Public Policy

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All academic programs offered at the UM help students develop valuable transferable skills. The Ford School bachelor’s degree program is a competitive interdisciplinary program open to qualified students interested in national and global policy challenges. Students apply during their sophomore year and transfer to the Ford School their junior and senior years. Fifty to sixty students are admitted each year.

As a Public Policy concentrator, you will take courses in Public Policy, Economics, Statistics, and Political Science to develop your analytical skills and substantive knowledge. You will learn to think critically, collaborate on teams, and express yourself clearly and concisely in writing and in oral presentations.

Related fields include Political Science, Economics, History, International Studies, Communications, Sociology, Psychology, Public Health, Mathematics, Statistics, and Survey Research.


Quantitative / Financial Skills

Understanding survey research methods
Evaluating financial reports
Performing cost / benefit analysis
Understanding budgets

Research / Analytical Skills

Defining problems
Understanding the dimensions of complex problems
Assessing needs
Developing research designs and models
Relating theory to practice
Interpreting data
Understanding research findings
Understanding policy reports
Interpreting issues and evidence
Evaluating proposed policy solutions

Interpersonal Skills

Working in teams
Understanding different viewpoints
Mediating / negotiating conflicts
Synthesizing different perspectives
Making decisions

Communication Skills

Writing policy proposals
Creating models / visuals to represent complex data
Presenting ideas and evidence clearly
Influencing and persuading others
Speaking in public


Employers seek out individuals who can demonstrate excellent verbal and written communication skills, teamwork and interpersonal skills, initiative, and a strong work ethic. Student organizations, research with Public Policy faculty members, and campus employment offer valuable opportunities to add to the skills you are developing in your classes. Other options include off-campus employment or volunteering in the community.

Public Policy students are typically highly involved in campus life and hold leadership positions in organizations like Michigan Student Assembly, the Roosevelt Institute, College Democrats, College Republicans and Greek Life. Many have participated in the Career Center’s Summer Public Service Internship Program (PSIP) in Washington, DC. Concentrators are encouraged to spend a semester studying away from Ann Arbor; options include study abroad, Michigan in Washington, or the Semester in Detroit.


Public Policy concentrators develop both general and technical skills applicable to a wide range of careers. For example, the ability to define a problem and conduct research may be equally useful whether working as a foundation project manager, a corporate recruiter, or a freelance journalist. Many concentrators go on to graduate or professional school. The list below is a sample of careers undertaken by Public Policy graduates.

Quantitative / Financial Skills

Budget analyst, state and federal level
Budget analyst, utility company
Legislative aide, state senate finance committee
Sustainability consultant green leaf icon

Research / Analytical Skills

Policy analyst, federal and state government
Policy analyst, non-profits
Research scientist, higher education open book icon
Legislative aide
Intelligence officer
Urban planner open book icon
Public interest lawyer open book icon

Interpersonal Skills

Manager of a public agency
Management consultant
Foundation program officer
Foreign service officer open book icon
Grassroots organizer and advocate

Communication Skills

Elected official
Election campaign staffer
Public affairs officer
Journalist / reporter all media
Editor / editorial assistant

green leaf icon = Green Jobs
open book icon = Further Study Required

For more career information, see O*Net at


The program combines core courses in economics, political science and statistics with policy electives that develop students’ analytical skills and substantive knowledge.

Prerequisites to apply include Econ 101 and 102 and one additional introductory social science class, such as Public Policy 201 or various courses in Political Science, History, Sociology, or Communications.

The concentration requires 16 credit hours of core courses in Public Policy as well as Stats 250. Concentrators will also take 18 hours of electives in a subject area of their own choosing.

For more information visit the website below.

Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy
Joan and Sanford Weill Hall
735 South State Street


For internships in Washington, DC, visit either: or

Semester in Detroit can be found at:

To explore opportunities for overseas study and work, go to: or

To begin connecting to professionals in fields that interest you, create your own LinkedIn account:

To identify internships or job opportunities, visit Handshake:

Maize Pages list hundreds of organizations for students to get involved in:

On-campus jobs (work-study and non work-study jobs) are listed at:

The Career Center
3200 Student Activities Building

The Career Guide series was developed by the University of Michigan Career Center, Division of Student Affairs, in cooperation with the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. ©2013 Regents of the University of Michigan