The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Public Policy Minor

Public Policy Minor Requirements

Public Policy Minor

Public policy looks at what the government does, doesn’t do, and could do to address public problems, such as climate change, healthcare, and education, among others, and how those policies come to be. Minors think about how the government, nonprofits, the private sector, and individuals interact to tackle these societal issues. They progress from having identified something in the world they want to change to having the tangible skills needed to do so. The minor will serve as a complement to majors across campus, each of which has public policy implications and connections, helping students to understand how to make a positive impact on some of the world’s most challenging problems. 

To highlight the benefits of the minor, consider a student studying environmental science. Completing the minor would teach them about the different ways that policy is made, how scientific and expert knowledge can contribute to policy formation, selection, and implementation, and ways in which they can pursue change. A student studying music that completes the minor could gain a better understanding of how government policy and nonprofits shape the arts and vice versa, additionally learning leadership skills that may help them as they go on to teach, lead ensembles, or promote the arts after graduation. A business student may complement their major that primarily focuses on the private sector by learning about the ways in which government regulation will impact their future endeavors and the opportunities for pursuing careers in social enterprise, businesses with a focus on the public good. In short, there are endless ways that students may benefit from this option as public policy intersects with every discipline and every sector. 

The public policy minor will guide students through the fundamentals of public policy and give students the opportunity to explore the fields of public policy, nonprofit management, and leadership.


To complete the minor in Public Policy, students must complete five courses.

  • All students must take SPP 280 Public Policy (cross-listed with POLISCI 280). 
  • Students should take four additional SPP courses of which: 
    • One must be at the 100-level or higher;
    • One must be at the 200-level or higher; and
    • Two must be at the 300-level or higher.

All coursework must carry at least 3 credits and be taken for a letter grade. The overall GPA for the minor must be at least 2.0.  At least three of the five courses must be taken within (or be cross listed with) the UMass Amherst School of Public Policy, with at most two courses being transferred from another program, such as a previous institution or through a study abroad institution. Per University policy, at most two courses for the minor may overlap with another major, minor, or certificate. Finally, neither practica, independent studies, undergraduate research experiences through the UREP program (i.e., SPP 398R), nor SPP 301 (i.e., JYW) count towards the minor.

Declare the Minor

Please complete this form to declare the minor in public policy. Email if you have questions. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can ECON 103 or RES-ECON 102 or a 200-level stats course (other than SPP 204) fulfill a requirement for the minor?

A: No, those courses cannot fulfill a requirement for the public policy minor because they are not cross-listed with the School of Public Policy. Those courses should be helpful to you if you pursue a career in the policy world, but because they do not explicitly discuss the policy implications of statistics and/or economics, they do not cover a requirement for the minor. 

Q. May [insert name of non-SPP course you've taken or want to take] count toward the minor?

A. You may send up to three course syllabi to for our Undergraduate Program Director to review. Before you do so, please review the syllabus yourself. A great clue as to whether it will count would be multiple mentions of the word "policy" or "nonprofit" or "social enterprise."

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