Department of Public Policy



Richard N.L. Andrews, Maryann P. Feldman, Daniel P. Gitterman, Sudhanshu (Ashu) Handa, Krista M. Perreira.

Associate Professor

Douglas L. Lauen.

Assistant Professors

Christine P. Durrance, Steven W. Hemelt, Pamela Jagger, Douglas MacKay, Benjamin Mason Meier, Jeremy G. Moulton, John C. Scott, Patricia L. Sullivan.

Professors of the Practice

W. Hodding Carter III, Pope (Mac) McCorkle.

Adjunct Faculty

Douglas Crawford-Brown, Micah Gilmer, John W. Hardin, Jonathan Howes, James H. Johnson, Arne Kalleberg, Michael I. Luger, Michael C. Munger, David Podoff, Roberto Quercia, David H. Schanzer, Catherine F. Smith, John Stewart, Charles Thompson, Robert P. Wolff.


Gail A. Corrado.

Professors Emeriti

David D. Dill, Michael A. Stegman.


The Department of Public Policy offers instruction leading to a bachelor of arts (B.A.) degree. The major in public policy is an interdisciplinary social science major designed to provide students with the theoretical perspective, analytical skill, and substantive knowledge needed to respond to major domestic and international policy problems. The core coursework includes exposure to multiple disciplinary fields, including economics, policy analysis, political science, philosophy, and statistics. The core curriculum is designed to fulfill three objectives: 1) provide students with a command of the tools of policy analysis; 2) offer students an understanding of the politics of public policy; and 3) allow students to develop knowledge in a core domestic or international policy field.

The undergraduate major does not aim to train a student in the particulars of a given career. Instead, its goal is to develop conceptual and analytical skills that students can bring to bear in whatever work or professions they eventually choose and for informed citizenship. The combination of a general liberal arts education; the development of conceptual, writing, and analytical abilities; and the acquisition of knowledge in a domestic or international policy area forms an excellent foundation for graduate work in public policy or the professions (law, business, social work, public health, city and regional planning) as well as for a career in domestic or international public affairs.

Programs of Study

The degree offered is the bachelor of arts with a major in public policy. The department also offers a minor in public policy and sponsors the social entrepreneurship course (PLCY 326 Social Ventures) of the entrepreneurship minor.

Majoring in Public Policy: Bachelor of Arts

Core Requirements

Additionally, students may select courses across fields and design their own concentration. For information on which elective courses are recommended for each field concentration, please speak with your public policy advisor or the department's student services manager. Students electing a concentration will receive a B.A. degree with a major in public policy with a concentration. The particular title for a concentration is not listed on students' diplomas or transcripts. The department keeps records of student concentrations, and students may list their concentrations on their résumés.

The following courses satisfy the electives requirement and optional field concentration:

Additional Requirements

ECON 400 or PSYC 210 or SOCI 252 or STOR 155 is a prerequisite for PLCY 460, and ECON 101 is a prerequisite for ECON 310, ECON 410, and PLCY 410. MATH 231 or STOR 113 is a prerequisite for ECON 410. PLCY 460 is a prerequisite for PLCY 698 and 691H, and a pre- or corequisite for PLCY 681. PLCY 681 is a prerequisite for PLCY 691H and 698. PLCY 691H is a prerequisite for PLCY 692H.

Note: Only 24 hours total can be taken outside the College of Arts and Sciences toward the B.A. degree.

Program Restrictions

PLCY 130, 293, and 393 may not count as electives for a public policy major or field concentration. A maximum of one three-credit independent study course (PLCY 395, 396, 496, 596, or 696) may be counted toward the elective for a public policy major or field concentration. A maximum of one three-credit transfer or study abroad course, or two Washington Domestic and Foreign Policy Burch Field Seminars may be counted toward the elective for a public policy major or field concentration. For credit toward the major, an independent study proposal form must be completed by the student, approved by the student's independent study instructor, and submitted to the department's student services manager.

