When I first came to NYU, I had no idea what I wanted to study. After all, there are over 250 areas of study here. After a couple of “trial-and-error” majors, I finally settled on Public Policy. Although it sounded super interesting, I wasn’t quite sure what it entailed. Now that I’ve been in the program for some time, I’m happy to share what studying public policy is like.
The major comes with a couple of goals in mind. You not only get a broad understanding of general politics but also the creation and implementation processes of policy. This means you gain plenty of critical thinking and analytical skills. What’s more, by the time you graduate, you will have the ability to conduct and understand research. Most of these skills come from the major’s core foundation. The core classes, like Quantitative Analysis for Public Policy, teach you how to analyze the big data you see in the news and use that data to draft legislation. The Politics of Public Policy teaches you to understand the bigger implications of historic and contemporary policy in the United States. This class was one of my favorites because I learned how to write and pitch legislation, just as I would if I worked on Capitol Hill.
These classes are incredibly insightful. But the electives, outside of the core classes, are where things get really exciting. There are dozens of electives Public Policy majors can choose from. These electives allow students to specialize their degree however they choose. Financial policy, health policy, and foreign policy are common topics of concentration. But it doesn’t stop there. You can tailor your degree to include another field if you want your understanding of public policy to apply to it.
For example, I want to practice family law. So I am taking classes through the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Studies program to specialize my major toward that end. Whether your secondary interest lies in the sciences or arts, you can gain a public policy foundation through the core, then take classes in other departments to pursue the policy side of that area in the future.
Aside from the major’s academics, there are plenty of student organizations for students to connect with like-minded peers. From the Students for Criminal Justice Reform to the recently formed Undergraduate Public Policy Student Board, there are many outlets for students to find community and groups of interest.
Looking Toward the Future
As you may be able to tell by now, this major provides students with so many pathways in terms of careers and other future endeavors. Many students studying public policy at NYU intend to work at think tanks or other related organizations in Washington, DC. Likewise, many students intend to pursue careers in government agencies or at nongovernmental organizations.
Some students like me intend on pursuing a career in law and using the skills they learned in the Public Policy major to handle various types of legislation. The directions this major can take you are essentially endless. The program’s website lists several of the career paths notable alumni have taken with their degrees.
Whether it’s handling legislation or advocating for social justice, the Public Policy major has so much to offer. If any of these areas interest you, Public Policy is definitely a major worth your consideration!