For a policy career, consider obtaining a policy-related degree, such as a Master of Public Policy (MPP), Master of Public Administration (MPA), or Juris Doctorate (JD). Research different programs and check out Teach For America’s graduate school partnerships.
Note that there is considerable debate about whether a Master’s or Ph.D. degree is necessary to be successful, and you should do your own benefit-cost analysis to determine if the investment is right for you. Experience and connections can help people land jobs, and a graduate degree can help build a network. Many policy, advocacy and organizing jobs do not require advanced degrees. However, many non-profit organizations prefer to hire a person with an advanced degree for policy and advocacy roles. A law degree opens additional potential options, though it is also more costly than a policy degree.
Advanced graduate training in economics, public policy and political science hone individuals’ critical thinking skills and develop their expertise in a policy area of interest. It prepares individuals to shape the direction of public policy research and to train the next generation of policy researchers, instructors and leaders. It also qualifies individuals to perform high-level policy analysis in both national and international organizations, positioning individuals to guide policy development.
For advocacy and organizing positions, no specific degree is required.