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Education

What Can You Do With A Public Policy Degree

By David Krug 11 minute read

Healthcare, human services, criminal justice, inequality, education, and labor are all included in the definition of social policy provided by Harvard University’s Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy.

Human well-being and the quality of life that people enjoy are directly affected by the policies, laws, principles, and practices that make up social policy.

Political science, psychology, economics, philosophy, and sociology are just some of the disciplines that fall under the umbrella of social policy. In most cases, studies like these are applied to governmental or civic institutions. Think tanks, consulting firms, and any other organization or agency that affects social policy on a local, state, or federal level will employ graduates of this program.

Graduates of a Social Policy Program may find themselves working in social services, writing white papers, influencing politicians or in any other area of social policy they are interested in. As a general rule, the outcomes of your work will have a direct bearing on the well-being of people from a wide range of racial and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Students who want to make a positive impact in both small and large communities will benefit from these degrees.

For example, you could work to combat racism or the discrimination of LGBTQ people. Or maybe you’ll work on domestic and health policies like abortion, prostitution, guns, and recreational drugs.

“Wicked problems” are often the focus of social policy. In this context, “wicked” does not refer to evil, but rather to the difficulty and complexity of resolving a particular social problem for which there is no obvious solution.

Today, the term “welfare state” is bandied about a lot, mostly in a bad way. The recipients of social programs and policies are often accused of abusing the system by claiming benefits and privileges that are not available to others. People are irate when their taxes fund benefits they will never receive. It’s a beautiful idea, and one that dates back thousands of years in human history, to use government to look after one another.

Second caliph Umar ibn al-Khattawb, in the 6th century, used collections and government resources to provide income support, pensions, child benefits, and other funds to both Muslims and non-Muslims. Orphans, widows and disabled people were the main targets of these policies.

During the Industrial Revolution, Auguste Comte and Charles Booth fought tirelessly to implement social policies in five industrialized countries. Through these efforts, the New Deal was enacted in the United States in 1933-35, followed by England’s National Health Service Act in 1946.

While some welfare programs may be bloated and redundant, their core mission is something humanity has repeatedly concluded in countries all over the world: we cannot simply abandon people whose basic needs are not met in our society.

Social policies can be improved and enacted with your help. Your efforts will have a positive impact on society and even save lives in some cases. I think it’s one of the most important things anyone can do in their life.

A bachelor’s degree in social policy or a related field is required before you can begin working in the field.

  • A degree in social policy can help you achieve long-term goals in your career.
  • How many degrees have you earned so far in college? Is there a position you’d like to hold in the field, and what degree level would you need?
  • Even if you don’t have a specific goal in mind when it comes to social policy, at least having a general idea is advantageous. Does working for the government interest you? What’s this? Consulting?
  • Considering getting a degree in social policy, how much can you afford to pay for tuition and other expenses, and how much would you have to borrow?
  • Social policy programs have a wide range of associated costs. Depending on where you go to school, what type of delivery method you choose from the degree program, what scholarships you may be eligible for, how much money you take out in loans, and many other variables.
  • The best course of action is to enroll in a social policy program at a university that you can afford rather than taking out loans to do so. As a rule, this is impossible for most people. Consider public loans over private ones if you need to take out a loan to pay for a program.
  • You should always look for schools that are affordable and accredited rather than for-profit, expensive, and unaccredited.
  • How much time per day, week, and year can you devote to a social policy degree? Obtaining a degree in social policy can be accomplished in many different ways, depending on the program you choose.
  • In light of this, what do you think is the most effective way to deliver your message? On-campus, online, or a combination of the two is your preferred method of education?
  • How do you envision yourself living and working after graduating from a social policy program? The demand for social policy professionals varies by state and region. People in these positions are in greater demand in large cities such as Washington, D.C., New York, and Los Angeles than in rural areas with smaller populations.
  • Depending on where you earn your degree, you may have a better chance of finding a good job after graduation because of the connections and networking you can make in your area.
  • How far along are you in your education and career? Do you have any strengths that can be tapped into by a social policy program?
  • Social policy degree programs offer a wide range of specializations. As a social policy student, how can you benefit from a concentration or specialization?

