Public Affairs Major Curriculum

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.

The UCLA Luskin Public Affairs B.A. requires:

  • Eight Lower Division courses that establish a critical social science and methodological foundation while fulfilling some General Education requirements.
  • Seven Upper Division courses 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.
  • A three-quarter experiential learning internship in the senior year that culminates in a capstone project.

Pre Major (Lower Division) Requirements

Required: 8 courses/38 units

  • PA 10. Social Problems and Social Change (5 units): Social scientific approaches to study of social problems and their solutions.
  • PA 20. Power, Politics, and Policy Change in US (5 units):Historical and contemporary forms of the key institutions of politics and policy in the United States.
  • PA 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.
  • PA 40. Microeconomics for Public Affairs (5 units):Principles of microeconomic analysis, including comparative advantage, supply and demand, market failure, and public economics.
  • PA 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.
  • PA 60. Using Data to Learn about Society (5 units):  An Introduction to Empirical Research and Statistics: Research design principles and hands-on data analysis to understand social problems.
  • PA 70. Information, Evidence, and Persuasion (4 units): The public life of facts used by different players in their efforts to inform, persuade, and indoctrinate.
  • PA 80. How Environments Shape Human Development (4 units): Exploring how diverse cultural, socioeconomic, and historical contexts interact with biology to affect people during development.

See the current academic year course offerings on our Student Resources page!

Major (Upper Division) Requirements

Required: 10 courses/42 units (including the Capstone courses)

See the current academic year course offerings on our Student Resources page!

Theory Courses (2 of the following 5 options are required; 8 units)

  • PA 110. The Urban Revolution: Space and Society in a Global Context (4 units): Theoretical frameworks used by urban studies and planning to study cities and urban transformations.
  • PA 111. Microeconomics: Addressing 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.
  • PA 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.
  • PA 113. Policy Analysis: Approaches to Addressing Social Problems (4 units): An introduction to the policy analysis and development process.
  • PA 114. People, Organizations, and Systems (4 units): The social ecology of collaborative relationships among individuals, groups, organizations, and communities.

Methods Courses (2 courses required; 10 units)

  •  PA 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.
  • PA 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.
Elective Courses (3 courses required; 12 units)

Possible B.A. in Public Affairs electives include:

  • Urban Poverty and Public Policy
  • Non-profits and Philanthropy
  • Science, Technology, and Public Policy
  • Housing Policy
  • Biomedical, Social, and Policy Frontiers in Human Aging
  • Urban Sustainability
  • Crime and Juvenile Justice
  • Education Policy
  • Environmental Challenges
  • International Development
  • Immigration

The major will add additional electives in upcoming years.  

Experiential Learning (Capstone) Requirement

Capstone Series (3 courses required; 12 units)

Students participate in a three-quarter experiential learning opportunity. Engaged scholarship experiences can vary widely from internships in community-based organizations, firms, or regional governments to international study or UC in DC (Washington Center) or UC in Sacramento programs. These experiences are accompanied by a 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 students’ field experience with theories and methods learned in their coursework.

Students will take a three-course capstone sequence which includes:

  • PUB AFF 194A
  • PUB AFF 194B
  • PUB AFF 194C

Concurrently, students will enroll in units for their internship:

  • PUB AFF 195A
  • PUB AFF 195B
  • PUB AFF 195C

Curriculum Resources

Curriculum Checklist –  students may use this to track degree progress

Public Affairs Undergraduate Petition – students who would like to request a substitution, waiver, or exception for the lower division or upper division courses, must complete a Public Affairs Undergraduate petition and return it to the Student Services Office in 3357 Public Affairs, or via MyUCLA Message Center.

Sample Plans of Study – these plans of study are intended to help students establish an academic plan that works for their unique situation. These plans should not be seen as mandated timelines. Students are encouraged to download the excel document, make updates where needed (university & school requirements), and then meet with a Public Affairs advisor for review.

Sample 4-Year Plan of Study 
Sample 3-Year Plan of Study

Join the Public Affairs Program

Adding the Pre-Major

UCLA students*, in good academic standing, may declare the pre-major by completing the Pre-Major Form and then returning it to the Student Services Office in 3357 Public Affairs, or via MyUCLA Message Center.

Pre-Majors are given first pass enrollment privileges in the lower division (pre-major requirement) courses. Students must complete, with a C or better, at least six of the eight lower division courses by the time of application for the major. This must include PA 40 & PA 60.

*For 2018-2019 Only:

Only current Freshman and Sophomores are eligible to pursue the pre-major in Public Affairs for the 2018-19 academic year. Sophomores are advised to meet with a Public Affairs advisor ASAP to determine the feasibility of the program.

Applying to the Major


The 2019 Major application is now closed. 2020 Major application information will be posted here by Summer 2019.

Questions? Contact the Public Affairs Undergraduate Advising Office via MyUCLA Message Center or at 310-794-4080.

Major Application FAQ

  • What are my chances of getting in?
    • Our faculty will take a holistic approach to application reviews. There is no one thing that will prevent you from being admitted but instead they will look at all your abilities. With that said, this is an academic program so academics will play a key role. If you are concerned about your grades please schedule an appointment with on our our advisors.
  • What is the average or minimum GPA?
    • There isn’t an average nor a minimum. The faculty committee will look at all application components, grades, short answer responses, essay etc.
  • If I am not admitted this year, can I reapply next year?
    • Students are permitted to reapply the following year as long as they don’t exceed 130 units of coursework at the time of application.
  • When will decisions be released?
    • Decisions will be sent by early June, at the latest. Students will be notified if they are admitted to the major prior to Fall enrollment.


For Students in the Public Affairs Major:

  • All upper division courses for the major must be from the PUB AFF subject area. Students can petition to use non-PUB AFF courses but petitions will be considered on a case-by-case basis.