Frequently Asked Questions about the Ford School's Bachelor of Arts in public policy program.

Have a burning question? Not sure what to ask? Here are the questions students ask most often about the Ford School's Bachelor of Arts in public policy program. If your question isn't here, please reach out—we'd love to hear from you.


  • Enrolling in the Ford School means transferring from your current University of Michigan school or college to ours. The application requires you to submit your resume, an unofficial copy of your University of Michigan transcript, and three short essays about your interest in policy. Additionally, if you completed any college–level coursework outside of the University of Michigan, you'll need to upload an unofficial copy of those transcripts, as well.

    We receive 150–200 applications each year, and enroll 70–80 students annually.

    No, the BA program is designed for upper–level students. Interested students apply during the winter semester of their sophomore year, and complete Ford School coursework during their junior and senior years.

    You will need to have junior standing to enter the program, which means 55 credit hours by the beginning of the fall term when you enter the program.

    No, at this time we accept applications only from students who are already enrolled at the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor.

    The prerequisites must be taken by the time you enter the program. You may take prerequisites during the winter term of your sophomore year, but your application will be stronger if you complete them earlier. This is particularly true for Econ 101.

    Applications for the BA program are due by February 1 each year. We must receive all application materials by this deadline. We do not offer rolling admissions, and aim to make all admissions decisions by the end of March.

    We understand that the University of Michigan grants departmental credit in LSA for scores of 4 or 5 on the microeconomics and/or macroeconomics exam. The Ford School of Public Policy will accept the departmental credit as fulfilling the prerequisites for Econ 101 and/or Econ 102 for admissions purposes. For each prerequisite fulfilled by AP credit, we expect applicants to take an additional social science course at Michigan during their first two years.

    No. Admissions decisions are made on the basis of an applicant’s transcript, the three required essays, and a resume that demonstrates the applicant’s engagement with the world outside of class.

    We seek students with strong transcripts (grades, course selection, and progress toward meeting the distribution requirements) who are also engaged in serious ways with campus organizations, community service, political organizations, and leadership activities. We seek to recruit a group of students who are diverse on many dimensions and who will be successful members of a learning community.

    The average cumulative GPA of entering students is typically between 3.5 and 3.6. It is important to remember that this is an average; the minimum GPA to apply is 2.0.

    We prefer that applicants find ways to communicate information they believe is important to the Admissions Committee through their essays and resume.

    Most financial aid administered by the Office of Financial Aid is contingent on your enrollment as a full-time student at the University of Michigan, so it will be available to you as a Ford School student, assuming you continue to meet all appropriate deadlines and criteria. Review your award notice or contact the Office of Financial Aid with any financial aid questions. Scholarships from other schools or colleges are typically effective only during your enrollment in that school or college, and are unlikely to transfer. More information can be obtained from your current school/college and your award offer letter. Students receiving private scholarships should check with the funding source about criteria and eligibility.

    Yes. Ford School scholarship funds are intended to supplement other University-level sources (distributed through the UM Office of Financial Aid). Ford School scholarships are need-based, which means that scholarships are awarded primarily on the basis of financial need as determined by the Office of Financial Aid. Any student concerned about funding implications due to a cross-campus transfer to the Ford School is encouraged to schedule a meeting with an adviser in the Ford School's Office of Student and Academic Services. 

    No, barring exceptional circumstances.

    The Ford School of Public Policy asks applicants to its BA Program to answer two questions about misconduct to help the Ford School maintain a safe environment for the Ford School community and to preserve its academic integrity.  Since the University of Michigan asks prospective students similar questions in its admissions process, the Ford School limits its inquiry to conduct during the period from their matriculation at the University of Michigan to their application to the Ford School. 

    Affirmative answers to either or both of the misconduct questions will not automatically bar applicants from admission.  Instead, our admissions team conducts a holistic review of the file, with principles of restorative justice in mind, and consistent with Univ. of Michigan’s Office of Enrollment Management’s Guidelines for the Applicant Conduct Advisory Committee.  If it is determined the applicant would not pose a threat to the safety or academic integrity of the Ford School, then the applicant is eligible for admission.

    Admitted students have an ongoing responsibility to inform the Ford School of any changes to their disciplinary and/or criminal history until they begin their first term of enrollment at the Ford School.  Failure to report prior or pending disciplinary and/or criminal history may result in the withdrawal of application or revocation of admission.

Curriculum and course requirements

  • Any course with a social science designation in the College of Literature, Science and the Arts--courses that are an entry point into that unit’s curriculum--will be considered. Many applicants take more than one such course, in addition to Econ 101 and 102.

    Prerequisites for admission are considered part of the BA Core Curriculum. These classes typically may not be taken pass/fail. However, we will accept any courses taken as pass/fail beginning the Winter 2020 term through the Winter 2021 term, due to the university's revised grading policies. Whether or not to unmask a grade during the Winter, 2020 semester is a decision to made individually by each student.  The Ford School will consider all applicants and however they elect to present their grades on their transcripts for this term.

