Undergraduate application process

Bachelor of Arts in public policy 

The application for Fall 2024 is closed. 

  • Students apply to the program during their sophomore year and are admitted to the Ford School for their final two years. Before beginning the program, students must have junior standing at the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor, and must complete the following prerequisites:

    • Principles of Economics I (Econ 101)
    • Principles of Economics II (Econ 102)
    • One course from Race and Ethnicity (RE)
    • One introductory social science course, such as Systematic Thinking about Problems of the Day (PUBPOL 201)
      • Click here for the LSA course guide

    Students must receive a C- or better in any prerequisite and core courses.

    The application involves a series of questions, three short essays, a resume, and a transcript, as described below:

    • Essay #1: DEI Essay: The Ford School aims to prepare students to engage respectfully and productively in diverse communities. Research has repeatedly shown that diverse groups--in which members' backgrounds, ideas, and perspectives differ--arrive at better, more innovative solutions to problems. However, interacting across difference is not always seamless or easy, and some students have more experience than others working in groups in which they differ from groupmates. Please describe (briefly) an experience in any setting, e.g., a classroom, extracurricular activity, job, or volunteer experience, in which you worked across difference, and/or experienced difference because of your perceived identity, your background, or your perspectives. Focus the rest of this essay on critically analyzing your experience. In what specific ways was working across difference difficult? Are there things you wish you--or others-- had done differently in that instance, or that you might do differently in the future when working with people who are different from you? (300 words)
    • Essay #2: Explain how your background, your experiences inside and outside of class, your career aspirations, etc. have led you to apply to pursue a BA in public policy. Why do you think public policy is the right program for you? (300 words)
    • Essay #3: We expect you to do some research for the following essay, and you will need to support your argument. If you choose to quote directly or otherwise reference someone else's original idea, please include proper, in-text citation, Chicago style. Identify a contemporary policy issue that interests you and take a stance on the direction the policy should take. What would a successful solution to the problem be, and why? For the purposes of this essay, imagine that the audience is familiar with the topic, but that you need to defend any assertions you make to be convincing. The admissions committee will evaluate you not on whatever position you take, but on how well you can clearly defend your thesis with solid arguments, evidence, and reasoning. A strong essay will explicitly identify and respond to counterarguments to your thesis; citations are not included in the word count. (400 words)
    • Resume: Upload an up-to-date resume (up to two pages), with extracurricular activities, past work experiences, internships, student leadership positions, volunteer work, etc.
    • Transcript: An unofficial copy of your University of Michigan transcript is required.**

    * Most applicants to the undergraduate program complete all prerequisites in advance of their application; however, there is some flexibility. Please feel free to contact us to discuss.

    ** Additional transcripts are required for any college-level coursework completed outside the University of Michigan.

Connect with us on the public policy major

Minor in public policy

The minor has a competitive application process open from April 1 – May 1, and consists of an online form, resume, transcript, and two short essays (300 words each). The school expects to enroll around 25 students each year. There are no course prerequisites to apply to the minor. 

Students in LSA, the College of Engineering, the Ross School of Business, the School of Information, the School of Public Health, the Taubman College of Architecture & Urban Planning, the School of Kinesiology, the School of Education, the School of Music, Theatre & Dance, and the School of Nursing—and have sophomore or junior status at the time of application—are eligible to apply, including students who applied for the Ford School’s BA in public policy but were not admitted. All applicants will be notified of the minor admission decision by the end of May.


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