Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Joint Program in Public Policy?
- The Joint Program in Public Policy is Georgetown’s academic home for all undergraduate degree programs in public policy. It is jointly administered by the College of Arts & Sciences and the McCourt School of Public Policy, and offers undergraduates in the class of 2027 and beyond the opportunity to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts (AB) in Public Policy.
- While we do not yet offer the opportunity to minor in public policy we expect to add that option in the coming years.
What is Public Policy?
- Public policy is the set of rules, regulations and programs that local, sub-national and national governments use to address a wide range of real-world problems. Check out our video, What is Public Policy, for a high level overview of this interdisciplinary degree.
Why study public policy? What will the program prepare me to do post-graduation?
- Choosing to study public policy means choosing to be a part of a close-knit and immersive learning community at Georgetown. You’ll spend your first two years exploring the liberal arts curriculum on the Hilltop, before transitioning to the Capitol Campus to build specialized skills and experience at the center of the policy world.
- Offered for the first time to the Class of 2027 and beyond, the program offers the opportunity to build on Georgetown’s signature liberal arts education, gaining the critical analytical and decision making skills you’ll need whether you go on to lead in government, nonprofits, or the private sector or pursue advanced degrees in law or other professional programs.
- Graduates leave prepared to solve critical challenges in their communities in careers within think tanks and research institutes, multilateral and international aid organizations, consulting firms, nonprofits and advocacy organizations, congressional offices, federal agencies, state and local government, and government affairs offices, among many others.
What is the curriculum like?
- Like all undergraduate degrees, students in the public policy program will complete 120 credits over their time at Georgetown.
- This begins by completing Georgetown’s signature liberal arts core curriculum, through which students gain exposure to and engagement in a broad variety of disciplines and approaches to knowledge.
- Offered by exemplary faculty in the College of Arts & Sciences, core coursework offers opportunities for students to explore: Writing (1 course); Theology and Religious Studies (2 courses); Philosophy (2 courses); Humanities, Arts, and Culture (1 course); Math/Computer Science (1 course); Science for All (1 course); Social Sciences (2 courses); Foreign Language through the intermediate level; and Engaging Diversity (2 courses).
- Several of these requirements may be met through coursework within the public policy major, or through advanced credit upon entry to Georgetown.
- During their first two years, students may formally declare the public policy major after completing the pre-requisite course, PPOL 2000: How Public Policy Works, taught by standout McCourt School faculty – Professors Nora Gordon and Eva Rosen.
- Through weekly guest lectures, the course explores how public policy is made, who makes it, and how it shapes the world. The one semester course exposes undergraduates to real world problems like housing affordability, educational achievement gaps, the climate crisis, and ethical implications of AI technology, among many others, guided by McCourt faculty members and guest speakers who in many cases have written the book on these challenges and their solutions.
- Should you decide not to major in public policy, PPOL 2000 also counts as one of your social science core requirements and as an elective toward the government major and minor.
- In the first two years, students will complete half the degree (60 credits) on the Hilltop, including How Public Policy Works, core requirements, and electives.
- The second two years consist of an additional 60 credits, including 30 in the public policy major and 33 exploratory electives. See more detail on major requirements below.
- Students will enter the program ready to tackle the many complex, interconnected challenges communities around the world are facing today, and they will graduate equipped to make change, whether in federal agencies or international aid organizations, think tanks or advanced degree programs, public office or private companies.
What are the specific course requirements of the Public Policy major?
- Students begin by building a foundational set of analytical skills through the four-course public policy core sequence (typically taken as juniors on the Capitol Campus):
- PPOL 3000: Introduction to Statistics for Public Policy
- PPOL 3001: Economics for Public Policy
- PPOL 3002: Political Analysis for Public Policy
- PPOL 3003: Policy Implementation
- Students then choose five electives (at least 15 credits) designated as PPOL 3100 or higher, including:
- At least two methods electives (6 credits) to build a robust toolkit in data analytics, visualization, measurement and evaluation.
- At least three electives (9 credits) within specific policy issue areas: Environmental policy, international development policy, political strategy and governance, and social policy. One of these electives must be a signature course, which provides a broad survey of one of the issue areas.
- Lastly, students will complete an experiential course (1-4 credits) through an internship seminar or policy lab, facilitated by the McCourt School’s prime location on the Capitol Campus at the center of policy making.
- Internships: Students can choose to pursue internships in federal, local government and international agencies, think tanks, non-profit organizations, and research centers – meeting with McCourt faculty through a weekly seminar to reflect on this professional experience.
- Policy Lab: Students will also be able to engage with clients to design policy solutions for a range of challenges, such as strengthening democratic institutions, incentivizing adoption of clean energy technology, eliminating health disparities, or addressing affordable housing shortages.
