Public policy

Study mode:On campus Study type:Full-time Languages: English
Local:$ 60.1 k / Year(s) Foreign:$ 60.1 k / Year(s) Deadline: Jan 1, 2024
9 place StudyQA ranking:646 Duration:4 years You need IELTS certificate

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The Woodrow Wilson School offers a multidisciplinary liberal arts major for students who are passionate about public policy.

The goal of the major is to provide students with the capacity to:

  • think analytically and critically;
  • deliberate collectively;
  • balance competing interests; 
  • think about public policy issues in a broader ethical framework;
  • communicate effectively; and
  • cultivate initiative, entrepreneurship and leadership. 

The School's curriculum is an interdisciplinary program consisting chiefly of courses from the social sciences. In addition to a task force and a policy research seminar, each student is required to take core courses and to complete a set number of courses in one of a choice of policy areas. The curriculum combines knowledge and perspective from multiple disciplines while ensuring the mastery of one subject or set of issues sufficient to provide a foundation for future expertise.

Majors are required to know or take statistics and must be able to use the basics of single-variable calculus in order to take economics courses and some of the courses in science policy. Students also are required to complete at least one foreign language course beyond the University requirement. In addition, WWS requires a cross-cultural experience, such as study abroad, or policy-relevant field experience, such as an internship in the U.S. or abroad.

There are four prerequisites for concentrating in the Woodrow Wilson School:

1. A course in Statistics
2. A course in Microeconomics
3. A course in History
4. A course in Politics, Sociology or Psychology

Prerequisites must be completed prior to the beginning of the fall term of the junior year.

All courses taken to meet these prerequisites must be taken on a graded basis (no pass/D/fail). AP courses or courses in which students receive a grade of D may not be used to fulfill prerequisites. Note: A freshman seminar cannot be counted as a prerequisite, and one course cannot be used to fulfill more than one prerequisite.

Prerequisites can be satisfied by the following courses:

One Course in Statistics

  • WWS 200 Statistics for Social Science
  • ECO 202 Statistics and Data Analysis for Economics
  • ECO 302 Econometrics
  • ECO 312 Econometrics: A Mathematical Approach
  • ORF 245 Fundamentals of Engineering Statistics
  • POL 345 Quantitative Analysis in Politics
  • POL 346 Applied Quantitative Analysis

One Course in Microeconomics

  • ECO 100 Introduction to Microeconomics
  • ECO 300 Microeconomic Theory
  • ECO 310 Microeconomic Theory: A Mathematical Approach
  • WWS 300 Microeconomic for Public Policy

One History course at any level (designated HIS)
A cross-listed course with a HIS designation may also be used. Courses in the HA distribution area do not qualify unless they are designated HIS.  For example, courses in NES or SOC that are in the HA distribution area do not fulfill this requirement unless they are cross-listed with HIS.

One Politics, Sociology or Psychology at any level (designated POL, SOC, or PSY)
Cross-listed courses with these designations can also be used. A course taken to meet the statistics requirement cannot be used to meet this requirement.

All courses that meet prerequisites must be taken before September of the junior year. A summer course or a course taken abroad can be used to meet a WWS prerequisite if the course is certified by the relevant department as equivalent to one of the courses offered at Princeton that would meet the prerequisite and the course is approved for Princeton credit. No more than two prerequisites may be taken over the summer. Any course taken outside of Princeton to meet the statistics prerequisite must also be approved by the WWS Undergraduate Program Office (approval is granted only for special circumstances).

Courses taken at Princeton and used as a prerequisite can also be used to meet either a WWS core requirement (if it is on the list of core requirements) or as a WWS elective (if it is on the electives list).

Core Course Requirements

Prior to graduation, WWS students must complete the core course requirements listed below. All courses used to meet these requirements must be taken at Princeton on a graded basis (no pdf). Courses taken to meet elective requirements cannot be used to fulfill core requirements.