Minoring in Public Policy

The undergraduate minor in public policy consists of five courses.

The regulations governing a minor in an interdisciplinary department, as set forth in this bulletin, apply to the minor in public policy.

Honors in Public Policy

An honors program is available to students who have demonstrated their ability to perform distinguished work. The honors program provides public policy majors the opportunity to pursue an independent research project over a two-semester period.

Students begin the program by taking PLCY 691H Honors in Public Policy in the fall semester of their senior year. During this course students will work under the direction of their thesis advisor to complete a research proposal, obtain Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval for the research proposal, and complete the first two chapters of their proposed thesis. These chapters will describe the aims of the research, summarize its significance to the field, and critique the relevant literature.

If the research proposal is approved by the IRB and the first two chapters are approved by the thesis advisor, students continue their thesis research in the senior year under the direction of a faculty advisor in PLCY 692H. Upon successful completion of the written thesis and an oral examination of the thesis research, the student may graduate with honors or highest honors.

To be admitted to the honors program, students must have at least a 3.3 overall grade point average and 3.5 in the core public policy courses. Core public policy courses include ECON 310 or 410 or PLCY 410, and PLCY 210, 220, 340, 460, and 681. Honors students should also have completed at least four core courses in the public policy major, including the prerequisites for PLCY 691H (i.e., PLCY 460 and 681). In addition, they should have a written recommendation from at least one faculty member in public policy agreeing to serve as their thesis advisor. Students interested in participating in the honors program should contact the department's director of undergraduate studies or the director of the department's honors program and submit an application form prior to registering for PLCY 691H. For more information, see

The honors thesis provides a total of six credit hours toward the major. In addition to completing a thesis, honors thesis students are also expected to elect a field concentration. The completion of PLCY 691H provides three credits toward the field concentration. For December graduates, the honors thesis must be submitted to the department and approved by early November. For May graduates, the honors thesis must be submitted to the department and approved by early April.


All majors and minors have a primary academic advisor in Steele Building. Students are strongly encouraged to meet regularly with their advisor and review their Tar Heel Tracker each semester. The department's director of undergraduate studies and student services manager work with current and prospective students by appointment (see "Contact Information" below). Departmental academic advising is particularly important for those majors who are considering enrolling in the honors thesis program or going on to graduate school. Additional information on courses, undergraduate research opportunities, the honors program, careers, and graduate schools may be obtained from the department's Web site.

Special Opportunities in Public Policy

Undergraduate Research

The honors thesis process enables students to undertake a major independent policy research project. In addition, students who identify a topic of interest can work with a faculty member on a research project through independent study.

Experiential Education

Students are encouraged to gain experience through their senior capstone course, through internship placements, and through other experiential education opportunities. PLCY 293, 393, 691H, 692H, and 698 are all approved as experiential education courses.

Capstone Course

The senior capstone course (PLCY 698) is required of all majors except those writing an honors thesis. It provides students with the experience of working together to produce a policy analysis for a community organization. The projects provide students with a unique opportunity to apply their academic training in a client-centered policy environment.


Public policy majors have the option to complete an internship. Students may receive academic credit for an approved internship if it provides an academically relevant experience in policy analysis or research. PLCY 293 is a Pass/Fail course and is used for internship placement. PLCY 293 is available for public policy majors and minors only. PLCY 393 is graded and can be used for students who participate in the Policy Clinic.

To receive credit for an external internship, the student must provide in advance to the instructor of record a one-page letter of intent to complete an internship. Upon formal approval and within two weeks of starting the internship, students should prepare a contract, to be agreed upon in writing by the instructor, the internship supervisor, and the student, specifying the name of the organization and direct supervisor, the types of activities to be performed, the duration of the placement (number of hours over what period), the terms of the employment, and the expected work products. The work products can consist of a policy research paper or memo or a series of shorter memos on different topics. For more details on internships, see

