2019-2020 Catalog 
    Mar 05, 2024  
2019-2020 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Public Policy Major

Major Requirements

The Public Policy Major consists of 9 courses and an internship experience, distributed as follows:

1. Quantitative Methods (1 course)

One course selected from:

2. Ethics (1 course)

One course selected from:

4. Microeconomics (1 course)

5. Electives (4 courses)

Four courses selected from the following, including at least one Economics course and one Government course:

6. Capstone (1 course)

7. Internship or Research Assistantship in Public Policy

One course selected from:

  • An approved CMC internship with the permission of the program director; both the organization’s mission and the nature of the student’s work must relate to public policy. The internship may be for-credit or non-credit.
  • GOVT030 CM - Washington Internship  (Washington Program course)
  • Research assistantships might include a minimum of one semester’s work at one of CMC’s policy-related research institutes, such as the Rose Institute or the Lowe Institute, or another semester- or summer-long research assistant position with the approval of the program director.


  • Students who complete the Washington Program  will fulfill four of the major’s requirements (the Policy Process requirement, two electives, and the internship/research assistantship requirement).

Senior Thesis in Public Policy

The senior thesis is a general education requirement and the capstone experience of a student’s undergraduate education. Students must complete a senior thesis in at least 1 of their majors under supervision of a faculty reader who teaches within that major, unless granted a special exception.

A non-credit senior thesis seminar is required for students seeking honors in the major. Students seeking honors in Public Policy should consult with the program director about their thesis plans prior to registration for the senior year.

Special Options for Majors

Dual Major

Dual majors may waive 2 electives, for a minimum of 7 courses in the major. Dual majors must complete at least one Economics and one Government elective.

Honors in Public Policy

To receive honors in Public Policy, a student must:

  • Attain a grade point average of 10.50 or better in the major at time of graduation,
  • Satisfactorily participate in a non-credit, co-curricular Public Policy thesis preparation course,
  • Complete a 2-semester, 2-unit thesis in public policy with a grade of A- (11.00) or better, and
  • Complete a thesis defense and attend a specified number of thesis defenses.


For additional information on the honors program, contact the program director of the major.

General Education Requirements for Social Science Majors

For the general education requirement in the social sciences and the humanities, CMC students majoring in a field in the social sciences must take designated courses in all 4 fields of the social sciences (economics, government, history, and psychology), and in 2 of the 4 fields of the humanities (literature, philosophy, religious studies, and literature in a foreign language). Majors with a dual or double major in the humanities will be required to take courses in 3 of the 4 fields of the humanities.

Learning Goals and Student Learning Outcomes of the Public Policy Major

Learning Goals

In this major, students will learn to:

  • Apply tools and concepts from economics and political science to the analysis of policy issues,
  • Use quantitative and qualitative evidence to develop policy recommendations,
  • Communicate complex ideas clearly and persuasively in written and oral forms, and
  • Develop other professional skills including project management and teamwork.

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the major, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the public policy process, including problem identification, agenda setting, policy formation, budgeting, implementation, evaluation, and the roles of various institutions and political actors in policy-making;
  • Evaluate the ways in which policies make trade-offs among competing values and the extent to which they arise from and fulfill differing conceptions of justice and the common good;
  • Demonstrate a detailed understanding of applied economic concepts related to policy analysis such as market failure, moral hazard, and adverse selection;
  • Gather policy information, create data sets, and produce clear visualizations to convey quantitative information;
  • Use, and critically evaluate others’ use of, quantitative and analytical tools including statistical inference, regression analysis, program evaluation, and cost-benefit analysis;
  • Compose written policy reports and memoranda, and deliver oral presentations, to a professional standard; and
  • Manage complex projects, communicate professionally with clients, and work collaboratively in teams.

Evaluation Methods

Students will demonstrate mastery of the above subjects through:

  • Exams that test understanding and application of quantitative skills, economic concepts, political process, and substantive policy;
  • Individually producing and presenting policy reports and memoranda from independent research to a professional standard; and
  • Demonstrating applied policy analysis skills in working with policy practitioners, through both an internship and the Policy Lab.