Individualized Major in Public Policy

The Individualized Major in Public Policy allows students to explore the role of government in society and the design, management, and evaluation of public policies and programs. Students who complete the individualized major are well-positioned for graduate study in related areas such as survey research, public administration, law, and urban and regional planning.

Program Details

There are two options for completing an individualized major in public policy:

  • Option A: Students can complete the individualized major in the normal fashion, with the majority of their coursework comprising undergraduate classes.
  • Option B: Our Fast-Track Master's Program allows students to enroll in graduate courses to reduce the time to complete a graduate degree. Some students can complete the fast-track graduate degree, which normally takes two years of full-time study, in only one year beyond their bachelor’s degree

Major Requirements

The individualized major consists of at least 36 credits at the 2000 level or higher. At least 18 credits must be offered by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the College granting your degree.

Prerequisite Courses

Understanding economic analysis is important for analyzing public policy problems. Students are strongly urged to take ECON 1201 and 1202 or their equivalents.

Plan of Study

Foundations course

PP 1001: Introduction to Public Policy (not included in the 36 major credits)

Core courses (at least 9 credits)

Core courses provide an essential understanding of public policy, broadly defined, as a field of study. Courses must be taken from at least two different departments. A selection of at least three courses from the following list could meet the core requirement. This is not a complete list. Please consult the course catalog and speak with your faculty advisor. Some of these courses might have prerequisites.

  • ECON 2201. Intermediate Microeconomic Theory; ECON 2202. Intermediate Macroeconomic Theory; ECON (or URBN) 3439. Urban and Regional Economics; ECON 3431. Public Finance
  • HDFS 3240. Aging in American Society; HDFS 3421. Low Income Families; HDFS. 3530 Public Policy and the Family; HDFS 3540. Child Welfare, Law and Social Policy
  • POLS 3842. Public Administration; POLS 3847. The Policy-making Process; POLS 3852. Politics of Budgeting; POLS (or URBN) 3632W. Urban Politics
  • PP 3001. Public Policy; PP 3020. Cases in Public Policy; PP 3031. Public Administration in Theory and Practice; PP 3098. Public Policy Issues; PP 4034. Social Policy; PP 4095. Special Topics
  • URBN (or GEOG) 3200. Urban Geography; URBN (or SOCI) 3275. Urban Sociology; URBN (or SOCI) 3276. Urban Problems; URBN (or HIST) 3541. The History of Urban America
Research Methods (6 credits)
  • Option A - PP 2001. Survey Research Methods; PP 3010. Public Policy Research Methods I; PP 3011Q. Public Policy Research Methods II; or equivalent research method course
  • Option B - PP 5370. Applied Research Design and PP 5376. Applied Quantitative Methods

Area of Concentration (15 credits)
  • Option A - 15 credits of thematically coherent courses chosen in consultation with your advisor. (Some courses for the concentration may be drawn from the list of courses that can satisfy core requirements.)
  • Option B - Public Administration Concentration: PP 5375: Analytic Tools for Public Problems; PP 5342: Policy Analysis; PP 5364: Public Finance and Budgeting; PP 5365: Human Resource Management; plus 3 credits chosen in consultation with your advisor.
Capstone Course (3 credits)

Every individualized major must satisfy a capstone requirement in the final year of the major. The capstone course also contributes to formal satisfaction of the University’s writing-in-the-major requirement. Therefore, your plan of study must include INTD 4600W: Capstone Course, INTD 4697W: Senior Thesis, or an acceptable alternative.

Additional courses for writing (3 credits)

The Individualized Major requires that you take two courses, totaling at least 6 credits, in which emphasizes writing relevant to the major. Your capstone course or thesis counts as one of these courses. Your second would be:

  • Option A - PP 3020W: Cases in Public Policy or equivalent writing course
  • Option B - PP 5340: Introduction to Public Policy (this is the MPA Program’s intensive writing course)

How to Apply

To discuss the possibility of an individualized major with a public policy theme, please contact Administrative Program Director Catherine Guarino.

For more information on the individualized major process in general, visit the Individualized Major Program.