Public Policy and American Institutions


Public Policy and American Institutions is housed in the A. Alfred Taubman Center, which is dedicated to teaching, research, and service in the areas of health care and social welfare policy, education policy, urban policy, law and criminal justice, and media and technology. Public policy refers to societal initiatives to remedy social problems. Because social problems typically emerge from complex, multi-faceted social conditions, the study of public policy requires students to become familiar with the insights of diverse academic disciplines into how institutions facilitate or inhibit societal problem-solving. The study of public policy is an excellent framework for integrating ideas drawn from several disciplines around issues of real world significance. Concentrators emerge with a sound understanding of institutional change and are well-equipped to contribute to processes of social change.  

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Student Goals

Students in this concentration will:

  • Understand the role of American institutions in developing and implementing policies for the public good
  • Develop advanced skills in policy analysis
  • Gain in-depth knowledge of one subfield such as education policy, health-care policy, or the criminal justice system
  • Engage in significant independent research


Click here for a list of the Public Policy concentration requirements.

Honors and Capstones

View Honors website

Students seeking a capstone experience in Public Policy should apply to write a Senior Thesis in the spring term of their junior year. Concentrators who meet qualifying criteria and have outstanding academic records in public policy course work will be considered for approval to write a Senior Thesis. Once approved, they must enroll in the two-semester Public Policy Colloquium and prepare theses that examine some aspect of public policy, including but not limited to a program evaluation, a feasibility study, or examination of an institution that affects policy. Candidates who write senior theses of distinguished quality are recommended for “Honors,” which is conferred by the department at the time of graduation from Brown. Please visit the Public Policy website for complete information on the eligibility requirements for Honors.

Liberal Learning

This concentration allows you to address the following Liberal Learning goals:

  • Expand your reading skills
  • Collaborate fully
  • Embrace diversity
  • Engage with your community
  • Evaluate human behavior
  • Work on your speaking and writing

Download the full statement on Liberal Learning at Brown

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Graduating Class

Year Total Capstone Honors

Alumni Pathways

Public Policy alumni have pursued careers in health policy, education (including Teach for America), banking, law, and are now employed for the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and State.

See more details on the CareerLAB website.

If you are an advisor and would like to make changes to the information on this page, contact, or email Dean Besenia Rodriguez.