The major in social policy and public service (SPPS) provides an interdisciplinary perspective on the study of society, both at the individual and group level. Using the knowledge and methods of all social science disciplines, a student majoring in social policy and public service develops the skills to think clearly about social concepts and issues.

Through SPPS, students can integrate a curriculum that focuses on governance, community management, leadership, and social service. Grounded in research, the curriculum highlights societal inequalities and partners with local non-profit and government agencies to facilitate student learning and 300 hours of field work and internships. The non-profit organizations provide students insights on agency practices and social services. They also offer a partnership where students complete ethnographic research to gain professional and research training. Further, the three-quarter field placement facilitates the development of community skills, leadership, mentorship relationships with community supervisors, and networking. Majors have the opportunity to use their classroom knowledge in applied and individual learning experiences, such as internships, field studies, or research with a faculty advisor.

The curriculum for the major exposes students to various social science methods and topics, teaching applied computer-based research and statistical analyses; internship experiences in community, public, and educational organizations; and a more in-depth understanding of social science research and methodology. Ensuring student competency in a specific area of interest, students can narrow their studies by choosing one of three focus areas while completing their upper-division work: (1) Education, (2) Governance, or (3) Health.

Learning Outcomes

  • Gain applied research (both quantitative and qualitative training) and analytical skills (scientific and statistical fundamentals) to address social issues as critical thinkers and problem solvers.
  • Ability to design and conduct a research project addressing a social issue in the Social Sciences that will require data collection, analysis, and interpretation.
  • Have knowledge, awareness, and skills in relation to cultural competency as it relates unrepresented and marginalized groups through theory, research, community leadership, and public service.
  • Develop communication skills to write and articulate effectively when addressing an issue providing contextualization and supporting points for complete and understanding of the content and effective analysis of an outcome.
  • Personify community and managerial leadership, teamwork, and professional etiquette while understanding organizational structures and behavior.
  • Instill in students the value, appreciation and ethical responsibility of community investment, action research, and civic engagement


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