2020-2021 Undergraduate Bulletin

Public Policy

Office: Sie International Relations Complex
Mail Code: 2201 South Gaylord Street, Denver, CO 80208
Phone: 303-871-2468
Email: ipps@du.edu 
Web Site: http://www.du.edu/ipps

Public policy is where law, politics and business meet. It is a multidisciplinary approach to analyzing and evaluating information to solve policy problems. Public policy professionals develop, assess and evaluate alternative approaches to current and emerging issues, such as education, health care, national defense or immigration. The undergraduate program in public policy provides a focused, highly competitive major and minor in public policy for ambitious and motivated students.

Since its creation in 1981, the program has graduated students who have enrolled in some of the best graduate and law schools in the United States; worked as legislative aides for the U.S. Congress or as staff assistants for various branches of government; and have found their studies immediately applicable to the public, private and nonprofit sectors. Part of the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, the undergraduate program has both a domestic and an international focus.

Students must complete 48 credits in order to fulfill the major requirements, including eight core classes and four public policy electives. Because public policy is an issues-based discipline that always addresses another area, such as health policy or education reform, students are required to have two majors. By having a double major, students become subject matter experts in the discipline of their choice, which significantly increases their marketability on a professional level.

Qualified students are invited to apply for the dual undergraduate/graduate program, in which both the BA and Master of Public Policy (MPP) are completed in five years.

Public Policy

Bachelor of Arts Major Requirements 

(183 credits required for the degree)

48 credits in public policy or select courses approved for elective credit by the program director.  Requirements include the following:

Required courses
PPOL 2000Analysis and Action in American Public Policy4
PPOL 3230Analytical & Critical Skills4
PPOL 2802Supreme Court & Public Policy4
PPOL 2804Federal Budgetary Policy4
PPOL 3115Economics for Public Policy I: Aggregates and Production4
PPOL 3116Economics for Public Policy II: Choices and Competition4
PPOL 3125Power and Policy4
PPOL 3250Evidence & Logic in Public Policy4
Select additional credit in public policy to meet the 48 credit minimum.16
Total Credits48

Students are required to complete a second major.

Secondary Major Requirements

48 credits. Same requirements as for BA degree.

Minor Requirements 

24 credits, including the following:

Required courses
PPOL 2000Analysis and Action in American Public Policy4
PPOL 2802Supreme Court & Public Policy4
PPOL 3230Analytical & Critical Skills4
PPOL 2804Federal Budgetary Policy4
PPOL 3125Power and Policy4
Select additional credit in public policy to meet the 24 credit minimum.4
Total Credits24


The undergraduate program in public policy offers a dual degree program for highly motivated students. It allows students to earn a BA and a master of public policy (MPP) in just one additional year of study (five total years). Qualified students are accepted to the graduate program in public policy during their junior year and begin taking graduate-level courses during their senior or “transitional” year. In order to qualify, students must have one of the following undergraduate majors: public policy, criminology, economics, political science or sociology.

Requirements for Distinction in the Major in Public Policy

  • Minimum 3.5 cumulative GPA 
  • Minimum 3.75 major GPA 
  • Completion of Senior Analytical Policy Memorandum

 Public Policy

First Year
FSEM 11114WRIT 11224WRIT 11334
AI-Society (or other Common Curriculum course)4SI-Society (or other Common Curriculum course)4SI-Society (or other Common Curriculum course)4
Foreign Language4Foreign Language4Foreign Language4
PPOL 19104PPOL 20004PPOL 32304
 16 16 16
Second Year
Second Major course4PPOL 3125 or 31154AI-Natural4
PPOL Elective4Second Major course4Second Major course4
Elective or Major/Minor course4Elective or Major/Minor course4PPOL 2802 or 31164
  INTZ 250112
 16 16 18
Third Year
ABRE 29880-18PPOL 32504PPOL 28044
 Second Major course4Second Major course4
 AI-Society4PPOL 3116 (or other PPOL course)4
 PPOL 3115 (or other PPOL course)4Second Major course4
 0-18 16 16
Fourth Year
Advanced Seminar (ASEM)4PPOL Elective4PPOL Elective4
Second Major course4Second Major course or Elective4Second Major course or Elective4
Second Major course or Elective4Elective4Second Major course or Elective4
Second Major course or Elective4Elective4Elective or Major/Minor course4
 16 16 16
Total Credits: 178-196

PPOL 1910 Hard Choices in Public Policy (4 Credits)

This course provides an opportunity to develop comprehensive knowledge of America's most intriguing public policy dilemmas. Policy issues to be discussed include intergenerational equity, competitiveness, the budget and trade deficits, crime, AIDS, education, health care, the environment, entitlements, immigration, race and affirmative action, public involvement, and social welfare. This course counts toward the Scientific Inquiry: Society and Culture requirement.

