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Frequently Asked Questions

How is a Public Policy Studies (PPS) major different from a Political Science major?

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, public finance, and economics. PPS majors also must become experts in a certain policy area. They do this through taking track classes and completing the capstone paper. Again, you can do this in the course of a political science major, but you are not required to. Finally, PPS majors must complete an extensive research paper – the capstone paper. The ability to work independently on this paper is essential for successful PPS majors.

How should I choose my track?

When selecting a PPS track first consider your interests. What area of policy intrigues you? What policy-related classes have you enjoyed? What areas of policy do the organizations that you hope to work for deal with? The choice of policy track is a personal one, and students may choose a track that has not been done before. However, it is important to choose a track supported by Vanderbilt's class offerings. Your advisor can help make sure your track is feasible. (Track classes may be taken abroad, fulfilled by independent studies, or transferred in from other universities.) Your track should also probably be as specific as possible. So, for example, you might choose democratization policy rather than foreign policy.

What types of careers do PPS majors go on to have?

PPS majors go on to diverse set of careers. Many do go to law school or work on Capitol Hill or elsewhere in Washington, DC. Others work for organizations that influence or implement policy in their track area. Several have joined the Peace Corps or gotten jobs at banks and investment firms.