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Public Policy and Administration Certificate

Contact: Satu Zoller
Center for Public Policy and
Office: 418 Thompson Hall
Phone: (413) 545-2714

The Faculty

Lee Badget (Program Director and Economics); Michael Ash (Economics); Sylvia Brandt (Resource Economics); Brenda Bushouse (Political Science); Paula Chakravartty (Communication); Fergus Clydesdale (Food Science); Eric Einhorn (Political Science); Jane Fountain (Political Science); Martha Fuentes-Bautista (Communication); William Gibson (Economics); Krista Harper (Anthropology); Carol Heim (Economics); John Hird (Political Science); Laura Jensen (Political Science); Ray LaRaja (Political Science); Kathryn McDermott (Educational Policy, Research and Administration); David Mednicoff (Legal Studies); Joya Misra (Sociology); James Murphy (Resource Economics); Maureen Perry-Jenkins (Psychology); Dean Robinson (Political Science); David Scherer (Psychology); Charles Schweik (Natural Resources Conservation); Paula Stamps (Public Health); John Stranlund (Resource Economics).

The Program

Public policy and administration refer to the work of government—how decisions are made, which actions are taken or not taken, and who is or should be involved in the process. It is a look at how governments put policy into practice and how rules and regulations are implemented. Student interests among many others might include education, healthcare, environment, social welfare, and information technology, and span all levels of government, and might also include nonprofit or international organizations.

The Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Certificate in Public Policy and Administration is available to all University of Massachusetts Amherst undergraduate students regardless of their major. Students in this certificate program can develop a comprehensive understanding of public policy and administration issues from multiple perspectives and such disciplines as economics, sociology, political science, anthropology, communication, regional planning, and history.

Students can also master skills relevant to professional careers in public policy and administration including management, survey research, computer applications, technical writing, and public presentations. Working with their faculty adviser, students choose concentrations that match their interests with available courses related to public policy and administration.


The certificate requires successful completion of eight courses (24 credits), with an average grade of B or better. These consist of three required courses and five electives to be chosen by the student with the approval of a faculty adviser. No course used to satisfy the Certificate requirements may be graded on a Pass/Fail basis. Courses used toward the certificate may also be applied to the student’s major or other university requirements.

Prior to the start of the senior year, the student must submit a one-page proposal to a faculty adviser outlining both the policy concentration the student would like to pursue and how the five elective policy courses will meet this objective. The complete set of forms and a list of faculty advisers are available on the above website.

Required Courses

One course in microeconomics:
ECON 103 Introduction to Microeconomics or
RES-ECON 102 Introduction to Resource Economics
One overview course in public policy or public administration:
POLISCI 181 Controversies in Public Policy
POLISCI 280 Public Policy
POLISCI 220 Public Administration
One course in introductory statistics from the following:
PSYCH 240 Statistics in Psychology
RES-ECON 211 Introductory Statistics for the Life Sciences
RES-ECON 212 Introductory Statistics for the Social Sciences
SOCIOL 212 Elementary Statistics
STATISTC 111 Elementary Statistics
STATISTC 140 Introduction to Statistics
ANTHRO 481 Research Methods

Elective courses

Students work with a faculty adviser to select five elective courses to build a concentration in an area of personal interest. All electives must be at the 200 level or above. Three courses must be at the 300 level or above, unless students receive approval from their faculty adviser. Of the five courses, no more than two from the same department will apply toward the certificate. (For the purposes of this certificate, Economics and Resource Economics are considered one department.)