Public Policy, B.S.

Program Code: PUBPL_BS

Spring 2021 Curricular Update: The program description, entrance requirements, and program requirements detailed on this page are effective beginning Spring 2021. To learn more about what approved curricular changes take effect in Spring 2021, please visit the Changes to the UG Bulletin page. To view the requirements in effect for Fall 2020, please visit the 2020-21 Undergraduate Bulletin PDF.

Entrance to Major

Entry to the Public Policy major requires a 2.00 or higher cumulative grade-point average and an average of C (2.00) or better in any course already taken in the major.

Admission Requirements for Transfer Students

Transfer students must have a 2.00 or higher cumulative grade-point average. The evaluation of prior college work is done on an individual basis by the Office of Enrollment Services at Penn State Harrisburg.

Spring 2021 Curricular Update: The program description, entrance requirements, and program requirements detailed on this page are effective beginning Spring 2021. To learn more about what approved curricular changes take effect in Spring 2021, please visit the Changes to the UG Bulletin page. To view the requirements in effect for Fall 2020, please visit the 2020-21 Undergraduate Bulletin PDF.

Degree Requirements

For the Bachelor of Science degree in Public Policy, a minimum of 120 credits is required:

Requirement Credits
General Education 45
Electives 16
Requirements for the Major 65

6 of the 45 credits for General Education are included in the Requirements for the Major. This includes 6 credits of General Education GS courses.

General Education

Connecting career and curiosity, the General Education curriculum provides the opportunity for students to acquire transferable skills necessary to be successful in the future and to thrive while living in interconnected contexts. General Education aids students in developing intellectual curiosity, a strengthened ability to think, and a deeper sense of aesthetic appreciation. These are requirements for all baccalaureate students and are often partially incorporated into the requirements of a program. For additional information, see the General Education Requirements section of the Bulletin and consult your academic adviser.

The keystone symbol Keystone/General Education Course appears next to the title of any course that is designated as a General Education course. Program requirements may also satisfy General Education requirements and vary for each program.

Foundations (grade of C or better is required.)

  • Quantification (GQ): 6 credits
  • Writing and Speaking (GWS): 9 credits

Knowledge Domains

  • Arts (GA): 6 credits
  • Health and Wellness (GHW): 3 credits
  • Humanities (GH): 6 credits
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences (GS): 6 credits
  • Natural Sciences (GN): 9 credits

Integrative Studies (may also complete a Knowledge Domain requirement)

  • Inter-Domain or Approved Linked Courses: 6 credits

University Degree Requirements

First Year Engagement

All students enrolled in a college or the Division of Undergraduate Studies at University Park, and the World Campus are required to take 1 to 3 credits of the First-Year Seminar, as specified by their college First-Year Engagement Plan.

Other Penn State colleges and campuses may require the First-Year Seminar; colleges and campuses that do not require a First-Year Seminar provide students with a first-year engagement experience.

First-year baccalaureate students entering Penn State should consult their academic adviser for these requirements.

Cultures Requirement    

6 credits are required and may satisfy other requirements

  • United States Cultures: 3 credits
  • International Cultures: 3 credits

Writing Across the Curriculum

3 credits required from the college of graduation and likely prescribed as part of major requirements.

Total Minimum Credits

A minimum of 120 degree credits must be earned for a baccalaureate degree. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 credits. Students should consult with their college or department adviser for information on specific credit requirements.

Quality of Work

Candidates must complete the degree requirements for their major and earn at least a 2.00 grade-point average for all courses completed within their degree program.

Limitations on Source and Time for Credit Acquisition

The college dean or campus chancellor and program faculty may require up to 24 credits of course work in the major to be taken at the location or in the college or program where the degree is earned. Credit used toward degree programs may need to be earned from a particular source or within time constraints (see Senate Policy 83-80). For more information, check the Suggested Academic Plan for your intended program.

Requirements for the Major

At least 15 credits must be at the 400 level.

To graduate, a student enrolled in the major must earn a grade of C or better in each course designated by the major as a C-required course, as specified by Senate Policy 82-44.

Prescribed Courses
Prescribed Courses: Require a grade of C or better
ECON 102Introductory Microeconomic Analysis and Policy Keystone/General Education Course3
ECON 104Introductory Macroeconomic Analysis and Policy Keystone/General Education Course3
PLSC 1American Politics: Principles, Processes and Powers Keystone/General Education Course3
PLSC 309Quantitative Political Analysis3
PUBPL 304WPublic Policy Analysis3
Additional Courses
Select 9 credits from the following;9
PLSC 300-499
Computer Applications in Public Affairs/Criminal Justice
PUBPL 300-499
Select 6 credits from the following:6
The Bureaucratic State
Government and Politics of the American States
Government and the Economy
Comparative Public Policy
Public Administration
Leadership Studies
Select 3 credits from the following:3
Seminar in Environmental Policy
Seminar in Health Policy
Seminar in National Security Policy
Seminar in Public Policy
Supporting Courses and Related Areas
Select 12 credits from the following:12
ACCTG 200-499
AFRAS 300-499
AMST 300-499
BESC 300-499
COMMS 300-499
CRIMJ 300-499
ECON 300-499
Environmental Law
FIN 300-499
HIST 300-499
MGMT 300-499
MKTG 300-499
SCLSC 300-499
SOC 300-499
SOSC 300-499
Threat of Terrorism and Crime
WMNST 300-499
Select 20 credits in consultation with an academic adviser and in support of the student's interests20

