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Philosophy, Politics, and Economics Major (PPE)


The Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) undergraduate major is an interdisciplinary program that uses tools and methods from economics and political science to help answer difficult social and political questions that have traditionally been the domain of philosophy: How should we live together? What would be the best way for us to organize our social and political institutions? How should we address our most difficult problems, from inequality to discrimination to immigration to climate change?

A PPE education is important because many of the world’s most pressing problems are incredibly complex. Though philosophy has always promised to address issues of this kind, successfully tackling these sorts of problems requires more than philosophy alone. Our future leaders and fellow citizens need to know about ethics, rationality and reasoning, and the nature of knowledge (philosophy); about institutions and collective action (politics); and about the economy, formal modeling, and rational choice (economics). The PPE major trains students in this kind of thinking. In using tools and methods from economics and political science to help answer difficult social and political questions we expand students’ reasoning tool kit, so they have more resources to bring to bear on some of the world’s most difficult problems.

PPE is an established degree across the globe. Oxford University established its PPE degree in the 1920’s, and several world leaders have studied PPE at Oxford. The analytical tools acquired in the PPE major are excellent for those wishing to pursue careers in law, government, business, and non-profits/NGOs.

Course Requirements

To earn a degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, students must take 13 courses for a total of 39 credits. The breakdown of course requirements is as follows:

Disciplinary Foundations (All required) (18 credits)

  • PHIL140: Contemporary Moral Issues
  • PHIL245: Political and Social Philosophy I
  • ECON200: Principles of Microeconomics
  • ECON201: Principles of Macroeconomics
  • GVPT170: American Politics
  • PLCY100: Foundations of Public Policy

Core Sequence (All required) (9 credits)

  • PHPE400: Individual and Group Decision-Making
  • PHPE401: Social Philosophy and Political Economy
  • PHPE402: Senior Capstone Seminar in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics

Electives (Four required) (12 credits)

  • Any PHPE course at the 300-400 level, besides PHPE400, PHPE401, and PHPE402.
  • AASP301: Applied Policy Analysis and the Black Community
  • AASP314: The Civil Rights Movement
  • AASP499: Special Topics in Public Policy and the Black Community
  • BMGT468Y: Entrepreneurial Capitalism Around the World
  • COMM330: Argumentation and Public Policy
  • COMM458: Seminar in Political Communication
  • COMM469: The Discourse of Social Movements
  • ECON311: American Economic History Before the Civil War
  • ECON312: American Economics After the Civil War
  • GVPT409I: The Politics of Human Rights
  • GVPT439A: Comparative Constitutional Law
  • HIST319: Special Topics in History
  • HIST329: Special Topics in History
  • HIST326: The Roman Republic
  • HIST328L: Selected Topics in History; Empires, Revolutions and Cold Wars
  • HIST339: Special Topics in History
  • HIST415: Ideas and Politics in Europe Since 1900
  • HIST419: Special Topics in History
  • HIST428: Selected Topics in History
  • HIST450: American Capitalism, 1600-1900
  • HIST451: American Capitalism, 1900-present
  • PHIL338D: Studies in Value Theory; The Ethics of Sex
  • PHIL338J: Studies in Value Theory; Supreme Law: The Constitution, Morality, and the Courts
  • PHIL341: Ethical Theory
  • PHIL344: Philosophy of Race
  • PHIL347: Philosophy of Law
  • PHIL440: Contemporary Ethical Theory
  • PHIL445: Contemporary Political Philosophy
  • PHIL446: Law, Morality, and War
  • WMST 400: Theories of Feminism
  • WGSS302: Feminist, Critical Race, and Queer Theories

A PPE student may petition the Director of PPE to have an individual course (300-level or above) count as an elective contributing to that student's completion of the PPE major.

Program Objectives

The PPE program aims to:

(1) Equip students with methods from the disciplines of philosophy, political science, and economics.

(2) Encourage students to apply these methods to a diverse array of topics and questions across disciplinary boundaries, especially to normative topics and questions.

(3) Combine these methods in productive ways to carry out thoughtful, original research.

(4) Equip students with the ability to write clearly and concisely, read and distil information carefully, and construct arguments in an organized and convincing manner.

(5) Inspire a love for learning from a diverse array of scholarly disciplines.

Careers and Internships

The College of Arts and Humanities has a special office devoted to career and internship advising for students majoring or minoring in arts and humanities. Services provided by the University Career Center @ ARHU include: 

  • Job search strategies (networking, follow-up etiquette, informational interviews, etc.)
  • Developing customized application materials for desired industry or field of choice
  • Preparing for interviews
  • Salary research
  • How to make contacts within a specific industry
  • Internship search strategies 

Please see their webpage for information on walk-in hours and scheduling an appointment.

The Bright Future ‘Unpaid Internship’ Scholarship awards students with need-based scholarships ranging from $250-$1250 to help offset expenses incurred during unpaid internships. Click here for more details. 

Program Director

Brian Kogelmann

Assistant Professor, Philosophy