Public Policy Research Scholars

Students in the Public Policy Research Scholars (PPRS) program pursue a supplemental course of study, focusing on the quantitative analysis of public policy, alongside any major, in any of Penn’s undergraduate schools. Beyond the curriculum, students also are required to do at least one public-policy summer internship, for which they will receive funding. They also have opportunities to assist with faculty-led policy research on campus. As a community, PPRS students are committed to gaining the skills and experience necessary to critically assess U.S. public policy, as well as to prepare for graduate study and career opportunities in the field.

The core skills at the heart of PPRS include:

  • Economic and political analysis of public policy, for assessing why, how, and with what degree of success the government designs and implements policy.
  • Statistical thinking and quantitative analysis of economic data.
  • Knowledge of the policymaking process.
  • The application of theoretical and quantitative tools to practical, real-life policy questions.

Students that complete the program will have the designation “Public Policy Research Scholar” noted as an honor on their transcripts and will receive a certificate upon graduation.

PPRS Curriculum

Public policy is an interdisciplinary field; consequently, the PPRS curriculum draws on courses, methodologies, and faculty expertise from fields across all four Penn undergraduate schools.

Through their PPRS courses, students gain a broad introduction to the policymaking process and the economic analysis of policy, while also acquiring some depth of knowledge in a chosen public policy “track.” The curriculum culminates with a senior-year capstone course, in which students deploy all they have learned in the analysis of a real-life policy question.

The PPRS curriculum consists of 8 courses:

  • The core course for the program is BEPP 201 (Introduction to Business Economics and Public Policy), which students need to take in the fall of their sophomore year.
  • Students must receive credit for two semesters of statistics, or one semester of statistics and one semester of calculus.
    • For calculus, MATH 104 or its equivalent qualifies.
    • For statistics, STAT 101/102, STAT 111/112, STAT 430/431, ECON 103, ESE 301, CRIM 150, CRIM 320, NURS 230, PSCI 338, BIOL 446, and SOCI 120 all may be counted.
    • Students are expected to take statistics courses appropriate for their home school and major.
    • AP/IB credit is acceptable if granted by a student’s home school.
  • Students must complete one course in the Political Science Department, focusing on the policymaking environment:
    • PSCI 130 (Introduction to American Politics)
    • PSCI 138 (Policymaking in the U.S.)
    • PSCI 236 (The Public Policy Process)
    • PSCI 238 (Congress)
  • Three courses focusing on one issue-based policy track. Students will have flexibility to select these courses from different departments across Penn. Students also may propose their own track for approval, if their interests fall outside the options listed under Policy Tracks below.
  • The final course is a “capstone” (BEPP 399) taken during the spring semester of the senior year, where students will work under the direction of a faculty member to write a comprehensive literature review and policy analysis involving original research.

No more than 4 of these 8 courses may be double-counted with other academic requirements. However, the other courses taken for the PPRS program may be counted toward the elective credits that are part of a student’s undergraduate degree program.

None of the courses taken for the PPRS program may be taken pass/fail.

Policy Tracks

Students in the Public Policy Research Scholars program must take three courses in a policy track of their choosing. Possible policy tracks, and courses within those tracks, are outlined below; however, students also may propose a different policy track, if their interests lie outside of the listed options.

Please note that the lists of courses given here are not exhaustive. They include some but not all of the courses that PPRS students may take for their chosen policy track. Students may get approval from the PPRS program advisor for taking other relevant courses.

Education Policy

AFRC 460/URBS 460 School Reform and Public Policy
AFRC 712 Comprehensive School Reform as Applied Public Policy
EDUC 501 Economy of Education in Developing Countries
EDUC 541 Access and Choice in American Higher Education
EDUC 544 School and Society
EDUC 548 American Education Reform History
EDUC 556 Higher Education Finance
EDUC 570 Education and American Metropolis
EDUC 591 Applied Research Methods to Inform Policy and Practice
EDUC 595 Politics and Education
EDUC 601 Economic Aspects of Education Policy
EDUC 692 Education Policy Issues
EDUC 707 U.S. School Policy and Reform
EDUC 714 Law and Higher Education

Energy and Environmental Policy

BEPP 261/OPIM261 Risk Analysis and Environmental Management
BEPP/OIDD 263 Environmental & Energy Economics and Policy
CPLN 531 Introduction to Environmental Planning
CPLN 535 Topics in Energy Policy
CPLN 635 Water Policy
CPLN 678 Elements of a Sustainable Development Policy
EAS 301 Climate Policy and Technology
EAS 306 Electricity and Systems Markets
EAS 401 Energy and Its Impacts: Technology, Environment, Economics, Sustainability
EAS 402 Renewable Energy and Its Impacts: Technology, Environment, Economics, Sustainability
EAS 403 Energy Systems and Policy
ENMG 502 Introduction to Energy Policy
ENMG 507 Ideas in Energy Policy
ENVS 400 Environmental Policy
ENVS 412 Economics and the Environment
ENVS 426 Risk Assessment: Science & Policy Challenges
ENVS 431 Current EPA Regulatory Practices and Future Directions
ENVS 439 Policy to Practical in Environmental Management: Water Issues
ENVS 463/URBS 463 Brownfield Remediation
ENVS 611 Environmental Law
LGST 215/MGMT 215 Environmental Management
PHYS 016 Energy, Oil, and Global Warming
URBS 417 Cities and Sustainability
URBS 478 Elements of Sustainable Development Policy

