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Public policy studies major Miranda Cross speaks at Young Diplomat Forum while other students listen


The Public Policy Studies Major

The Public Policy Studies (PPS) major has two components: the core curriculum and areas of concentration, plus an optional honors program for those who qualify.  Students must also complete several pre-requisites to prepare them for the major.  Students may not double-count any single course for both a required part of the core and for an elective.  


PPS majors must have earned credit for MATH 1201 or 1301, or higher; basic statistics (ECON 1500 or 1510 or both MATH 2820L and either 2810 or 2820); and introductory courses in political science and economics (PSCI 1100, ECON 1010, and ECON 1020). Those with AP credit in American Government or Economics may be varied out of some of these requirements.    

The Public Policy Studies Core

The PPS core is interdisciplinary and includes rigorous coursework drawn from political science, economics, sociology, anthropology, and history.  PPS students benefit from training in the politics, economics, methods, social contexts, history, and ethics of public policy. 

  • Politics of Public Policy: PSCI 2256 or PPS 2100 (3 credit hours)
  • Intermediate Micro or Macroeconomics: ECON 3010, 3012, 3020, or 3022 (3 credit hours) 
  • Methods: ECON 3032, 3035; SOC 3002; or HOD 2500 (3 credit hours)
  • PPS 2200: Social Contexts of Public Policy and PPS 2250: History and Ethics of Public Policy (6 credit hours)

If a student cannot take both PPS 2200 and 2250, they may, with prior approval from the PPS Director or Associate Director, substitute one course from ANTH 3122, 3133, 4152; HIST 2722; PSCI 3253; or SOC 3315, 3604, 3605, 3613, 3614.

Electives and Areas of Concentration

PPS majors must take at least five elective courses: two general electives and three in a single area of concentration. The program strongly recommends that students spread their electives across at least two disciplines.

General Electives

The two required general electives may come from any of the courses listed in the areas of concentration below, or they may come from the following list: PSCI 2240, 2245, 2253, 3241, 3244 or PPS 3160, 3100. Other courses may be approved as general electives with the permission of the Director of Undergraduate Studies. The two general electives do not count toward the three electives (9 credit hours) that must be taken within a single area of concentration.

Areas of Concentration

In addition to developing core skills, PPS majors complete more intensive training within areas of concentration. The boundaries of these areas are not mutually exclusive, and together they span a wide range of policy concerns and disciplinary perspectives. Note: students pursuing the economic policy concentration must take at least two upper-division (numbered above 3000) economics electives from the list. 

PPS 3200 (Research Methods for Public Policy Analysis) or PPS 3250 (Advanced Quantitative Methods for Public Policy); ANTH 3261; ECON 4050; HOD 3200; PSCI 2300

ECON 2150, 3150, 3200, 3230, 3250, 3700, 4110, 4210, 4510/4510W, 4530/4530W; HIST 1640, 1660; HODE 3225; PSCI 2223, 3252
ECON 3100, 3110, 3350; HIST 1440, 1665, 2690, 2740, 2810, 3040, 3045W; MHS 2110, 3020, 3220, 3030, 3320; SOC 3223, 3304, 3611, 3616, 3621, 3622, 3701, 3711; UNIV 3320, 3325
ANTH 2109, 2150, 3134; ECON 2170; SOC 3311, 3312, 3314, 3315, 3316, 3317, 3318

AMER 3200; ASIA 2560; ECON 2220, 3600, 3610, 3650, 4520; HIST 1690, 1691, 1730, 1740, 2457, 2535, 2700, 2710, 2721, 2722, 2735, 2740; JS 2540; MHS 2410, 2420, 3110; PSCI 2220, 2222, 2225, 2236, 2251, 3229, 3272W, 3275; WGS 3201, 3281

CMST 2950; CSET 3090, 3100; ECON 3270; HIST 2780, 3050, 3070W; MHS 3120; PHIL 1008, 3608; SOC 3206

Honors in Public Policy Studies

Students may apply for the honors track if they have a GPA of 3.30 or higher for all previous courses taken for credit and a GPA of 3.50 for all courses counting toward the PPS major. Students normally apply for honors during the second semester of their junior year. By the end of the junior year, honors students should have completed all the required core courses in the PPS major.  

PPS honors students enroll in one three-credit-hour honor seminar (usually PPS 4980 in the fall and PPS 4999 in the spring), or in a three-credit-hour independent study with their faculty honors advisor, in both the fall and spring of their senior year. Each honors student has a faculty advisor to provide guidance on the research project and to chair the thesis committee. Successful completion of the honors program entails both the production of an original written thesis and an oral exam on the thesis project. The thesis committee evaluates both the written thesis and oral exam.

Declaring a Major in Public Policy Studies

To declare a major in Public Policy Studies, email Associate Director Katherine Carroll for instructions. Please be prepared to indicate your chosen area of concentration at the time of declaration.