The major in Public Policy provides students with an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the mechanisms by which government interacts with stakeholders for the common good. It draws on the principles, practices, and research methods of the social sciences and philosophy to provide students with the theoretical and analytic skills relevant to today’s most pressing global issues. While discussions of public policy issues are often controversial and polarized, the underlying principle of the major is one of sound analysis first and logical advocacy second. These skills are further developed through internship and/or practical research experiences.

Students who major in Public Policy often enter careers in the government or within the government relations sections of the private sector. The major also provides a strong background for students planning to attend law school or to continue on with graduate studies in public policy, public administration, public health, or social policy.

The Public Policy major has 10 units:

  • Five units: Economics and Management 101 and 230, Philosophy 304, and Political Science 216 and 338.

  • One unit in statistics chosen from among Economics and Management 235, Mathematics 209.

  • One unit in research methods chosen from among Anthropology and Sociology 224, Economics and Management 379, and Political Science 100.

  • Two units, which must be taken in two different departments, chosen from the following restricted electives related to public policy:

    • Anthropology and Sociology 345, 370
    • Economics and Management 232, 273, 322, 323, 331, 353, 354, 375
    • Education 202
    • Environment 220
    • History 243
    • Philosophy 206, 301, 302, 303, 308, 335
    • Political Science 214, 220, 319, 322, 323, 324
    • Substitutions as approved by the Ford Institute Director.
  • One unit from among an internship, Honors Thesis, or directed study in Public Policy approved by the Ford Institute Internal Advisory Committee.

  • A substantial paper and an oral presentation on a topic related to public policy.  This paper and presentation will be completed as one of the requirements listed above.

Students who double major in Public Policy and another field may count up to one unit towards the requirements of both majors. If there is more than one unit of overlap between the majors, then the student must take additional electives in one of the majors to substitute for every unit of overlap beyond one in consultation with the Department Chair or Program Director.

Students who enroll in the Washington Semester program at the American University can receive up to two units of credit toward the requirements of the Public Policy major, subject to the approval of the Ford Institute Director and the Ford Internal Advisory Committee.