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2022 Guide to the Online Master’s in Public Policy

Earning an online master’s degree in public policy will equip you with the knowledge and skills you need to effect major change — within environmental, political, or public health arenas at the national or global level. Find top-ranked online MPP programs, explore curriculum details, and learn about career opportunities.

Author: Michael Hoffman
Editor: STEPS Staff

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The Master of Public Policy (MPP) is an excellent degree for anyone seeking a career analyzing and developing service-based policy in the public and non-profit sectors. Students looking for study convenience and flexibility should consider one of the many fully-accredited online MPP programs.

Finding the right program takes time and effort, though. This guide provides the details and advice needed to locate, get admitted to, and succeed in an online master’s in public policy program. It also provides information on careers in public service focused on research, analytics, and policy-based study.

Best Online Master’s Degrees in Public Policy for 2024

We’ve spotlighted below the best-in-class online MPP programs to start your program search. These programs were chosen based on how well they address several important factors, including affordability, convenience and flexibility in course access and program length, and accreditation. These programs are not the only ones worth considering, but they give an idea of what to expect from any program you choose. So, begin the search to find a school to meet your needs with our 2024 list of best online public policy master’s degree programs.

About the ranking

College Ranking Methodology

Generate List of Eligible Schools and Programs

To be eligible for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on government data provided by The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

  • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • At least one program in the subject area offered partially or fully online.
  • Career placement and academic counseling services.

Assign Weightings

After generating the list of eligible schools, the STEPS data team then assigned weights and ranked schools based on their performance in a variety of key categories. Affordability metrics received the heaviest weightings, followed by online learning and academic quality metrics (equally weighted).

Online Learning

  • Number of online programs in subject area self-reported by school to the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Percentage of graduate students at the school taking at least one class online.


  • Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list. Based on in-state tuition for graduate students per academic year.

Academic Quality

  • Student-to-faculty ratio: Schools with lower ratios ranked higher.
  • Percentage of students admitted. More selective schools ranked higher.

About Our Data

All STEPS rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: August 2023

Accreditation Glossary

ABHE: Association for Biblical Higher Education, Commission on Accreditation

ABHES: Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools

ACCJC: Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges

ACCSC: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges

DEAC: Distance Education Accrediting Commission

HLC: Higher Learning Commission

MSCHE: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

NECHE: New England Commission of Higher Education

NWCCU: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

SACSCOC: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

TRACS: Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, Accreditation Commission

WSCUC: Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission


Liberty University

Lynchburg, Virginia

Students who aspire to make a difference in government, politics, and policy creation can further their careers with a Master of Arts in Public Policy from Liberty University. In addition to learning critical concepts in political philosophy, students tailor their master's degree to their interests by choosing from eight concentrations—General Studies, Campaigns and Elections, Chinese Affairs, International Affairs, Leadership, Middle East Affairs, Policy Studies, and Public Administration. To provide students with maximum convenience and flexibility while pursuing their degrees, Liberty makes all courses available entirely online. Additionally, each course is presented in an eight-week format, meaning students can graduate with their master's in as few as 18 months.

Program Highlights:

Master of Arts in Public Policy

  • Credits: 36
  • Length: 1.5 years
  • Cost: $565/credit
  • Mode: 100% online
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC
Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to-Faculty Ratio 17:1