School of Public and International Affairs Undergraduate Program Viewbook

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Undergraduate Program

The Princeton School of Public and International Affairs —known across Princeton’s campus as SPIA — is committed to providing exemplary multidisciplinary training to undergraduate students passionate about public policy. At SPIA, both your instructors and peers will form a diverse spectrum of perspectives that will enrich your academic experience, particularly as you collaborate to research today’s most urgent policy challenges. Our liberal arts concentration will allow you to dive deep into specific areas of interest. At the same time, you’ll receive the training and tools to emerge as an effective, informed decision-maker capable of tackling any complex policy issue.

The core curriculum consists of courses within the School of Public and International Affairs, as well as SPIA courses cross-listed with multiple departments that are relevant to the study of policymaking, analysis, and evaluation. Students complete policy seminars in their junior year, they write a policy thesis in their senior year, and choose a set of electives from a wide array of courses offered throughout the University. Prior to declaring SPIA as a concentration, students must complete several prerequisites. Students also are asked to select their primary policy interest when they declare the concentration in the spring of their sophomore year.





It is my sincere hope that you will depart SPIA with the skills and motivation you need to drive change wherever life takes you, and to fulfill Princeton’s unofficial motto, “In the nation’s service and the service of humanity.” Amaney Jamal Dean



Message from the Dean

Concentration in Public Affairs


Policy Task Force

Senior Thesis

Policy Research Seminar

SPIA Core SPIA Electives Cross-Cultural or Field Experience Language Requirement University Distribution Requirements

Undergraduate Program Requirements RECENT POLICY TASK FORCE TOPICS


One course in each of the following areas must be completed prior to the beginning of the fall term of junior year. • Statistics • Introductory Microeconomics • History • Politics, Sociology, or Psychology

Core Curriculum

One course in each of the following disciplines. • Intermediate Microeconomics • Politics • Sociology or Psychology • Science Policy • Ethics

Elective Courses

Students must complete four electives chosen from a list preapproved by the School.

Junior Policy Seminars

The Junior Policy Seminars meet Princeton’s requirement for junior independent work, and include two components: a Policy Task Force and Policy Research Seminar.

Policy Task Force

Students must complete one Policy Task Force during the junior year. A distinctive feature of the program, small teams of students apply an evidence-based analysis to an unfinished question of public policy that culminates in a final report that may be presented to a “client” – a public official or area specialist in the public or not-for-profit sector.

UN Peacekeeping Peace Operations: Successes, Failures, Challenges Improving Democracy and Governance in Developing Countries China and the Rule of Law, Domestic and International Rethinking Criminal Justice: Policy Responses to Mass Incarceration Ending Wars, Building Peace Improving Health Care for Vulnerable Populations in the U.S.

Policy Research Seminar

Students must complete one Policy Research Seminar in their junior year. These small classes, which include a seminar and a methods lab, introduce core qualitative and quantitative policy analysis methods that serve junior paper and senior thesis research.

RECENT POLICY RESEARCH SEMINAR TOPICS Poverty in America European Integration U.S. Cities: New Policy for Old Places Mobility and Migration in International Perspective

No more than three courses may come from the same department.

Human Security: The Challenges of a Globalized Security Paradigm

Up to three electives may be taken abroad through a semester-long study abroad program offered by the School.

Globalization, Identities, and Democratic Politics Women, Gender and Policy

See for updated list

Cross-Cultural or Field Experience

Prior to the second semester of the senior year, each student must have completed an approved cross-cultural or field experience. The requirement may be satisfied in a number of ways, including: • • • •

Summer or semester study abroad Princeton’s Bridge Year Program PIIRS Global Seminar – international location Extended service in an underserved community • Internship in nonprofit, government or international agency • Thesis research in the field • ROTC

Language Requirement

SPIA students must complete at least one second language course beyond the current University requirement. This may be done by: • Completing one additional course at the 200 or 300 level in the language used to meet the University requirement. Either a language course or a course taught in the language may be used; or • Taking a course at least at the 102 level in a language other than the one used to fulfill the University second language requirement. Courses used to meet this requirement may be taken at Princeton or elsewhere; all courses must be taken on a graded basis. • Students who are fluent in a second language may apply to the School when they declare their concentration to have this requirement waived.

Study Abroad Senior Thesis

Every student completes a senior thesis that addresses a specific policy question and draws out policy implications or comes to policy conclusions. In addition to the written report, each student presents an oral defense, which satisfies Princeton’s comprehensive exam requirement. The School awards several scholarships each year to students from any department for travel and living expenses related to senior thesis research in public policy.

Public Service Internships Students interested in completing an unpaid, full-time internship between their junior and senior years can secure funding from the School. Internships must be at least six weeks long, in governmental or nonprofit organizations, and focused on public policy or international affairs.


University Distribution Requirements: • • • • • • • •

Culture and Difference (CD) 1 course Epistemology and cognition (EC) 1 course Ethical thought and moral values (EM) 1 course Historical analysis (HA) 1 course Literature and the arts (LA) 2 courses Quantitative reasoning (QR) 1 course Social analysis (SA) 2 courses Science and technology (ST) 2 courses

ACLU Alliance for Multicultural Community Service Brookings Institute Chamber of Commerce Council on Foreign Relations Department Justice Department of Education Department of Health & Human Department of Homeland Security

• • • • • • • • • •

Department of State Department of Treasury Glimmer of Hope House of Representatives Human Rights Watch Immigrant-Safe Passage Project International Rescue Committee Legal Aid Society NY Academy of Medicine Senate Committee Veterans Affairs Services

• • • • • • • • • •

UNICEF United Nations USAID US District Attorney’s Office US Embassy (Vatican) US Global Leadership Coalition US Mission to NATO US Senate White House World Bank

For the latest information on the Undergraduate Program Curriculum see undergraduate-program/curriculum-requirements