An Interdisciplinary Program
The Bachelor of Science in Public Policy (BSPP) provides strong analytical, communication, management, and leadership skills to students seeking careers in public service, law, and the private sector -- sectors in which professionals need to understand how government works, and can be helped to work better. These skills are coupled with a solid understanding of the complex political, social, ethical, and economic forces that shape public problems and their solutions.
The BSPP program has a strong focus on critical thinking and analytic skills in multiple disciplines. The BSPP core curriculum provides a solid foundation in areas such as economics, organizational behavior, politics, and philosophy, then emphasizes problem-solving and analysis. At the same time, students choose two clusters in particular areas of policy to gain breadth and depth, and they can use their many free electives to build greater strengths in policy, law, philosophy, or political science -- or they can pursue a minor or certificate in language, economics, international affairs, history, management, etc. All students participate in at least one internship, and many opt for research experiences or study abroad. The BSPP curriculum prepares students for a culminating senior-year Policy Task Force project undertaken for an external public, not-for-profit, or private-sector client.
The faculty of the School of Public Policy have doctorates in economics, political science, sociology, ethics, statistics, geography, and philosophy, as well as degrees in physics, electrical engineering, computational biology, international affairs, communication theory, city and regional planning, and the history of science. Recognized as one of the top programs in the world in the area of science and technology (S&T) policy (with particular strengths in research and innovation policy), the School's emphasis on S&T-related issues gives students a strong advantage in addressing topics related to energy and the environment, regional economic development, information and communications policy, and many areas of philosophy and ethics.
Skills and Competencies
Knowledge and techniques from these fields are integrated in core and elective courses and in the Policy Task Force:
- Thinking Skills: critical thinking and logic, policy arguments, knowledge integration, decision heuristics, strategic planning
- Research Skills: hypothesis formulation, data collection, qualitative and statistical techniques
- Communications Skills: oral, written, electronic, social networking
- Analysis and Evaluation Skills: problem definition, working with clients, management of risk, outcomes projection, evaluation methods
- Governing and Managing Skills: leadership, ethical, organizational, and political skills, conflict management, project planning and management
- In-service Training and Education: internships, undergraduate research projects, study abroad
- Technical specialization: in-depth knowledge and expertise in the design and operation of complex systems, often in fields where science and technology evolve rapidly.
Many BSPP students choose to focus additional effort in the School's pre-law or philosophy programs. In addition to the School's academic advising structure, every student is assigned a faculty mentor who will help with course selections, internship and research opportunities, and career preparation.
With an excellent student-faculty ratio (about 3.5:1 for undergraduates), the School of Public Policy makes it easy for students and faculty to know and work with each other. In addition to shaping a curriculum to fit their interests, students use internships, research experiences, and study abroad to extend their education beyond the classroom. Many students are able to take several courses taught at the masters level, and some choose to continue their education through a five-year BS/MS option. Not surprisingly, public policy undergraduates play a major role in campus organizations, and many become involved in state government and politics through a full-time legislative internship in spring semester.
Careers of BSPP Graduates
The School's alumni have gone on to careers in law, public health, management consulting, media, education, politics, transportation, city planning, and policy analysis. BSPP graduates from the last ten years include the director of Emory University's Global Health Law and Policy Project and law professor, a strategic planner for The New York Times, director of legislative research and policy for a business association, attorneys with law firms and the US Federal Courts, a data analyst for a major airline, a professor of industrial engineering at Georgia Tech, staff members in the US Congress, a research specialist for a national political organization, state lobbyist, political affairs director for the Israeli consulate, and many others in business and in local, state, and national government. In recent years many BSPP graduates have been hired by major management consulting firms including Deloitte, Accenture, Capgemini, and McKinsey.
For answers to students' Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about studying at Georgia Tech, please visit student FAQ site.