Student Leadership

Students created a Majors Union in 1988 to serve as a link to the faculty and to sponsor extracurricular events and programs of interest to public policy majors, minors, and other students. Among other activities, the Majors Union sponsors student opportunities to interact with policy leaders and scholars, policy writing workshops, and career fairs. For more information, see

Interested students also are encouraged to participate in UNC–Chapel Hill's chapter of the Roosevelt Institution, a nonpartisan national network of campus-based student think tanks. Its members conduct policy research on pressing domestic and international issues. For more information, see

Opportunities for Study Outside the University

Public policy students are encouraged to study in Washington, DC, or abroad. The director of undergraduate studies works with students to bring relevant elective course credits into the department, depending on the program of study.

Public policy students are encouraged to consider enrolling in the Washington Domestic and Foreign Policy Semester, offered as a Burch Field Research Seminar through Honors Carolina. The program offers students the opportunity to spend a semester participating in public policy education and research in Washington, DC. Students participate in separate daylong colloquia led by faculty instructors, complete internships for course credit, and live together in a home located in a historic Capitol Hill neighborhood. Students may receive credit for up to two elective courses in public policy for their participation in the Washington Domestic and Foreign Policy Semester. For further information, see

Visiting Speakers

The department sponsors the Thomas Willis Lambeth Distinguished Lecture on Public Policy and other visiting speakers during the academic year. These events typically are centered on public policy themes and often are cosponsored with other units on campus.

Graduate School and Career Opportunities

The major forms an excellent foundation for graduate work in public policy and the professions (law, business, social work, public health, city and regional planning) as well as for a career in domestic or international public affairs. An excellent guide to education and graduate study opportunities in public policy can be found on the Web site of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management at Students considering a Ph.D. in public policy are strongly advised to complete one year of calculus and ECON 410 with calculus.

Contact Information

The following faculty members and staff may be contacted for further information: Mary Leigh Creedon, Student Services Manager,; Professor Krista Perreira, Director of Undergraduate Studies,; Professor Sudhanshu (Ashu) Handa, Chair,

Department of Public Policy, CB# 3435, 114 Abernethy Hall, (919) 962-1600. Web site:


50 First-Year Seminar: Environment and Labor in the Global Economy (3). Rapid recent globalization raises important public policy issues concerning impacts on the environment, labor, and communities. The seminar provides an opportunity to explore the implications of living in an increasingly global economy and the ethical and policy issues that these trends pose.

55 First-Year Seminar: Higher Education Policy (3). This first-year seminar provides an introduction to contemporary policy issues in higher education. Students will discuss challenges to current models of higher education, including accessibility, academic freedom, safety and security, and athletics.

57 First-Year Seminar: American Foreign Policy, American Media: Who Sets the Agenda? (3). This course will examine the relationship between government and the media, and the effects of that relationship on American foreign policy.

61 First-Year Seminar: Policy Entrepreneurship and Public/Private Partnerships (3). This seminar will define a policy entrepreneur and examine strategies used by policy entrepreneurs to achieve policy change or innovation in the policy making process. We will also explore models of innovative public-private partnerships in the delivery of public goods.

65 First-Year Seminar: The Politics of Numbers: How Do We Know How Many People Are Poor? (3). Explores what lies behind official government measures: racial diversity, global warming, how we know how many people are poor, welfare reform, Social Security reform, costs and benefits of immigration.

70 First-Year Seminar: National Policy: Who Sets the Agenda? (3). Who and what actually set our nation's policy agenda? The President? Congress? The media? Special interests? This seminar will address these questions, looking closely at current events and case histories drawn from the past three decades.

75 First-Year Seminar: Two Nations: The Growing Divide in American Society (3). Examines the public policies leading to the growing disparities in American society during the past 25 years. Addresses the political and nonpolitical factors that have led to these inequalities.

80 First-Year Seminar: Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Economic Growth (3). This seminar provides an introduction to entrepreneurship and innovation and considers their relationship to economic growth.

