Data Analytics for Public Policy Specialization


Data Analytics for Public Policy Specialization
(Courses are only offered online. This specialization is not available in the accelerated degree option.)
The data analytics specialization is intended for students who will use data analytics and statistics to address policy issues. Policy analysts and researchers who can use sophisticated statistical and computational methods can add insight and value to public policy decision-making by using big data to improve public services in public health, transportation, and law enforcement, predict and avert famine and droughts, and improve city infrastructures.

Please note that students must take the core MPPA 405 Statistics for Research before beginning the specialization.
Required course:

MSDS 400 Math for Data Scientists
Students learn techniques for building and interpreting mathematical models of real-world phenomena in and across multiple disciplines, including linear algebra, discrete mathematics, probability, and calculus, with an emphasis on applications in data science and data engineering. This is for students who want a firm understanding or review of these fields of mathematics prior to enrolling in courses that assume understanding of mathematical concepts.
Choose any two courses:
MSDS 410 Regression Analysis and Multivariate Methods

This course develops the foundations of predictive modeling by: introducing the conceptual foundations of regression and multivariate analysis; developing statistical modeling as a process that includes exploratory data analysis, model identification, and model validation; and discussing the difference between the uses of statistical models for statistical inference versus predictive modeling. The high level topics covered in the course include: exploratory data analysis, statistical graphics, linear regression, automated variable selection, principal components analysis, exploratory factor analysis, and cluster analysis.

Prerequisites: MSDS 400-DL Math for Data Scientists and MSDS 401-DL Statistical Analysis.

MSDS 420 Database Systems and Data Preparation

Behind every analytics project is an analytical data source. In this course, students explore the fundamentals of data management and data preparation. Students acquire hands-on experience with various data file formats, working with quantitative data and text, relational database systems, and document database systems. They access, organize, clean, prepare, transform, and explore data, using database shells, query and scripting languages, and analytical software. This is a case-study and project-based course with a strong programming component.
Prerequisites: MSDS 402-DL Introduction to Data Science.

MSDS 455 Data Visualization

This course begins with a review of human perception and cognition, drawing upon psychological studies of perceptual accuracy and preferences. The course reviews principles of graphic design, what makes for a good graph, and why some data visualizations effectively present information and others do not. It considers visualization as a component of systems for data science and presents examples of exploratory data analysis, visualizing time, networks, and maps. It reviews methods for static and interactive graphics and introduces tools for building web-browser-based presentations. This is a project-based course with programming assignments.
Prerequisites: MSDS 400-DL Math for Data Scientists and MSDS 401-DL Statistical Analysis.

MSDS 460 Decision Analytics

This course covers fundamental concepts, solution techniques, modeling approaches, and applications of decision analytics. It introduces commonly used methods of optimization, simulation and decision analysis techniques for prescriptive analytics in business. Students explore linear programming, network optimization, integer linear programming, goal programming, multiple objective optimization, nonlinear programming, metaheuristic algorithms, stochastic simulation, queuing modeling, decision analysis, and Markov decision processes. Students develop a contextual understanding of techniques useful for managerial decision support. They implement decision-analytic techniques using a state-of-the-art analytical modeling platform. This is a problem and project-based course.
Prerequisites: MSDS 400-DL Math for Data Scientists and MSDS 401-DL Statistical Analysis.

MSDS 490 Special Topics
Choose any special topics course that is appropriate.


Policy Analyst Job Description

Policy analysts work to influence political and social events, as well as raise public awareness on different issues. This involves conducting research, analyzing current policies, evaluating the effects of proposed legislation, and reporting on findings. While it is possible to work in this job as a generalist, many policy analysts choose to specialize and build their expertise in a particular area. Policy analysts typically work long and irregular hours, with a mix of office-based work, field work, and travel. This job is well suited to people who are passionate about progress and implementing change, who are strong communicators, and who have an analytical approach to interpreting and reporting on data.

Policy Analyst Duties and Responsibilities

Work Summary Example

Policy Analyst
2014 – Present Booz Allen Hamilton
Resolving all queries relating to specialty standards.
Preparing policy clarification documentation for clients.
Reviewing public policy prospects about safety measures.
Formulating security and emergency management practices.

