Public policy is the study of what government does, why and what difference it makes. Stated another way, it refers to all of the laws, regulations and programs developed by governments to solve problems.
Majoring in public policy provides students with the critical knowledge and skills needed to make problem solving their specialty. Public policy majors learn to grapple with society’s most urgent issues, ranging from economic policy to environmental protection to national security. Addressing these problems requires in-depth knowledge, analytical skills and a sophisticated understanding of how governments and markets work.
Earlham’s major in public policy meets those objectives with a collection of multidisciplinary courses, primarily from the politics and economics departments—but also including elective courses in history, management, psychology, philosophy and sociology.
As a student in the public policy program, you’re expected to achieve both depth and breadth of knowledge in several fields, with politics acting as an anchor for additional work in economics, statistics and theory. You’ll gain competence at:
- Thinking analytically and critically
- Understanding policy contexts and processes
- Conducting and using research
- Applying statistical, economic and other quantitative and qualitative tools of analysis
- Developing written, verbal and interpersonal communication skills
- Understanding their civic responsibilities and how to make ethical judgments.
These are critical skills for not only gaining meaningful employment post-Earlham, but also to have the largest possible impact on changing the world for the better once you have landed a job.
You’ll have the opportunity to build a foundation by completing several core requirements and the flexibility to find your own path as you choose electives that will help define your undergraduate experience.
You’ll work closely with faculty in and out of the classroom–these collaborative learning opportunities are invaluable in helping you find and meet your potential. Finally, you’ll have a dedicated adviser who is committed to providing the guidance needed to not only succeed as an undergraduate, but to prepare you for life beyond Earlham.
To earn a Bachelor of Arts in public policy, you must complete the following courses, in addition to general education requirements:
- Completion of a significant (100 hours) public service internship or similar experience, including an on-campus Presentation of Learning
- Completion of the politics department A.R.T.S. skill themes:
- “A” for Argument: courses where students learn disciplinary definitions and practice constructing a scholarly argument;
- “R” for Research: courses where students must demonstrate an ability to conduct case-study research and propose reasonable solutions to real-world problems;
- “T” for Theory: courses where students practice effectively summarizing and properly citing theoretical material [the Theory requirement fulfills this theme], and;
- “S” for Simulation: courses where students will work in groups to actively participate in either real-world or simulated debates and activities.
Three of the following approved elective courses (no more than three from one department):
To earn a minor in public policy, you must complete the following course requirements (no more than two courses can overlap with a major in politics):
1 in 7 Government positions account for 1 in 7 jobs nationally. A public policy major provides students with multi-disciplinary skills ideally suited for starting a career in public service.
Public policy majors have the credentials to pursue jobs with government agencies (local, state, national, and international), consulting firms, think tanks, and non-profit organizations.
91% of work seekers who majored in the social sciences between 2018-2022 were employed, pursuing graduate school or volunteering within six months of graduation.
Earlham has strong relationships with and a regular pipeline of students attending the top fifteen Masters of Public Policy programs, most notably including Indiana University-Bloomington (#1), University of Michigan (#8), Carnegie Mellon University (#13) and George Washington University (#13).
What types of jobs and graduate school programs do graduates pursue?
An Earlham education is already terrific training for either a career in public affairs or graduate policy studies, but the public policy major adds more rigor to this preparation. Given that the field has several well-defined career paths, our majors have the credentials to pursue jobs with government agencies (local, state, national, and international), consulting firms, think tanks, and non-profit organizations.
In addition, our graduates regularly pursue graduate studies in public policy analysis, public administration, urban affairs, and law. In recent years Earlham students have successfully gained admission to top ten schools in each of these fields – most recently this includes Syracuse, Carnegie Mellon, Oxford, the University of North Carolina, Bard, the University of Michigan and Indiana University. Earlham has a growing relationship with Indiana University, which has the second-ranked public affairs program in the nation.