A Message from the Director of Public Policy


Welcome to the home page of the undergraduate major and minor in public policy! This is a brand-new program being offered for the first time ever at UCR. Indeed, despite the popularity of public policy masters’ programs at U.S. universities, undergraduate public policy majors and minors are not commonly found at most colleges. Only a handful of universities around the country – Stanford, Carnegie Mellon, USC, and Brown – offer such programs. Indeed, UCR is the only UC campus to offer a public policy major. (UCLA offers a minor – but not major – in public policy).

What exactly is public policy? It is the study of policy-making – how policies are and should be made to serve the public interest, how policies should be designed and implemented to have the desired impact on individuals and communities, and how policies should be monitored and evaluated to see if they are having the desired impacts. The field of policy analysis has become critically important as societies have grown more complex and as governments and public organizations increasingly play a more active role in addressing social problems and influencing the quality of people’s lives. Policies are increasingly developed on the basis of information about household and community behavior, and programs and projects are regularly subjected to scientific evaluations and assessments.

By its very nature, public policy is inter-disciplinary in scope. Thus, for instance, health problems in society have to draw upon developments in philosophy, economics, political science, medicine, and ethics (among other disciplines). Likewise, science and technology policy has to be based on science, ethics, economics, and philosophy, among other disciplines.

The UCR public policy major/minor allows you to specialize in two of six tracks: health/population policy, social/cultural/family policy, economic policy, urban/environmental policy, policy institutions and processes, and international/foreign policy. Courses from 12 departments can be used to satisfy the program requirements – anthropology, economics, environmental sciences, ethnic studies, film and visual culture, history, political science, philosophy, psychology, religious studies, sociology, and women’s studies.

The public policy major/minor will provide you with a set of research, analytical, and management skills that are transferable across sectors and across issue areas. Thus, it will prepare you for a career not only in public service (federal, state and local government agencies) but also at not-for-profit and for-profit organizations.

Anil B. Deolalikar
Director, Public Policy Initiative
Professor of Economics