Policy analysts can work for a variety of organizations and carry out a range of different tasks. Based on job listings we analyzed, a policy analyst’s duties typically involve:

Reviewing Legislation and Policies

A key part of this job is to review and evaluate policies and legislation to determine the benefits and impact of any changes that may occur. This involves identifying positive elements as well as any flaws to the legalities of a particular policy.

Liaising with Stakeholders

Policy analysts liaise with stakeholders to determine the needs, concerns, and viewpoints of documents, and to understand what the goals are of a project.

Gathering Data

Policy analysts gather and report on both quantitative and qualitative data, analyzing it for any trends or important information that may be useful in formulating new policies.

Evaluating the Effects of Existing Policies

Policy analysts examine the effects of current policies and government programs, such as whether a new policy would have a positive impact on the public and whether it would help the government achieve certain goals.

Writing Reports

Policy analysts formulate reports which condense and summarize information and display key evidence for stakeholders to review.

Policy Analyst Skills and Qualifications

Summary of Qualifications

Hands-on experience in managing clinical practices.
Operational knowledge of analyzing the clinical performance.
Functional knowledge of delivering health care plans.
Familiarity with the resolution of performance measurement problems.

Policy analysts should have strong interpersonal and communication skills, be comfortable public speakers who can provide presentations and reports on their findings, and work well as part of a team. Typically, employers will require a bachelor’s degree in political science or similar, as well as relevant work experience and the following abilities:

  • Analytical skills – policy analysts must analyze data from different perspectives, so they need to have an analytical approach to tasks
  • Organization – there are many aspects to working as a policy analyst, from gathering data to writing reports and working in the field to seeing how policies would affect the public, so great organization and attention to detail is important
  • Communication skills – from report writing to presenting findings, policy analysts need to be able to communicate effectively both orally and in writing
  • Teamwork – policy analysts typically work as part of a team on projects, so great teamwork skills are a must for success in this profession
  • Interpersonal skills – policy analysts work with people from all different walks of life, so it’s important that they’re able to remain professional and polite at all times

Policy Analyst Education and Training

The minimum requirement to become a policy analyst is a bachelor’s degree in political science or public policy. Employers also expect candidates to have experience in political or government areas, and to have developed a strong network of contacts before reaching this stage of profession. Many college campuses have student organizations focused on public policy topics, where great experience can be gained. Some policy analysts gain experience through working as college or university professors, as a lot of the work at think tanks is similar to academic work.

Policy Analyst Salary and Outlook

The median annual salary for policy analysts is nearly $56,000, according to PayScale. Policy analysts in the 10th percentile earn around $40,000 annually, while the highest paid earn close to $81,000 a year. The higher end of the pay scale includes bonuses of up to $6,000, and profit sharing opportunities of up to $5,000. Level of experience impacts the pay level for this role, and most employers offer dental plans and medical insurance as part of their benefits package.

Helpful Resources

We’ve collected some of the best resources to help you learn more about developing a career as a policy analyst.

ThinkProgress – this political news blog covers everything from climate, economy, health, justice, and world news. It’s a project of the Center for American Progress, a progressive public policy research organization, and makes for a brilliant resource for staying up to date with the latest political developments.

The World of the Policy Analyst: Rationality, Views, Politics – this book provides a detailed overview of the role of a policy analyst and the policy making process. It covers a wide range of topics, from the increasing fragmentation of the political system to the growing influence of think tanks at a national and state level.

Essential Statistics for Public Managers and Policy Analysts – a student-friendly guide to statistics, this is a great introduction that uses carefully selected examples to provide a comprehensive overview of how to apply statistics to the real-life challenges of working as a policy analyst. It covers budgeting, human resource management, organizational behavior, and much more.

Social Policy and Social Programs: A Method for the Practical Public Policy Analyst – a practical guide to the basics of social policy and program analysis, this book helps readers judge the effectiveness of current programs, and provides methods for analyzing social services such as supportive assistance, child welfare, and mental health.