One Course in Microeconomics

  • WWS 300 Microeconomics for Public Policy
  • ECO 300 Microeconomic Theory
  • ECO 310 Microeconomic Theory: A Mathematical Approach

One Course in Politics

  • POL 220/WWS 310 American Politics
  • POL 230/WWS 325 Introduction to Comparative Politics
  • POL 240/WWS 312 International Relations
  • POL 351/WWS 311 Politics in Developing Countries

One Course in Sociology or Psychology

  • WWS 330 Population and Public Policy
  • WWS 331 Race and Public Policy
  • WWS 333/SOC 326 Law, Institutions and Public Policy
  • WWS 340 The Psychology of Decision-Making and Judgment
  • WWS 344/PSY 312 The Psychology of Social Influence
  • AAS 384/PSY 384 Prejudice: Its Causes, Consequences, and Cures

One Course in Science Policy

  • WWS 350 The Environment: Science and Public Policy
  • WWS 351 Information Technology and Public Policy
  • WWS 353 Science and Global Security
  • WWS 354 Modern Genetics & Public Policy
  • CEE 334/WWS 452 Global Environmental Issues
  • ENV 304/WWS 455 Disease, Ecology, Economics and Policy
  • GEO 366/WWS 451 Climate Change: Scientific Basis, Policy Implications

One Course in Ethics

  • WWS 370 Ethics and Public Policy
  • POL 307 Systematic Ethics
  • POL 313 Global Justice
  • CHV 310/PHI 385 Practical Ethics
  • PHI 307/CHV 311 Systematic Ethics
  • PHI 309/CHV 309 Political Philosophy
  • PHI 319/CHV 319 Normative Ethics
  • REL261/CHV 261 Christian Ethics and Modern Society

Elective Courses

Each student must complete four electives on a graded basis (no pdf) from a list issued by WWS.

No more than three electives can be courses listed or cross-listed by the same department. Methodology courses that are on the electives list and all WWS courses will be exempt, but cross-listings on WWS courses will count.

Up to three elective courses can be taken in semester-long study abroad programs. Electives taken at Princeton must be taken on a graded basis. Summer courses may not be used as electives.

Independent Work

To satisfy the junior independent work requirement, each student must complete one policy task force and one policy research seminar in the junior year. The policy research seminar will include a methods laboratory and will also count as a course.

In the task forces, a small group of juniors works together with a faculty director, one or two seniors, and, often, a graduate student toward proposing solutions to current problems in public and international affairs. Each junior conducts research on a topic carefully chosen to shed light on the larger problem that is central to the group. The principal collective product is a final report with policy recommendations, drafted after debates among the entire group.

In the policy research seminars, a faculty member supervises a small group of students similarly engaged in research on a specific topic in public and international affairs. Students also participate in a methods lab designed to teach them methods for quantitative and qualitative research. An important aim of all of the elements of the research seminar is to prepare students for their senior thesis work.

Each student must complete a senior thesis that clearly articulates a research question about a significant public policy issue and draws conclusions that contribute to the debate on that issue.

Senior Departmental Examination

The Woodrow Wilson School senior comprehensive examination is an oral defense of the senior thesis that also tests the student's ability to integrate the senior thesis with coursework.

Study Abroad

Any concentrator may study abroad in one of the WWS overseas programs in the first or second semester of the junior year. In recent years, WWS has had programs at the University of Oxford, the Institute of Political and Social Sciences in Paris, the University of Cape Town in South Africa, and several other locations around the world. At each site, students enroll in coursework at the host university and take a WWS task force in place of a task force in Princeton.

Cross-Cultural or Field Experience Requirement

Prior to the second semester of the senior year, each student must have completed a requirement for approved cross-cultural or field experience. The requirement may be satisfied in a number of ways, including but not limited to semester study abroad, summer study abroad, summer language study abroad, policy-relevant summer jobs abroad, ROTC training, senior thesis research in the field, extended service in an underserved community, or an internship involving public policy work in a nonprofit, government, or international agency such as the United Nations, the World Bank, the US Congress, or a state or federal agency.

Summer study, language study, or thesis research must be done for at least four weeks to qualify (please note that to meet the WWS language requirement, below, with a new foreign language, eight weeks of summer study is required). Internships, jobs, or community service must be for at least six consecutive weeks or 240 hours.

Cross-cultural or field experience gained during the freshman or sophomore year or as a participant in the Bridge Year Program may count toward this requirement. To meet this requirement, all past or proposed work must be approved by the WWS Undergraduate Program Office.

Language Requirement

WWS majors must complete at least one foreign language course beyond the current University requirement. This may be done by:

(1) taking an additional course (200 or 300 level) in the language used to meet the University requirement. Either a language course or a course taught in the foreign language may be used; or

(2) taking a course at least at the 102 level in a language other than the one used to fulfill the University foreign language requirement.

Courses used to meet this requirement may be taken at Princeton or elsewhere; all courses must be taken on a graded basis.

When they declare their concentration, students who are bilingual may apply to WWS to have this requirement waived.