As you begin your search for a degree in social policy, keep in mind that this is just the beginning. It’s a good idea to write down what you want in a degree and what qualifications you have that will help you in the application process while you’re looking. Additionally, think about what you want from a degree and what obstacles you face in your path to achieving it. Make sure to include any questions or concerns that are unique to you in this list.

In order to help you in your search, we’d like to take a look at some of the degree levels and specializations in social policy that are available to you:

Degree Programs in Social Policy Require and Develop Competencies and Attributes in

  • Patience is a virtue when it comes to social policy because it can move at a glacial pace. It’s possible that you won’t see the results you desire right away, if at all. But if you want to succeed, you’ll have to persevere in the face of adversity and the efforts of others to stop you.
  • Compassion: You may think you care about those who need your help, but in order to be successful in social policy, you will need to greatly expand your ability to care within yourself. Your life will benefit from cultivating compassion because it’s difficult to switch off, especially when doing it professionally.
  • In the course of your work as a social policy professional, you’ll encounter people and situations that you’ve never encountered in your own life. You will be far more successful in these roles if you understand people and their differences from you, rather than assuming that you already know everything there is to know about them.
  • It’s easy to burn out in these positions when dealing with bureaucracy and vested interests that prevent you from helping those who need it most. This will require a certain amount of self-compassion and acceptance of your shortcomings, as well as the knowledge that you are not the only one to blame for your mistakes.
  • Cooperation is essential in social policy because it is impossible to accomplish anything without the assistance of others. In order to accomplish your goals, you’ll need the support of lawmakers, other advocates, the people you’re working with, and many others
  • Professionals in the field of social policy are known for their tenacity. They work tirelessly to build the world they envision, no matter how bleak the situation may appear at any given time.
  • To be successful in these positions, you’ll need to be an idealist in a brutally pragmatic world. Social policy professionals who succeed aren’t merely idealists; they are astute, practical practitioners who put their ideals into action.

As a result, you won’t have to do it all on your own You’ll get a lot of support from your peers, professors, family, and friends as you pursue a degree in social policy and become a successful professional. We’ve also put in a lot of effort to help you find the degree that’s best suited to your needs.

Do You Have a Question about a Social Policy Degree?

Just a small sample of the work we’ve done to assist you in the fields of social policy and government as well as in social work and policy analysis. You may not enjoy working in the field of social policy and its related fields. You should think about your strengths and interests, as well as your long-term career goals, and use our compare careers matrix to see what else is out there. Email their support staff directly if you find any schools or programs through our rankings that you feel are a good fit and want more information about the program or school. There is a good chance that you will be given valuable assistance in the selection and application processes.

Now, let’s take a look at the various degrees in social policy and what they’ll prepare you for:

Who Qualifies as a “Social Policy Professional?”

These degrees are less common than those in Public Policy, Public Administration, Social and Community Services, Sociology or Social Work Policy. All of these degrees have programs that can lead to jobs and careers in social policy. For the purposes of this guide, we’ll refer to these degrees as “Social Policy Degrees,” but you should also look into the following degree categories. Make sure you don’t get hung up on the title of your degree. Instead, take a look at the areas of study and training it offers, as well as the jobs that its graduates frequently go on to obtain. Then you’ll know if it’s a good idea for improving human welfare.

Social Policy Associates

A variety of topics related to human behavior and psychology will be discussed. You could learn the fundamentals of clinical social work or the inner workings of government and nonprofit organizations in public administration. You can save both time and money by completing these programs online or through a community or junior college. Students who complete this program will be well-prepared for entry-level positions in the industry or for further study in the field.

