Public Affairs Degree Programs

Public affairs degree programs are designed for individuals who are interested in policy development and administration. Continue reading for more information on degree program options, common courses, and career options. Schools offering Public Administration degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Are Public Affairs Degree Programs?

Offered at the undergraduate and graduate levels, public affairs degree programs provide training on the development and management of social and political initiatives. Synonymous or closely related degree programs include public administration, public policy and urban affairs. Also, because public affairs encompass a wide range of public interests, other related disciplines include public relations, political science, human services, criminal justice and human resources. Some schools offer these programs online; however, you may have to complete internships at local organizations.

Degree FieldsFields related to public affairs include urban affairs, public administration, public policy
Associate's Degree Common CoursesFundraising, social psychology, public planning, budgeting, leadership
Bachelor's Degree Common CoursesInternational relations, ethics, law, public policy, politics
Master's Degree Common CoursesResearch design, economic development, organizational management, community development, public management
Doctoral Degree Common CoursesPolitics, organizational behavior, quantitative analysis, statistics
Career OptionsProgram development, city planning, law enforcement, policy analysis, case management
Median Salary (2018) $73,050 (for all urban and regional planners
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 13% growth (for all urban and regional planners

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 

What Will I Learn?

Your associate's degree coursework may provide foundational training on principles such as social psychology, group behavior, cognitive development and urban studies. Designed to prepare students to work in settings such as the public sector and community services, you may also learn budgeting, fundraising, leadership and public planning. Completion of an internship or practicum at a local public organization may be required.

Bachelor's degree programs in public affairs cover topics such as ethics, public policy, law, politics and international relations. You may also receive training in lobbying and government relations. Some schools allow you to focus your studies on a concentration area, such as criminal justice or health services management. These programs typically conclude with an internship in the non-profit or public sector.

Composed of 30-50 credits of coursework, master's degree programs in public affairs are research-oriented and typically include traditional courses, seminars and internships. Common courses include public management, organizational management, economic development, community development and research design. Most master's programs culminate in a capstone course or thesis.

Doctoral degree programs related to public affairs are designed for students who plan to pursue a career in higher education and research. The lengths of these programs vary, but you can expect to devote at least three years of study beyond a bachelor's degree. Courses may include statistics, politics, organizational behavior and quantitative analysis. A significant portion of your studies will be devoted to your doctoral dissertation.

What Can I Do with My Degree?

Graduates typically find work at community service agencies, advocacy groups, research organizations, marketing firms and news organizations. You might work in city planning, policy analysis, law enforcement, case management or program development. Government agencies that hire public affairs graduates include the Veteran's Administration, Department of Education, National Institutes of Health and Department of Health and Human Services.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Strayer University

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  • Capella University

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