What can I do with a Master of Public Policy?

Two men in suits sitting at a table, going through a contract for a job in policy-making.
Two men in suits sitting at a table, going through a contract for a job in policy-making.

Many people want to make a difference in the world around them. Some want to create real, lasting change for the better in their local community. Others want to make society as a whole fairer and more inclusive. Still others want to ensure that policy-makers listen to the voices of those who’ve historically been marginalised and underrepresented.

But regardless of your motivation for creating change, the drive to make things better is only the first step. And figuring out the next best move – and the one after that – can be difficult.

Studying for a Master of Public Policy can help you figure out the best way forward for your individual ambitions. And beyond simply helping you to get a job in policy-making, it can help you to actively create opportunities, open new doors and unlock higher earning potentials.

Perhaps your goal is to take the next career step – to identify how to get into a senior position in policy work. Or maybe you’re looking for a new challenge in your existing policy-making role where you can create lasting change.

Either way, this guide will provide you with the information you need to make the right decision for your career.

Why study public policy?

Whether you realise it or not, public policy is embedded in our everyday life. It affects everything from the health of our communities to our lived experiences of the world. It shapes the education we provide for our younger generations, the support we provide for our older people, and so much more. 

So in a world that's constantly changing, we need passionate, caring people to ensure that the policy-making world changes with it. 

Developing effective public policies is about creating lasting positive impacts in the world around you. But being able to influence real change requires practical skills like listening to the people involved. Putting the ‘public’ at the heart of public policy takes practical skills to do so and a commitment to fairness. 

And if this is something you want to be part of, you need to make sure you have the abilities to research, evaluate, design and change policies. 

And that’s exactly what a Master of Public Policy will help you achieve.

Leverage your impact

Studying a Master of Public Policy will help give you the power and platform to enact change in whichever areas you’re passionate about. The communication skills you’ll learn as part of the course will help you to influence a diverse range of stakeholders who can help bring your policy-making goals to fruition.

Upskill and take the next step in your career

The right qualification will help you to solidify your current professional experience and expand your knowledge of policy-making. It will also help you diversify your skillset, ensuring that your practical skills – research, report-writing, briefing and stakeholder management – are top-notch.

A Master of Public Policy ensures that you have the skills you need to further develop in the ever-changing world of policy work. 

A group of three female students learning and talking about how to get into intelligence analysis.

Create a network

In a rapidly evolving world, there’s strength in numbers – and you need industry connections to create a powerful network that helps you to enact change.

Studying at the University of Canberra gives you access to leading policy practitioners with decades of knowledge to help you develop your skills and find your voice. More than that, it connects you with like-minded people who are equally passionate about making a difference, as well as those with close ties in the policy-making community.

How a Master of Public Policy can help you positively influence the world around you

Policy-making may have a long history in Australia, but it is constantly changing to meet the demands of the present and future. In fact, due to the motivation and determination of those involved, the world of policy work is constantly advancing.

Deloitte’s Gov2020 Future of Government report shows the future implications of several current trends in public policy, such as:

  • Australia’s ageing population
  • the co-creation of processes with local people 
  • data analysis changes that focus on prevention rather than reaction.

These trends may sound like they’re very specific to a small niche of policy-makers, but in reality, they apply across a multitude of policy-related roles. Below are just a few examples of the wide variety of jobs within the industry and an idea of the salary for each.

Intelligence and policy analysts

Wondering what a policy analyst actually does? Both intelligence analysts and policy analysts are responsible for collecting and analysing information that’s instrumental in policy development. Those policies can then guide the design of either public or private sector operations.

Analyst responsibilities can also include:

  • identifying errors and ambiguities in current policies so they can be addressed and corrected
  • helping government departments to create or adjust policies and regulations
  • helping private companies to influence the regulations that affect their industry.

Demand for these analyst roles is growing, with job postings increasing by over 14 per cent in 2018-2019, according to the Australian Department of Employments, Skills, Small and Family Business.

Studying a Master of Public Policy will give you the skills to critically analyse and understand relevant data, then present these findings to stakeholders. And applying these processes discerningly will equip you for an intelligence analysis role. JobOutlook reveals that the role can offer average weekly earnings of $1821

An infographic headlining what jobs can you get with a master of public policy

Policy and planning managers

Where analysts work with raw information and data, policy and planning managers are responsible for coordinating policy advice, direction and revision. The policies they create or amend can then directly affect state or federal government departments or private organisations.

Policy and planning managers may also:

  • provide expert advice to government officials on legislative issues
  • represent organisations in a public forum on policy concerns.

Because these roles are at a more senior level, earnings are higher – a Public Policy Manager’s salary can be up to $2338 per week. Unsurprisingly, this means employers expect a solid postgraduate qualification, such as a Master of Public Policy, along with experience in the industry.

Other policy-related roles

While public policy may focus on the public sector, it certainly doesn’t limit you to government roles. All the skills and knowledge you gain through a Master of Public Policy are transferable, underpinning many jobs outside of the sector. 

Add in the strong network you create during your studies, and all sorts of career pathways can open up – each with the potential of higher-paying opportunities.

Examples include:

  • health and safety
  • financial and insurance services
  • scientific and technical services.

JobOutlook details that certain roles within policy-making can earn over $800 per week more than the average job in Australia. And with a projected industry growth of 10 per cent over the next three years, now is the perfect time to strengthen your skills so you’re ready to take advantage of whatever comes next.

A woman standing and looking at papers, as she learns what a policy analyst does.

What to expect from a Master of Public Policy

What’s included in the course?

The University of Canberra online Master of Public Policy course is designed for professionals in or aiming to work in the government, non-government, health, social and intelligence sectors. As you progress through the units, you’ll develop core competencies in: 

  • research
  • report writing
  • briefings
  • policy planning 
  • stakeholder management.

At the same time, you’ll also hone your skills in data analytics, fundamental economic modelling and program evaluation. And by the time you graduate, you’ll be able to synthesise complex information and apply it to real-life challenges in policy-making and evaluation. 

Why study with the University of Canberra?

Studying for a Master of Public Policy at the University of Canberra means you’ll learn from industry experts in Australia's home of policy-making.

And better yet, we’re one of only two Australian universities to offer competencies in data analysis, evaluation and modelling core units. And we’re the only one to offer leadership units that help you progress in your career.

Plus, no matter where you are, our online course will keep you connected to the University and its community for an inclusive learning experience.

For more specific course details, our Master of Public Policy course page has a wealth of information.

How long will it take?

With the flexibility of online learning, the length of the course is completely in your hands. As the course is designed to fit in your busy schedule, you can study one unit at a time to fit your learning in with other personal commitments, giving you the flexibility to achieve a realistic work-life balance.

This will allow you to complete all 12 units needed for a master’s degree in as little as two years.

What are the criteria for admission?

Entry requirements for a master's degree include either:

We may also offer Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) based on your professional experience, and the Program Director will assess this.

Please note that this course has non-standard English language requirements

When can I start?

We offer six intake opportunities throughout the year, so you can start as early as possible. Intake months include: 

  • January
  • March
  • May
  • July
  • September
  • October.

The longest you’ll ever need to wait to start is two months. That means you can take the time to feel comfortable in your decision without the pressure of ‘once-a-year’ deadlines.

Ready to make that change?

If you’re ready to put the public at the heart of public policy, step up and into a Master of Public Policy with the University of Canberra.

Our Student Enrolment Advisers are ready to help you with all your course and enrolment queries. You can:

(We recommend first downloading our document checklist to make sure you have all the documents you need to support your application.)