Is Public Policy Right for Me?
Choosing a major is an important decision. Fortunately, Duke University offers extensive resources to guide you. Even before you arrive on campus, you can start charting your path with the people and resources at the Duke Academic Advising Center. Students must declare a major by the beginning of spring break in their sophomore year.
When considering the public policy major, think about what you hope to accomplish in life. Then work backwards to see what types of courses and experiences will prepare you for this. What will you value most? What will you be remembered for?
"There is a public policy application for every discipline at Duke and for every one of the challenges we face in this world. Public policy is pivotal for understanding what the core issues are and the analysis needed to develop and activate adequate solutions. Public policy is even more relevant today – in fact, it is mission critical right now."
- Lori Cashman, PPS’94, co-founder of venture capital firm Victress Capital
CONSIDER WHAT PUBLIC POLICY ALUMNI SAY
The original graduating class of Public Policy Studies (PPS) undergraduate majors in 1974 had four students. From that start the department has graduated more than 3,500 undergraduate majors.
Here’s what some of our alumni have said:
- They enjoyed the interdisciplinary nature of the major
- They liked the freedom to construct their own course of study
- They continue to use analytical tools taught in Introduction to Policy Analysis (PPS 155), including decision analysis and negotiation tactics
- Learning to write a concise memo is a valuable skill for almost any pursuit, including law, business, and government
- The required internship experience was a highlight
- Ethics classes forced them to think and communicate their ideas
Gaby Battle PPS'23 chose public policy because she is passionate about improving the lives of underserved communities, specifically women and people of color. Her career goal is to become a civil rights attorney and to one day serve as a United States Senator. In her graduation address, she encouraged her classmates to "lead with a true and honest heart and never let others deter you from upholding your radical hope." After graduation, she will attend Harvard Law School.
Equipped for the Real World
Arya Patel PPS'22 says she felt like a degree in public policy equipped her for the read world. "I felt like the public policy department was best equipped to prepare me not only intellectually but also to apply what I learned beyond Duke. I loved that the Public Policy coursework was so directly linked to change-making and its very applied approach." After graduation, Arya took a job as a Freedom in the World Fellow at Freedom House.