85 First-Year Seminar: Reforming America's High Schools (3). In this course we will examine the main problems that are occurring in America's high schools and three popular reform strategies: increasing resources; improving leadership and teacher working conditions; and structural reforms.

89 First-Year Seminar: Special Topics (3). Special topics course. Content will vary each semester.

101 Making Public Policy (PWAD 101) (3). Overview of the policy-making process and of major public policy issues. Study of policy and political challenges in areas such as economic and tax policy, the social safety net, income support and the minimum wage, health care, education, environment and energy, foreign policy and national security, and homeland security.

110 Global Policy Issues (3). Global issues are challenges whose sources, impacts, and solutions extend beyond the borders of any one country. This course introduces students to some of the most pressing issues facing populations around the globe and to possible policy responses.

130 Getting It Done: Project Management for Social Innovation (1). A student-driven, instructor-aided workshop open only to students who have received the APPLES Bryan Social Innovation Fellowship. Each fellowship team develops a project's underlying theory of change and the skills necessary for successful implementation. Students study the theories and implementation of one another's projects and external case studies.

150 Robertson Scholars Colloquium (1). Robertson Scholars Colloquium will explore current policy issues and academic facets of motivation, personal development, ethics, and leadership.

190 Selected Topics in Public Policy (3). Selected topics in public policy.

195 Research in Public Policy (1–6). Permission of the instructor. Undergraduate research in public policy.

196 Independent Study/Reading in Public Policy (1–6). Supervised study for students interested in public policy.

210 Policy Innovation and Analysis (3). Students will develop a working knowledge of the foundational theories of the public policy discipline and the integral institutions of public policy. Incorporates current substantive issues in the United States and international policy. Students will explore, summarize, and evaluate alternative policy solutions.

220 The Politics of Public Policy (PWAD 220) (3). Examines approaches to American politics and public policy and analyzes why government responds to problems in predictable ways.

290 Special Topics in Public Policy (3). Special topics in public policy for undergraduates.

293 Internship in Public Policy (3). For public policy majors and minors. Permission of the instructor. Provides participants opportunities to work in policy-related internships for a semester. Internship sites range from governmental agencies to nonprofit organizations. Students assume active roles in their organizations and gain valuable knowledge that prepares them for the labor market after graduation.

296 Independent Study/Reading in Public Policy (1–6). Permission of the instructor. Independent reading/study in public policy.

305 Public Policy Communication (3). Students choose a societal problem and communicate the problem as demanded by governmental process. Course focuses on simulated public hearings; writing/revising documents (problem definition memo, witness testimony); writing/revising an organization's public comment on proposed legislation/regulation.

326 Social Ventures (PLAN 326) (3). See PLAN 326 for description.

327 Introduction to Entrepreneurship (3). A historical overview of the role and importance of entrepreneurship in the economy and society, and a survey of the critical competencies all entrepreneurs (social, commercial, or artistic) must possess.

340 Justice in Public Policy (3). This seminar explores arguments about moral issues in public policy. Students examine both the means used to implement policies and policy ends through discussions of case studies of policy choice.

349 Immigration Policy in the 21st Century (3). The objective of this course is to enhance students' understanding of the causes and consequences of United States immigration within a social, historical, political, and economic context.

352H Burch Field Research Seminar in Domestic and International Affairs (3). This is a graded seminar course that focuses on a study of domestic and international affairs within the United States policy-making process. This course is a "study abroad" course taught in Washington, DC. Students must apply for this program.

360 State and Local Politics (3). A range of public policy topics at the state and local level.

361 Health Policy and Politics (3). An analysis of the evolution of American medical care with special emphasis on current health care policy issues and debates about future directions. Compares other national models to those of the United States.

364 Ethics and Economics (PHIL 364) (3). See PHIL 364 for description.

372 Global Environment: Policy Analysis and Solutions (ENEC 372) (3). Explores linkages among actors, institutions, and the environmental problems they cause and seek to rectify. Introduces pressing challenges of the global environment and perspectives of actors involved in crafting policy solutions.

