Return to: Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy: Programs/Courses
Bachelor of Arts
Open to current second-year U.Va. undergraduates and to transfer students, the public policy and leadership bachelor of arts is a multidisciplinary, liberal arts program focused on understanding how public policy decisions are made, how civic leaders in government, non-profit organizations, and the private sector contribute to collective problem solving. The curriculum provides an opportunity to learn about the political, economic, historical, and social context of public policy. The program also gives students the ability to understand debates about the full range of policy issues facing the contemporary world and provides an introduction to the basic concepts of policy analysis.
Although not a pre-professional degree, the Batten undergraduate program gives students an opportunity to develop their critical and analytical thinking, and their communication, leadership, and research skills.
It is an excellent choice for students who are still exploring their career options, or who seek a broad introduction to the identification and management of contemporary societal problems and to the challenges and opportunities of civic leadership. Recipients of the Batten BA are prepared for a wide range of graduate programs, including both professional degrees and doctoral programs, as well as for jobs related to public policy in the for-profit and public sectors.
Students already committed to a career in public policy, and who are interested in a professional master’s degree in that field, are advised to consider applying to the Accelerated Bachelor/MPP Program.
To earn a BA from the Batten School, a student must present 120 credits of approved course work, which completes the competency requirements, area requirements, major requirements, and elective requirements. No fewer than 96 of the 120 required credits must be passed on a graded (A-B-C-D) basis. All courses taken to fulfill competency requirements, area requirements, and major/minor requirements must be taken on a graded (A-B-C-D) basis. A candidate must earn a minimum grade of C in all courses taken to fulfill the core program requirements below (i.e. all program courses except the special topics courses). A candidate must have earned a grade point average of at least 2.000 on all graded courses taken in the Batten School or elsewhere in the University and offered for the degree.
No fewer than 60 credit hours must be taken at the University of Virginia.
The Batten BA curriculum consists of fourteen required Batten School courses, thirteen 3-credit courses and a 1-credit research and writing lab:
- Three core courses on the foundations of public policy and leadership. These courses introduce students to the basic models, concepts, and frameworks of civic leadership and to the theories and substance of public policy.
- Introduction to Public Policy
- Introduction to Civic Leadership
- Public Policy Challenges of the 21st Century
- Two core courses on the economic analysis of public policy. Students learn to analyze the rationales for government interventions in markets, the advantages and disadvantages of different tools of policy action, and the costs and benefits of policy decisions.
- Choice and Consequences: The Economics of Public Policy
- Research Methods and Data Analysis of Public Policy
- Four core courses on the political, psychological, ethical, and historical context of public policy and leadership. Economic policy analysis can identify the most efficient means of achieving collective objectives, but the behavior of individuals and groups is shaped not only by material interests but also by powerful contextual factors, and policy action is dependent on leadership skills in identifying viable solutions and advocating to receptive audiences. These core courses provide insights into how cognitive biases, moral values, political culture and institutions, and inherited policy commitments shape and constrain problem solving and leadership in civic life.
- Institutional and Political Context of Public Policy
- Value and Bias in Public Policy
- Comparative Policy History
- Ethical Dimensions of Civic Life
- Three special topics courses, which offer students the opportunity to study in depth specific public policy and leadership topics. The Batten School will offer topics courses on specific policy topics and leadership skills each year of the program. These courses will vary by year, but will include topics such as:
- Anti-Terrorism and the Role of Intelligence
- International Development Policy
- Political Leadership in American History
- International Financial Institutions
- Leading and Managing Diverse Groups
- Pending approval by the Director of Academic Programs and Registrar, students may take up to 6 credits (two courses) offered in other departments or through study abroad toward the special topics requirement. Courses must be 3000-level or higher and must address issues related to public policy and/or leadership.
- Two core professional skills courses: a research and writing lab and a capstone experience
- Research and writing lab (one credit)
- Several capstone seminars will be held each year. These seminars will involve group projects in which students produce a comprehensive report analyzing a policy problem, available policy options, and the teams’ recommended solutions.
In sum, students take 40 credit hours at the Batten School: 30 credits of core coursework (10 courses), 9 credits of special topics courses (3 courses), and a 1-credit research and writing lab.