Public Policy and Public Management

Learning how policy challenges are resolved and government policies are put into practice equips graduates for analysis and leadership roles.

Public Policy is concerned with the actions of governments as they deal with the issues of the day. These may be in a specific area such as economic policy or wider in scope. It may involve the government providing goods and services or seeking to influence the private and voluntary sectors. The process of public policy-making is complex and involves a mix of historical, political, economic, legal and social factors. Public Management, which can be studied at postgraduate level, is concerned with governance and leadership of the public sector.

Roles and career pathways

Public Policy graduates primarily work in policy related roles.

Policy analysts tend to be most involved in setting out and analysing options at the initiation and formation stage of the policy-making process. Their primary function is to give information to ministers, managers, other departments or the public relating to the policy decisions that have been made. Other types of roles are in managing or coordinating projects or programmes of work, where an understanding of governance or the machinery of government is helpful. Policy advisers carry out many of the same tasks as that of an analyst.

Public Policy graduates with undergraduate degrees seeking a first role may work in administration or coordination, or junior adviser or analyst roles, before progressing to more senior positions. Public Management graduates normally have existing policy work experience and on completing their postgraduate qualification may progress into principal analyst, governance or management roles.

Where Public Policy graduates work

Public Policy and Public Management graduates work in public, not-for-profit and private sectors in government agencies, ministries, non-governmental organisations, consultancies, policy and regulatory specialists. Recent graduates have worked for organisations such as:

Build relevant skills and experience

Experience such as internships, part-time work and volunteering all help to increase career options for graduates. Government organisations in particular, have internships that can be useful gateways into policy work. The Tupu Tai Pasifika Public Sector Internship Programme, coodinated by MBIE is one example of such an internship. The WFHSS Internship course run by the Wellington Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences helps develop skills and practical workplace experience. Programmes such as Wellington Plus and Wellington International Leadership Programme (WILP) offer opportunities to gain diverse volunteering and leadership experience.

Make career connections

Networking and making connections with individuals and groups while you study can help you learn more about career opportunities in public, private and non-profit sectors. The Institute for Governance and Policy Studies is a public policy think tank based at Wellington School of Business and Government and offers students and graduates access to a range of learning and networking events. Professional associations such as Institute of Public Administrators New Zealand (IPANZ) New Professionals, Wellington Young Professionals, university clubs and mentoring programmes such as Alumni as Mentors programme for final-year students can also all enhance your employability while studying.

Graduate career stories

Hamish McConnochie Organizational Design Consultant Deloitte Canada in Montréal in the snow with a cup of coffee

Hamish McConnochie

A deep understanding of how complex systems work, from governments through to single organisations has led Hamish to an international consulting career.

Fairul Ghani speaking at a presentation

Fairul Ghani

Personal growth and skills developed from studying Public Policy, hard work and networking have led Fairul to a career as a Commercial Procurement Specialist.