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Public Policy Studies

Public Policy Studies offers UChicago students an opportunity to pursue interdisciplinary study of domestic and international policy issues. The primary disciplines among the teaching faculty are economics, political science, and sociology. Course work emphasizes the application of these disciplines to real-world policy issues.

The program of study for the BA degree in Public Policy Studies is designed to introduce students to policy analysis and implementation, equip them to use quantitative and economic techniques and methods, train them in policy research, and give them a command of at least one particular policy area.

Students may focus their interests on domestic policy concerns or on international or foreign matters. Those interested in domestic issues can assemble an outstanding selection of courses from offerings in Political Science, Economics, and Sociology. For example, students can specialize in urban problems, health care, education, or the influence of the labor market, the family, and social attitudes on the status of various income and racial groups. As a further example, students can specialize in policy implementation, taking courses in the economics of public management, organizational decision-making, and complex organizations, among others.

Students interested in comparative policy now have the opportunity to study in the heart of Europe. Each year during the Winter Quarter, the Center in Parisfocuses on the social sciences. The European Union and the approaches taken towards policy questions within Europe provide the main theme of the Winter Quarter courses in Paris. Declared or potential Public Policy Studies majors, especially those who are interested in comparative policy, are encouraged to spend a winter Quarter in Paris.

The program also encourages students to have an internship experience either during the academic year or during the summer. In the past our students have interned at the University of Chicago Medical Center studying the effects of pre-conception genetic counseling on low-income women; at the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office working in the victim-witness program; at the White House working in the offices of Media Affairs and Public Liaison; at the U.S. General Accounting Office; at the Better Government Association; in Costa Rica working with Central American refugees; and even in Anchorage, Alaska, working on environmental issues.

The Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies, our graduate public policy school, also offers a joint five-year BA/MPP degree to students in the college, regardless of major.