PPOL 2000 Analysis and Action in American Public Policy (4 Credits)

This course is designed as a rigorous, analytical introduction for public policy majors to the ways in which American public policy is actually made and includes discussion of (1) Congress; (2) the President; (3) the Supreme Court; and (4) Regulatory agencies. The course is problem-centered and core policy dilemmas are discussed from both cost-benefit and decision-making perspectives. Key topics include the following interrelated issues: (a) fiscal policy and the federal budget; (b) entitlement reform; (c) health care; (d) national security; (e) the financial crisis and economic growth; (f) education; (g) criminal justice; and (h) environmental policy.

PPOL 2610 Urban Politics and Policy (4 Credits)

This course offers undergraduate students a broad overview of urban politics and policies in the US, with specific concentration on issues of housing, development, crime, homelessness, affordability and gentrification. The first part of the course will initially focus on the political history of urbanization in the US. The second part will focus instead on specific policy issues (see above), with practical policy case studies from selected metro areas in the US, including Denver.

PPOL 2701 Topics in Public Policy (4 Credits)

Various topics in public policy are covered. Topics change each term as deemed appropriate with local, regional, and federal policy issues and regulation changes. Prerequisite: PPOL 2000.

PPOL 2710 Demography of Public Policy (4 Credits)

Demography is destiny." The consequences for American public policy are profound. America is aging, but becoming more diverse. A society in the midst of dynamic change is a society full of possibilities, but vulnerable to conflict. Values become indeterminate, with traditional communities vying for legitimacy with emergent cultures. Social movements, often populist in nature, challenge the established political order. This course focuses on the delineation of effective public policies to deal with demographic challenges, including (1) immigration policy; (2) the process of assimilation; (3) education; (4) geographic realignment; (5) competitive advantage of the United States relative to the European Union, Russia, and China. This course counts toward the Scientific Inquiry: Society and Culture requirement.

PPOL 2802 Supreme Court & Public Policy (4 Credits)

Students examine the policy-making role of the Supreme Court in such areas as civil rights, economic policy, freedom of expression, and criminal justice, while studying the overall power of the Court to determine social policy.

PPOL 2804 Federal Budgetary Policy (4 Credits)

Students gain knowledge of the basics of government fiscal planning through a simulation of the federal budget process.

PPOL 3000 Medical Policy & the American Health Care System (4 Credits)

This course is designed to create understanding of the medical, legal, ethical and public policy issues at each stage of the life cycle. The costs of health care delivery systems are outstripping our ability to pay, yet the demand for new medical technologies continues unabated. Questions must be answered about these costs and demands. In many ways, the health care delivery system presents some of our most vexing public policy dilemmas.

PPOL 3115 Economics for Public Policy I: Aggregates and Production (4 Credits)

The tools and techniques of economics are essential for policy analysis. This course provides an intensive and comprehensive introduction to the field of economic analysis, with a specific emphasis on the applicability of economics to public policy and problem solving within the field of policy analysis. Topics include supply and demand; gross domestic product; business cycles; classical and neo-classical economic theory; Keynesianism and Keynesian equilibrium; the "Chicago School"; fiscal policy; inflation; stimulation of aggregate demand; employment and unemployment equilibrium; creation of money; the Federal Reserve system; national debt; the financial sector; public and private debt. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Recommended Prerequisite: PPOL 2000.

PPOL 3116 Economics for Public Policy II: Choices and Competition (4 Credits)

This course is the sequel to PPOL 3115. Core topics include consumer choice; choices in the public and private sector; the role of private self-interest; the role of governmental self-interest ("public choice"); utility maximization; price elasticity of demand; short and long-run costs; competition; monopoly; efficiency; oligopoly; antitrust policy; positive and negative externalities, such as taxes and regulations; effects of governmental uncertainty; market distortions; trade policy; profitability; productivity; the economics of health care and environmental regulation; leading and lagging indications of economic activity; creation of economic policy; "theory" vs. "applied" considerations. Prerequisites: PPOL 3115 and sophomore standing. Recommended Prerequisite: PPOL 2000.

PPOL 3118 Public Policy-Money & Finance (4 Credits)

This course is about money--the fuel that powers American society. Students will develop a sophisticated understanding of the American financial system, while coming to terms with the relationship between money, markets, and government. Students will learn key concepts in public finance, along with the operation of financial instruments like stocks, bonds, commodities and derivatives. Students who take this course will understand monetary and fiscal policy, taxation, exchange rates, and the vital role of credit.

PPOL 3125 Power and Policy (4 Credits)

This course focuses on the historical development of American 20th-century policy trends and will emphasize (1) the creation of the regulatory state, beginning in the late 1890s and accelerating through the Progressive Era; (2) the Great Depression, the New Deal, and the rise of entitlement culture; (3) World War II, the rise of the military-industrial state and the suburbanization of the 1950s; (4) the Civil Rights Revolution, the New Frontier and Great Society of Kennedy and Johnson--together with the value changes of the 1960s; (5) the Regan Era and the conservative challenge to big government; and (6) the policy dichotomies and uncertainties.

PPOL 3230 Analytical & Critical Skills (4 Credits)

Students gain the tools necessary to analyze competing points of view using empirical techniques and statistical inference. Students also learn the history and development of the scientific method; how to distinguish between speculation, theory, fact, and opinion; how to identify the validity of data; how to identify the intentional obfuscation of issues; and how to evaluate one’s own prejudices and vulnerability to argument.

