Career and Salary Info for a Masters in Public Policy Degree

Masters degrees in public policy typically cover the research, analysis and problem-solving abilities needed for political positions. Find out about the curricula of these programs, and learn about career options, job growth and salary info for public policy graduates.

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While concrete data for the career field of public policy is limited, the academic concentration includes politics, policy and empirical analysis, economics, leadership and negotiation studies. Politicians, political scientists, policy analysts and lobbyists require the knowledge that can be gained via a Master's in Public Policy (M.P.P.).

Essential Information

An M.P.P. degree can provide the foundation for many careers in public and private sectors of the government, as well as nonprofit organizations. This degree sharpens leadership and management skills, emphasizing research, economics and statistical interpretation. Among the numerous job choices, an M.P.P. degree can prepare recipients to work in politics, political scientist, policy analysis or lobbying.

Career Titles Politician, political scientist, policy analyst, lobbyist
Education Requirements Master's degree
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) -2% for political scientists*
Median Annual Salary (2015) $99,730 for political scientists*

Source: *Bureau of Labor Statistics


Politicians are in charge of local, state and federal governments, creating the laws for their jurisdictions. They are elected to office, and the people they serve are their constituents. Executive politicians are governors and mayors. They enforce the laws that legislative politicians pass. A master's degree in public policy provides public servants with the research, analysis and problem-solving abilities needed for political positions.

Salary for a Politician

Salaries for politicians differ widely, as some serve local municipalities on a part-time basis, while others work in the highest-level federal positions. According to in 2016, median yearly salary for a politician is $64,183, with the lowest 10% earning a salary of $35,199 or less. This data includes a large number of careers in the general category of politician, and figures are approximations derived from third-party submissions. In the highest levels of government, salaries are typically six figures; according to, for example, Congress members typically earn at least $174,000 per year.

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Political Scientists

M.P.P. degree holders that study and analyze most facets of government and policy are political scientists. They used the leadership, management and analysis skills learned through an M.P.P. program to assess how the public reacts to leadership. Based on their findings they predict economic, political and social trends. These professionals may work directly for the government or for private and nonprofit entities. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), scientific research and development services have the highest level of employment of political scientists.

Salary for a Political Scientist

The BLS reported median annual salaries for political scientists in 2015 to be $99,730. Positions for political scientists are expected to decline by 2% from 2014-2024, according to BLS.

Policy Analysts

Policy analysts often work for think tanks, which are organizations hired to conduct research and use the results to make recommendations to a variety of government and other agencies. They use qualitative and quantitative methods, which typically require statistics and surveying, as well as conducting case studies to develop theories. A M.P.P. provides the solid theoretical background and research analysis skills needed for this career.

Salary for a Policy Analyst

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not track the salary of policy analysts. However, according to, the median salary of policy analysts is $54,909, with most making between $38,124 and $83,104.


An M.P.P. degree programs trains students to influence populations and create practical solutions. It hones analytical skills and cultivates the ability to resolve new and complex obstacles. These skills are used by lobbyists to influence legislators and policy to benefit the purposes of the group they serve. Lobbyists can work for public relations firms, large corporations, unions or government consulting firms. They must be well versed in the legislative process and know important policy makers. They make presentations and facilitate the meetings and hearings necessary to accomplish their goals.

Salary for a Lobbyist

BLS does not have salary information on lobbyists, but they are most likely comparable to either political scientists or public relations specialists. According to BLS, public relations specialists earned a median salary of $56,770 in 2015.

Having an M.P.P. may greatly improve an applicant's chances of securing an engaging, dynamic career in politics. A decrease in the number of positions, coupled with an increasing number of M.P.P. graduates, will intensify competition for these jobs in the coming years.

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