Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs

Policy Analysis & Program Evaluation

Both public and private agencies and organizations offer opportunities in policy analysis. These positions vary greatly in terms of the individual job responsibilities, depending on the specific needs of the agency. Policy analysts are responsible for developing in-depth and topic-specific knowledge in a particular subject area. Knowledge of micro- and macroeconomic themes, dominant policy issue areas, and the policy-making process are critical skills for any analyst. Often, analyst positions require qualitative and quantitative research skills such as survey development, statistical modeling, and data visualization.  Effective oral and written communication skills are critical to present often technically complex analyses into readable reports for those within and outside of the field.

Sample Employers

Policy Analysis and Program Evaluation work is found at all levels of government and through third-party organizations around the country. Below are some lists of major organizations that specialize in policy research, analysis, and program evaluation.

Most states also have bipartisan research organizations that provide research and analysis to state legislatures and agencies (e.g. Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau, Wisconsin Legislative Council, Legislative Audit Bureau).

Top Job Boards

  • USAJOBS (The federal government’s official job site)
  • Wiscjobs (The Wisconsin State government’s official job employment site. Also has resources specifically for veterans)
  • Americajobs (Employment listings from the public sector)
  • BSR-CSR (Sustainability related employment listings)
  • CareerOneStop (U.S. Department of Labor sponsored career resources including a job board called AJB)
  • CareersinGovernment (A leading site for public sector employment information and opportunities)
  • ForeignPolicy (Employment listings from Foreign Policy magazine)
  • GovernmentJobs (U.S. Federal, State, and Local government employment listings organized by category and location)
  • Icrunchdata (Employment listings for analytical and statistical work)
  • PolicyJobs (Employment listings for policymaking work)
  • PublicServiceCareers (Employment listings and resources catered to public affairs degree programs)
  • RCJobs (Washington D.C. employment listings and information)
  • YPFP (Employment listings for young professionals interested in foreign policy)

Other Resources 

  • AABPA (American Association for Budget and Program Analysis)
  • AEA (American Evaluation Association)
  • APPAM (Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management)
  • APSIA (Association of Professional Schools in International Affairs)
  • ASPA (American Society for Public Administration)
  • JRSA (Justice Research and Statistics Association)
  • NAPA (National Academy of Public Administration)
  • NASPAA (Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration)
  • National Center for Policy Analysis
  • PublicServiceCareers 

Public/Nonprofit Management and Administration

The nonprofit sector has seen tremendous growth over the last ten years, with more than two times more opportunities than are currently available in government positions. Managers oversee day-to-day operations, but organizational structure (such as the location and budget) determine additional duties. Managers are responsible for ensuring that the organization meets its responsibilities and necessary funding levels, and often serve as community liaisons. Effective communication, time-management, and collaborative skills are essential. Administrative positions require mastery of the “Three E’s”: economics, efficiency, and equity.  Managers often analyze information, oversee expenditures, draft and implement policy, manage people and resources, conduct inspections, and act as stewards of the public interest.

Top Job Boards 

Other Resources

See more information, resources, and sample employers here 

Public Finance and Budgeting

In 2012, 41 percent of budget analysts worked in the local, state, or federal government. Budget analysts often establish relationships between resources and an organization’s mission and functions, analyze accounting reports, write justifications for budgetary expenditures, research program activities, attend briefings, and examine organizational financial plans. Financial managers often supervise budget teams within the agency and help forecast financials for the agency into the future. Background and understanding of the policy-making process, public administration, accounting, and statistical/computer skills are all critical to secure jobs in this field. 

Sample Employers

Top Job Boards

  • USAJOBS (The federal government’s official job site)
  • Wiscjobs (The Wisconsin State government’s official job employment site. Also has resources specifically for veterans)
  • Americajobs (Employment listings from the public sector)
  • CareerOneStop (U.S. Department of Labor sponsored career resources including a job board called AJB)
  • CareersinGovernment (A leading site for public sector employment information and opportunities)
  • Econ-Jobs (Employment listings for economists)
  • GovernmentJobs (U.S. Federal, State, and Local government employment listings organized by category and location)
  • Icrunchdata (Employment listings for analytical and statistical work)
  • PolicyJobs (Employment listings for policymaking work)
  • PublicServiceCareers (Employment listings and resources catered to public affairs degree programs)
  • RCJobs (Washington D.C. employment listings and information)

Other Resources

  • AABPA (American Association for Budget and Program Analysis)
  • ABFM (Association for Budgeting and Financial Management)
  • NASBO (National Association of State Budget Officers)

Health Policy and Management

The healthcare field offers one of the fastest-growing and most diverse career fields today.  The United States expects to see 21 percent growth in this field by 2022. State and federal health departments, welfare organizations, and insurance departments all look for students with backgrounds in health and policy. Skills in data analysis, financial management and systems, epidemiological knowledge, and health economics are crucial. Communication and marketing backgrounds are also important, as many health policy-related positions require the analysis of complex health and benefit systems. Some agency positions are more broad and require a greater understanding of the policy-making process and relevant legal understanding of the health care systems, while others are specialist positions in a particular area of health such as maternal and child health, retiree benefits, or Medicaid/Medicare programs.