How will it work to live and study across two campuses?
- Public policy students have the unique opportunity to live and study on two campuses, spending their first two years immersed on the Hilltop, before completing the second half of their time at Georgetown on the Capitol Campus immersed in the policy world. In this sense, public policy students will have the best of both worlds: the residential small college experience and the urban university experience.
- As juniors, students will transition to the Capitol Campus to complete their final two years at the McCourt School in a brand new building next door to the Georgetown University Law Center, and blocks away from the Hill, federal agencies, local government offices, NGOs, think tanks, and countless other opportunities to get out of the classroom and into get real world experience.
- As a requirement of the program, students live on the Capitol Campus as juniors and seniors. Students will have the opportunity to live in an apartment-style residential community at the new, state-of-the-art dorm facility at 55 H Street NW or choose to live off-campus. This flexibility is unique to students enrolled on the Capitol Campus, and gives them the chance to take full advantage of the downtown location. (Note that Juniors will need to obtain approval from the Office of Student Affairs to live in non-GU housing.)
- Students will also be able to access Georgetown’s downtown hub for student life at 111 Mass Avenue (coming in Fall 2025), with health and wellness services, library services, dining options, and many other academic and student life resources designed just for Capitol Campus students.
How will advising work?
- For your first two years at Georgetown, your primary academic advisor will be housed in the College of Arts & Sciences Dean’s Office. Your advising dean will help you declare public policy as your program of study and develop a roadmap to complete the requirements of both the Georgetown core and the public policy major across two campuses. A McCourt advisor will be well-connected with your Hilltop advisor to help answer questions about the Capitol Campus experience and welcome students to McCourt, even as they are living on the Hilltop.
- Between sophomore and junior year, as your studies transition from the Hilltop to the Capitol Campus, so will academic advising. You will be assigned an advisor based in the McCourt School, who can offer you specialized support to navigate the major, complete the remaining requirements of your degree, and make the most of your time on the Capitol Campus.
What can students expect from the Capitol Campus?
- We aim to cultivate close-knit cohorts of students (50 in early years, growing to 200), through exclusive events and social opportunities while you are still on the Hilltop, and preparing you to thrive after your transition to the Capitol Campus.
- Undergraduate students on the Capitol Campus will have access to:
- The new, state-of-the-art dorm facility at 55 H Street NW, Georgetown’s first residence hall open to graduate students. Opened in fall of 2022, this apartment-style residential community houses both undergraduate and graduate students. More information about 55 H Street NW can be found here.
- Georgetown is in the process of renovating and transforming a new space at 111 Massachusetts Ave to serve as a hub for student services such as academic resources and support, financial services, dining options, information technology, and health, wellness and safety services.
- Thanks to its location, we expect the McCourt School will be a dynamic hub for the Capitol Campus – serving as a vibrant home for undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, staff and community members, welcoming a rotating series of guest speakers, community events, student group activities, research seminars and conferences, nearly every night of the week.
- Students in the joint program in public policy will also have the chance to take courses in other undergraduate programs on the Capitol Campus – whether at the newly launched Earth Commons Institute, through the Capitol Applied Learning Lab, School of Continued Studies, or programs affiliated with the new Schools of Health and Nursing in the coming years.
- Additionally, undergraduates will be a part of a learning community that includes graduate students at the McCourt School, Law Center, and School of Continuing Studies.
How and when can first-year applicants and current Georgetown students enter the program?
- First-year applicants to Georgetown’s class of 2028 may affiliate with the joint program in public policy by selecting that option on the first-year application.
- Like all of Georgetown’s undergraduate programs, applications are reviewed and admissions decisions are made by the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. Similarly, decisions about scholarships and financial aid are made by the Office of Student Financial Services.
- Students in the class of 2027 and later may also enter the program as a first-year or sophomore by working with their advising dean to declare public policy as their program of study, and develop a roadmap to complete the program’s requirements over their time at Georgetown and across its campuses.
I am a Georgetown College of Arts & Sciences student. Will I still be a part of the College community if I enter the public policy program?
- Yes. As a joint degree student, you get the best of both worlds. While you will also have access to exclusive events and distinctive programming offered by the McCourt School and downtown-based programs, you will continue to have access to the wide variety of learning and social opportunities offered to students in the College of Arts & Sciences and Georgetown more broadly.
- As a joint degree student, you will have access to Capitol Campus events organized by new and existing McCourt School student clubs and GU Politics. You will also have access to a wide range of events on the Hilltop organized by student clubs, GU Politics and other convenings (see more here for how to connect between campuses).