In social policy, a bachelor’s degree

During these four-year courses, you’ll learn a great deal more about social and public policy issues. You’ll gain a thorough understanding of the law, as well as how to formulate and implement policies and conduct in-depth research into the effects of various programs and initiatives. In government agencies, nonprofits, or lobbying on behalf of specific interests, graduates will be able to work. Bachelor’s degrees are typically required for entry into most social work or public policy programs. As a result, if you want to rise to supervisory positions in the industry, you may need to continue your education.

A master’s degree in public policy

Typically, these programs take between one and two years to finish. The time and money you’ll save by completing a Social Policy degree program like this one is well worth the investment. After that, you’ll have earned an impressive degree in the field, making you highly employable no matter where you choose to work or what you do. When it comes to studying government and non-profit organizations, you’ll learn about how they work, how policies are created to be implemented, and so on, as well. Students who complete this program will be well-suited for management and supervisory positions in a wide range of organizations, including think tanks, government agencies, advocacy groups, and nonprofits.

Sociological Policy PhDs

Programs like these combine government and sociology in order to provide you with a comprehensive education in the field. You’ll learn about public policy, economics, and politics, among other things, in order to better understand social problems and devise solutions. For most programs, you’ll need to complete a dissertation or other culminating project that shows what you’ve learned in the course of the program. Students who complete this program will be well-prepared for careers in social policy analysis, advocacy, management, and academia.

If you’re interested in a career in social policy, there are a number of specializations to choose from in the field. Here are a few of the options you have:

What Kinds of Social Policy Specializations Are There?

Health and Human Services

During these courses, you’ll learn about the laws and regulations that govern American healthcare. Understanding how these policies came to be and why so many people are harmed will help you understand your role in resolving these problems and providing better care for more people.

Policy for Development

You’ll see how policies are drawn up, implemented, and evaluated in these areas. This program will give you the knowledge and skills you need to work in policy in a variety of capacities and on a wide range of issues.

Efficient Use of Natural Resources

A climate crisis is possible, but our country’s energy policy and sources of energy are constantly evolving. A concentration in this area can help you become a leader in the future on these important issues. (Learn about the top 5 environmental science careers.) careers in the field

Policy at the Global Level

Many of the world’s most pressing issues can’t be addressed by local governments or even the federal government. As a graduate of Global Policy programs, you’ll be prepared for leadership roles that require coordination between governments around the world.

Concentrations in the social policy field

As a Social Policy professional, you may be able to specialize in areas such as Education, Urban Development and Urban Planning; Children and Families; Crime; Race; Ethnicity; Gender; Sexual Orientation; Wealth Inequality; Welfare Programs; and more.

Consider whether or not social policy is a good fit for you before deciding whether or not to pursue a career in it.

It’s up to you which path you take and where you end up in this industry. There are far more paths and degrees to get into this field than in other areas of government or social work. You’re in charge of shaping the future, and you’ll do so to your heart’s content. To wrap things up, here we go:

Bottom Line

Let’s take a look at what you can expect to gain from a career in social policy before we wrap things up. The average salary for government workers in 2016 was $35,009 to $45,512 for a G-7 pay grade and $102,646 to $133,444 for a G-15 pay grade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Doctoral degree holders have a better chance of achieving the higher pay grade.

Politicians make $103,210 per year; economists make $109,230 per year; sociologists make $82,100 per year; and urban planners make $71,680 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

In your career in social policy, these are just some of the roles you’ll be prepared for, depending on the degrees you earn and the specializations you pursue. These figures have, without a doubt, risen since the previous year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that economists, lawyers, and urban planners would be in greater demand in the future than other professions.

It is our pleasure that you have taken the time to read this guide. Those who work in the field of social policy are essential to improving the lives of the most vulnerable members of society. A better quality of life for the most vulnerable members of society has a direct impact on the overall welfare and cohesion of society. One of these programs can help you become a part of that.

It’s always a good idea to get in touch with the school offering a program you’re interested in if you find one that fits your needs. Whatever your needs, they’ll be there to help.

David Krug

Author