Main Navigation
Skip To Content
Admission & Aid
Discover Susquehanna
Campus Life
Student & Campus Services
About SU
Support Susquehanna

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 - 24 semester hours in the Core Curriculum and 20 semester hours in one of the tracks below -- all with grades of C- or higher.

Semester Hours View Full Course Catalog >>

24        Core Curriculum

4           American or comparative politics (POLI-111 American Government and Politics or POLI-121 Comparative Government and Politics)

4           Capstone (POLI-501 Senior Seminar, ANTH/SOCI-500 Seminar, or ECON-499 Applied Research Methods

4           POLI-212 Introduction to Public Policy

4           ECON-201 Principles of Macroeconomics

4           ECON-202 Principles of Microeconomics

4           Methods Course: EENV-360 Geographic Information Systems, ECON-322 Introduction to Econometrics, ANTH/SOCI-235 Qualititative Research Methods, ANTH/SOCI-245 Quantitative Research Methods, or POLI-205 Research Methods

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

Track 1: Domestic Policy (at least 8 semester hours from the initial list and at least 12 semester hours focused on a specific policy area)

4          POLI-300 Seminar when the topic is Interest Groups

4 POLI-215 Law and Politics
4 SOCI-315 Social Stratification in Contemporary Society
or SOCI-413 Race, Ethnicity and Minorities
4 ANTH-311 Regulating Bodies: Food, Sex, Drugs and the Economy
4 POLI-317 The U. S. Congress
4 POLI-319 State and Local Government and Politics

Education Policy

2 EDUC-389 Assessment
4 EDUC-250 Educational Psychology
2 EDUC-102 Historical and Philosophical Foundations of Education
2 EDUC-380 Instructional Design
2 EDUC-101 Introduction to Education and Society
4 ANTH-162 Introduction to Anthropology

Environment Policy

4 EENV-242 Climate and Global Change
4 EENV-105 Energy and the Environment
4 ENST-335 Environmental Laws and Regulations
4 EENV-101 Environmental Science
4 POLI-333 Development, Globalization and Society
4 RELI-235 Environmental Ethics

Health Care Policy

4 BIOL-157 The Biology of Women
2 HLCR-080 The Business of Health Care
4 ACCT-330 Cost Management
4 PSYC-242 Health Psychology
4 PSYC-243 Drugs, Society, and Behavior
4 PHIL-224 Bioethics
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 POLI-331 American Foreign Policy
4 POLI-323 Comparative Foreign Policy
4 POLI-333 Development, Globalization and Society
4 ECON-335 Economic Development
4 ECON-465 Global Financial Markets
or ECON-330 International Trade and Finance
4 POLI-334 International Organizations and Law
4 ECON-338 International Political Economy

Public Administration/Non-Profit Management

4 ECON-311 Intermediate Macroeconomics
4 ACCT-210 Legal Environment
4 MGMT-360 Management and Organizational Behavior
4 ECON-332 Public Finance
4 SOCI-374 Social Work
2 PHIL-115 Social Justice Leadership

2-4      Choose from the following:

4 ACCT-330 Cost Management
2 ACCT-340 Governmental and Nonprofit Accounting
4 ECON-315 Managerial Economics
4 ECON-311 Intermediate Macroeconomics
4 ACCT-210 Legal Environment
4 MGMT-360 Management and Organizational Behavior
4 ECON-332 Public Finance
4 SOCI-374 Social Work
2 PHIL-115 Social Justice Leadership
4 ACCT-330 Cost Management
2 ACCT-340 Governmental and Nonprofit Accounting
4 ECON-315 Managerial Economics

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. Only 4 semester hours may be double-counted with the student's major or with another minor.

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
Assistant Professor of Political Science

Michele Ann DeMary, Ph.D.

Department: Political Science
Associate Professor of Political Science

Andrea M. Lopez, Ph.D.

Department: Political Science
Associate Professor of Political Science

Rolfe D. Peterson

Department: Political Science
Assistant Professor of Political Science

Olu Onafowora, Ph.D.

Department: Economics
Professor of Economics

Matthew C. Rousu, Ph.D.

Department: Dean School of Business
Interim Dean of the Sigmund Weis School of Business

Katarina R. Keller, Ph.D.

Department: Economics
Associate Professor of Economics

John J. Bodinger de Uriarte

Department: Sociology/Anthropology
Associate Professor of Anthropology

Dave Ramsaran, Ph.D.

Department: Provost
Director of Institutional Effectiveness

Shari Jacobson, Ph.D.

Department: Sociology/Anthropology
Associate Professor of Anthropology

Michael Smyth, Ph.D.

Department: Sociology/Anthropology
Associate Professor of Sociology

Jan Reichard-Brown, Ph.D.

Department: Biology
Associate Professor of Biology

Kathy Straub, Ph.D.

Department: Earth & Environmental Sciences
Professor Earth & Environmental Science

Valerie A. Allison, Ph.D.

Department: Education
Associate Professor of Education

Kirk Harris

Department: Political Science
Assistant Professor of Political Science

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.