Public policy courses prepare students to address some of the world's most significant challenges by teaching them the knowledge and skills to analyze policy problems, understand the complexities of issues, and create viable solutions through public policy.

Gain insight into the procedures and decision-making processes of local, state and federal governments and how to positively affect those processes. Graduates have gone on to enroll in some of the best graduate and law schools in the U.S., apply their studies to the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, and work as legislative aides for the U.S. Congress or as staff assistants for various branches of government. 

Core Courses

Hard Choices in Public Policy (PPOL 1910)

This course provides an opportunity to develop comprehensive knowledge of America's most intriguing public policy dilemmas.

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The Politics of American Policymaking (PPOL 2000)

This course is designed as a rigorous, analytical introduction for public policy majors to the ways in which American public policy is actually made and includes a discussion of Congress; the President; the Supreme Court; and Regulatory agencies.

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Economics for Public Policy (PPOL 3115)

The tools and techniques of economics are essential for policy analysis. This course provides an intensive and comprehensive introduction to the field of economic analysis, with a specific emphasis on the applicability of economics to public policy and problem solving within the field of policy analysis.

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Ethics and Public Policy (PPOL 3300)

This course will survey prominent fields of ethical discourse—academic and public intellectual—ranging from ancient understandings of virtue through contemporary humanism.

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Analytical and Critical Skills (PPOL 3230)

Students will gain the tools necessary to analyze competing points of view using empirical techniques and statistical inference.

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  • Environmental Sustainability

    Addressing the global challenges posed by a changing environment, natural resource depletion, and increased demands on food, water, and energy resources is one of the defining tasks of the 21st century. The specialization in Environmental Sustainability helps students understand the relevant policy making challenges as governments and non-state actors alike face the causes and consequences of global climate change.  Public Policy students engage these questions from an interdisciplinary perspective and may take courses from multiple disciplines; including public policy, international studies, geography, and environmental science.

  • United States Foreign Policy

    The position of the United States and its role in the international system are key concerns both within the United States and around the world.  How the US engages state and non-state actors outside the United States in pursuit of its policy goals and interests sits at the heart of US Foreign Policy.   Public Policy students pursuing this specialization will critically examine the history of US foreign policy, its creation via Congress and the President and fits current record of success and failures.  Courses in this specialization may be drawn from Public Policy, International Studies, or Political Science.

  • United States Domestic Policy

    The United States is a large and highly variable country in terms of both the breadth of policy making actors at every level of government and the contentious politics of the current age.  Students specializing in US  Domestic Policy will engage the policy making process at the city, state and national level, preparing them for careers in policy making and policy advocacy. Courses in this specialization may be drawn from Public Policy, International Studies, Political Science, or other social science disciplines.

  • Law & Policy

    The legal system is an important component of the policy process at every level of interaction between citizens and government.  Government is tasked with both creating and enforcing law while the legal system sits as the arbiter of any disagreement among the various actors impacted by the policy making process.  Students in this specialization will learn how policy and the legal system are interconnected, preparing them to begin careers in policy, law enforcement, and the legal system in general.  Courses in this specialization may be drawn from Public Policy, International Studies, Political Science, Criminology or other social science disciplines.

  • Custom Track

    Students may choose three courses in a single policy area in which they develop an expertise.  Examples might include Health Policy, Urban Policy, National Security Policy, etc.  Students who choose the custom track must clear their choices in a single policy area with their Korbel advisor.  Courses in this specialization may be drawn from Public Policy, International Studies, Political Science, Criminology or other social science disciplines.

Featured Faculty


Naazneen Barma

Associate Professor; Director, Scrivner Institute of Public Policy

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Lapo Salucci

Lapo Salucci

Teaching Associate Professor

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Martin J. Rhodes


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Application Information

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