- Joint degree students can participate in class-related activities such as Senior Week, Senior Convocation and Graduation ceremonies on the Hilltop or in other locations.
What courses outside of the McCourt School can I take as a junior or senior?
- Even as students develop rigorous policy expertise and problem solving skills through the public policy major, their bedrock liberal arts work continues on the Capitol Campus.
- Students should expect to take all coursework as juniors and seniors on the Capitol Campus, choosing from a range of curated electives taught by faculty in the College of Arts & Sciences and offered downtown.
Can I minor in public policy?
- As of Spring 2023, we do not yet offer the opportunity to minor in public policy. Stay tuned, as we expect to add such a program in the coming years.
If I’m a public policy major, can I double major or minor in another academic program?
- Because courses taken as juniors and seniors are limited to those available on the Capitol Campus, students in the program will likely be unable to pursue a second major offered on the Hilltop. A minor may be possible if coursework can be completed between Hilltop and Capitol Campus courses.
- In the near future, we expect to offer a special suite of minors tailored to policy majors’ interests.
Do I have to move to the Capitol Campus to major in public policy?
- Yes. As a requirement of the program, students will be asked to move from the Hilltop to the Capitol Campus as juniors and seniors.
- We expect students will be able to best take advantage of the tremendous learning and engagement opportunities available at the McCourt School, on the broader Capitol Campus, and in DC by living downtown as junior and seniors, either at the brand new residences at 55 H or through off-campus housing.
- Within your first two years at Georgetown while still on the Hilltop, you will work with your advising dean to devise your academic roadmap to complete your degree across the two campuses and with program staff to plan for the move downtown.
I am on a sports team/want to participate in student clubs – how can I participate if I live downtown?
- Participating in Hilltop-based programs with significant time commitments, while in residence downtown as juniors and seniors, will require careful planning. Georgetown provides a free shuttle bus service, the Downtown Campus Shuttle, which regularly runs between campuses and makes stops at 640 Massachusetts Ave (the School of Continuing Studies), 55 H Street (Law Center and Capitol Campus), and the Hilltop. We expect students with significant time commitments on the Hilltop, particularly as members of sports teams, will need to work closely with their academic advisor to design a roadmap that will best set themselves up for success.
- While students may continue to access student clubs on Hilltop, students will also have access to a robust offering of downtown-based clubs, including opportunities to engage with graduate students at the McCourt School and Law Center, and use their time outside of coursework to take advantage of their prime location to pursue internships and attend a variety of events.
Can I study abroad if I’m in the joint program?
- Yes – but this will require careful planning with your Hilltop and/or Capitol Campus advisors to ensure that you are able to complete degree requirements on time. The Joint Program in Public Policy is currently working to identify suitable summer and semester-based study abroad programs that are compatible with the two-campus degree.
Can international students pursue the joint program?
- Yes – international students are eligible to enroll in the joint program. To complete the degree’s off-campus internship requirements, international students will need to obtain the relevant curricula practical training authorization through the Office for Global Services.
Is there an opportunity to do an AB/MPP?
- Students who are interested in continuing from a Bachelor of Arts or Sciences degree at Georgetown to complete a Master in Public Policy (MPP) or any other graduate degrees at the McCourt School, may apply in their senior year for consideration for admission into our graduate programs.
- In the coming years, we plan to add an accelerated program, enabling students to complete the MPP degree – typically a two year program – in less time, by enabling students to begin working toward those requirements while still undergraduates.
Are there tuition/cost of living differences between the two campuses?
- Tuition and fees for students enrolled in the joint program in public policy are the same as those for other Georgetown undergraduate students (summarized here).
- As both juniors and seniors, students may choose to live on campus at 55 H Street or secure off-campus housing. This flexibility is unique to students on the Capitol Campus, giving students the chance to take full advantage of the downtown location. (Note that Juniors will need to obtain approval from the Office of Student Affairs to live in non-GU housing)
Can I get a tour of the Capitol Campus?
- Yes, the McCourt School looks forward to welcoming prospective undergraduate students for tours of our new building at 125 E Street NW in the spring of 2024. The calendar for these tours will be shared on the joint program website and via email. Tours of the student residence at 55 H St NW can be arranged through the Residential living team.
Can I attend events at the McCourt School if I’m not in the joining program?
- Yes. Unless explicitly stated, all McCourt School events are open to members of the Georgetown community.
What if I want to switch my major from Public Policy to another major in the College of Arts & Sciences?
- You can switch from the joint program by completing the College’s Academic Program Change form and getting the required approvals from the Director of Undergraduate studies in the new program within the College. Please contact your Capitol Campus advisor to get additional guidance on relocation to the Hilltop.