Updated December 1, 2022

Get started on your search for an online master's in public policy today with this best value ranking. An advanced degree in public policy could do wonders for your career, but not if it leaves you drowning in debt or abandoning your other commitments. And that's where online colleges enter the picture; they put top ... is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Are you ready to discover your college program?

Get started on your search for an online master's in public policy today with this best value ranking. An advanced degree in public policy could do wonders for your career, but not if it leaves you drowning in debt or abandoning your other commitments. And that's where online colleges enter the picture; they put top degree programs in easy reach, regardless of your financial situation or geographic location. By the time you graduate (in just a few years) you'll be ready for a serious promotion - and you won't need to divert all your extra income to school loans.

[editorial listing


Our ranking focuses on affordability, and tuition costs were the driving factor behind the schools we chose to include. We started by collecting annual tuition information from College Navigator, a U.S. Department of Education-run website that regularly updates its database with educational statistics gathered from institutions themselves. We ranked schools according to their yearly, graduate-specific tuition rates, which we have listed below. However, please keep in mind that these are only approximate assessments of cost; your actual experience may vary according to the number of credits you take per semester, how much financial aid you receive, and other associated expenses.

Lastly, we hope you see below that just because these schools are affordable doesn't mean they represent cheap online master's degrees in public policy. These colleges are accredited, reputable, and tout some top rankings - both within the field of public policy and for their broader scholastic achievements.

Note: This article may contain sponsored links. These are designed to help you connect with programs easily.

#1 American Public University Charles Town, WV
#2 Park University Parkville, MO
#3 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
#4 University of Texas Rio Grande Edinburg, TX
#5 Indiana Wesleyan University Marion, IN
#6 Thomas Edison State University Trenton, NJ
#7 New England College Henniker, NH
#8 Western Carolina University Cullowhee, NC
#9 Walden University Minneapolis, MN
#11 SUNY Empire State College Saratoga Springs, NY

Featured Online Programs

Figuring out where to apply? These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online degrees. Consider one of these accredited programs, and discover their value today.

  1. American Public University

    Charles Town, WV



    The Online Master of Public Policy at American Public University combines research practice, writing development, and case study analysis to give students a well-rounded public service education. Online learners spend equal time focusing on public writing, policy formation, implementation and evaluation, disaster and emergency management, and national security in order to acquire a broad base of expertise. An internship is not part of the curriculum; however, a Public Policy Capstone is a requirement for graduation. A total of 98% of students surveyed report that the tuition is worth the price, and nearly as many describe the classes in this affordable online public policy master's pro-gram as "beneficial."

  2. Park University

    Parkville, MO



    Park University's online public policy master's degree is the oldest graduate degree program at the university. The liberal arts-based program takes a general approach to MPA education, helping students develop leadership skills that they can apply across all sectors of society - including both business and the public sector. The program offers four concentrations: Public Management, Business, Government and Global Society, Nonprofit and Community Services Management, and Disaster and Emergency Management. Students with less than two years experience must take part in a three-credit hour internship, while current public service professionals can opt out of these extra credits. Park University's MPA program received a "Best Buy" review, ranking 15th nationally as one of the best online master's degree in public administration by Get Educated.

  3. Liberty University

    Lynchburg, VA



    An online master's in public policy degree from Liberty University prepares students for careers in public administration, politics, economics, and public relations. Its courses equip graduates to serve as experts in the field of public policy. Critical thinking skills are vital to students' success of this 39-credit hour program, and Liberty emphasizes skill development as much as knowledge acquisition. Degree specializations include Campaign and Elections, International Affairs, Middle East Affairs, and Public Administration. College Prowler gives Liberty University at top "A" ranking overall, an indication of the school's high performance across measures of quality, affordability, and student satisfaction.

  4. University of Texas Rio Grande

    Edinburg, TX



    The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley offers an affordable master's in public pol-icy online that is available in two tracks: Public Administration and Public Policy and Management. The 36-credit hour master's degree includes classes focusing on decision-making, leadership, homeland security, and public policy analysis. Both tracks require an internship, ensuring that students of all interests gain the practical training they will need in the real world. However, the school highly recommends that all students have some professional experience prior to applying to the program. The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley plans to be the second-largest, Hispanic-serving higher learning institution in the United States.

