Public Policy

Public policy is an interdisciplinary major that combines courses from a number of different disciplines so that students may obtain the knowledge necessary to analyze, explain, and contribute to the evolution of policies designed to serve the public. There are three different tracks in which students may focus: domestic policy, international/development policy or public administration, and non-profit management. These different tracks allow students to acquire the specialized expertise and skills required to work in different fields related to public policy and governance. Regardless of the track, the major is structured so that students develop the analytical and methodological skills necessary to identify the objectives behind different policies, understand the process by which policies are created, and evaluate the extent to which policies fulfill their objectives.

Learning goals:

  • Students will develop the analytical and methodological tools necessary to study and explain the development  and implementation of public policies.
  • Students will be able to identify the objectives motivating different public policies and to evaluate critically the extent to which a policy fulfills its objectives.
  • Students will possess factual knowledge relevant to a specific area of public policy (such as health care policy or development policy) and/or management of organizations focused on the policy process.
  • Students will obtain practical experience relevant to the creation and/or evaluation of public policy.
  • Students will frequently engage in discussion and debate related to current social, economic, cultural, and political issues, as well as possible solutions and strategies to address these issues.

Public Policy Major. Students must complete 44 semester hours - 20 semester hours in the Core Curriculum and 24 semester hours in one of the tracks below -- all with grades of C- or higher.
Double-counting restriction: students majoring in public policy may double-count a maximum of 12 semester hours toward another major or minor.  In no instance can a capstone from another major or minor be double-counted.

Semester Hours View Full Course Catalog >>

20        Core Curriculum

4           Capstone (POLI-501 Senior Seminar)

4           POLI-212 Introduction to Public Policy

4           ECON-201 Principles of Macroeconomics

4           ECON-202 Principles of Microeconomics

4           POLI-205 Research Methods

0-4       Learning Internship (uncredited, or students may choose to apply for an additional 2 - 4 semester hours beyond what is required for the major)

Majors should select 24 semester hours from their chosen track. Courses should be selected to form a cohesive focus through consultation with their advisor. No more than 8 semester hours at the 100-level or lower and at least 4 semester hours at the 300-level or higher. Additional courses, beyond those listed, may be approved to count toward a particular track by the program coordinator.

Track 1: Domestic Policy (at least 16 semester hours from the below list and at least 8 semester hours focused on a specific policy area)

4 POLI-111 American Government and Politics
4 POLI-215 Law and Politics
4 POLI-300 Parties and Interest Groups
4 POLI-316 The American Presidency
4 POLI-317 The U. S. Congress
4 ECON-341 Economic Policy
4 ANTH-413/SOCI-413 Race, Ethnicity and Minorities
4 SOCI-315 Social Stratification in Contemporary Society
4 SOCI-405 Law and Society
4 PHIL-150 Race, Class and Ethics

Education Policy

2 EDUC-101 Introduction to Education and Society
2 EDUC-102 Historical and Philosophical Foundations of Education
4 EDUC-250 Educational Psychology
2 EDUC-380 Instructional Design
2 EDUC-389 Assessment

Environment Policy

4 EENV-242 Climate and Global Change
4 EENV-105 Energy and the Environment
4 ENST-335 Environmental Laws and Regulations
4 POLI-333 Development, Globalization and Society
4 PPOL-352 Environmental Policy
4 RELI-235 Environmental Ethics

Health Care Policy

4 BIOL-157 The Biology of Women
4 PSYC-242 Health Psychology
4 PSYC-243 Drugs, Society, and Behavior
4 HLCR-370 Human Health and Disease
4 HIST-323 History of American Medicine

Some departments, most notably the Biology Department, offer topics-based seminars that may be relevant to these policy areas and which may be approved as counting toward the chosen track by the program director.

Track 2: International Policy/Development Policy

4 ECON-330 International Trade and Finance
4 ECON-335 Economic Development
4 ECON-338 International Political Economy
4 ECON-341 Economic Policy
4 ECON-465 Global Financial Markets
4 PHIL-225 Just War Theory
4 POLI-121 Comparative Government and Politics
4 POLI-131 World Affairs
4 POLI-321 European Union
4 POLI-331 American Foreign Policy
4 POLI-334 International Organizations and Law
4 POLI-338 International Political Economy