PPOL 3250 Evidence & Logic in Public Policy (4 Credits)

This course provides a focus for public policy majors on actual decision-making process within the executive and legislative branches of the federal government. Consideration is given to (1) the role of evidence, empirical analysis, and logic; (2) the role of politics; (3) the role of party affiliation and ideology in the decision-making process; (4) the role of key actors and agencies and the distribution of responsibility; (5) the role of outside experts, such as think tanks and journalists; and (6) the influence of lobbyists and other "rent seekers." Students consider such critical examples of decision-making as the Cuban Missile Crisis; the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution; the decision to invade Afghanistan and Iraq; congressional decisions relating to "health care reform" in 2009 and 2010; and the executive branch decisions involving the financial crisis of 2008, including the emergency implementation of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Students write a detailed policy memorandum to a member of the executive branch or to a congressional leader, containing a situational analysis and action recommendation pertinent to a significant "real time" policy controversy.

PPOL 3280 The Presidency: Primaries (4 Credits)

The 2008 Presidential campaign is the first "open" presidential race in 56 years and features the first woman, African American, Hispanic, and Mormon contenders for the Presidency. This course will follow this historic race through the primaries, caucuses and conventions process and explore how the foundation of the races' public policy is set. Students will go inside the critical earlier primaries and caucuses and learn how Presidential candidates create public policy ideas, convey those ideas to distinct electorates and use those ideas to distinguish themselves from other candidates. The class will study how presumptive nominees prepare for the general election, the party conventions and how they "re-tool" their policy ideas for presentation to the national electorate.

PPOL 3281 The Presidency: General Election (4 Credits)

This class will follow in real time the fall campaign of the Presidential race. Students will build on the primary and caucus class and review the general election as it unfolds during the fall. Students will see the impact and influence of public policy on the fall campaign and how it shapes the Presidential race.

PPOL 3282 The Presidency: Policy Making (4 Credits)

The 2008 Presidential campaign is the first "open" presidential race in 56 years and features the first woman, African American, Hispanic, and Mormon contenders for the Presidency. Students discover and analyze how U.S. Presidents create, convey, and implement their public policy ideas and agendas. This discovery and analysis will be done by following, in a close, in-depth and investigative fashion, the first 60 days of the next President and the public policy decisions, strategies, and actions taken by the President and his/her administration.

PPOL 3450 Political Internship (1-10 Credits)

PPOL 3460 Legislative Internship (1-10 Credits)

PPOL 3470 Congressional Internship (1-10 Credits)

PPOL 3701 Topics in Public Policy (4 Credits)

PPOL 3706 Faith and Public Policy (4 Credits)

The influence of faith and religion has been a constant companion in the creation of American public policy. The persuasion has ebbed and flowed, but it has always played a steady and influential role. "Faith and Public Policy" will review the role faith has played and is playing in American public policy. Whether it's the powerful Religious Right, the role of the African American church in public policy or the emerging Religious Left, the arena is always evolving. Students will leave the course with a clearer understanding of the role faith plays and has played in policy, the impact of faith in creating current policy and the role faith will play in future elections.

PPOL 3880 Private Sector Internship (1-10 Credits)

PPOL 3980 Internships in Public Policy (0-4 Credits)

Experience is an important asset when applying for any job. As you will find after graduation, the job market is incredibly competitive, and becoming more so. Gaining real world experience during college will make you a much stronger candidate when seeking that first position after graduation. Through PPOL 3980, you have the opportunity to earn between 0 and 4 quarter credit hours for internships, depending on the number of hours worked. The internship portfolio facilitates a student's academic, professional, and personal growth by providing documentation and representation of the internship experience. Elements of the portfolio will help bridge academic experience with career possibilities, and provides an opportunity for self-reflection through your experience. Analysis of your internship will help identify areas of success and points where you could improve overall. The objective of all aspects is to enable you to be more competitive in a global job market. Internships require departmental approval and must be undertaken during the quarter in which you register for credit. The BA program in PPOL will not award credit retroactively for internships completed prior to the quarter in which students are registered. Prerequisites: Must be a PPOL major and receive departmental permission.

PPOL 3990 Thesis (4 Credits)

The Departmental Distinction Program in Public Policy is geared towards advanced students who wish to pursue their study in public policy in a more intensive manner. The thesis provides an opportunity for students to do in-depth research on a topic of their choice, focusing on providing evidence-based solutions to a real-life policy issue.

PPOL 3991 Independent Study (1-10 Credits)

PPOL 3992 Directed Study (1-10 Credits)

PPOL 3995 Independent Research (1-5 Credits)


Richard Caldwell, Teaching Professor and Director, JD, University of Denver

Robert Fusfeld, Associate Professor of the Practice of Public Policy Studies, JD, Antioch School of Law

Richard D. Lamm, Professor, Emeritus, LLB, University of California, Berkeley

Lapo Salucci, Teaching Associate Professor, PhD, University of Colorado Boulder

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