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Top Affordable Online Master's in Public Policy Degree Programs

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.


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.

15. University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

Online Master of Public Policy

Students receiving an accredited online master's in public policy at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth can typically find jobs in the non-profit sector or in state, federal, or municipal government. Upon completion of the 39-credit hour program, graduates will understand public management, public finance, and have developed technical methodological skills. Note that while the university's distance learning capabilities makes this program accessible to a range of learners, UMass Dartmouth does not accept applications for online degree programs from residents in Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Maryland, and Minnesota. U.S. News ranks UMass Dartmouth's 87th among Regional Universities North.
Tuition: $13,952/yr (In-state) $19,880/yr (Out-of-state)

14. Indiana University

Online Master of Public Affairs

Indiana University is a popular choice for online learners wanting to earn a Master of Public Affairs degree, a combination of the Master's in Public Policy online and the Master of Public Administration. The flexible 48-credit hour program offers a customizable advanced curriculum with six electives. Students are also required to complete an intern-ship or research project, but only if they do not have significant work experience prior to entering the program. Upon completion of this MPA, students can apply for public service jobs or careers in nonprofit management, policy analysis, and public management. Indiana University has the second best School of Public Affairs as ranked by U.S. News.
Tuition: $8,196/yr (In-state) $25,595/yr (Out-of-state)

13. University of Missouri

Online Master of Public Affairs

As a growing leader in online learning, University of Missouri's cheap online master's in public policy helps public service professionals take their careers to the next level. This 33-credit hour degree program prepares graduates for jobs in local, state, and federal government, as well as non-profit agencies and non-governmental pub-lic service entities. Besides helping graduates excel in leadership, the program also gives students the resources they need to succeed in social entrepreneurship, economic analysis, financial management, and collaborative governance. This program, which features 100% online courses, is accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration.
Tuition: $9,431/yr (In-state) $22,938/yr (Out-of-state)

12. Arizona State University

Online Hybrid MPA

Arizona State University's affordable master's in public policy online (hybrid format) helps students understand the challenges that government faces on the local, national and global levels. Graduates can work to-ward careers as assistant city managers, city planners, elections coordinators, nonprofit directors, foreign service officers, or other essential public service positions. Students can earn their online master's in public policy in as little as 16 months through a program that is available almost entirely online - except for two required weekend intensive courses. The intensive meets help supplement students' theoretical coursework as they practice analytical, decision-making, and leadership skills through the program's classes. U.S. News ranked ASU's MPA program 16th in the nation.
Tuition: $10,610/yr (In-state) $21,700/yr (Out-of-state)

11. SUNY Empire State College

Online Master of Arts in Social and Public Policy

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.
Tuition: $10,370/yr (In-state) $20,190/yr (Out-of-state)

9. Walden University

Online Master of Public Policy

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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.
Tuition: $12,572/yr

8. Western Carolina University

Online Master of Public Affairs

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.
Tuition: $6,734/yr (In-state) $17,141/yr (Out-of-state)

7. New England College

Online Master of Arts in Public Policy

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.
Tuition: $11,235/yr

6. Thomas Edison State College

Online Master of Public Service Leadership

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.
Tuition: $11,106/yr

5. Indiana Wesleyan University

Online Master of Public Affairs

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.
Tuition: $10,235/yr

4. University of Texas Rio Grande

Online Public Affairs MPA

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.
Tuition: $6,520/yr (In-state) $13,540/yr (Out-of-state)

3. Liberty University

Online Master of Arts in Public Policy

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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.
Tuition: $9,710/yr

2. Park University

Online Master of Public Affairs

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.
Tuition: $8,640/yr

1. American Public University

Online Master of Public Policy

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."
Tuition: $6,150/yr

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

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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.

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