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Public policy studies students, other college students, and officials seated at tables in a large room during the Junior Diplomat Forum


Below are answers to some of the most common questions about Public Policy Studies. For more information, please explore our website or email Associate Director Katherine Carroll.

Generally, PPS majors and political science majors have access to the same opportunities. However, the PPS major forces you to develop a set of skills that you may or may not get as a political science major. These include statistics, quantitative methods, and economics. PPS majors must also develop expertise in one policy area, the area of concentration. You can also develop analytical skills and policy expertise as a political science major, but you are not required to do so. By contrast, analytical skills and policy expertise are a core requirement of the PPS major.
First, you may want to consider whether a double major is possible, since doing a PPS major with an economic policy concentration should put you within reasonable reach of a second major in economics.  Apart from this, there is no ‘right’ answer; it will depend on each student’s individual situation.  One consideration to note: your PPS area of concentration will not appear on your official transcript or diploma, though you can certainly list it on your resume.  Thus, if you want your official documents to show a strength in economics, you may want to consider the economics major over the PPS major.  However, if you want your official documents to show a strength in public policy, PPS is the only undergraduate major at Vanderbilt that will allow you to do so.  Both the economics and PPS majors are versatile and rigorous, and both will equip you for graduate study in law, public policy/public affairs, or related fields.
First, consider your interests. What current policy puzzle intrigues you? What policy-related classes have you truly enjoyed? What type of organization do you hope to work for some day? For example, if you enjoy data analysis or hope to attend graduate school in public policy, consider the Advanced Quantitative Methods for Public Policy concentration. Or if you hope to work in the diplomatic corps, consider the International and Foreign Policy concentration.
PPS majors go on to a diverse set of careers. Many go to law school or work on Capitol Hill or elsewhere in Washington, D.C. Others work for trade organizations, government relations departments within corporations or non-profits, or other entities that influence or implement policy in particular areas. Several have joined the Peace Corps or obtained jobs at banks and investment firms.
Yes! In fact, study abroad can be an excellent way to enrich your PPS major, especially if you are studying on the International and Foreign Policy track. Vanderbilt's Global Education Office can help you choose a program that fits the PPS major and its requirements. Contact them for more information, or visit the College of Arts and Science International Study webpage for more information about study abroad policies and requirements.