NEW AT UCLA: Bachelor of Arts in Public Affairs

The world needs agents of social change whose passion to improve people’s lives is matched by the knowledge and skills to deliver results. UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs will help cultivate this next generation of civic-minded leaders with a new undergraduate degree, launching in the fall of 2018.

The B.A. in Public Affairs offers an in-depth and engaged educational experience with a clear public service ethos. Drawing from UCLA Luskin’s expansive resources in Public Policy, Social Welfare, and Urban Planning, the major combines critical thinking, social science methodology, and experiential learning, connecting the dots between theory and action.


Our world is changing rapidly, creating opportunity but also inequity. Poverty, affordable housing, climate change, criminal justice reform, health, education, migration – these are among society’s most pressing issues. At UCLA, students are stepping up to meet these challenges head-on, and the Public Affairs B.A. gives them the skills to succeed. Public Affairs majors learn to analyze information, use evidence for decision making, and make compelling arguments for collective action. Then they go out into the community to apply their scholarship in nonprofit organizations, private ventures, government agencies, advocacy groups, and other settings. The Public Affairs B.A. prepares our future leaders to immediately and effectively bring about social change.


The B.A. in Public Affairs provides a multidisciplinary foundation in social science theories, data collection and analysis, critical thinking, and written and oral communication. Majors delve into topics such as social movements and their policy underpinnings, microeconomics and human development, and the use of statistics to inform and persuade. This undergraduate experience prepares students for careers in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, and for graduate study in fields such as law, public policy, social welfare, urban planning, education, or any of the social sciences. Public Affairs is also a logical second major for science or engineering students who wish to concentrate on policy issues.


Public Affairs majors step into the real world to put their scholarship and skills to work. A three-quarter-length capstone project provides an immersive learning experience in a wide variety of settings. Students connect with community-based organizations, regional governments, and private companies, or pursue projects through UC’s international, Washington, D.C., or Sacramento programs. This exceptional opportunity provides first-hand experience at the intersection of governance, corporate citizenship, civil society, and grassroots activism.


What is the UCLA Luskin Public Affairs B.A.?

The new undergraduate major in Public Affairs combines a multidisciplinary social science curriculum with a year-long capstone experience in the public or private sector. Immersive and academically rigorous, this major is designed to equip students with the conceptual background, methodological training, and communication skills needed to reimagine approaches to public problems, reduce inequities, and confront injustice.

Why is UCLA launching this undergraduate program now?

UCLA attracts many undergraduates who aspire to make the world a better place. The B.A. in Public Affairs arose from the Luskin School’s desire to provide a rigorous, interdisciplinary major with an applied, experiential component, so that UCLA students who are committed to working to improve the lives of others have the opportunity to develop the knowledge and skills needed for effective leadership. In addition, because UCLA’s undergraduate enrollment is expected to rise in response to a call by the UC Regents to enroll 10,000 additional California residents, the B.A. in Public Affairs will help meet the needs of this new generation of students committed to public service.

Why pursue a Public Affairs B.A. at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs?

Located in the “world city” of Los Angeles, UCLA Luskin is a living laboratory that tackles the problems facing communities around the block and across the globe. The school’s multidisciplinary faculty is known for policy-relevant research on a wide range of issues such as immigration, criminal justice, health care, global poverty, child well-being, education policy, environmental justice, transportation, and climate change. UCLA Luskin has for decades produced master’s and doctoral graduates in Social Welfare, Urban Planning and Public Policy, and offered several undergraduate courses. The Public Affairs B.A. greatly expands undergraduate access to the School’s world-class resources and scholarship.

When will students be able to enroll in classes that count for the Public Affairs major?

Courses for the major will be offered beginning in the 2018-2019 school year. Course offerings will increase each year, with all required courses offered by the 2020-21 school year.

Interested first-year students entering UCLA in the 2018-2019 academic year will be able to select “pre-major” status during Summer Orientation and during their first year on campus. These students should enroll in Lower Division courses for the major in 2018-2019 and will be able to apply to the major in the spring of their sophomore year. Please consult with our Undergraduate Advisor to plan your four-year program of study in the major.

