Public Policy (BA)

Department Website

Program Description

The undergraduate major in public policy, jointly offered by the College of Arts and Science and the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, prepares students to play roles in the creation, implementation, and evaluation of policies that address the challenges faced by domestic and global publics in the 21st century. Students in the major acquire critical conceptual, analytical, and quantitative skills related to the policy making process and learn how to ethically apply these skills in the assessment of alternative policy responses to a broad range of public issues. Grounded in the principles of social science, the major is particularly appropriate for students who are both passionate about policy problems and dedicated to reaching solutions to these problems through the use of logic and evidence.

The public policy major prepares students for careers in government, the non-profit sector, research, and other fields involved in the creation, implementation, and evaluation of public policies.

Honors Program

The public policy program offers students the opportunity to achieve honors in the major by (1) maintaining a 3.65 GPA in both the ten courses required for the major (the prerequisite course is not calculated in this GPA) and overall, and (2) successfully completing (with a B+ or higher) a thesis comprising original research, policy analysis, and policy advocacy.

At the end of their junior year, all prospective honors students must consult with the program’s academic advisor to determine whether they meet the GPA criteria for the honors track. Then, during the fall of their senior year, eligible majors apply for entry into the spring semester thesis writing honors seminar (PUBPL-UA 801 Honor Thesis). The seminar is limited to 15 students and admission depends on the quality of the proposed thesis project. Prospective thesis writers must delineate the policy area and policy problem they wish to focus on, as well as provide a bibliography of relevant sources (primary and secondary) that they have already consulted.

The honors seminar is an additional eleventh course that does not count toward the ten required for the major proper. Although the honors thesis is likely to be broadly related to topics students have examined in other classes—especially in PUBPL-UA 800 Senior Seminar—it must be the intellectual capstone of students’ academic experience at NYU, not a restatement or extension of a policy proposal submitted in a previous class.

Students who earn less than a B+ on the thesis will not receive honors in the major, but the 4 credits earned for a passing grade in PUBPL-UA 801 Honor Thesis will still count toward the credits required for graduation.


New York University's Office of Undergraduate Admissions supports the application process for all undergraduate programs at NYU.  For additional information about undergraduate admissions, including application requirements, see How to Apply