Sample Employers

Top Job Boards

  • Public Health Jobs (International employment listings specific to public health)
  • USAJOBS (The federal government’s official job site)
  • Wiscjobs (The Wisconsin State government’s official job employment site. Also has resources specifically for veterans)
  • GlobalJobs (Employment listings for global professionals)
  • ForeignPolicy (Employment listings from Foreign Policy magazine)
  • YPFP (Employment listings for young professionals interested in foreign policy)
  • UNJobs (Emplyoment listings within the UN system compiled by an outside source)
  • Peace Corps (Peace Corps opportunities)
  • Idealist (A leading source for nonprofit employment listings around the world)
  • DotOrgJobs (Employment listings for non-profit, philanthropy and corporate social engagement professionals created by On Philanthropy)
  • ReliefWeb (Employment listings for humanitarian and development work)
  • NextBillion (Employment listings for enterprise development work)
  • PhilanthropyNY (Employment listings for philanthropic work in the New York City area)
  • SkollWorldForum (Employment listings for social-sector work around the world)
  • BridgeSpan (Nonprofit employment listings compiled by the Bridgespan Group)
  • PND FoundationCenter (U.S.-based nonprofit employment listings)
  • Commongood Careers (U.S.-based nonprofit employment listings)
  • Philanthropy Journal (Nonprofit employment listings compiled by the Philanthropy Journal at N.C. State University)
  • Nonprofit Times (A nonprofit talent match service created by the Nonprofit Times)
  • NPO (U.S.-based nonprofit employment listings)
  • Opportunity Knocks (Employment listings for nonprofit professionals around the world)

Other Resources

Homeland Security and Defense

Homeland security and defense positions are varied, and opportunities exist in mission support, law enforcement, defense analysis, immigration/travel security, and prevention and response areas of defense. Employment in homeland security and defense is at an all time high, with cybersecurity and other more technical positions becoming increasingly in-demand. For many positions, individuals are required to obtain various levels of security clearance and pass numerous background and security checks. Backgrounds in computer science, engineering, and coding can help open opportunities in this field. Statistics, familiarity with government programs and current trends in defense, as well as policy analysis and language skills are important for many agencies.

Sample Employers 

Top Job Boards

  • USAJOBS (The federal government’s official job site)
  • Americajobs (Employment listings from the public sector)
  • CareerOneStop (U.S. Department of Labor sponsored career resources including a job board called AJB)
  • CareersinGovernment (A leading site for public sector employment information and opportunities)
  • Foreign Service Officer (Information on process of becoming a Foreign Service Officer for the U.S. Department of State)
  • GovernmentJobs (U.S. Federal, State, and Local government employment listings organized by category and location)
  • PublicServiceCareers (Employment listings and resources catered to public affairs degree programs)

Other Resources

Energy and Environmental Policy

The interdependence of energy and environmental policy and the need for skilled policy students to navigate these issues is greater than ever. The health of the world’s environment, the development of sustainable energy sources, and the economic relationships among the world’s energy suppliers are just a few of the major issues that require attention in the near future. A background in geography, statistics, chemistry, or biology is helpful when entering the energy and environmental policy field. Potential employers are prevalent across all sectors, and the possibility for employment in the private sector is greater within energy policy relative to other policy areas due to the wide range of private companies in the energy industry. A student who is able to pair policy analysis skills with the scientific knowledge required for this field will have great opportunities upon graduation. 

Sample Employers

Top Job Boards

  • SustainableBusiness (Environment/Energy specific employment listings)
  • UW-Madison Nelson Institute (Environment/Energy specific employment listings)
  • USAJOBS (The federal government’s official job site)
  • CareerOneStop (U.S. Department of Labor sponsored career resources including a job board called AJB)
  • CareersinGovernment (A leading site for public sector employment information and opportunities)
  • ForeignAffairs (Emplyoment listings from Foreign Affairs magazine published by the Council on Foreign Relations)
  • ForeignPolicy (Employment listings from Foreign Policy magazine)
  • GlobalJobs (Employment listings for global professionals)
  • GovernmentJobs (U.S. Federal, State, and Local government employment listings organized by category and location)
  • Idealist (A leading source for nonprofit employment listings around the world)
  • NextBillion (Employment listings for enterprise development work)
  • PublicServiceCareers (Employment listings and resources catered to public affairs degree programs)
  • ReliefWeb (Employment listings for humanitarian and development work)
  • UNJobs (Emplyoment listings within the UN system compiled by an outside source)
  • YPFP (Employment listings for young professionals interested in foreign policy)

Other Resources

Social and Poverty Policy

With a billion people living in extreme poverty around the world and inequality at an all time high in many developed countries, the need is great for new perspectives on how to tackle social and poverty policies going forward. Additionally, social policy is a comprehensive field that can include the study of education, housing, welfare, or healthcare policy. Students interested in social policy have a multitude of backgrounds. Due to the far-reaching nature of the field, career options for social and poverty policy students include all levels of government, NGOs/nonprofits, think tanks, and private companies.

