B.A. in Public Affairs Degree Requirements
Public Affairs Major Curriculum
Planning Your Degree
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B.A. in Public Affairs Degree Requirements

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.

Undergraduate students in the Luskin School of Public Affairs must complete the following degree requirements for graduation. For detailed information about the Luskin School of Public Affairs Undergraduate Program degree requirements visit the UCLA General Catalog.

  • University Requirements (click here for details)
    • Entry-Level Writing / ESL
    • American History & Institutions
  • School Requirements (click here for details)
    • Writing I, Writing II, Quantitative Reasoning, Foreign Language, Diversity, General Education (GE) requirements
    • Unit requirements (i.e. 60 upper division units, 180 minimum overall units, and 216 maximum units)
    • Scholarship (i.e. GPA) requirement
    • Academic (senior/major) residence requirement
  • Department Requirements
    • Major preparation and upper division requirements
    • Major Scholarship (i.e. GPA) requirement

Student can track their degree and major requirements progress using their degree audit report (DARS) via MyUCLA > Academics > Degree Progress/Audit Report.

Public Affairs Major Curriculum

Students pursuing the B.A. in Public Affairs must complete the following major requirements:

  • Eight lower division courses (38 units in total) that establish a critical social science and methodological foundation while fulfilling some General Education requirements.
  • Ten upper division courses (42 units in total) which provide more sophisticated theoretical and substantive grounding, including skills in qualitative and quantitative research methods. Upper division electives reflect a range of substantive topics in public affairs. The ten upper division courses include the three-quarter experiential learning capstone in the senior year that culminates in a capstone project.

For an outline of the B.A. in Public Affairs degree and major requirements, click on the links below:

Student can track their degree and major requirements progress using their degree audit report (DARS) via MyUCLA > Academics > Degree Progress/Audit Report.

For detailed information about the B.A. in Public Affairs degree and major requirements, schedule an appointment with a Luskin academic counselor (linked here) or click on the menus below.

Public Affairs Major Preparation Requirements

The Public Affairs major preparation coursework consists of the following 8 lower division public affairs (PUB AFF) courses totaling 38 units. All major preparation courses must be completed with a minimum C grade. All major courses must be taken for a letter grade.

You can view course descriptions on the UCLA Registrar’s Office website here, and the quarterly Schedule of Classes here. Visit the Public Affairs Enrollment Procedures webpage for a list of the current academic year course offerings.

Required: 8 courses/38 units

  • PUB AFF 10. Social Problems and Social Change (5 units): Social scientific approaches to study of social problems and their solutions.
  • PUB AFF 20. Power, Politics, and Policy Change (5 units): Historical and contemporary forms of the key institutions of politics and policy in the United States.
  • PUB AFF 30. Comparative Analysis of Wealth, Policy, and Power (5 units): How countries organize their economies and governments and how this affects their approaches to social problems.
  • PUB AFF 40. Microeconomics for Public Affairs (5 units): Principles of microeconomic analysis, including comparative advantage, supply and demand, market failure, and public economics.
  • PUB AFF 50. Foundations and Debates in Public Thought (5 units): Concepts in social and political theory that animate debates about public policy, collective welfare, and political change.
  • PUB AFF 60. Using Data to Learn about Society: Introduction to Empirical Research and Statistics (5 units): Research design principles and hands-on data analysis to understand social problems.
  • PUB AFF 70. Information, Evidence, and Persuasion (4 units): The public life of facts used by different players in their efforts to inform, persuade, and indoctrinate.
  • PUB AFF 80. How Social Environments Shape Human Development (4 units): Exploring how diverse cultural, socioeconomic, and historical contexts interact with biology to affect people during development.

Public Affairs Major Upper Division Requirements

The Public Affairs major upper division coursework consists of 10 upper division public affairs (PUB AFF) courses totaling 42 units. You must complete the major upper division requirements with a minimum 2.0 GPA. All major courses must be taken for a letter grade.

You can view course descriptions on the UCLA Registrar’s Office website here, and the quarterly Schedule of Classes here. Visit the Public Affairs Enrollment Procedures webpage for a list of the current academic year course offerings.

