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An online public policy master’s for professionals of all backgrounds

Online Master of Public Policy

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Learn to drive meaningful change related to specific area of interest
Connect with classmates and experienced policy leaders through two on-campus immersions and live, virtual classes
Choose from three start times each year: fall, spring and summer
Earn your degree in two years, part time
Apply for our program without submitting GRE scores

Pressing global issues are informed — and sometimes caused — by policy decisions, and as our world becomes increasingly interconnected, there’s a growing need for forward-thinking, adaptable professionals who can effectively drive change. A Master of Public Policy prepares students for successful careers as policy analysts, policy evaluators and thought leaders who can use policy tools to lead real change in their field.

SMU’s Master of Public Policy program equips students with the skills to make a difference through a comprehensive curriculum with elements tailored to their individual interests.

Connect with your classmates through collaborative coursework and on-campus immersions.

Our online M.P.P. combines synchronous and asynchronous coursework so that working individuals can connect with their classmates and build a valuable network of public policy professionals without sacrificing their responsibilities. Through a mix of virtual live lectures, project-based assignments and individual and group work, students gain hands-on experience with collaborative problem-solving, data collection and research.

Public policy master’s students also have the chance to meet policy leaders during the two on-campus immersion experiences that begin and end the program. The first introduces students to the foundations of public policy, while the second provides an opportunity for students to present their capstone projects to classmates and policy leaders from around the country. Students in the program will also benefit from faculty and university connections with the George W. Bush Institute and policy think tanks.

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Quick facts

Online Master of Public Policy

Total units: 36

Cost per unit: $1,000

Total program tuition: $36,000

Average duration: 2 years, part-time

Next start date: August 26, 2024

Priority admission deadline: May 1, 2024

Final admission deadline: August 1, 2024

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Average confidence of Americans in all U.S. institutions is at a new low of 27%.

— Gallup, 2022

The motivation to effect change is a powerful driving force. I believe individuals are looking around — whether in their communities or workplaces — and witnessing how policy directly impacts their lives. These individuals recognize that they can help make change happen, and pursuing a deeper understanding of the intricate world of policy is a step toward that.

Eva Chiang, Ph.D., Lead Faculty and Academic Coordinator for the M.P.P.

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To download a program brochure and learn more about the online Master of Public Policy offered by Southern Methodist University, please fill out the form. You can also get in touch with an enrollment counselor directly by calling us at 855-741-1818.

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Who can benefit from this online Master of Public Policy?

Given the complexity of the policy landscape, a public policy master’s is a significant advantage for individuals applying for roles in the field. This program is a great fit for:

  • Professionals who currently hold a policy role and want to advance their knowledge and career prospects
  • Early to mid-career individuals who aim to demonstrate to their current or future employers that they possess the capability to excel in a demanding master’s degree program
  • Career changers who are interested in pivoting to public policy, but don’t yet have a background in it

Ready to learn more? Download our brochure, and explore our curriculum, admission and FAQ pages.

Frequently asked questions

So many significant issues affecting humanity today are deeply intertwined with policy. However, policies are frequently outdated and rooted in past precedent, so they struggle to keep pace with the ever-evolving landscape. To address these issues, we need individuals who are exceptionally intelligent and well-trained to step forward and lead.

Graduate programs in public policy are designed to prepare students for success, focusing on essential skills such as policy research, design and analysis, which are critical for effective public policy work. Our M.P.P. program does more than train individuals for various public policy jobs; it empowers graduates to address significant issues on local, national and global levels.

An online master’s degree will allow you the flexibility to take classes while working or attending to other priorities. That said, an online degree is still a commitment. In the SMU M.P.P., half of your work is asynchronous, meaning you can complete it at your convenience. The asynchronous portion includes videos and both independent and group work. The ideal student is self-motivated and organized enough to create a schedule that allows them to meet deadlines.

The remaining 50% of the program is synchronous via Zoom. Your instructors create engaging lessons that encourage participation, and students will benefit from arriving to class ready to engage. Each class meets weekly in the evening, typically between 6:30-10 p.m. CT. In addition, a key feature of this program is the network that you can create with your classmates, instructors and guest speakers.

Students can earn their degree on a part-time schedule in two years, or six terms, by taking two courses per term.

  • Completed online application
  • Undergraduate transcripts
  • Resume
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement
  • English language proficiency test scores for international students

See the admission page for details.

A Master of Public Policy prepares graduates for fulfilling careers that make a difference in people’s lives and allow professionals to earn a wage that is considered comfortable in most major cities. Labor market analytics data from Lightcast shows that the median base salary for professionals with an M.P.P. is $72,000 per year.

An M.P.P. degree equips graduates with a versatile skill set that allows them to seamlessly transition across the governmental, nonprofit and private sectors. Government career options for M.P.P. graduates may include political roles such as working for officials at various levels or engaging in campaign operations, legislative analysis and policy development. Non-political government positions can range from program management to legal analysis. In the nonprofit sector, M.P.P. holders are prepared to contribute to policy research and advocacy, or they may even establish their own organizations. The private sector increasingly values M.P.P. graduates for roles in advocacy, government relations, marketing, communications, public relations, consulting and program analysis.

According to Lightcast, the top potential careers for M.P.P. graduates are:

  • Economist
  • Environmental scientist/specialist
  • Legislator
  • Political scientist
  • Social science research assistant
  • Statistician
  • Survey researcher

Students in our program can also take advantage of comprehensive support services from SMU’s Hegi Family Career Development Center, which offers career counseling, resume writing help, internship placement assistance and more.

Visit our FAQ page for more answers.

About Southern Methodist University

A nationally ranked private university located near the heart of Dallas, Southern Methodist University is a distinguished center for global research and teaching. SMU’s diverse, high-achieving students come from the U.S. and globally to take advantage of the University’s small classes, meaningful research opportunities, leadership development, community service, international study and innovative programs.

SMU serves thousands of undergraduate and graduate students through eight degree-granting schools: Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, Cox School of Business, Lyle School of Engineering, Meadows School of the Arts, Simmons School of Education and Human Development, Dedman School of Law, Perkins School of Theology and Moody School of Graduate and Advanced Studies.

SMU is data driven, and its powerful supercomputing ecosystem — paired with entrepreneurial drive — creates an unrivaled environment for the University to deliver research excellence.

Now in its second century of achievement, SMU is recognized for the ways it supports students, faculty and alumni as they become ethical, enterprising leaders in their professions and communities. SMU’s relationship with Dallas — the dynamic center of one of the nation’s fastest-growing regions — offers unique learning, research, social and career opportunities that provide a launch pad for global impact.