Undergraduate Major in Public Policy
Our society’s public problems are more complicated than ever before, and addressing them effectively now requires in-depth knowledge, analytical skills, and a sophisticated understanding of how governments and markets work.
The Major in Public Policy—offered jointly with the NYU College of Arts and Science—will prepare you for roles in the creation, implementation, and evaluation of policies that address today's most significant domestic and global challenges.
Following graduation, Public Policy majors are prepared for a wide range of jobs in the nonprofit, private, and public sectors. Or, some Public Policy majors choose to attend graduate programs in public administration, international affairs, public health, urban planning, or law.
The Public Policy major offers a diverse and rigorous curriculum designed to give you the tools and expertise you need to translate your passion into action. You’ll learn from top faculty from multiple disciplines, such as economics, political science, law, and statistics. Public Policy majors learn to:
Think analytically and critically;
Understand policy contexts and processes;
Conduct and use research;
Apply statistical, economic, and other quantitative and qualitative tools of analysis;
Develop written, verbal, and interpersonal communication skills; and
Understand their civic responsibilities and make ethical judgments.
This is an 11-course major with four core courses (covering quantitative analysis, economics, politics, and ethics and justice), six electives, and a senior seminar requirement. The required courses, coupled with additional electives, are designed to provide you with a foundational set of public policy skills and tools.
Before declaring, students must complete two prerequisites that provide the strong analytic framework necessary to begin studies in the major:
ECON‐UA 2, Introduction to Microeconomics [Advanced standing credit (AP, IB, etc.) in microeconomics is accepted.]
Politics Prerequisite (choose one):
POL‐UA 300, Power and Politics in America
POL‐UA 500, Comparative Politics
POL‐UA 700, International Politics
Students are recommended to complete the prerequisites in their first year. If you are a second-year student and have not completed the two prerequisites and have not started the core, you should request an advising appointment before registration begins by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
UPADM‐GP 101, The Politics of Public Policy
UPADM‐GP 140, The Economics of Public Policy
UPADM‐GP 111, Quantitative Analysis for Public Policy (This course satisfies the College Core Curriculum Quantitative Reasoning requirement for public policy majors only.)
Ethics and Justice course (choose one):
ECON-UA 20, Ethics and Economics (Economics)
PHIL-UA 3, Ethics and Society (Philosophy)
PHIL-UA 40, Ethics (Philosophy)
PHIL-UA 50, Medical Ethics (Philosophy)
PHIL‐UA 53, Ethics and the Environment (Philosophy)
PHIL‐UA 102, Topics in Ethics and Political Philosophy (Philosophy)
POL-UA 130, Ethics, Politics, and Public Policy (Politics)
UPADM-GP 120, Normative Issues in Public Policy (Wagner)
Students are expected to begin working on the core in their second year and to finish by the end of their third year.
Public Policy majors select six elective courses to deepen their understanding of, and expertise in, key policy areas. At least one elective must be in the Policy Analysis field. View a list of pre-approved courses in the fields of Economics, Health, Law, Environment, and others.
The Senior Seminar (PUBPL-UA 800) serves as a capstone experience for the Public Policy major. Over the course of one semester, you will apply the analytical methods and substantive knowledge of the policy process you have gained to a critical and relevant policy issue. Under the guidance of a faculty member, you will conduct an in‐depth analysis, engage with key stakeholders, and recommend a policy solution in a formal presentation.
NOTE: Honors Senior Seminar (PUBPL-UA 801) requires an additional course. Students who wish to pursue Honors in the major should begin planning with the faculty directors by the middle of junior year.
All students are also welcome to meet with the faculty director to discuss choosing the major or to seek advisement about specific course selection, especially regarding the electives.