Public Policy and Law Major Requirements

Trinity Public Policy and Law Major Requirements

Public Policy and Law Bachelor of Arts Major Requirements:

The public policy and law major requires 14 courses consisting of: three foundation courses, four core courses, three courses and a one-credit academic internship in a chosen concentration, two electives chosen from an approved list, and one senior seminar.

Only courses passed with a grade of C- or better will count toward the major.

Students considering the public policy major are strongly urged to take ECON 101: Basic Economic Principles, PBPL 123: Fundamentals of American Law, and POLS 102: American National Government prior to declaring the major. These three courses are important for understanding the basic elements of public policy debate and are a prerequisite for certain upper-level courses students may wish to elect later in the program.

Foundation courses (three courses): All students must take the following courses. They are not sequential, but it is recommended that students take PBPL 201 first.

  • PBPL 201. Introduction to American Public Policy.
  • PBPL 202. Law, Argument, and Public Policy.
  • PBPL 220. Research Methods and Evaluation.

Core courses (four courses): All students must take a course in each of four core areas.

  • Ethics (PHIL 246, PHIL 355, or another appropriate course approved in advance by the program director).
  • Statistics (MATH 107, MATH 207 or another appropriate course approved in advance by the program director).
  • Legal history (POLS 316, PBPL 302, PBPL 377, or another appropriate course approved in advance by the program director).
  • Institutions of American government (PBPL 251, PBPL 264, POLS 309, or another appropriate course approved in advance by the program director).

Concentrations (three courses and a one-credit academic internship): All students must select one of the concentrations specified below and take three courses from an approved list that are chosen in consultation with their adviser. Students must also complete an integrated internship in their area of concentration. One senior thesis credit may count as a concentration course.

  • Arts policy
  • Educational policy
  • Environmental policy
  • Health policy
  • Human rights and international policy
  • Law and society
  • Policy analysis
  • Urban Policy

Alternatively, students may, with the approval of their adviser and the director of the program, pursue a self-designed concentration.

The Writing Intensive Part II requirement is fulfilled by one of the following courses: PBPL 201, PBPL 202, PHIL 355, PBPL 401, PBPL 498.

Electives (two courses): One empirically-focused, policy-oriented elective and one cross-cultural, policy-oriented elective must be selected from a list of courses made available to students each term.

Senior Seminar: All students will take the 400-level senior seminar, which serves as the senior exercise. The specific topics for the seminar will vary from year to year.

Public Policy and Law Master of Arts Requirements:

5 Core Courses.

3 Courses in Analysis and Management:

  • PBPL 800. Public Policy: Principles and Practice (fall).
  • PBPL 806. Research Methods (spring).
  • PBPL 846. Policy Analysis (fall).
  • PBPL 840. Budget Management in Public Policy (spring).

​2 Courses in Institutions, Law, Ethics:

  • PBPL 828. Institutions and Public Policy (spring).
  • PBPL 808. Constitutional Foundations of Public Policy (spring) or *PBPL 830. The Federal Courts and Public Policy (summer).
  • PBPL 806. Moral Theory and Public Policy (fall).

3-4 Electives. Sample of recent electives:

  • PBPL 849. Health Care Regulation and Policy (fall).
  • PBPL 830. The Federal Courts and Public Policy (summer).
  • PBPL 820. Policy and Health Equity (spring).
  • PBPL 817. Education Policy (summer).
  • PBPL 802. Law and Environmental Policy (spring).
  • PBPL 840. Budget Management in Public Policy (spring).


  • One-semester final capstone project.

Additional Opportunities:

Thesis work and Honors: Students who maintain an average of at least A- in courses counted toward the major and an overall 3.0 GPA will be invited to write a senior thesis. Program faculty will review thesis proposals and determine whether students can pursue thesis work. Students must earn an A- or higher on the thesis in order to graduate with honors. Only students who write a thesis are eligible for honors in the major. Students who fall just below the A- average may petition the program director to write a thesis on the basis of exceptional circumstances.

Study Away: While the Trinity programs in Barcelona, Paris, and Rome offer excellent study abroad opportunities, public policy majors interested in foreign study should also be aware of The Swedish Program at Stockholm University, which was specially created “to develop an understanding of how organizations and public policy in Sweden address economic, political, and social issues relevant to all Western industrial societies.” The Center for European Studies at Maastricht, the Danish Institute for Study Abroad, and Washington Semester at American University also offer programs that are particularly well suited to Public Policy and Law majors. For additional information students should refer to the updated study abroad listings available at the Office of Study Away.