Policy Analyst Resume Help

Data Analytics for Public Policy Specialization Career and Salary

Policy analysts study political systems – their origins, how they evolved and how they operate – and typically focus on such areas as American politics, comparative politics, political theory or international relations. While about half of these professionals work for the government, they also can be found at other organizations with a vested interest in government projects and policies.

They utilize both qualitative and quantitative research in their work as a means of understanding historical trends in government structures and policies, and test theories to help advance our understanding of the relationships between particular systems and policies and outcomes. Further, they weigh the impact of current policies to understand their influence and relevance to new policies.

The scope of a policy analyst’s job tends to cover the following:

  • Research political topics ranging from the U.S. political system to broader political ideologies
  • Collect and analyze information, such as data from public opinion surveys and election results
  • Use qualitative and quantitative sources and methodologies to develop and test theories
  • Evaluate how policies affect the public, whether individuals, businesses or government agencies
  • Monitor events, policy decisions and trends and other issues with implications for the political and policy landscape
  • Forecast political, economic, and social trends
  • Write reports, publish findings and give presentations

The capabilities and mindset it takes to advance

It takes a rich mix of hard and soft skills to succeed in this profession. Strong analytical skills are among the must-haves, instrumental for the evaluation and interpretation of the data that policy analysts collect in their research. Another crucial capability is that for critical thinking: beyond data analysis, these professionals must be able to process the information they’ve researched and draw logical conclusions from it. Strong writing skills are a given, in light of the need for them to create papers and articles on their research results that clearly and concisely convey their findings.

Data analysts also need to have certain soft skills and a strong mind-set for success. Intellectual curiosity is key, for example, in that it means openness to the new ideas and information that are driving policy considerations. Team players are increasingly valued and it is paramount to be able to work effectively and efficiently under pressure.

Policy Analyst Educational requirements

Although a bachelor’s degree may be sufficient for entry level positions in research for government agencies, political campaigns or non-profits, either a master’s degree or doctorate are needed for those who wish to advance in this field.

Graduate programs require undergraduate courses in political science, writing and statistics, and candidates should either have had internships or some related work experience to their credit. Master’s degrees in public administration, public policy or public affairs are typically appropriate. Core courses range from research methodology to statistics to policy formation. Doctoral programs require a combination of coursework and independent research.

Policy Analyst Job and Salary Outlook

This is an arena that is slowing at a rate of -2% through 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Between the relatively small number of positions available and the popularity of political science and public policy courses at the college level, there will be competition for the jobs. Those who have gained experience and knowledge of political systems, institutions and policies and have gained their graduate degrees might be in the best position to come out ahead.

The median average wage for these professionals, according to the BLS was $99,730 as of May, 2015. Median wages in the top three sectors employing policy analysts are:

  • Federal government (excl. postal service): $120,510
  • Scientific research, development services: $115,400
  • Colleges, universities, professional schools: $48,880

Similar positions to a Policy Analyst

If you are interested in exploring options for careers where the skills and duties might line up with those of a survey researcher, here are a few options to consider. All salary data is from the BLS.

  • Economists, who usually hold master’s degrees, collect and analyze data relative to the production and distribution of resources, goods and services. Median pay was $99,180.
  • Market research analysts study market conditions to understand the sales environment and what customers are buying which products and at what price. A bachelor’s degree may suffice for this position, which commands a median pay of $62,150
  • Survey researchers, who typically have master’s degrees, design surveys and analyze data as a means of understanding public opinions, preferences and beliefs. Median pay is $53,920
  • Urban and regional planners undertake plans to create and revive communities and accommodate population growth. A master’s degree is typical; median pay is $68,220


Published by: Eaugrads

Evangelical Alumni Foundation seeks to fulfill "The Great Commandment and The Great Commission" to GOD's great economy. Each of us has great purpose as Sons of God. We are many in one body. Together, we are firmly planted by streams of water to bear fruits in all seasons. We shall not lack no good thing. Deuteronomy 1:11 God's Spiritual Billionaire's! Brief about our founder of Eaugrads: "JESUS"... "His pursuit of us is Relentless, His desire to Fight on our behalf is never ending; Despite the day to day distractions, designed to stop us from reaching our destinies, we can be sure of this... what God starts; He Finishes." Amen! Ministered By Tanya Harris, LLD

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