Dear current and prospective Bruins,

I am delighted to be writing to you today to tell you about UCLA’s new undergraduate major in Public Affairs.

Are you looking for an interesting, intellectually-stimulating major focused on understanding societal problems and their potential solutions? Do you want to develop the knowledge and skills needed to make a difference locally, nationally, or globally? If so, the Public Affairs major may be a great fit.

The Public Affairs major is centered around a multidisciplinary foundation in the social sciences, with an applied emphasis on the use of social science knowledge and methods for improving society. We’ve designed the major to prepare students to be successful in a wide range of professions after college and in the very best graduate and professional schools.

What I think you may find especially exciting about the Public Affairs major is its required experiential learning capstone experience in the senior year. This capstone combines a multi-quarter internship in a community or government organization with a seminar series in which students develop a project based on what they’ve learned in their classes and their internship. Most of these capstone projects will take place in the greater Los Angeles area, providing an amazing opportunity for undergraduates to contribute to our global city in a sustained and substantial way.

The professors who will be teaching courses in the new major come from a wide range of academic disciplines and the three departments—Public Policy, Social Welfare, and Urban Planning—that make up the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. These professors are nationally and internationally renowned scholars in areas such as poverty and inequality, housing and homelessness, immigration, urban design and development, international development, transportation, climate change, environmental justice, child development and welfare, aging, health care and health policy, juvenile and criminal justice, and education policy.

In fall 2018, we will be welcoming UCLA students into our Public Affairs courses. If you will be a first-year student or a UCLA sophomore in fall 2018, and might be interested in the Public Affairs major, I encourage you to select Public Affairs as your “pre-major” and come meet with one of our undergraduate counselors to learn more.

On a more personal note, in fall 2018, I will be teaching one of the required courses for the major (PA 60: Using Data to Learn about Society) and hope to see you in my class. I can’t wait to share my passion for applied research methods and data analysis with you (Seriously!). I will also be holding office hours this spring and summer, and encourage you to get in touch if you have questions about the major or our fall course offerings.

On behalf of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, I welcome you to our major and our School community, and I look forward to meeting you in person very soon!


Meredith Phillips, Ph.D.

Chair, Undergraduate Affairs
Associate Professor of Public Policy and Sociology

Meredith Phillips

Associate Professor of Public Policy and Sociology and Chair of Undergraduate Affairs


Ph.D. in Sociology, Northwestern University
M.A. in Human Development & Social Policy, Northwestern University
A.B. in Human Biology and Spanish Literature, Brown University

Areas of Interest:

Phillips studies the causes and consequences of educational inequality. She specializes in the causes of ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in educational success and how to reduce those disparities.

Phillips co-founded EdBoost, a charitable, educational non-profit whose mission is to reduce educational inequality by making high-quality supplemental educational services accessible to children from all family backgrounds.  Phillips also co-founded the Los Angeles Education Research Institute (LAERI), a Los Angeles-based research-practice partnership that collaborates with L.A. Unified.

Research & Publications



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