To: Government Majors and Minors
From: Professor Hammer, Graduate Advisor
About: Graduate Study
I wanted to acquaint you with one possible avenue of graduate study to pursue after graduation that you might not have considered: graduate study in public policy, public administration, and international relations. These are usually 1 to 2 year programs that culminate in a Master’s Degree.
There is a bulletin board outside the Government Office that contains information on specific public policy programs. This information is based on my visits to and conversations with these programs.
What is Public Policy, Public Administration, and International Relations?
Public policy programs are designed to provide you with skills to analyze and evaluate policy questions. Public policy programs will tend to have a quantitative emphasis, with the focus on developing skills in cost/ benefit analysis. Public administration programs will expose you to a range of skills for the hands-on development, management, and administration of programs. This distinction, over time, has become less clear as policy programs are involved in administrative issues and vice versa.
Urban Planning programs are more specialized versions of Public Policy/Public Administration programs, focusing specifically on issues that arise in an urban setting. Health Service Administration programs focus on administration issues in health care and delivery. International Development and International Relations programs focus on policy issues at the international level.
What sort of jobs can I get with a public policy degree?
Programs will prepare you for Federal, State, and Local government sector jobs. They will also prepare you for work in the nonprofit sector or in the private sector (working for a corporation). You may be involved in everything from research and technical assistance for international economic and development agencies to coordinating a neighborhood renewal program, working on budget projections with the Congressional Budget Office, political or business consulting, or going on to a doctoral or law program.
Where can I go to find out about Public Policy/Public Administration Programs?
• US News. For the first time, US News looks at both Public Policy and Public Administration programs. These rankings are a useful starting point for giving you a sense of different programs out there. The problem is that Public Policy and Public Administration programs are lumped together in the ratings.
• Internet. You can visit almost every school through your computer. You can find most schools through keyword searches. A good place to start is with the following address: http://www.wws.princeton.edu/other/otherpages.html
This is a site at the Woodrow Wilson School (Princeton) that contains links to many different public policy programs.
• Government Faculty and Graduate Advisor. We can be helpful in providing some guidance, sharing the experiences of our graduates, and directing you to people or places that would have further information. There is a bulletin board outside the department office with information.
What are these programs looking for in admissions?
• Job Experience. Pre-professional programs look highly upon job experience. Internships may be helpful, but a job after college is even better. Jobs can be in the public or private sector, and include such different activities as research positions, newspaper reporting, teaching, legislative work, or involvement in community projects. The reason for the emphasis on job experience is because being "out in the world" will help to give you some focus. You see things you don’t want to do and you may also discover directions you had never anticipated. Top programs generally want 1-3 years of experience.
• GRE’s. You will need to take the Graduate Records Exam in the Fall of your senior year. You should definitely practice the exam first, whether on your own or through a program. You should take the GRE in your senior year even if you are not planning on going directly to graduate school.
• Special skills and contributions. Graduate programs are looking for people who bring special skills and can make diverse contributions to the program. Probably the greatest asset you can have are quantitative skills. I would strongly recommend courses in Economics, Math and Statistics. Another skill would be foreign language proficiency (particularly if you are pursuing international development programs). You may also have had particular experiences that programs may find attractive. Of particular interest to many programs is involvement in public service (either domestic or international).