  1. Submit
    • A Completed Application. You must submit your application online through either the Common Application, Coalition Application or the Universal College Application. 
    • Princeton's Supplement. In addition to the application provided by the Common Application, Coalition Application or Universal College Application, all applicants must submit the Princeton Supplement. You should submit the Princeton Supplement online through the Common Application, Coalition Application or Universal College Application website. 
    • Application Fee or Fee Waiver. You may submit a fee waiver one of two ways: 1) Select the fee waiver option on the Common Application, Coalition Application or Universal College Application. Your college or guidance counselor must approve your fee waiver request online or submit your fee waiver form by mail or fax. 2) Select one of the following fee waiver options on the Princeton Supplement: Princeton-specific, ACT, College Board, NACAC or Realize Your College Potential. All low-income students are eligible for the Princeton-specific fee waiver. Students named QuestBridge Finalists should select the QuestBridge fee waiver. If you use the Princeton-specific fee waiver, you do not need to get approval from your college counselor. Learn more about fee waivers on the How to Apply page.
  2. Request
    • Transcript. An official transcript must be sent by a guidance counselor or school official.
    • School Report (SR). The SR form is available from the Common Application and Universal College Application websites. Please ask your guidance counselor or other school official to complete and submit the SR form. If you are using the Coalition Application, the SR and counselor recommendation are uploaded as one item.
    • Counselor Recommendation. If you are using the Common Application online, please note that the SR and the Counselor Recommendation are separate items. Be sure to 'invite' your guidance counselor or academic adviser to complete both items. If you are using the Coalition Application, please invite your counselor to upload the counselor recommendation and school report.
    • Two (2) Teacher Recommendations. Please ask two of your teachers from different academic areas of study to complete and send the teacher recommendation forms, available on the Common Application, Coalition Application and Universal College Application websites. Choose teachers who have taught you in higher-level courses.
    • Mid-year School Report. Please ask your guidance counselor or other school official to complete and submit this form when your mid-year grades are available. The form may be found on the Common Application, Coalition Application and Universal Application websites.
  3. Report
    • SAT with Essay or ACT with Writing. Early action applicants are strongly encouraged to complete their SAT with Essay or ACT with Writing test before the Nov. 1 deadline. Regular decision applicants should take the SAT with Essay test by the January test date or take the ACT with Writing by the December date. When registering for the SAT or ACT, use the following codes to ensure your scores are sent to Princeton: SAT: 2672 and ACT: 2588. Learn more about standardized testing for admission.
    • SAT Subject Tests. We recommend, but do not require, the submission of two SAT Subject Tests, which often assist us in the evaluation process. We have no preference for the specific SAT Subject Tests applicants might choose to take. However, if you apply for the Bachelor of Science in Engineering degree, we recommend that you take mathematics Level I or II, and either physics or chemistry. If you decide to submit Subject Tests, early action applicants should take them by the November test date, and regular decision applicants should take them by the January test date. Learn more about standardized testing for admission.
    • TOEFL, IELTS or PTE Academic scores. If English is not your native language and you are attending a school where English is not the language of instruction, you must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the International English Language Testing System Academic (IELTS Academic) or the Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic), in addition to the SAT with Essay or ACT with Writing. You are not required to take the TOEFL, IELTS or PTE Academic if English is your native language or if you have spent at least three years at a secondary school where English is the primary language of instruction. Please have your scores sent directly to Princeton: TOEFL: 2672

Optional Application Components

  • Arts Form, if applicable. If you've excelled in architecture, creative writing, dance, music, theater or visual arts, and would like us to consider your talent, consult Princeton's online Optional Arts Form. Early action applicants must submit digital arts materials by Nov. 7; regular decision applicants must submit digital arts materials by Jan. 6. You can only submit your online Optional Arts Form after we have received the Common Application, Coalition Application or Universal College Application. If you are unable to submit online, please use the paper Optional Arts Form. For a list of acceptable file formats and submission types, review our Optional Arts Form page. For more information on the optional arts supplement, please visit our FAQs page.
  • Interview. Depending on availability, once you have applied, you may be invited to interview with a member of one of our Princeton Alumni Schools Committees. If so, we encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity. Interviews take place after the Admission Office has received your application. Many Princeton Alumni Schools Committees have enough volunteers to offer every applicant an interview. As the interview is not a required element of the application, you will not be at a disadvantage if an interview is not available in your area. We do not offer on-campus interviews. Please visit our FAQs page for more information.

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Study mode:On campus Languages: English
Foreign:$ 69.8 k / Year(s)
Deadline: Jan 10, 2024 120 place StudyQA ranking: 1129 You need IELTS certificate