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Public Policy Studies


The Public Policy Studies (PPS) major at Vanderbilt is interdisciplinary, bringing together tools of policy analysis such political science, economics, sociology, anthropology, philosophy, statistics, and public finance. The result is a degree that provides a broad understanding of the forces that shape public policy. Graduates are prepared to go on to careers in politics, law, business, community activism, journalism, etc.

The major is designed to achieve four main goals:

  • To provide students with a set of analytical skills useful in policy analysis, including statistics, economics, and research methods.
  • To give students a general background on the policy environment in the U.S. through courses in political science and other social sciences and through requiring a course on ethics.
  • To encourage students to begin to develop expertise in one area of policy through requiring four courses in that area (the policy track).
  • To provide students an opportunity to pull together all this knowledge in the production of a significant research paper on a topic related to their policy track.

The public policy studies major is rigorous; it requires 39 credit hours, including a number of quantitative and economics courses. But students who major in public policy have both the skill set and general background that employers and graduate schools want. Recent graduates have been accepted into top law schools (Georgetown) and graduate schools (the JFK School of Government at Harvard) and have also gone directly to work at exciting jobs in politics and finance (Goldman Sachs).


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