Are you considering majoring in public policy? This is the place for you! We have collected FAQs about how to declare the major, what career paths are available to people who major in public policy and more. Browse the FAQs, and don't hesitate to reach out with questions!

Contact Student Services Coordinator, Suzanne Pierce

Public Policy FAQs

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.)

headshot of Sanford student ambassador
Zachary Steinhauser

Zachary Steinhauser utilized the Duke in DC program and he said studying away enriched his Sanford experince.

 "My experience at Duke and Sanford was truly unforgettable," Zachary says, "I met the most amazing people, like my brilliant classmates and professors who never hesitated to share their experiences and expertise with me. I‘ve made the fondest memories, from my semester in Washington D.C. to the conversations I had before class in the Fleishman Commons. I’ve really just loved it here.”

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 - STA 101L, 102L, STA 104L, 111L, 130L, 198L or ECON may substitute for 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

For Sanford's 50th anniversary, we talked with lots of alumni about where their public policy degrees have taken them. Browse all stories.

 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.


Interested in making change

"A lot of the people in Sanford, students in the public policy major, are interested in making a change, and I think that's the biggest thing that drew me to the major." - Annika Aristimuno PPS'26

Read Annika's Story

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

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Meet a Public Policy Major

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What is Public Policy?