Students do not need to apply separately to the Sanford School. Any student admitted to Duke may major in public policy through the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences.

There are no prerequisites in order to declare the Public Policy Studies major. However, there is a flow to the requirements and advance planning helps. Look for details on our Curriculum pages.

At Duke University, a minor consists of five courses. The public policy major requires five core courses that provide a grounding in critical thinking and in skills that are integral to studying public policy. So, since a minor would be fulfilled by only the core courses – without any electives – the faculty made the decision not to offer a minor.

Yes! We encourage our students to study away, yet please note some restrictions do apply. No more than two transfer (including study abroad) credits may be counted towards the major requirements. Moreover, students are not permitted to take core courses, the history elective or the 401-699 elective abroad.

Sanford manages these study-away programs: Duke in Glasgow; Duke in DC- Policy, Leadership and Innovation; and Duke, India and Public Policy. These all have Duke course credit and/or internships tied to them. Students may also choose to participate in programs offered through the Global Education Office that suit their interests with courses counting as transfer credit. (Note that PUBPOL 450AS: Glasgow Seminar in Public Policy is classified as a Duke course rather than a transfer credit.)

Students participate in internships with clear public policy content and relevant activity. The Sanford Career Services Office offers a number of preapproved internships or students may petition for an internship to count. 

Majors typically complete their internship requirement during the summer between their junior and senior year.  For students to qualify to do their internship, they must have completed at least 3 of the following 6 required courses: STA 199L, PUBPOL 155, PUBPOL 301, PUBPOL 302/GLHLTH 210, PUBPOL 303, PUBPOL 304. From this list of courses, at least one course needs to be PUBPOL 155, PUBPOL 301, or PUBPOL 302/GLHLTH 210.  Majors must complete their sophomore year prior to the internship. See our Curriculum page.


The public policy major is part of a liberal arts education. Our graduates pursue diverse careers in the public, nonprofit and private sectors. About a third attend law school. The Sanford School of Public Policy Career Services office conducted an analysis of the first steps taken by students who graduated from the Sanford School between 2017 and 2020. You can see the results here. 

Students can join the school's LinkedIn group to connect with alumni and learn more about their career paths.

  • Law School
  • Banking/Consulting
  • Public Service
  • Politics, Government Agencies
  • Nonprofits/NGOs
  • Teaching/Education
  • Media/Communications
  • Other Private Sector Companies

 The Public Policy Majors Union (PPMU) is the official organization representing undergraduates at the Sanford School. Led by students, the Majors Union engages students in the life of the Sanford School and provides opportunities to learn and network outside the classroom.

There are many other organizations to get involved in. 

Please contact the student services coordinator if you have any other questions or want more information about the major.

Featured Video

Meet a Public Policy Major

Ysanne Spence, PPS'22 interned at CREED (Center for Racial Equity in Education) and wrote her honors thesis on how COVID-19 affected learning environments for students in Jamaica. She hopes to hold office or work in nonprofit work in her home country of Jamaica. 

Featured Video

What is Public Policy?

As a liberal arts major, public policy studies teaches students to read critically, think analytically, and write concisely.


Cornerstone Experience

“Sanford has really been the cornerstone of my experience at Duke. It’s the best. There is this dedicated space where I hang out all the time. Everyone knows each other, it’s a real community.” – Kyle Melatti PPS’22

Read Kyle's story

Featured Video

Alumnus Braveen Ragunanthan

Braveen Ragunanthan PPS’12, a pediatrician in the rural Mississippi Delta, says many of his Sanford professors not only inspired him, but became close friends. "Duke and Sanford quickly became my home away from home, and I am so grateful for the community, and everyone in it today," he says.

Watch more stories from the alumni vlog series Why Public Policy Matters.