Making the most efficient use of my summer, I have been watching hours upon hours of Parks and Recreation. While watching this hilarious show, I couldn’t help but notice that the main character, Leslie Knope, was extremely good at her job as the Deputy Director of the Parks and Recreation Office in the city of Pawnee, Indiana. Her ability to take into account social issues in the city of Pawnee from the senior citizens needing ramp access to buildings to creating more open space for children to play in, Leslie knew how to take the concerns of her constituents and transform it into effect policy (or at least theoretically) in the city government. I pegged the character to have been a political science major or, better yet, a public policy major. Although I was wrong (she turned out to be suma cum laude in History), Leslie demonstrated all the important skills that a public policy major needs and develops through their studies. You may be wondering two thoughts: first, wait, who’s Leslie Knope again? And second, what is a public policy major? While the first one is a bit harder to describe without watching Parks and Recreation, you found the right article to learn more about what public policy is all about.
What is Public Policy?
According to many different programs, Public Policy is an interdisciplinary major that utilizes many different fields to analyze policy in relation to social behavior. Many Public Policy programs tend to draw on Economics, Statistics, Political Science, and sometimes Sociology. The interaction between these disciplines provides a unique insight and framework when examining problems. What makes Public Policy different from just directly specializing or studying in greater depth any one of these fields is how Public Policy always goes back to drawing from each discipline.
What kind of skills will you develop from a Public Policy major?
Due to the interdisciplinary nature of Public Policy, you can develop many different marketable skills from this field. From your program, you will begin to hone your analytical and problem solving skills. When approaching a problem, you will come from an interdisciplinary framework that will be able to draw together conclusions from different fields.
What kind of jobs can you get from Public Policy?
The many skills you can develop from Public Policy can help you enter many different career fields. Since Public Policy also provides an overview of the many skills, you can also decide to specialize in one of the disciplines in the future in graduate school. Besides just being a policy analyst, here are just a couple other career paths that you can pursue related to your Public Policy major:
- Academia (Teacher, Professor)
- Operations Research Analyst
What colleges or universities have great Public Policy programs?
Similar to other majors, there are not many distinct Public Policy programs at the undergraduate level that are definitively better than others. It is important to find a college or university program that provides the best learning environment for you, whether it be supportive faculty, a variety of courses, or internship opportunities during the summer. Below are just several colleges and universities that are known to have good Public Policy programs to start your college search list:
- University of California: Berkeley – Public Policy (Minor)
- University of Michigan: Ann Arbor – Public Policy
- University of Southern California – Public Policy
- Stanford University – Public Policy