Interested UCLA students who will be sophomores in the 2018-19 school year will be considered for the pre-major if they have already taken enough relevant coursework. If you think you may be interested in the Public Affairs major, please consult as soon as possible with our Undergraduate Advisor. Although we are not able to admit into the major students who will be UCLA juniors or seniors in 2018-2019, such students may enroll in Public Affairs courses and may minor in Public Affairs.

How do I apply to the Public Affairs major?

Students applying for admission to UCLA for the fall of 2019 will be able to select pre-major status in Public Affairs at the time of application to UCLA or during Summer Orientation. All pre-majors must apply for admission to the major in early spring of the sophomore year. Admission is not guaranteed.

What minor programs are offered through UCLA Luskin?

Undergraduates may complete a minor in Public Affairs, Gerontology, or Urban and Regional Studies. You can learn more about requirements for these minors here.

What kinds of careers do Public Affairs majors pursue?

The Public Affairs B.A. provides a strong foundation in multidisciplinary social science theories and methods. The B.A. also helps students develop strong analytical, communications, and data analysis skills. In addition, it gives students the opportunity to apply this knowledge in a professional environment to help organizations address social problems and improve the quality of people’s lives. Taken together, the coursework and experiential learning component of the Public Affairs B.A. prepare graduates for entry-level employment in the public, nonprofit, or private sectors. The major also prepares students for graduate study in a wide range of fields including the social sciences, law, public policy, social welfare, urban planning, and education. Career paths for students with a Public Affairs B.A. include law, politics, research and data analysis, business and management, communications, teaching, public health, and academia, among others.

I’m not sure if the Public Affairs major is right for me. Can you help?

Yes, we’d love to meet with you to discuss this. Please reach out to our Undergraduate Advisor for an appointment or drop by during open office hours. What unites students who major in Public Affairs is that they are all interested in making a difference in the world. Some hope to become leaders in government, nonprofits, the private sector, or communities. Others hope to become social entrepreneurs, policy analysts, or activists. Because the major offers considerable flexibility in the required upper division coursework and in the experiential learning component, students can construct a pathway through the major that fits their interests.

I can’t decide whether the major or minor is the better choice for me. Can you help?

First, our Undergraduate Advisor would love to discuss this with you because the best answer will depend on your goals, interests, and plans for other majors or minors. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to talk to us. A simple answer is that the major may be a better choice because only majors can enroll in the year-long capstone, an experiential learning opportunity. Because we see this experience as what really distinguishes the Public Affairs B.A. from other majors on campus, we highly recommend considering the major. We also recommend the major over the minor because students in the major get priority in signing up for upper division courses and thus have more access to specific courses that interest them.

I am sure I want to go to graduate school, either right after finishing my undergraduate degree or after working for a few years. Will the B.A. in Public Affairs prepare me to be competitive for graduate school?

Absolutely. The B.A. in Public Affairs is designed to prepare students to be competitive to apply to any of the professional schools (business, law, public policy, social welfare, urban planning, education, public health) and to master’s and doctoral programs in the social sciences and education. Our Undergraduate Advisor can recommend courses, research opportunities, and experiential learning placements tailored to your graduate school aspirations.


Cecilia Estolano named to UC Board of Regents UCLA Luskin alumna and adjunct faculty member will help shape higher education in California for years to come

UCLA Luskin alumna and adjunct faculty member will help shape higher education in California for years to come

‘Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable’ In commencement address, Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey issues a call to action to more than 200 change agents from Public Policy, Social Welfare and Urban Planning

In commencement address, Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey issues a call to action to more than 200 change agents from Public Policy, Social Welfare and Urban Planning

Also at Luskin



Undergraduate Public Affairs

Luskin School of Public Affairs
University of California Los Angeles
3250 Public Affairs Building
Box 951666
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1656

Meredith Phillips
Department Chair
(310) 794-5475

Jocelyn Guihama
Director of Undergraduate Administration and Experiential Learning

Public Affairs Undergraduate Advisor
Alexis Oberlander
Director of Student Affairs
3357D Public Affairs

UCLA Admissions
General Inquiries and Advising
(310) 825-3101

Undergraduate Advising Office Hours

The Public Affairs Undergraduate Advisors will be available throughout the summer. Email for an appointment!

All appointments will be held in 3357D Public Affairs.