Required: 10 courses/42 units

  • Theory Courses (2 courses, 8 units): Select two courses from the following list:
    • PUB AFF M109. Introduction to Cities and Planning (4 units): Survey of urban history and evolution in U.S., urban social theory, current growth trends, system of cities, urban economy and economic restructuring, traditional and alternative location theories, urban transportation, and residential location and segregation.
    • PUB AFF 110. The Urban Revolution: Space and Society in Global Context (4 units): Theoretical frameworks used by urban studies and planning to study cities and urban transformations.
    • PUB AFF 111. Microeconomics: Market Failures and Inequality (4 units): Examination of behavior and outcomes in market and strategic settings, as well as policy responses to market failure due to imperfect information, collective action problems, and externalities.
    • PUB AFF 112. Social Movements (4 units): Exploration of how social movements emerge, diffuse, and contribute to political, social, and cultural change in U.S. and elsewhere.
    • PUB AFF 113. Policy Analysis: Approaches to Addressing Social Problems (4 units): An introduction to the policy analysis and development process.
    • PUB AFF 114. People, Organizations, and Systems (4 units): The social ecology of collaborative relationships among individuals, groups, organizations, and communities.
  • Methods Courses (2 courses, 10 units)
    •  PUB AFF 115. Using Quantitative Methods to Understand Social Problems and their Potential Solutions (5 units): Understanding and applying multivariate regression methods to the analysis of social problems.
    • PUB AFF 116. Using Qualitative Methods to Understand Social Problems and their Potential Solutions (5 units): Understanding and applying qualitative methods to the analysis of social problems.
  • Capstone Requirement (3 courses, 12 units): Click here to learn more about the Experiential Learning Requirement.
    • PUB AFF 187AX. Experiential Learning Capstone (4 units)
    • PUB AFF 187BX. Experiential Learning Capstone (4 units)
    • PUB AFF 187CX. Experiential Learning Capstone (4 units)
  • Elective Courses (3 courses, 12 units)
    • Elective courses for the Public Affairs major are selected from Public Affairs (PUB AFF) courses numbered 100-199 that are not already being used to satisfy the theory requirement, methods requirement, and capstone requirement.
    • Elective courses can also be selected from Urban Planning (URBN PL) 100-199, Social Welfare (SOC WLF) 100-199, Public Policy (PUB PLC) 100-199, and Gerontology (GRNTLGY) 100-199.
    • New electives are added every year. Please visit the Public Affairs Enrollment Procedures page for the most up to date listings.

Students pursuing the B.A. in Public Affairs must complete the 3-quarter experiential learning capstone experience that consists of a 3-quarter internship totaling 220 hours, 3-quarter seminar (PUB AFF 187 series), and culminating capstone project. Public Affairs majors enroll in the 3-quarter capstone seminar series (4 units per quarter) PUB AFF 187AX, PUB AFF 187BX, and PUB AFF 187CX, during their final year at UCLA.

Public Affairs capstone internships can range from internships in community-based organizations, social enterprise businesses, or regional governments. Student who participate in UC Center Sacramento, Quarter in Washington Program (or, UCDC), or Global Internship Program, may petition to satisfy the first quarter of the experiential learning capstone with coursework completed through these programs.

The capstone internship is accompanied by the PUB AFF 187 seminar that enables students to reflect on and share their engagement experience with classmates, apply what they have learned in their coursework to their community or public engagement, and analyze how the engagement experience conforms with or differs from what they learned in coursework. This experiential-learning opportunity culminates with a capstone project in the spring quarter that integrates the student’s field experience with theories and methods learned in their coursework.

Learn more about the Public Affairs experiential learning capstone series, opportunities, and requirements on the Public Affairs Experiential Learning page.

The following policies apply to the Public Affairs Major:

  • The Luskin School of Public Affairs requires the same University, Writing, Quantitative Reasoning, Diversity, and General Education Requirements as the College of Letters & Science.
  • All courses for the Public Affairs pre-major and major must be taken for a letter grade.
    • Exceptions due to the COVID-19 Pandemic: While all requirements for the Public Affairs major must be completed for a letter grade, this requirement was waived for courses taken in Spring 2020, Summer 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, and Spring 2022. During these terms, students who earn a grade of Pass in a Public Affairs major course must petition to apply the course toward the major requirements; approval is not guaranteed. Grades of No Pass do not satisfy major requirements. Contact the Public Affairs Undergraduate Program via MyUCLA Message Center for questions about this exception.
  • All upper division courses for the major must be from the Public Affairs (PUB AFF) subject area. Students can petition to use courses outside of the Public Affairs subject area but petitions will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
  • Students may only take one elective course outside of Luskin (course must be approved by petition). Any student who wishes to take more than one elective from outside the Luskin School should meet with the Luskin Undergraduate Program Office to discuss the petition process.

Course Descriptions

You can view course descriptions for all Luskin undergraduate courses (numbered 1-199) on the UCLA Registrar’s Office website. Click the links below to view the course descriptions for each of the Luskin disciplines:

Public Affairs Course Offerings

You can view the current and tentative lower and upper division course offerings for the current academic year on the Public Affairs Enrollment Procedures page here. To view current course offerings, access the Schedule of Classes on the UCLA Registrar’s Office website here (search by term and department). For questions about planning your courses, contact the Public Affairs Undergraduate Program via MyUCLA Message Center.

