History of Public Policy

What is History of Public Policy?

The B.A. in the history of public policy, the first to be offered in American higher education, combines comparative studies in history with studies in related academic disciplines. Students are expected to acquire competence in a foreign language, in statistics and computer operations, and in research and writing skills, culminating in the preparation of a senior thesis. An internship in governmental and public affairs is strongly recommended.

The major concentrates on the social process that is central and common to the making of public policy. They emphasize the history of public policy in various nations and time periods, from the ancient Greeks to our present day world. Focusing on time, economic, and social factors they begin to understand how governments in their own times reached critical policy decisions and the difficulties they encountered when implementing those policies.

General Major Information

How Can I Tell If I Would Like History of Public Policy?

Individuals who wish to pursue a career in either a government office or a public office, which services and coordinate the public, are found in this major. These people need to possess analytical, quantitative, organizational, communicative, and computer skills in order to be of the best value to their employers and their positions. This is a major, which focuses upon services to the general public, and individuals working here receive a sense of accomplishment for what they do for the community.

What Are Potential Topics Within This Major?

Although the following list can provide students with topics that may be covered in this major, look at the UCSB catalog and consult with the undergraduate advisor for more detailed information about requirements and course offerings.

Science/ Technology / Public Policy
Environmental Problems
Management Science
Public and Non-Profit Budgeting
Government Organization

To learn more about whether you might enjoy this major, check with a peer in the Career Resource Room for details on:

- Focus 2 to explore college majors and careers.

- The Strong Interest Inventory®, an assessment that compares your interests against six broad categories of work. This assessment helps match your interests and suggests potential careers to explore.

What Can I Do To Make My Major More Marketable?

  • Pursue relevant work, internship, volunteer, and/or research experience.
  • Choose a complementary minor.
  • Specialize in an area; take courses in related fields.
  • Develop your computer skills.
  • Learn a foreign language.
  • Study abroad.
  • Join professional associations.
  • Get involved in student clubs.
  • Participate in community organizations.
  • Seek out leadership positions.
  • Research specific prerequisites for different positions.
  • Network with others in fields that interest you.

General Career Information

What Are Some Possible Career Options?

Note: On its own, your major does not dictate what your job will be.  The following list provides only a handful of possibilities.  History of Public Policy majors with strong liberal arts background may pursue career options in many fields.  Depending on experience, specialized coursework, and possible graduate study options include:

Administrative Officer
Budget Analyst
Contractor Industrial Relations Specialist
Financial Examiner
Employee Development
Public Affairs
Public Historian
Museum Curator
Foreign Service
Peace Corps
Research Analyst
Legislative Staffer
Document Conservator
National Park Service
Academic Positions
Tour Guide
Living History Museum
To learn more about these and other occupations, please visit:
O*Net Online
Occupational Outlook Handbook
Come visit the Career Resource Room to see our vast collection of career books and resources.
See what other UCSB alumni are doing with their major on LinkedIn

Graduate and Professional Schools

Rank and search 19,079 programs at 2,240 US universities based on your priorities.  Data come from the National Science Foundation, the National Research Council, and the National Center for Education Statistics.

This is a comprehensive website that provides information about where graduate programs are offered throughout the nation.

This is a database to help find where graduate programs are offered throughout the U.S.

Come to the Career Resources Room to view the CHOICES lab version of graduate schools.

Experience Search Strategies

Public Service Careers
PublicServiceCareers.org is your source for listings of professional jobs in the public sector, advice on public service careers, and information about pursuing a degree in public service.

Indeed Job Search Engine
Indeed is the #1 job site worldwide, with over 140 million unique visitors per month

SimplyHired Search Engine
Search jobs from company sites, job boards and the web.

CareerBuilder Search Engine
One of the largest online job boards in the U.S.

When you join LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, you get access to people, jobs, news, updates, and insights that help you be great at what you do.

Idealist (Non-Profit Jobs)
Search for volunteer opportunities, events, and other concrete ways to get involved.

UCSB Career Services “Job Links” section
Check out job links in the following categories: Local/CA, National, International, Industry Specific, UCSB Careers by Majors and Diversity.

Professional Associations

Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management
APPAM is dedicated to improving public policy and management by fostering excellence in research, analysis, and education.

American Society for Public Administration
The American Society for Public Administration is the largest and most prominent professional association for public administration. It is dedicated to advancing the art, science, teaching and practice of public and non-profit administration.

Major Public Policy Organizations
An extensive Public Policy Organization list.

American Association of Political Consultants


UCSB Resources