    The policy seminars (PUBPOL 495) are restricted to Ford School BA students and have approximately 25 students. Many other classes typically have around 40-50 students, and they often have a GSI in addition to the faculty member teaching the class.

    Coursework combines classes in economics, political science, and other social sciences disciplines with integrative policy seminars that provide opportunities for students to work together in teams to apply their skills in the analysis of contemporary policy problems.

    The focus area is the keystone of the BA curriculum, allowing students to obtain valuable insight into a policy area of interest. Students choose a combination of 12 credits related to their policy area of interest for their focus area. These can be LSA courses, Ford School electives (separate from the electives used to meet core requirements), or courses taken during study abroad or study away.

     Yes. Up to two courses that fulfill a U-M minor can also be included in the focus area requirement for the public policy degree.

    No. This policy allows us to keep the BA program small and allows students to focus their academic work during their two years in the program. However, students have the option of pursuing more than one minor, if they remain on track for graduation.

    No. We expect students to be enrolled in the program for at least three terms so that they can take a policy seminar in each of two years.

    We encourage students to think about study abroad, Michigan in Washington, or Semester in Detroit, and will work with students to fit one of these programs into their coursework. Approximately 30 percent of the students in our program spend at least one term in an off-campus program. We require students to be enrolled in Ann Arbor their first and last terms in the program, which means that students should plan their off-campus study for the winter term of the junior year, the fall term of their senior year, or the summer between their junior and senior years.

    No, however many students choose to complete an internship when their schedules allow.

    The Public Service Intern Program, administered by the U-M Career Center, is one prominent option. The Ford School does not arrange for undergraduate internships. The school also works with the U-M Career Center to provide additional resources and opportunities for students.

    We do not give academic credit for internships unless they are part of a formal academic program (e.g., Michigan in Washington).

    No. The projects students will pursue in the policy seminars (one each year) will provide an alternative to the traditional honors thesis.

    Fourth term proficiency.

    Yes, transfer credit, including study abroad credit, may be used to fulfill program requirements. First, you must check if the course is transferable to U-M. Information can be obtained at the Undergraduate Admissions Office (1220 SAB) or by visiting LSA’s helpful transfer credit website.

    No. All courses counted toward your major should be taken on a graded basis. The only exception to this rule is for independent study courses offered through other departments, which may be offered only on a credit/no credit or a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis. These may be counted toward the major if approval from an advisor is received in advance.

    Yes, we welcome students from across campus to take our classes. With the exception of the core undergraduate courses, Ford School undergraduate classes are open to all undergraduate students at U-M.

    Once a year, in the fall term.

    Yes, you can use up to two study abroad courses for your focus area (out of a minimum of four). This is true even if your courses weren’t taken through a U-M program and your letter grades won't show up on your transcript except as Pass/Fail. Also, you can check if your study abroad program’s courses will transfer as U-M credits using this link. Importantly, when you list study abroad classes in your focus area, you must also attach your syllabi and any other relevant information. (This is in place of filling out a petition form as you would for appealing area distribution classifications.) Your study abroad classes are subject to the same review process as your other classes.

    No, like most U-M undergraduate schools and colleges, the Ford School does not allow AP credit to be applied toward distribution requirements (see page 16 of the BA Handbook).

    BA students may use a maximum of 30 credits of classes taken on a pass/fail (P/F) basis toward their total 120 degree credits. Students may not take public policy core classes or focus area classes P/F.

    You will need to take 101 and 102 before you can matriculate in the fall. As long as the courses you take are approved for credit on the University transfer equivalencies page, the Ford School will accept them. As for taking classes elsewhere, not all community colleges offer rigorous economics classes, so be mindful of that when enrolling, as you want to be well-prepared for our curriculum. You may take Stats 250 at a different university to fulfill your requirement. Use this link to find a class and university near you that will count as Stats 250. Once you've completed the course, send your transcript to Undergraduate Admissions and they will add the course to your U-M transcript.

    Many Ford School BA students complete minors. Please follow instructions from the department in which you are seeking a minor. If your classes are not showing up properly on Wolverine Access, please contact the Ford School Registrar at [email protected]. Also, if relevant, courses that fulfill a minor can also double-count toward a focus area.

Student life and experiences

  • Yes. The Undergraduate Council (UGC), Diversity Student Coalition (DISC) and Gamma Rho Phi organize activities for students in the BA program. There are also a large number of other student organizations at the Ford School open to graduate and undergraduate students.

    We typically hold an information session each fall for interested students. If you’d like to be notified when we will be holding the next session, please complete our Information Request Form. Attending this session will allow you to meet program faculty, staff, and students; hear a presentation about the program and the admissions process; and participate in a question and answer session. Our Undergraduate Council also invites all applicants to attend an "application bootcamp" in January. Finally, you can contact the Office of Student and Academic Services to make an advising appointment or call (734) 764-0453. A Ford School advisor is also available at the Newnan LSA Academic Advising Center.

Have any questions?