Undergraduate Major in Public Policy
Whether it is climate change, inequality, urban congestion, privacy, affordable healthcare, terrorism or nonproliferation, the public challenges we face are more complicated than ever before, and addressing them effectively requires several sophisticated tools.
One of the fastest growing Programs at NYU, the Major in Public Policy—offered jointly with the Department of History in the NYU College of Arts and Science—is designed to provide you with in-depth knowledge, analytical skills, familiarity with historical context and a deep understanding of how governments, markets and the non-profit sector work. The Program’s goal is to prepare you to participate in the creation, implementation, and evaluation of policies that address the most significant domestic and global issues of today.
Following graduation, Public Policy majors have obtained a wide range of jobs in the non-profit, private, and public sectors. And some Public Policy majors have chosen 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.
As of Fall 2019, the Public Policy major requires ten courses and one prerequisite course. This includes four core courses (covering quantitative analysis, economics, politics, and ethics and justice), five electives (two from the History department), 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.
Students who have declared before Fall 2019 can continue to follow the previous major requirements or choose to follow the new major requirements.
Before declaring, students must complete one prerequisite 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.]
Students are recommended to complete the prerequisites in their first year. If you have not completed the prerequisites and have not started the core by the end of your second year, 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 207, 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)
POL-UA 130, Ethics, Politics, and Public Policy (Politics)
UPADM-GP 120, Normative Issues in Public Policy (Wagner)
[The Ethics and Justice course is waived for students who completed Social Foundations I and III in the Liberal Studies Core Program.]
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 five elective courses to deepen their understanding of, and expertise in, key policy areas. Two courses must be from the History department and at least one elective must be labeled Policy Analysis. 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 critical and relevant policy issues.
NOTE: Honors Senior Seminar (PUBPL-UA 801) requires an additional course. Students who wish to pursue Honors must take PUBPL-UA 800 and apply to the honors program in the fall of their final year.
For more information about the curriculum, please see our Advising and Policies page.
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.