UW–Madison’s Undergraduate Certificate in Public Policy complements existing majors across campus and extends the La Follette School of Public Affairs' mission to training and mentoring the next generation of leaders in their careers and communities.
The certificate program allows undergraduate students to apply a policy perspective to their major course of study and bolsters their skills for success in the workforce or in their graduate school coursework. Students build a strong foundation for careers in government, nonprofit organizations, or the private sector.
The Undergraduate Certificate in Public Policy is ideal for students seeking careers related to key domestic and international issues such as criminal justice, education, energy, environmental studies, finance, transportation, and poverty. It also prepares students to be engaged citizens, ready to use their talents to improve the world around them.
To declare the Undergraduate Certificate in Public Policy, students must:
- Hold UW-Madison sophomore standing or above
- Meet their school or college criteria for good academic standing
- Have completed at least one class, or be enrolled in at least one class in the current or upcoming semester, that meets certificate requirements
The La Follette School accepts Certificate applications from May 1 - May 31 and November 1 - November 30 each year. To apply for the Certificate:
- Review Certificate requirements so that you are familiar with the program
- Write a statement of interest explaining how you envision applying the Certificate in Public Policy to the context of your major program and in your future career
- Submit your application through the application portal, found on this page, in May or November
- Reach out to the La Follette Undergraduate Advisor if you have questions.
Requirements for the Certificate
|Introductory Course: 1 course required||3|
|Contemporary Public Policy Issues|
|Analytical Tools for Policy Design, Implementation, and Evaluation: 1 course required||3|
|Evidence-Based Policy Making|
|Analytic Tools for Public Policy|
|Policy Specialization: 1 course from any of these areas||3|
Social Policy, Inequality & Poverty
|Inequality, Race and Public Policy|
|Globalization, Poverty and Development|
|Economics of Poverty and Inequality|
|Urban and Regional Economics|
|Introduction to Public Policy|
|Psychology, Law, and Social Policy|
|Introduction to Social Policy|
|Poverty and Social Welfare|
|Strategic Public Management|
|Policy, Privacy, and Personal Identity in the Postgenomics Era|
|Global Health: Economics, Natural Systems, and Policy|
|Health Systems, Policy, Economics, and Research|
|Insuring Life's Risks: Health, Aging, and Policy|
|Public Health in Rural & Urban Communities|
|U.S. Environmental Politics and Public Policy|
|Climate Change Economics and Policy|
|Energy, Resources and Economics|
|Food Production Systems and Sustainability|
|Energy Technologies and Sustainability|
|Environmental Sustainability Engineering|
|US Environmental Policy and Regulation|
|Government and Natural Resources|
|Natural Resources Policy|
|Introduction to Education Policy|
|Race, Ethnicity, and Inequality in American Education|
|Education Policy and Practice|
|Consumer Policy Analysis|
|A Family Perspective in Policymaking|
|The Private and Public Sectors in Policymaking|
|The International Agricultural Economy|
|The Financial System|
|Contemporary Issues in Government, Organizations, and Enterprise|
|The European Union: Politics and Political Economy|
|American Foreign Policy|
|Fieldwork and Internship: 1 course required||3|
|Washington DC Semester in International Affairs Internship Seminar|
|Wisconsin in Washington Internship Course|
Residence & Quality of Work
- At least 6 credits must be completed in residence
- Minimum 2.000 GPA on all certificate courses
Courses taken Pass/Fail do not meet certificate requirements or calculate in the GPA.
Certificate Completion Requirement
This undergraduate certificate must be completed concurrently with the student’s undergraduate degree. Students cannot delay degree completion to complete the certificate.
- Students will demonstrate understanding of major current and past public policy debates, and how to approach questions and research with a public policy lens.
- Students will gain knowledge and demonstrate application of methodological tools utilized in the public policy arena (e.g., policy memo writing, policy analysis, experience working with administrative data, program evaluation, cost-benefit analysis, performance management).
- Students will demonstrate understanding and application of knowledge regarding the substantive policy area of interest of their choice (e.g., education, health, social, environmental, science).
- Students will gain practical professional experience in a public policy work setting.
The La Follette School of Public Affairs welcomes you to reach out to our student services team. Here are some quick steps toward getting what you need. Before getting in touch, be sure to check the Frequently Asked Questions section of our web site. It is updated regularly and just may hold the answers you seek!
- If you’re interested in learning more about the Certificate or would like guidance as a current Certificate student, make an appointment via Starfish or send an email to Mary Michaud (firstname.lastname@example.org), the Undergraduate Advisor for the Certificate Program.
- If you’re already a Certificate student, you can connect with Marie Koko, our Career Services Coordinator, about careers and internships: Send her an email at: email@example.com
- If you have a technical question about your DARS report, enrollment, or other things administrative, connect with David Wright-Racette at firstname.lastname@example.org
- If you’re interested in learning more about La Follette’s graduate programs in public and international affairs, contact Mo O’Connor, our graduate advisor: email@example.com
- If you’re an alumnus, parent, or student who is curious about how to get involved or contribute to the mission of the La Follette School, please contact Associate Director Steve Kulig: firstname.lastname@example.org
Staff Contact Information:
Mary Davis Michaud, Faculty Associate, La Follette School of Public Affairs
110A Observatory Hill Office Building
Marie Koko, Senior Career Services Coordinator, La Follette School of Public Affairs
204 Observatory Hill Office Building
David Wright-Racette, Senior Student Status Examiner, La Follette School of Public Affairs
110A Observatory Hill Office Building
Mo O’Connor, Senior Student Services Coordinator, La Follette School of Public Affairs
107 Observatory Hill Office Building
Steve Kulig, Associate Director, La Follette School of Public Affairs
103 Observatory Hill Office Building
SKILLS & CAREERS
Given the increasing complexity in every realm of public policy, students in the public policy certificate program gain skills in quantitative analysis, communication, writing, critical thinking, and problem solving that are in demand by more and more employers in almost every sector.
The certificate program focuses on evidence-based practices and provides students with the skills to gather data and information from various sources, analyze and synthesize the findings, and write a clear and concise report to illustrate the main points.
With the focus on evidence-based practices, the public policy certificate program provides research and data analysis skills that are transferrable to nearly any occupation. Students maximize their electives and earn a credential that highlights these highly sought-after skills in the context of real-world practice.
Career development is an integral part of the La Follette School experience, with staff members and alumni eager to support and mentor students with diverse interests. Students benefit from networking opportunities, employer visits, professional development seminars, and other services.
L&S career resources
Every L&S major opens a world of possibilities. SuccessWorks at the College of Letters & Science helps students turn the academic skills learned in their major, certificates, and other coursework into fulfilling lives after graduation, whether that means jobs, public service, graduate school or other career pursuits.
In addition to providing basic support like resume reviews and interview practice, SuccessWorks offers ways to explore interests and build career skills from their very first semester/term at UW all the way through graduation and beyond.
Students can explore careers in one-on-one advising, try out different career paths, complete internships, prepare for the job search and/or graduate school applications, and connect with supportive alumni and even employers in the fields that inspire them.
- Set up a career advising appointment
- Enroll in a Career Course - a great idea for first- and second-year students:
- Learn about internships and internship funding
- Activate your Handshake account to apply for jobs and internships from 200,000+ employers recruiting UW-Madison students
- Learn about the impact SuccessWorks has on students' lives
The undergraduate certificate in public policy gives students access to the La Follette School’s award-winning faculty members. These interdisciplinary faculty have expertise in social policy, health policy and management, public management, policy analysis, environmental policy, poverty, and government finance.