Finding Your Online Undergraduate Public Service and Public Policy Degree

Public service organizations cultivate and preserve the infrastructure that facilitates modern life. From education and health care delivery mechanisms to transportation and telecommunications systems, these groups are responsible for maintaining some of the cornerstones of society. In recent years, this work has grown more difficult, as a number of external forces have upset the public service ecosystem.

Funding gaps are imposing limits on U.S. elementary and high schools, whose students consistently fall behind their peers abroad, according to research from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Meanwhile, stateside health care providers grapple with changes in the payment paradigm, according to experts for Deloitte.

Like the education sector, the transportation industry confronts financial shortfalls, facing a more than $1 trillion total funding disparity, analysts for the American Society of Civil Engineers found. And while funding is not an issue, entities in the telecommunications sector are struggling to scale fifth-generation wireless networks to meet consumers’ expectations, Deloitte discovered.

Public service organizations are searching for talented individuals who can provide innovative solutions to these and other sector-specific roadblocks. Exploring online undergraduate public service and public policy degrees can put you on the path to entering this important field and finding success.

ASU Online offers bachelor’s programs covering a variety of niches in the public services and public policy industries. Through these programs, you can transform yourself into a knowledgeable professional prepared to make an impact.

Community Advocacy and Social Policy (BA)

People in nations across the globe, including the U.S., are still fighting for access to basic opportunities and services. People with disabilities, people of color, members of the LGTBQ community, noncitizen residents and women are among the marginalized individuals struggling for equality, according to data from Human Rights Watch. Public service organizations are responsible for assisting these people, providing initiatives that directly address the underlying societal systems that cause inequality.

The online Bachelor of Arts in Community Advocacy and Social Policy program can help students develop the knowledge necessary to understand and address overarching community issues that restrict certain members of society. In this online public service degree, future professionals in the field can evaluate common social service systems and learn how to create advocacy strategies that work in the real world and ultimately lay the foundation for societal change.

The program follows two separate sequences: Diversity and Oppressed Populations, which touches on marginalized groups and the various systems that push them to the edges of society, and Social Problems and Interventions, where students analyze methodologies for solving serious social problems and devise novel solutions. 

Courses cover subjects including:

  • Social policy and advocacy
  • Human behavior
  • Macroeconomics

Possible careers include:

  • Behavioral health specialist
  • Community health worker
  • Substance abuse social worker

Forensic Psychology (BA)

The justice system, an essential public service component, depends on professionals in the forensic psychology field who leverage keen behavioral insight to assist law enforcement during criminal investigations and trials, according to the International Association for Correctional and Forensic Psychology. The online Bachelor of Arts in Forensic Psychology program can help students pursue careers in this profession through a curriculum that combines general training in psychology with specialized coursework in criminal law. Students cover numerous topics in areas including neuroscience, memory and cognition, and criminology.

While many of the careers those with forensic psychology degrees may want to pursue require a graduate education, this program can help students build the foundation for success.

Courses cover subjects including:

  • Forensic assessment
  • Correctional psychology
  • Criminal law

Possible careers include:

  • Crime scene investigator
  • Probation officer
  • Psychiatric aide
A mixed group of six professionals laugh in a sunlit modern office.

Forensic Psychology (BS)

Psychologists play an important role in the justice system, specifically the courts, where they evaluate defendants’ mental states ahead of legal proceedings, according to the American Psychological Association. This work ensures systematic fairness and is therefore essential. The online Bachelor of Science in Forensic Psychology program can prepare students for this work through a curriculum centered on psychology’s biological and neuroscientific components. It also covers topics such as advanced statistics — key technical knowledge used in clinical and research settings.

Graduate-level education is often a prerequisite for work in the forensic psychology sector, especially for the licensed psychologist position. However, this program can serve as a launch pad for future studies.          

Courses cover subjects including:

  • Abnormal psychology
  • Criminology
  • Personality theory and research

Possible careers include:

  • Licensed psychologist
  • Neuropsychologist
  • Psychiatrist

Global Studies (BA)

The online Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies asks aspiring public service professionals to dissect and develop solutions for universal issues facing citizens of all nations. From climate change and cyber warfare to economic uncertainty and international tension, numerous global problems are poised to disrupt society at large and worsen living conditions in vulnerable communities, according to the World Economic Forum. Students in this program confront such international concerns and work to develop the expertise needed to address them.

In addition to core courses and electives, students must meet a second-language requirement. The available options are American Sign Language, Chinese, French, German, Italian and Spanish.

Courses cover subjects including:

  • Cultural diversity in the U.S.
  • Global awareness
  • Empirical political inquiry

Possible careers include:

  • Historian
  • Business intelligence analyst
  • Labor relations specialist 

Justice Studies (BS)

The online Bachelor of Science in Justice Studies program centers on five salient subjects: citizenship, migration and human rights; globalization, sustainability and economic justice; law, policy and social change; media, technology and culture; and social identities and communities. By examining these themes and understanding how they affect society, students can cultivate the knowledge needed to make change through law and policy development. Skill development is also a significant part of this online justice studies degree, as students get the opportunity to cultivate competencies that apply directly to work in the criminal justice field, including:

  • Analytical reasoning
  • Communication
  • Problem-solving
  • Research

Courses cover subjects including:

  • Global Awareness
  • Statistical analysis
  • Courts and society

Possible careers include:

  • Political analyst
  • Fraud investigator
  • Law clerk

Political Science (BA)

Political awareness lays the groundwork for success in the public service sector, where professionals must navigate the government’s inner workings to achieve change. In fact, political comprehension ranks among the most useful competencies in the profession, according to the OECD. The online Bachelor of Arts in Political Science program imparts geopolitical, economic and historical insight to students intent on entering public service. By learning how citizens interact with governments and how governments at all levels formulate policy, students can gain the acumen they need to navigate complex political dynamics, think analytically and communicate with stakeholders in a persuasive manner.

