Individualized Major in Public Policy

Individualized Major in Public Policy

The public policy theme prepares students for intellectual inquiry into the role of government in society and the design, management, and evaluation of public policies and programs. Students completing this course of study are also well positioned to succeed at graduate study in related areas such as survey research, public administration, law, and urban and regional planning.


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

  • Option A: Complete the individualized major in the normal fashion with the majority of their coursework comprised of undergraduate classes.
  • Option B: Our Fast-Track Program allows students to enroll in graduate courses to reduce the time to complete the MPA degree. Some students have been able to complete the MPA degree, which normally takes two years of full-time study, in only one year beyond their bachelor degree.
Individualized Major in Public Policy

Credit 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 & Sciences, the college granting your degree.

Prerequisite courses

Understanding economic analysis is important for analyzing public policy problems. You are strongly urged to take ECON 1201 and1202 or their equivalents.

What your Individualized Major requires

Foundations course

• Public Policy 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)

Further information and advice

To discuss the possibility of an individualized major with a public policy theme, please contact Professor Ken Dautrich at

For more information on the individualized major process in general, visit the Individualized Major Program website or contact Dr. Monica van Beusekom at (860) 486-0324 or