390 Special Topics in Public Policy (Undergraduate) (3). Special topics in public policy for undergraduate students.

393 Public Policy Clinic (3). Permission of the instructor. The clinic provides an opportunity for students to solve a public policy problem for local nonprofits and governmental agencies. Working in small consulting teams with faculty assistance, students will learn how to use their knowledge and skills to propose solutions to complex problems.

395 Research in Public Policy (1–6). Permission of the instructor. Research in public policy for undergraduates.

396 Independent Study/Reading in Public Policy (1–6). By special arrangement and permission of the instructor. Independent reading in public policy.

410 Microeconomic Foundations of Public Policy (3). Prerequisite, ECON 101. This course allows students to enhance their working knowledge of microeconomic theory, explore microeconomic theory as a methodology to solve policy problems, understand market failures and the role of collective action in markets, apply economic models to a variety of policy situations, and evaluate and critique economic analyses.

420 Taxation and Public Policy (3). This course examines United States tax policy in terms of the historical and institutional development of tax systems; theories of consent; the use of tax-based instruments such as tax credits and subsidies for social policy; and outcomes associated with taxation, particularly from racial and gendered perspectives.

425 Risks, Shocks, and the Safety Net (3). Many risks and shocks can make individuals and families vulnerable to economic hardship. This course examines America's social policy regime through a wide-ranging investigation of the origins, development, and future of critical features of our social safety net. We pay particular attention to challenges emerging in the era of globalization.

430 Analysis of National Security Policy (3). Course explores contemporary threats to national security, approaches to national security strategy, policy instruments, the role of military force, and the policymaking process.

440 Justice and Inequality (3). Growing economic inequality has been identified as a pressing public policy problem in a number of countries. In this course, we explore the justice of economic inequality. Is economic inequality ever morally permissible? If so, for what reasons?

455 9/11 and Its Aftermath (PWAD 455) (3). Examines the nature of Islamic fundamentalist terrorism and strategies for addressing it, including analysis of post-9/11 changes to United States national security strategy, law enforcement and intelligence, and homeland security.

460 Quantitative Analysis for Public Policy (4). Prerequisite, ECON 400, PSYC 210, SOCI 252, or STOR 155. Application of statistical techniques, including regression analysis, in public policy program evaluation, research design, and data collection and management.

470 Business, Competition, and Public Policy (3). This course focuses on competition policy in the United States using relevant Supreme Court decisions as well as economic and policy-related motivation for specific business behavior.

475 Political Economy of Food (3). This course examines the political and economic dimensions of the food we eat, how it's produced, who eats what, and the related social and environmental issues, both domestic and international, affecting the production, pricing, trade, distribution, and consumption of food.

480 Environmental Decision Making (ENEC 480) (3). Introduces factors shaping environmental decision making by individuals, businesses, governments, advocacy groups, and international institutions. Explores public policy incentives and action strategies for influencing them.

485 Poverty, Health, and Human Development in Low Income Countries (3). Prerequisite, ECON 101. This course provides an understanding of how poverty is defined, the consequences of poverty, and policies to reduce poverty. It explores the determinants of human development outcomes from an interdisciplinary perspective (with a heavy economics focus).

487 International Trade: Theory and Policy (3). Prerequisite, ECON 310 or 410. The objective of this course is to provide students with knowledge of international trade theory and to help them apply this knowledge to thinking critically about current important topics in international trade.

490 Special Topics in Public Policy (3). Special topics in public policy for undergraduate and graduate students.

493 Internship in Entrepreneurship (3). Prerequisite, ECON 325. An approved internship or the consent of the instructor is required. Open only to PLCY majors in the entrepreneurship minor. Students spend a minimum of eight weeks in an entrepreneurial environment taking on significant responsibilities and working on a specific project that result in a rigorous agreed-upon deliverable.

496 Independent Study/Reading in Public Policy (1–6). Permission of the instructor. Independent reading in public policy.

