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The major is a part of the Department of Political Science, an academic unit within the College of Arts and Letters.

The major in public policy and administration provides students with a general foundation in the nature of public policy, the public workplace and its political, legal and managerial environments. This major prepares students for  professional employment and leadership in government and nonprofit organizations. The program consists of a core of courses offering general knowledge essential for understanding and working in the public arena. This core provides students with an appreciation of the political culture and economic environment of public work, measurement techniques and a basic understanding of the policy process.

Students are offered a choice between two concentration options: public policy or public management.

In the public policy concentration students acquire knowledge of the nature, dynamics, implementation and substance of public policy and its analysis. Courses address:

  • Policy processes.
  • Techniques for analyzing policy options.
  • The dynamics and substance of particular policy issues.

The public management concentration emphasizes management and management-related skills. Courses address:

  • The legal environment of public work.
  • Organization theories.
  • Management theories and applications.
  • Management best practices.

In addition, courses in both concentrations heighten students' critical, analytical and communication skills through case studies, exercises and the intensive writing requirement. The public policy concentration requires a senior seminar  experience that seeks to bring policy theory and analytical skills to bear on a practical issue of public policy. Public management students must complete the dual capstone requirements of a public management seminar and an  internship, requiring an integration of knowledge from both general studies and major studies by focusing students on specific cases and workplace applications.

Because the public policy and administration major develops techniques and skills applicable to varied career paths in public service, students are encouraged to choose a complementary minor with a narrower, substantive focus. The  minors recommended for students' consideration include criminal justice, environmental information systems, environmental management, environmental studies, family studies, gerontology, health information systems, nonprofit  studies, political communication, substance abuse intervention, telecommunications, urban and regional studies, communication studies, conflict analysis and intervention, sociology, technical and scientific communication, economics, human resource development, computer science, public health and integrated science and technology.

Interested students may apply to participate in the Fifth Year Master of Public Administration degree program, which allows qualified students to earn an M.P.A. degree with one additional year of study. Students should apply for this program in their sophomore year. See the Graduate Catalog for more information.

Degrees Offered



Public Management

Public Policy


Political Communication

Public Policy and Administration

Declaring the Major

New Freshmen and Transfer Students
Students should declare the public policy and administration major when they register for orientation.

Currently Enrolled Major Changers 
Current students wishing to declare or change a major, minor or pre-professional program must complete a request through MyMadison. Additional department specific information will be available when that academic plan is selected.  Follow all directions and steps necessary to execute your request. Once all necessary steps are completed, the department will either approve or deny your request or contact you for additional information.

For additional assistance making this request, view the Change/Declare a Major/Minor tutorial in MyMadison or on the tutorials website.

Progressing in the Major

Remain in good academic standing with a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0.

Graduation cap

Career Planning

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