Curriculum & Requirements

In addition to a core curriculum and electives, concentrators in the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs enroll in a Policy Task Force and a policy research seminar during their junior year, which meet the University’s requirement for junior independent work. They also write a senior thesis, which meets the requirement for senior independent work. Faculty academic advisers are drawn from the School's Undergraduate Program Committee.

Download the presentation from the first-year information session, which includes detailed information about the undergraduate policy major.

Prerequisites

All courses taken to meet these prerequisites must be taken on a graded basis (no P/D/F option). Students must receive a grade of C or higher in all courses used to meet the prerequisites. *As an exception, students may count courses taken P/D/F, in Spring 2020 only, toward their prerequisites.

AP courses or freshman seminars may not be used to fulfill prerequisites. One course may not be used to fulfill more than one prerequisite.

A course taken at Princeton and used as a prerequisite can also be used to meet either a SPIA core requirement (if it is on the list of core requirements) or as a SPIA elective (if it is on the electives list).  

A summer course or a course taken abroad might meet the prerequisite requirement, but only if approved by the School's Undergraduate Program Office.

Prior to the beginning of the junior year, the following prerequisites must be completed:

  • SPI 200: Statistics for Social Science
  • ECO 302: Econometrics
  • ECO 312: Econometrics: A Mathematical Approach
  • POL 345: Introduction to Quantitative Social Science
  • POL 346: Applied Quantitative Analysis

AP Statistics does not fulfill this prerequisite.

  • ECO 100: Introduction to Microeconomics
  • ECO 300: Microeconomic Theory
  • ECO 310: Microeconomic Theory: A Mathematical Approach
  • SPI 300: Microeconomics for Public Policy

AP Microeconomics does not fulfill this prerequisite.

  • One course with an HIS listing
  • A cross-listed course with an HIS designation

Courses in the HA distribution area do not qualify unless they are designated HIS. For example, courses in NES or SOC that are in the HA distribution area do not fulfill this requirement unless they are cross-listed with HIS.

  • One course with a POL, SOC, or PSY listing
  • A cross-listed course with a POL, SOC, or PSY listing
  • A course taken to meet the statistics requirement cannot be used to meet this requirement.

Core Curriculum

Prior to graduation, students concentrating in the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs must complete the following core courses. All courses used to meet these requirements must be taken at Princeton on a graded basis (no P/D/F). *As an exception, students are allowed to P/D/F core courses taken in Spring 2020. Courses taken to meet elective requirements cannot be used to fulfill core requirements.

  • SPI 300: Microeconomics for Public Policy (Spring 2022)
  • ECO 300: Microeconomic Theory (Fall 2021)
  • ECO 310: Microeconomic Theory: A Mathematical Approach (Fall 2021/Spring 2022)
  • POL 220/SPI 310: American Politics (Spring 2022)
  • POL 230/SPI 325: Introduction to Comparative Politics (Fall 2021)
  • POL 240/SPI 312: International Relations (Fall 2021)
  • POL 351/SPI 311: Politics in Developing Countries (Fall 2021)
  • SPI 330: Population and Public Policy (Spring 2022)
  • SPI 331/SOC/AAS: Race and Public Policy (Fall 2021)
  • SPI 340/PSY 321: The Psychology of Decision-Making and Judgment (Fall 2021)
  • SPI 350: The Environment: Science and Public Policy (Fall 2021)
  • SPI 353/MAE 353: Science and Global Security (Spring 2022)
  • SPI 354: Modern Genetics and Public Policy (Spring 2022)
  • CEE 334/SPI 452: Global Environmental Issues (Fall 2021)
  • ENV 304/SPI 455: Disease, Ecology, Economics, and Policy (Fall 2021)
  • GHP 351/SPI 381: Epidemiology: An Ecological and Evolutionary Perspective (Spring 2022)
  • SPI 370/POL 308: Ethics and Public Policy (Fall 2021)
  • CHV 310/PHI 385: Practical Ethics (Fall 2021)
  • PHI 307/CHV 311: Systematic Ethics (Spring 2022)
  • PHI 309/CHV 309: Political Philosophy (Spring 2022)
  • POL 313: Global Justice (Fall 2021)
  • REL 394: Environmental Ethics and Modern Religious Thought (Fall 2021)

Electives

Each student must complete four electives on a graded basis from a list issued by the School.

List of Electives Offered Spring 2022

  • No more than three electives can be courses listed or cross-listed by the same department.
  • Courses used by students to meet prerequisites or core requirements will not count against this limit.
  • Methodology courses that are on the electives list and all courses offered by the School also will be exempt — meaning that you can take more than three SPI courses as electives.
  • Cross-listings on SPI courses such as SPI 315/POL 393 or SPI 466/HIS 467 will count toward the limit for the other departments. Up to three elective courses can be taken in the School's semester-long study abroad programs.
  • Electives taken at Princeton University must be taken on a graded basis.
  • Summer courses may not be used as electives.

Language Requirement

Students majoring in the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs must complete at least one foreign language course beyond the current University requirement. This can be done:

  • By taking an additional course (200 or 300 level) in the language used to meet the University requirement. (Note, where upper-level courses are not available, e.g., ASL or Swahili, students will have to take a course at least at the 102 level in another language.) Either a language course or a subject matter course taught in the foreign language will count, or
  • By taking a course at least at the 102 level in a language other than the one used to fulfill the University foreign language requirement.

Courses used to meet this requirement may be taken at Princeton University or elsewhere; all courses must be taken on a graded basis.

All students must record with the Undergraduate Program Office the completion of the language requirement. Please complete and electronically submit the form, available on our website.

Students who are bilingual must first contact the department to initiate the process for certifying their SPIA language credentials. Note, the certification process is handled by the Princeton Center for Language Studies (PCLS) and may take a couple weeks to complete.

Field Experience

Prior to the second semester of the senior year, each student must complete an approved cross-cultural or field experience. The requirement can be satisfied in a number of ways, including but not limited to:

  • Semester study abroad.
  • Summer study abroad (minimum four weeks).
  • Summer language study abroad (minimum four weeks).
  • Policy relevant summer jobs abroad (minimum six weeks or 240 hours).
  • ROTC training.
  • Senior thesis research in the field (minimum four weeks).
  • Extended service in an underserved community (minimum six weeks or 240 hours).
  • Internship involving public policy work in a nonprofit, government, or international agency (minimum six weeks or 240 hours).

Cross-cultural or field experience gained during freshman or sophomore years might count toward this requirement. All past or proposed work must be approved by the Undergraduate Program Office.

All students must record with the Undergraduate Program Office the completion of this requirement. Please complete and electronically submit the form, available on our website.