Enroll in Public Affairs Courses

UCLA undergraduate students enroll in courses through MyUCLA Class Planner. You can learn more about enrollment procedures for Public Affairs and Luskin undergraduate courses (numbered 1-199) on our website here. For questions about enrollment in Public Affairs courses, contact the Public Affairs Undergraduate Program via MyUCLA Message Center.

To help you plan your courses and ensure you complete all degree requirements by your intended degree candidacy term, you can access and download sample 2, 3, and 4-year degree plans linked below.

Once admitted to UCLA, we encourage you to schedule regular appointments with a Luskin undergraduate academic counselor to discuss your progress and outline a strategic degree plan that accounts for your degree requirements as well as your career and graduate/professional school plans. To schedule an appointment with a Luskin undergraduate academic counselor, submit your appointment request via MyUCLA Message Center.

Planning Your Degree

Students pursuing the Public Affairs major must work closely with a Luskin undergraduate academic counselor to ensure they are completing all degree requirements, including major requirements, within their time-to-degree and unit maximum. Speak with a Luskin Academic Counselor through Message Center.

Luskin Academic Counseling for Students Admitted to UCLA as Freshmen

Undergraduate students who were admitted to UCLA as freshmen and who are pursuing the Public Affairs pre-major work with both College of Letters & Science and Luskin undergraduate academic counselors.

While a student is coded as a Public Affairs pre-major, the College of Letters & Science serves as the primary academic counseling unit and the Public Affairs Undergraduate Program serves as their departmental counselors. College counseling is comprised of four counseling units: Academic Advancement Program, Athletics, Honors, and College Academic Counseling. For more information about College advising click here.

Once a student is admitted to the Luskin School of Public Affairs and Public Affairs major, the Public Affairs Undergraduate Program serves both as their primary academic counseling unit and their departmental counselors.

Due to the structure of Athletics and College Honors, some students will continue to work with College counselors. Public Affairs majors who are also student athletes will continue to work with Athletics College Counselors to ensure they are meeting NCAA requirements, but Athletics will not monitor their degree progress, process petitions, or assist with enrollment. Similarly, Public Affairs majors who are completing the College Honors Program will continue to work with Honors Counselors to monitor their progress through the Honors Program curriculum, but College Honors will not monitor their degree progress, process petitions, or assist with enrollment.

Luskin Academic Counseling for Transfer Students

The Public Affairs Undergraduate Program serves as both as the primary academic counseling unit and departmental counselors for undergraduate students pursuing the B.A. in Public Affairs who are admitted to UCLA as transfer students.

Due to the structure of Athletics and College Honors, some transfer students will also work with College counselors. Public Affairs majors who are also student athletes will continue to work with Athletics College Counselors to ensure they are meeting NCAA requirements, but Athletics will not monitor their degree progress, process petitions, or assist with enrollment. Similarly, Public Affairs majors who are completing the College Honors Program will continue to work with Honors Counselors to monitor their progress through the Honors Program curriculum, but College Honors will not monitor their degree progress, process petitions, or assist with enrollment.

Students who plan to graduate early must request approval from the Public Affairs Undergraduate Program. To be eligible to graduate early, the student’s proposed degree plan for early graduation must account for all degree requirements and accommodate the Public Affairs three-quarter capstone preparation process and the three-quarter sequential capstone requirement. Be advised that requests to graduate early may be denied if a student’s proposed early graduation plan does not accommodate B.A. in Public Affairs experiential learning capstone requirement.

Students who plan to graduate early must contact the Public Affairs Capstone Advisor via MyUCLA Message Center as early as possible to discuss their eligibility to graduate early and outline a plan for early graduation. For more information about graduating early as a Public Affairs major, click here.

Students who are pursing the Public Affairs major have the option to pursue a double major and/or minor, provided they meet the eligibility criteria for the respective major or minor. Students who are interested in pursuing a double major and/or minor must work closely with a Luskin academic counselor to ensure they can complete all degree requirements within their time-to-degree and at a manageable pace and course load. Students are not granted additional time to complete a double major and/or minor.

To help you plan your courses and ensure you complete all degree requirements by your intended degree candidacy term, you can access and download a sample 2, 3, and 4-year program plans. To view sample program plans for other majors, visit the “Tassels to the Left: Degree Paths” website.

Students who are pursing the Public Affairs major have the option to study abroad. Because Luskin has limitations on when students can study abroad, it’s important that students speak with a Luskin undergraduate academic counselor early in their UCLA career to discuss their study abroad interests and incorporate it into their program plan.

To learn more about study abroad opportunities, visit the UCLA International Education Office.

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 Luskin Undergraduate Academic Counselors can recommend courses, research opportunities, and experiential learning placements tailored to your graduate school aspirations.

The B.A. in Public Affairs 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.