520 Environment and Development (ENEC 520) (3). Reviews environmental problems in developing countries. Analyzes proposed solutions, such as legal remedies, market instruments, corporate voluntary approaches, international agreements, and development policies. Discusses the link between trade and environment, environmental cases from the World Trade Organization, and sustainable development.

527 Applied Public Finance (3). Prerequisite, ECON 310 or 410, or PLCY 410 or 788. This course provides a foundation in public finance theory and applications. Students learn to analyze taxation policies and expenditures on income redistribution, programs for the poor (e.g., TANF), and social insurance programs (e.g., Social Security).

530 Educational Problems and Policy Solutions (3). Reviews current debates and policy solutions in education. Topics analyzed through three of the most commonly used evaluative criteria: equity, efficiency, and effectiveness. Topics: equality of educational opportunity, racial segregation, the black-white test score gap, school choice, and the use of incentives to promote increased performance. Lecture, case studies, discussion.

565 Global Health Policy (3). Coursework will focus on public policy approaches to global health, employing interdisciplinary methodologies to understand selected public health policies, programs, and interventions. For students who have a basic understanding of public health.

570 Health and Human Rights (3). Course focuses on rights-based approaches to health, applying a human rights perspective to selected public health policies, programs, and interventions. Students will apply a formalistic human rights framework to critical public health issues, exploring human rights as both a safeguard against harm and a catalyst for health promotion.

575 Science and Public Policy: The Social, Economic, and Political Context of Science (3). Introduction to analysis of science policy. Course explores how events transformed science's role in American life and how science relates to industry and economic development. Topics include the mechanisms of allocating scientific resources, the commercialization of academic discoveries, regulating emerging technology, and achieving consensus on controversial scientific issues.

580 Implementing Change: Barriers and Opportunities in Policy, Government, and the Nonprofit Sector (3). An introduction to some of the sectors within which social change work occurs: education, healthcare, local policy, philanthropy and nonprofit direct-service. Students will learn the fundamental systems of governance and accountability that guide them, and the opportunities or barriers that motivate and de-motivate people working within them.

585 American Environmental Policy (ENEC 585, ENVR 585, PLAN 585) (3). See ENVR 585 for description.

590 Special Topics in Public Policy (3). Special topics for undergraduate and graduate students.

596 Independent Study/Reading in Public Policy (1–6). Permission of the instructor. Independent reading in public policy.

681 Research Design for Public Policy (3). Pre- or corequisite, PLCY 460. Students will explore the scientific method as applied to policy research. They will formulate testable policy research questions, become familiar with methods for conducting policy research, and learn to think critically about causal inference.

686 Policy Instruments for Environmental Management (ENEC 686, ENVR 686, PLAN 686) (3). Prerequisite, ECON 410 or PLAN 710. Design of public policy instruments as incentives for sustainable management of environmental resources and ecosystems, and comparison of the effects and effectiveness of alternative policies.

690 Special Topics in Public Policy (3). Special topics for graduate or undergraduate students.

691H Honors in Public Policy (3). Prerequisites, PLCY 460 and 681. Permission of the instructor. In preparing their honors theses, students will formulate a testable policy research question, design a study to answer this research question, and learn to think critically about causal inference.

692H Honors in Public Policy (3). Prerequisite, PLCY 691H. Permission of the instructor. For senior public policy majors. Directed research for the honors thesis. Students may only receive credit for one semester of this course. An application for enrollment must be completed by the student and approved by the director of the public policy honors program.

696 Independent Study/Reading in Public Policy (1–6). Permission of the instructor. Independent reading in public policy.

697 Robertson Scholars Capstone (1). The central focus of the capstone course will be that the scholars will learn from and about each other.

698 Senior Capstone in Public Policy (3). Prerequisites, PLCY 460, and 681 or 691H. Students apply knowledge and skills gained in the major to a real-world policy problem. Students work in small teams to conduct research on an important policy issue and identify policy opportunities on behalf of their client. The capstone allows majors to polish their skills while producing actionable public policy analysis.