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Published On: Fri, Sep 30th, 2016

Public Policy Degree Program Must-Haves

If the current political climate of the United States is any indicator, this country is in need of smart and honest policymakers now more than ever. Furthermore, policymakers need to be educated on a diverse variety of subject matters in order to create policies that work well for the public. If you are considering a career in public policy, then there are certain features you should keep in mind when searching for a good program.

Opportunities for International Relationships

Global connections are more important than ever in today’s world. It is critical that the policy program you choose is welcoming to international participants and provides spaces where students from across the globe can share ideas. Along these same lines, students abroad should also have the opportunity to learn more about the policies of the United States. For example, the USC LLM program provides foreign students with the opportunity to become well-versed in United States laws and policies. This promotes improved international collaboration.

Comprehensive Policy Education

To be an effective policymaker, you must understand not only vital general law and policy concepts, but also all of the fine points of these concepts. Therefore, your program should thoroughly cover all important principles in the realm of public policy. Within this framework, your program should also provide you with the opportunity to focus your studies upon your particular interests, as the USC MPA program does. Ultimately, you should graduate from the program with the ability to evaluate new information and circumstances using the foundation of your comprehensive policy education.

photo/ Gerd Altmann via pixabay

photo/ Gerd Altmann via pixabay

Coverage of Emerging Topics

As the world changes rapidly, policymakers must be familiar with more disciplines than ever. Two emerging topics are of particular relevance these days: Cyber technology and environmental science. According to the Washington Post, many government lawyers demonstrate a serious lack of understanding of how the internet and corresponding technologies operate. Policymakers are often similarly uninformed about the intricacies of environmental science

These knowledge gaps are not merely inconvenient. They may, in fact, have serious consequences for individuals and society. Therefore, policy programs that provide their participants with education in these areas may be better investments.

Collaboration, Not Competition

While your program should be competitive relative to other programs, there should be opportunity for collaboration within the program itself. If you are only ever engaged in cutthroat competition with other members of your cohort, then you are not necessarily learning all you will need for your future career.

To truly affect social change, you are going to have to work together with people from all walks of life, many of whom you will disagree with on certain issues. It is important to know how to achieve success on your goals, but it is also important to know how to work as part of a team.

Extracurricular Advantages

Another sign that a policy program is worth the investment of your time and money is if it offers its participants chances to engage in forms of education outside of the classroom. Programs that offer access to workshops and networking events and are staffed by diverse faculty and board members have the edge on programs that lack these features By taking advantage of these additional experiences, you can diversify your knowledge and forge lasting connections with important people in your field. In public policy, who you know is just as important as what you know.

Take Pride in Your Program

Researching the characteristics of numerous programs can be time-consuming, but it is more than worth doing. If you want to enjoy a successful career, then your best bet for doing so is to choose a program that prepares you for both the near and distant future. Once you are accepted to a program that you are proud to be a proud to be a member of, you will be glad that you invested effort into your search.

Guest Author: Lolita Di

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- Outside contributors to the Dispatch are always welcome to offer their unique voices, contradictory opinions or presentation of information not included on the site.

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