency management, public affairs and/or 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 or practitioners in governments, government relations, 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, political science in general, or researchers.

Public policy schools offer a wide range of public policy degrees. At the undergraduate level, universities, especially research-intensive universities may offer a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree with majors or concentrations in public policy, public administration, political science, policy studies or any other differently named but content-wise identical major or concentration. These undergraduate degrees are typically offered by a university's public administration or political science faculties whether it be part of a public policy school or a college of arts and sciences. Well known Master's degrees within this academic field include the 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) , the Master of International Affairs (MIA), and Master of Arts or Master of Sciences in International Relations, Political Science, or International Security, or other sub-fields of political science. Schools with an international and interdisciplinary focus may award a Master of Arts degree in International Policy Studies.[1][2] Some schools also offer Executive Master's Degrees in the same topics for mid-career individuals and a Master of Professional Studies degree to signify that the education takes an applied rather than theoretical approach. 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. North American public policy programs are generally located in an autonomous graduate or professional school within a larger university, while at others combine both graduate and undergraduate programs into a single semi-autonomous constituent college.


Most public policy and administration programs combine elements of political science, economics, statistics, law mostly in the form of public law, administrative law, and Legal management (academic discipline), international relations (including international law), international development, public finance, leadership studies, ethics, sociology, comparative research, global studies, urban planning, urban studies public policy, and public administration. More recently, public policy schools have applied quantitative analysis, management information systems, data science and analytics, organizational behavior, organization development, knowledge management, project management, political communication, political psychology, criminology and the sociology of law, philosophy (in particular political philosophy), peace and conflict studies, geography and geographic information science, intelligence studies, emergency management, cross-cultural studies, public health, environmental science and environmental studies, business administration, civil engineering, industrial engineering, systems engineering, human resource management, and operations research as part of their public policy and administration education programs to tackle issue in the public sector, the non-profit sector, or the government relations and regulatory affairs industry in the private sector.

While degrees in Public Policy and Public Administration at most universities are generally taught at the graduate level (master's and PhD), some undergraduate degree program majors, concentrations, and minors either as standalone degrees or as concentrations within a degree in political science or international relations still exist, especially at research universities where research, graduate, and undergraduate faculty overlap and/or have close cooperation unlike liberal arts colleges (particularly liberal arts colleges in the United States) that focus on the more theoretical and philosophical sides of political science rather than the applied and administrative side of political science.


Undergraduate level admissions are comparable to other undergraduate programs, but this may vary between educational institutions due to conflict between the demand for admission and supply of seats.

On the graduate-level, 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.[3] In the United States, applicants for post-graduate programs must have graduated with a bachelor's degree 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.

Notable institutions

North America

United States

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 technology-driven 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):[6]


South America



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[10] 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).

Czech Republic
United Kingdom


Brunei Darussalam
  1. The Ashank Desai Centre for Policy Studies at IIT Bombay was set up in 2016[11] to make valuable contributions to Policy Studies in India. The first batch of doctoral students joined the Centre in 2017 (Autumn),[12] and the Centre started its Master's programme in Public Policy (MPP) in 2019 (Autumn).[13][14] IIT Bombay, with its core strength in traditional science and engineering disciplines,[15] a fully integrated Humanities and Social Science Department, a Business School (SJMSOM), the IDC School of Design, and the Centre for Technology Alternatives for Rural Areas (CTARA), has all that is required to cater to interdisciplinary research in the field of Public Policy at its Centre for Policy Studies. The broad research areas at the centre are:[16]
  2. Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Hyderabad launched a Masters in Public Policy and Governance in Hyderabad Campus.
  3. National Law School of India University, 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.
  4. The 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.
  5. Indian School of Public Policy’s one-year programme in Public Policy, Design & Management, prepares policy leaders and policy professionals with skills, wisdom and ethics to imagine, design and implement relevant solutions to India's policy and governance challenges. Founded on the commitment to world-class faculty, extensive industry linkages and innovative approach towards design and management of policy, ISPP aims to transform the art of policymaking. Designed to be asset light and talent heavy, ISPP focuses on bringing together the best minds in public policy to create a unique high quality programme that aims to create the next generation of policy leaders. The ISPP scholars not only undergo a comprehensive academic programme in Public Policy, but are also rigorously trained in management, communication and leadership skills. The one year academic session is divided into 8 terms of 6 weeks each.
  6. The Indian School of Business, 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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[17] instead focusing on developing public policy as an academic discipline in India as well as making public policy education accessible to working professionals.
  10. Management Development Institute (MDI), Gurugram offers Public Policy Program[18] for civil servants and doctoral programme in Public Policy and Governance. FMS-WISDOM, Banasthali Vidyapith offers MBA with minor specialisation in Public Policy and CSR, MA in Political Science and Public Administration[19]
  11. Kautilya School of Public policy offers a 2-year, full-time residential Master's in Public Policy (MPP). The school offers five areas of specializations ranging from Government and Finance and Social Impact to International Affairs, Economic Development, and Justice and Fundamental Rights. The school aims to rebalance the role of Society, Government, and Business towards Equity and Regenerative Outcomes. The aim of the program is to impart an experience that is both varied and deep, the course brings together students from diverse disciplines and allows time to internalize and apply key concepts. Kautilya works with a simple philosophy-if policymaking takes place across diverse realms, why shouldn't policy students come from diverse disciplines? [20]

Public Policy schools in India include:

Hong Kong
South Korea
United Arab Emirates


South Africa



See also


  1. ^ MAIPS at MIIS Archived 2010-01-06 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ MAIPS at Stanford Archived 2011-11-28 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ The Monterey Institute Language Proficiency Requirement
  4. ^
  5. ^ "SFU School of Public Policy".
  6. ^ NASPAA Standards Archived 2014-02-10 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Master of Public Administration Program (UMPA) at the University of Miami
  8. ^ "Schools Detail | NASPAA".
  9. ^ "Roster of Accredited Programs". NASPAA Accreditation. 2014-04-07. Archived from the original on 2018-03-19. Retrieved 2018-05-16.
  10. ^ Erasmus Mundus Master Program in Public Policy
  11. ^ "Launch of Ashank Desai Centre for Policy Studies | IIT Bombay". Retrieved 2022-06-07.
  12. ^ "About – Ashank Desai Centre for Policy Studies, IIT Bombay". Retrieved 2022-06-07.
  13. ^ "Ashank Desai Centre for Policy Studies (CPS)". Economic and Political Weekly: 7–8. 2015-06-05.
  14. ^ "About – Ashank Desai Centre for Policy Studies, IIT Bombay". Retrieved 2022-06-07.
  15. ^ "QS World University Rankings for Engineering & Technology 2022". Top Universities. Retrieved 2022-06-07.
  16. ^ "Research – Ashank Desai Centre for Policy Studies, IIT Bombay". Retrieved 2022-06-07.
  17. ^ The Graduate Certificate in Public Policy.
  18. ^ "Best Public policy management Program in India". Retrieved 2019-04-04.
  19. ^ "Political Science And Public Administration - Welcome to Banasthali Vidyapith". Retrieved 2019-04-04.
  20. ^
  21. ^ "IIT Bombay launches the 'Ashank Desai Centre for Policy Studies'". Retrieved 2022-06-07.
  22. ^ "Ashank Desai Centre for Policy Studies, IIT Bombay". Retrieved 2022-06-07.
  23. ^
  24. ^ "School of Government webpage". University of the Western Cape. Retrieved 5 November 2015.