  5. Indiana Wesleyan University

    Marion, IN



    Indiana Wesleyan University's online master's degree in public affairs prepares men and women for high-level positions in local, state, and federal government agencies. Graduates have their pick of top positions in the industry, including legislative aides, economic development officers, and directors of public works. As a long-time supporter of online education, Indiana Wesleyan University provides students with access to technical sup-port available, online library resources, and experienced instructors who care about students' goals. Curriculum topics include homeland security, transitioning veterans back into society, and redeveloping decaying urban areas that are part of the current or past economic decline. U.S. News ranks Indiana Wesleyan University as the 7th Best Value School, as well as the 11th Best College for Veterans.

  6. Thomas Edison State University

    Trenton, NJ



    The Online Master of Public Service Leadership degree from Thomas Edison State College is for students looking for careers in non-profit organizations; community- and faith-based groups; and local, state, and federal governments. The 36-credit hour program offers students six areas of study, including Community and Economic Development, Non-profit Management, Public and Municipal Finance, and Public Health/Public Policy. The competency-based curriculum in this degree gives students an applied experience and provides opportunities for them to apply what they have learned in real work environments. Like many of this list's other top-notch programs, the TESC public service curriculum earns full accreditation from the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration.

  7. New England College

    Henniker, NH



    New England College's online master's in public policy helps students gain understand-ing and insight in the policy and political systems in the United States. The program takes about two years to complete and is 100% - and unlike other online options, this means that students do not have to worry about residency requirements. GRE or GMAT scores are not required either. Graduates develop an in-depth understanding of all branches of state and federal governments, including judiciary, congressional, and presidential operations. Career options for students who complete the program range from pol-icy advising and senior policy analysis to public affairs management and communications, among others. Just this year, The Best Colleges ranked NEC 7th on its list of the top 10 public administration programs online.

  8. Western Carolina University

    Cullowhee, NC



    The accredited Online Master of Public Affairs degree at Western Carolina University is a two-year, 39-credit hour program with core courses such as Legal Issues in Public Affairs, Public Affairs Administration, Public Policy Analysis, and Research Methods for Public Affairs. Experienced professors lead all online classes and work tirelessly to deliver a high-quality curriculum - one that is fully accredited by the NSPPAA. Students without prior public service experience will complete a three-hour internship in order to bring them up to speed with professional students. Graduates of this cheap, accredited online master's in public policy program have gone on to careers in public policy, county administration, non-profit organizations, and local and national planning.

  9. Walden University

    Minneapolis, MN



    Walden University's online public policy master's degree allows students to examine the impact of social programs on local and national levels, as well as study leadership theory, current research, and practice in all areas of public administration. The school's top reputation is a big draw for MPA candidates; The Best Schools places Walden 14th on its list of top online master's of public administration degree programs. Graduates have a variety of career options, and alumni are currently working as policy analysts, grant writers, nonprofit executive directors, federal intelligence analysts, sustainability managers, and news and politics editors, among others. Besides the General Program option, students can specialize in a multitude of different sectors, including criminal justice, global leadership, health policy, and homeland security. Walden University's public policy master's degree is a total of 46-quarter credits, which combines foundational coursework with classes exclusively related to a student's specialty.

  10. SUNY Empire State College

    Saratoga Springs, NY



    Students enrolled in SUNY Empire State College's accredited online public policy master's will take 36 credit hours that include four core courses, four electives, four research-related courses, and a final project. Classes include Policy Process, Ethical Is-sues in Social Policy, and Policy Implementation/Evaluation. This master's in public policy online program is for practitioners, managers, and administrators in private, pub-lic, for-profit and nonprofit sectors interested in making organizational or governmental policies more effective. SUNY Empire State College offers in-state tuition rates for all active-duty service members, veterans, reservists, National Guard members, and spouses and dependents of active-duty service members. And graduate students aren't the only ones who enjoy the public administration classes at ESC - according to College Factual, it's the second most popular degree choice among undergrads.

See also: Top 20 Cheap Online MPA Programs and Public Policy Scholarships.

College Navigator
U.S. News Rankings and Reviews
Get Educated
College Prowler
The Best Schools
The Best Colleges

About the Author:
Iris Stone began her writing career when she started working as a freelance writer and researcher in 2011. Her freelance business soon took off and she now owns and operates a writing and editing firm that works with clients all across the country. Despite the time it takes to run a business she still does much of the writing herself, and her work has included a variety of content related to education policy, colleges and universities, academic programs, and graduates' careers. Her interests actually span far beyond writing, and she is currently studying to be a physicist! Check out her Google+ Profile.

A high resolution version of the award badge can be found here.

Get prepared for your next steps

Use articles and resources to uncover answers to common questions, get guidance on your goals, and learn about applying to schools.

Discover a program that is right for you.

Explore different options for you based on your degree interests.