Track 3: Public Administration/Non-Profit Management

4 ACCT-210 Legal Environment
4 ACCT-330 Cost Management
4 COMM-321 Crisis Management
4 ECON-315 Managerial Economics
4 ECON-332 Public Finance
4 ENGL-299 Professional and Civic Writing: Practice and Theory
4 MGMT-290 Non Profit Management
4 MGMT-360 Management and Organizational Behavior
4 POLI-111 American Government and Politics
4 POLI-215 Law and Politics
4 POLI-300 Seminar
4 PPOL-351 Public Administration
4 SOCI-374 Social Work

Minor in Public Policy. Students pursuing the public policy minor must complete 24 semester hours with a grade of C- or higher.  The minor is comprised of POLI-212 Introduction to Public Policy, either ECON-201 Principles of Macroeconomics or ECON-202 Principles of Microeconomics, and 16 semester hours from a chosen track. No more than 8 semester hours for the minor may be taken at the 100 level, and at least 4 semester hours must be taken at the 300 level or higher. 

Double-counting restriction for interdisciplinary minors: only 8 semester hours of this minor may be double-counted toward the student's major.

PPOL-351 Public Administration

The course will examine how rules, regulations, policies, court decisions and laws are actually implemented by what is often referred to as the bureaucracy or the administrative state. In that pursuit, students will become familiar with the origins and composition of the bureaucracy, with organizational structures that characterize bureaucratic bodies, and with theories on how to manage and finance administrative functions. The purpose of the course is to offer both theoretical foundations for understanding the practice of public administration and to prepare students who might be  interested in engaging in public administration careers. 4 SH.

PPOL-352 Environmental Policy

The course will examine the political and policy-making environment, including the relevant institutions and actors, surrounding the creation and implementation of environmental policies. Students will learn the historical background of environmental policy, the different objectives to be achieved through environmental regulation, the various tools and approaches for achieving those objectives, and some of the current controversies that exist in environmental policy today. The course will also explore differences between how elected leaders, bureaucrats and private actors influence the policy process. Pre-requisite: POLI-212 or instructor's permission. 4 SH.

PPOL-353 Education Policy

This course examines contemporary issues and challenges in public education. It explores the history of education in the United States and discusses objectives behind creating a public school system. Theories and concepts related to the policymaking process are explored, and resulting policies are analysis and contextualize within the field of education. Finally, the course investigates recent education reforms and, where possible, seeks to analyze the consequences of these reforms. Same as EDUC-530. Prerequisites: EDUC 101, Junior or senior standing. 4 SH. CC: Writing Intensive.

Nicholas J. Clark, Ph.D.

Department: Political Science
Associate Professor of Political Science

Email Address
Phone Number 570-372-4726

Andrea M. Lopez, Ph.D.

Department: Political Science
Associate Professor of Political Science

Rolfe D. Peterson, Ph.D.

Department: Political Science
Assistant Professor of Political Science

Email Address
Phone Number 570-372-4170

Olu Onafowora, Ph.D.

Department: Economics
Professor of Economics

Matthew C. Rousu, Ph.D.

Department: Sigmund Weis Sch. of Business
Dean of the SWSB

Email Address
Phone Number 570-372-4455

Katarina R. Keller, Ph.D.

Department: Economics
Associate Professor of Economics

John J. Bodinger de Uriarte

Department: Sociology/Anthropology
Associate Professor of Anthropology

Email Address
Phone Number 570-372-4759

Dave Ramsaran, Ph.D.

Department: Provost
Provost & Dean of the Faculty

Shari Jacobson, Ph.D.

Department: Sociology/Anthropology
Associate Professor of Anthropology

Email Address
Phone Number 570-372-4754

Jan Reichard-Brown, Ph.D.

Department: Biology
Associate Professor of Biology

Kathy Straub, Ph.D.

Department: Earth & Environmental Sciences
Professor Earth & Environmental Science

Email Address
Phone Number 570-372-4318

Valerie A. Allison, Ph.D.

Department: Education
Associate Professor of Education

Kirk Harris

Department: Political Science
Assistant Professor of Political Science

Email Address
Phone Number 570-372-4371

Theresa Finley

Department: Economics
Assistant Professor Economics

Internships. Relevant practical experience is invaluable to being able to understand and critically evaluate the policy process. Such experience is also essential for our graduates to compete for policy-related positions in the private or public sphere or for admission into a relevant graduate program. As such, students are required to find and secure an internship focused on an area of public policy or public administration relevant to their track and area(s) of interest. Students may apply to receive 2 - 4 semester hours of course credit for this internship. The program adviser works with students to identify and apply for relevant internships.