Program Learning Objectives

  1. Understand Political Processes and Government Operations at National, State & Local Levels
    1. Understand Constitutional Foundations, Institutions & Political Processes in the U.S.
    2. Understand Role of States in Federal System and Local Governments within States
    3. Understand Operation of Government Agencies
  2. Understand and Analyze Policy Creation Process, Policy Implementation & Policy Impact
    1. Understand Roles of Legislatures, Agencies & Interest Groups in Policy Formation
    2. Attain Familiarity with Selected Public Policies and Their Impact
    3. Acquire Ability to Analyze Critically the Content and Impact of Public Policies
  3. Be Prepared to Function in Policy-Related Careers in Government and NGOs
    1. Ability to Write Clearly and Concisely
    2. Ability to Communicate Effectively Using Oral Skills and Technology
    3. Knowledge of Leadership Qualities and Strategies
    4. Ability to Function Successfully in Policy-Related Work Environments
    5. Ability to Understand Research Methods and Use Statistics
    6. Knowledge of Microeconomics and Macroeconomics

Academic Advising

The objectives of the university’s academic advising program are to help advisees identify and achieve their academic goals, to promote their intellectual discovery, and to encourage students to take advantage of both in-and out-of class educational opportunities in order that they become self-directed learners and decision makers.

Both advisers and advisees share responsibility for making the advising relationship succeed. By encouraging their advisees to become engaged in their education, to meet their educational goals, and to develop the habit of learning, advisers assume a significant educational role. The advisee’s unit of enrollment will provide each advisee with a primary academic adviser, the information needed to plan the chosen program of study, and referrals to other specialized resources.



Alexander Siedschlag, Ph.D.
Program Coordinator
Olmsted Building, W160
Middletown, PA 17057

Suggested Academic Plan

The suggested academic plan(s) listed on this page are the plan(s) that are in effect during the 2020-21 academic year. To access previous years' suggested academic plans, please visit the archive to view the appropriate Undergraduate Bulletin edition (Note: the archive only contain suggested academic plans beginning with the 2018-19 edition of the Undergraduate Bulletin).

Public Policy, B.S. at Harrisburg Campus

The course series listed below provides only one of the many possible ways to move through this curriculum. The University may make changes in policies, procedures, educational offerings, and requirements at any time. This plan should be used in conjunction with your degree audit (accessible in LionPATH as either an Academic Requirements or What If report). Please consult with a Penn State academic adviser on a regular basis to develop and refine an academic plan that is appropriate for you.

First Year
ENGL 15 or 30H3CAS 1003
Quantification 3Quantification3
General Education Course3General Education Course3
PLSC 1* †3General Education Course3
General Education Course (GHW)1.5Elective3
 13.5 15
Second Year
General Education Course3General Education Course3
General Education Course3ENGL 2023
General Education Course3PLSC 300-499 or PUBPL 241 or PUBPL 300-4993
ECON 102*†3ECON 1043
Elective3PUBPL 304W*3
General Education Course (GHW)1.5 
 16.5 15
Third Year
PLSC 309*3PUBPL 481, 482, 483, PUBPL 485, or PUBPL 4903
PLSC 419, 425, 444, 488, 489, or PUBPL 3053PLSC 300-499 or PUBPL 241 or PUBPL 300-4996
PLSC 419, 425, 444, 488, 489, or PUBPL 3053Select Suppotting Courses in consultation with adviser3
Select from Supporting courses and Related Areas6Elective3
 15 15
Fourth Year
PUBPL 481, 482, 483, PUBPL 485, or PUBPL 4903Select Supporting Courses in consultation with adviser10
PLSC 300-499 or PUBPL 241 or PUBPL 300-4993PUBPL 481, 482, 483, PUBPL 485, or PUBPL 4903
Select Supporting Courses in consultation with adviser4 
Electives 6 
 16 13
Total Credits 119

University Requirements and General Education Notes:

US and IL are abbreviations used to designate courses that satisfy University Requirements (United States and International Cultures).

W, M, X, and Y are the suffixes at the end of a course number used to designate courses that satisfy University Writing Across the Curriculum requirement.

GWS, GQ, GHW, GN, GA, GH, and GS are abbreviations used to identify General Education program courses. General Education includes Foundations (GWS and GQ) and Knowledge Domains (GHW, GN, GA, GH, GS, and Integrative Studies). Foundations courses (GWS and GQ) require a grade of ‘C’ or better.

Integrative Studies courses are required for the General Education program. N is the suffix at the end of a course number used to designate an Inter-Domain course and Z is the suffix at the end of a course number used to designate a Linked course.

Program Notes

  • Students must complete at least 15 credits of 400-level courses
  • Concurrent majors in Political Science and Public Policy are not permitted. 
  • Students must complete a 3-credit course in "United States Cultures (US)" and a 3-credit course in "International Cultures (IL)." 

Career Paths

Our proximity to the state capital in Harrisburg provides students with a rich environment. In addition to our full-time faculty, public policy draws on part-time faculty with particular professional expertise and strengths. In recent years, students have explored politics and political issues in classes taught by a state senator, a former lieutenant governor, a corrections system administrator, and a governor’s press secretary. This integration of academic study with the practice of Pennsylvania politics and policy making is further enhanced through quality internships that enhance learning outcomes by immersing students in a credit-earning, real-world experience.


The Public Policy major is designed for students interested in policy issues, politics, public administration, and related areas like policy analysis and policy advocacy. Students in the Public Policy major receive the educational foundation for careers in the public sector, in government-related businesses, and in non-profit organizations.


Opportunities for Graduate Studies

The Public Policy program also provides a strong background for graduate education, including Penn State's Master of Public Administration, Master of Professional Studies in Homeland Security, Master of Health Administration, Master of Arts in Criminal Justice, and the PhD in Public Administration.




Olmsted Building, W160
Middletown, PA 17057