Fiscal Policy

BEPP 204 Financing and Managing Government
BEPP 230/FNCE230/REAL230 Urban Fiscal Policy
ECON 028 Financial Meltdown
ECON 030/PPE 030 Analysis of Public Policy
ECON 231 Public Finance
ECON 232/PPE 232 Political Economy
ECON 237 Urban Fiscal Policy
ECON 243 Monetary and Fiscal Policies
ECON 246 Money and Banking
FNCE 238 Capital Markets
FNCE 393 Global, Monetary and Financial Stability Policy

Health Care Policy

ECON 039/HCMG 202 Economics and Financing of Health Care Delivery
HCMG 101 Health Care Systems
HCMG 211/LGST 211 Legal Aspects of Health Care
HCMG 212 Health Care Quality and Outcomes: Measurement and Management
HCMG 215 Management and Economics of Pharmaceutical, Biotech, and Medical Device Industries
HCMG 216 Health Insurance and Health Care Strategy
HCMG 250 Health Policy: Health Care Reform and the Future of the American Health System
HPR 604 Introduction to Statistics for Health Policy
HPR 606 Fundamentals of Health Policy
HSOC 150/SOCI 152 American Health Policy
NURS 334 Public Policy and the Nation’s Health
NURS 359 Quality Care Challenges in an Evolving Health Care Market
NURS 588 Politics of Women’s Healthcare
NURS 640 Global Health and Health Policy
PSCI 221 Comparative Health Politics
PUBH 500 Foundations of Public Health
PUBH 505 Public Health Administration and Policy
SOCI 111 Health of Popultations
SOCI 152 American Health Policy

Housing and Real Estate Policy

BEPP 206/REAL 206 Urban Public Policy & Private Economic Development
BEPP 230/FNCE 230/REAL 230 Urban Fiscal Policy
CPLN 625 Housing and Community Development Policy
CPLN 644 Neighborhood Change and Equitable Development
ENVS 463/URBS 463 Brownfield Remediation
REAL 215 Urban Real Estate Economics
URBS 415 Urban Real Estate Markets
URBS 450 Urban Redevelopment
URBS 451 Politics of Housing and Urban Development

Innovation and Technology Policy

CIS 125/EAS 125 Technology and Policy
COMM 417 Politics of Digital Media Policy
HCMG 215 Management and Economics of Pharmaceutical, Biotech, and Medical Device Industries
LAW 507 Introduction to Intellectual Law and Policy
LAW 613 Technology and Policy
LGST 222/OPIM 222 Internet Law and Policy

Risk Management Policy

BEPP 203 Business in the Global Political Environment
BEPP 305 Risk Management
ECON 246 Money and Banking
LAW 645 Insurance Law and Policy
LGST 223 Securities Regulation

Trade Policy

ECON 050 International Economics
ECON 251 International Trade
LAW 736 International Trade Regulation
LGST 216 Emerging Economies
LGST 219 Law and Policy in International Business

Urban Policy

AFRC 460/URBS 460 School Reform and Public Policy
BEPP 206/REAL 206 Urban Public Policy and Private Economic Development
BEPP 230/FNCE230/REAL230 Urban Fiscal Policy
CPLN 502 Urban Redevelopment and Infrastructure Finance
CPLN 520 Introduction to Community and Economic Development
CPLN 550 Introduction to Transit Planning
CPLN 621 Metropolitan Food System
CPLN 625 Housing and Community Development Policy
CPLN 635 Water Policy
CPLN 676 The Immigrant City
ECON 237 Urban Fiscal Policy
EDUC 570 Education and American Metropolis
ENVS 463/URBS 463 Brownfield Remediation
FNAR 201/URBS 410 Urban Communities and the Arts: Research & Policy
PSCI 136 Urban Politics in the US
SOCI 420 Perspectives on Urban Poverty
SOCI 435 Globalization and the City
SOCI 452 Metropolitan Growth and Poverty
URBS 402 The City and Homelessness
URBS 415 Urban Real Estate Markets
URBS 417 Cities and Sustainability
URBS 419 Transportation and American Society
URBS 450 Urban Redevelopment
URBS 451 The Politics of Housing and Urban Development
URBS 454 City Limits: The Impact of Urban Policy
URBS 456 Economics and Urban Affairs
URBS 478 Elements of Sustainable Development Policy

Program Contact

For more information, you may contact Dr. Utsav Schurmans, Director of Research and Scholars Programs (schurman@wharton.upenn.edu).