Leading the way

The Ford School Bachelor of Arts in public policy is a liberal arts degree based in the social sciences. In classes that average just 24 students, the curriculum gives students the knowledge and skills to analyze policy problems, understand the stakes, and create viable solutions.

BA Major in Public Policy

Public policy degree candidates benefit from the Ford School's small–school connectedness and flexibility while taking advantage of the University of Michigan's world–class resources. Working in small groups with distinguished faculty, students from around the U-M bring diverse talents to bear on real-world policy issues, and lay the groundwork for equally diverse professions. They champion their interests with intelligence and passion. Then they share them with the world.

  • You’ll get individualized writing instruction from our best-in-class Writing Center.
  • You’ll take an applied simulation course with your whole cohort--exploring issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • You’ll design a focus area (see more below) and build a deeper understanding; examples include: energy policy, health care policy & infectious disease control, historical perspectives on foreign policy, and development policy in Southeast Asia.
  • You’ll have access to a dedicated career counselor, terrific peer advisors, visiting policy leaders, and more.

Degree requirements

  • PUBPOL 320: Politics, Political Institutions, and Public Policy (4 credits)
  • PUBPOL 330: Microeconomics for Public Policy (4 credits)
  • STATS 250 or SOC 210: Introduction to Statistics (4 credits)
  • PUBPOL 474: Values and Ethics (3 credits)
  • PUBPOL 476: Applied Learning Seminar (2 credit completed junior year)
  • PUBPOL 479: Evaluating Public Policies course (4 credits completed senior year; Stats 250 is a prerequisite so students should complete the course prior to their senior year.)
  • PUBPOL 495: Policy Seminar (completed junior year, 4 credits)
  • PUBPOL 495: Policy seminar (completed senior year, 4 credits)
  • At least 5 additional elective credits in PubPol 300-level or higher course
  • 12 additional credits in student-declared focus area

Focus areas 

The field of public policy touches many academic disciplines and a broad range of policy arenas. Students design focus areas that allow them to develop a deeper understanding of a policy area that interests them.

Focus areas can address an area of public policy, a perspective on public policy, or the policy issues concerning a specific geographic region. Students will take four upper–level classes (12 credits) from any school or college at U-M or during a study abroad/study away program.

Examples of past student focus areas include: Energy Policy, Health Care Policy & Infectious Disease Control/Prevention, Economic Perspectives on Public Policy, Historical Perspectives on Foreign Policy, Development Policy in Southeast Asia, and Middle Eastern Policy. 

Policy seminars

Policy seminars (PubPol 495) are small, interdisciplinary courses that emphasize teamwork, writing, analysis, and/or oral presentation. Students take one policy seminar each their junior and senior years.

Recent policy seminar topics include:

  • Crime & Public Policy
  • Global Financial Markets, Crises, and Policies
  • Poverty, Inequality, and Public Policy
  • Behavioral Economics
  • Drugs, Crime, and Terrorism
  • Immigration Policy
  • Dangerous Peacemaking
  • Energy and Climate
  • Philanthropic Foundations

How will you make a difference?

Ten years after graduation, our BA alumni include:

  • The chief of staff for a member of Congress
  • Research directors and program managers for think-tanks, consulting firms, and nonprofit organizations
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Teachers in large public school districts
  • Analysts with city or state human service agencies
  • Associate attorneys at law firms in Chicago, New York, and San Francisco
  • Lawyers with the U.S. Department of Justice or major advocacy organizations

Learn more about the careers of impact forged by our BAs in public policy.


BA Minor in Public Policy

The Ford School minor in public policy: starting in fall 2020, we'll offer University of Michigan undergraduates a 16-credit minor in public policy. The competitive admissions process will be open from April 1-May 15, 2020.


Updated 10/31/19