Sample Employers

Top Job Boards 

  • USAJOBS (The federal government’s official job site)
  • Wiscjobs (The Wisconsin State government’s official job employment site. Also has resources specifically for veterans)
  • BridgeSpan (Nonprofit employment listings compiled by the Bridgespan Group)
  • CareerOneStop (U.S. Department of Labor sponsored career resources including a job board called AJB)
  • CareersinGovernment (A leading site for public sector employment information and opportunities)
  • Commongood Careers (U.S.-based nonprofit employment listings)
  • DevNetJobs (Employment listings for international development and consulting work)
  • DotOrgJobs (Employment listings for non-profit, philanthropy and corporate social engagement professionals created by On Philanthropy)
  • ForeignAffairs (Employment listings from Foreign Affairs magazine published by the Council on Foreign Relations)
  • ForeignPolicy (Employment listings from Foreign Policy magazine)
  • GlobalJobs (Employment listings for global professionals)
  • GovernmentJobs (U.S. Federal, State, and Local government employment listings organized by category and location)
  • Idealist (A leading source for nonprofit employment listings around the world)
  • Jobbank Arts USA (Arts-based employment listings)
  • NextBillion (Employment listings for enterprise development work)
  • Nonprofit Times (A nonprofit talent match service created by the Nonprofit Times)
  • NPO (U.S.-based nonprofit employment listings)
  • Opportunity Knocks (Employment listings for nonprofit professionals around the world)
  • Peace Corps (Peace Corps opportunities)
  • Philanthropy Journal (Nonprofit employment listings compiled by the Philanthropy Journal at N.C. State University)
  • PhilanthropyNY (Employment listings for philanthropic work in the New York City area)
  • PND FoundationCenter (U.S.-based nonprofit employment listings)
  • PublicServiceCareers (Employment listings and resources catered to public affairs degree programs)
  • ReliefWeb (Employment listings for humanitarian and development work)
  • SkollWorldForum (Employment listings for social-sector work around the world)
  • UNJobs (Emplyoment listings within the UN system compiled by an outside source)
  • YPFP (Employment listings for young professionals interested in foreign policy)

Other Resources

Education Policy

Educational policy analysis and research is a growing field in America due to the vast array of issues that exist within the current American education system. Additionally, graduates may find themselves teaching English abroad or working on educational structures and challenges in a developing country. Graduates may become education policy analysts, curriculum specialists, instructional coordinators, or researchers. These positions are typically within the public sector or closely involved with government agencies. Many research organizations and think tanks also work extensively in the field.  

Sample Employers

Top Job Boards

  • USAJOBS (The federal government’s official job site)
  • Wiscjobs (The Wisconsin State government’s official job employment site. Also has resources specifically for veterans)
  • Americajobs (Employment listings from the public sector)
  • CareerOneStop (U.S. Department of Labor sponsored career resources including a job board called AJB)
  • CareersinGovernment (A leading site for public sector employment information and opportunities)
  • GovernmentJobs (U.S. Federal, State, and Local government employment listings organized by category and location)
  • Idealist (A leading source for nonprofit employment listings around the world)
  • Peace Corps (Peace Corps opportunities)
  • PublicServiceCareers (Employment listings and resources catered to public affairs degree programs)

Other Resources

City Management and Urban Policy

Cities and urban areas are continuing to grow; thus, the need for policy experts with an understanding of how to manage, plan, coordinate, and evaluate these areas effectively. Understanding the dynamics of an urban area is difficult and needed expertise may include geographical information systems, architecture, housing policy, and issues under the social policy umbrella. Focusing on city management and urban policy can lead to careers in urban management, urban planning, revitalization, community development/organizing, or urban sustainability.

Sample Employers

Top Job Boards

  • USAJOBS (The federal government’s official job site)
  • Wiscjobs (The Wisconsin State government’s official job employment site. Also has resources specifically for veterans)
  • Americajobs (Employment listings from the public sector)
  • CareerOneStop (U.S. Department of Labor sponsored career resources including a job board called AJB)
  • CareersinGovernment (A leading site for public sector employment information and opportunities)
  • GovernmentJobs (U.S. Federal, State, and Local government employment listings organized by category and location)
  • Indeed (General employment listings)
  • PublicServiceCareers (Employment listings and resources catered to public affairs degree programs)

Other Resources