This political science degree offers a variety of opportunities to dissect politics and public policy at the local, national and global levels through courses on everything from political statistics to comparative governance systems.

Courses cover subjects including:

  • American government and politics
  • Empirical political inquiry
  • Political ideologies

Possible careers include:

  • Political analyst
  • Social services director
  • Community specialist
 A female political representative in a suit addresses community from a microphone at a desk.

Political Science (BS)

Public service professionals must monitor modern politics and choose their stances when executing mission-critical activities. This strategic approach necessitates sharp political awareness and an understanding of current and past events. The online Bachelor of Science in Political Science program can give students this expertise through coursework that combines theory and real-world problem-solving.

In the end, aspiring public service professionals in the program can develop the expertise necessary to navigate a politically complex field and overcome challenges that might stand in the way of effective service delivery. 

Courses cover subjects including:

  • Comparative government
  • Global politics
  • Political statistics

Possible careers include:

  • Urban planner
  • Political analyst
  • Politician

Public Service and Public Policy (BS)

The online Bachelor of Science in Public Service and Public Policy program allows students to approach the industry holistically through a curriculum focused on public leadership and policy development. Here, aspiring public service professionals can explore some of the issues that leaders in the industry consistently confront and develop the expertise necessary to create policies that enrich society at large.

Courses cover subjects including:

  • Economics and public policy
  • Leadership and change
  • Public service and policy in the 21st century

Possible careers include:

  • Emergency manager
  • Government programs specialist
  • Social services director

Public Service and Public Policy - Emergency Management and Homeland Security (BS)

Public catastrophes have become more common in recent years. For instance, approximately 120 climate and weather disasters causing a billion dollars or more in damage unfolded in the U.S. between 2008 and 2018, according to research from the National Centers for Environmental Information. Public service entities and the professionals who staff them are often among the first on the scene of both natural and manmade events, assisting citizens as they embark on the recovery process. The online Bachelor of Science in Public Service and Public Policy - Emergency Management and Homeland Security program can help students gain the knowledge they need to develop and lead disaster mitigation and response efforts as well as transform government and policy at all levels.

The curriculum centers on courses that can bolster students’ leadership and management capabilities and lend them the actionable expertise needed to oversee ground operations and create realistic policy solutions. This degree concludes with a senior capstone project during which students are required to apply theory, knowledge and methodology to develop viable solutions to real community issues.       

Courses cover subjects including:

  • Emergency management
  • Leadership and change
  • Public service and policy in the 21st century

Possible careers include:

  • Emergency manager
  • Government programs specialist
  • Social services director
  Tourism and Recreation Management (BS)

The global tourism sector is among the largest industries in the world, generating higher customer volumes than the automotive manufacturing, oil and gas, and food and beverage sectors, according to the World Tourism Organization. Public service professionals catalyze success in this bustling industry, ensuring communal spaces and the programs occurring within them meet citizens’ and travelers’ needs. The online Bachelor of Arts in Tourism and Recreation Management program can provide students the expertise needed to make an impact in this growing sector.

The recreation and tourism management degree features four different emphases, which include tourism, recreation, events and sports. These focuses allow aspiring public service specialists to pursue careers in areas that are of particular interest to them.

Courses cover subjects including:

  • Leisure delivery systems
  • Managing leisure enterprises
  • Volunteer management

Possible careers include:

  • Event planner
  • General manager
  • Recreation coordinator

Earning a degree with ASU Online

The various ASU Online undergraduate public service and public policy degrees can equip students with the knowledge and insight they need to make change at scale within industries desperate for transformation. With public service organizations struggling to meet the needs of citizens due to both internal and external factors, it is clear innovative thinkers are important.

These degrees can shape students into capable professionals. Additionally, the online programs are ideal for learners of all types, including individuals in need of the convenience and flexibility to study while maintaining current professional and personal commitments.

Are you interested in pursuing a successful career in public service and making an impact in communities across the globe? The undergraduate public service and public policy degrees available through ASU Online could be the right higher-education option for you.

Program details are subject to change. Current information can be found by visiting individual degree pages on the ASU Online website.   


ASU Online – Online Undergraduate Public Service and Public Policy Degrees

Education at a Glance by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

OECD Skills Surveys by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

Health Care Outlook for 2019: Five Trends that Could Impact Health Plans, Hospitals and Patients by Deloitte

Infrastructure Report Card by the American Society of Civil Engineers

5G Mobile Technology: Are Businesses Ready to Seize the Opportunity by Deloitte

World Report 2018 by Human Rights Watch

Standards of Practice by the International Association for Correctional and Forensic Psychology

Helping Courts and Juries Make Educated Decisions by the American Psychological Association

The Global Risk Report by the World Economic Forum

Skills for High-Performing Civil Service by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters by the National Centers for Environmental Information

Why Tourism by the World Tourism Organization

< Previous article Next article >

Request Information

To learn more about ASU Online or a specific program, fill out the form below and check your email for information on next steps.