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FAQ

How Do I Declare a Concentration in PPE?

The PPE program is being kept small because it is academically challenging, and to ensure that all students have access to required classes and quality advising. Therefore, admission to the PPE program is by application only. The online application is simple: enter a few items of information, upload your undergraduate transcripts, and write a short (1-2 page) personal statement explaining your interest in PPE. The application process will open several weeks into every Winter Term. Students will be informed of PPE’s decision before the end of the term. Transfer students may apply upon request during Spring/Summer terms and will be informed of PPE’s decision before the beginning of the Fall Term.

Do I need to have completed all of the prerequisites to the PPE concentration before I can apply?

All applicants are strongly encouraged to have either completed or be currently enrolled in the PPE prerequisites when they apply. Students who still have one or two outstanding prerequisites should indicate on their application a definite plan for completing them before the start of their junior year, or make the case in some other fashion that they can complete the program in a timely way.

What should my class standing be when I apply to PPE?

Because the number of seats in PPE is limited, only applications from students with sophomore standing or higher will be considered. Because there are so many requirements to fulfill, it will in general be difficult for juniors to complete the PPE concentration if they have not already been admitted. However, applications from juniors will be considered if the student can make the case that they can complete the degree in a timely way.

Is there a PPE minor?

No.

May I do a double-concentration with PPE and either Philosophy, Political Science, or Economics?

Yes. PPE may be paired with any other concentration. However, students are advised that they must show “value added” with the PPE concentration. In the normal case this would entail taking a high proportion of one’s theme and core distribution courses outside the department of the other concentration. PPE advisors will enforce this expectation.

I took AP Calculus. Does this fulfill the Calculus prerequisite? (not MATH 120)

PPE’s calculus requirement is governed by the enforced prerequisite for ECON 401: Intermediate Microeconomics, which is a required course for the PPE concentration. You have fulfilled the Calculus requirement if and only if your LSA transcript credits you for one of the following: MATH 115, 116, 121, 156, 175, 176, 185, 186, 215, 295, or 296.

How can I tell if credit earned at another school will be counted toward PPE prerequisites or required courses?

If you have already taken the course and LSA has evaluated it for transfer credit, your transcript will indicate whether it has earned credit as an equivalent LSA course. If you are planning to take a course at another university you can check ahead to see if it transfers by using the Newnan Center’s Transfer Credit (Course Equivalencies) table. If the course you are interested is not listed on this website, you should make a Transfer Credit Equivalency Request. If LSA approves a course as equivalent to a named LSA course, then it will fulfill the same PPE requirement as the corresponding LSA course, provided you have earned a C- or better. If LSA approves the course for generic departmental credit only, you will need to petition the PPE program to determine whether it satisfies a PPE requirement. You will be asked to supply your transcript and the syllabus including a list of class readings and graded requirements to assist PPE in deciding whether to approve the course for the PPE concentration. If LSA does not accept the course for any kind of LSA credit, then it will not fulfill a PPE requirement. Students are strongly advised to check whether a course will transfer before taking it. Ask the Newnan Center for further information on transfer credit.

May I take PPE 300: Introduction to Political Economy (the gateway to the PPE concentration) even though I have not (yet) been admitted to the PPE concentration?

Yes! All students interested in exploring political economy are welcome to enroll in PPE 300.

PPE 300 is currently listed as a meet-together with PHIL 366, which fulfills one of PPE’s core distribution requirements in normative theory. May I fulfill 2 PPE requirements at once by taking this course?

No. A PPE course used to satisfy one PPE core requirement cannot be used to satisfy another.

How do I learn more about PPE?

  1. Make an appointment with a PPE concentration advisor. All Philosophy concentration advisors are also PPE advisors because the Department of Philosophy administers the PPE program.
  2. Send an email to Sarah Buss (sbuss@umich.edu), the Director of PPE, or to Judith Beck (jbec@umich.edu) the Administrative Assistant for PPE.
  3. Ask one of the members of the PPE Steering Committee.

What can I do with a PPE degree?

A PPE degree gives students strong analytic social science skills, the ability to ask big questions and pursue answers rigorously with several approaches, and the ability to write clear analytic prose. These skills are valuable in graduate study and in many professions, in private sector, public service, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). PPE majors often pursue graduate study in MBA programs, law schools, and Ph.D. programs in the social sciences or in philosophy. Many go directly to business, work in government, or work for NGOs. 

How is PPE different from the Ford School?

Both PPE and the Public Policy major at the Ford School are selective majors for talented students interested in the applied social sciences. We encourage all students interested in one to consider the other, too. In comparison to Ford, PPE has more focus on normative questions (what are rights? what is equality? what are just policies?), on the one hand, and formal social-scientific methods (statistics, game theory). Students who know they are certainly going to pursue an academic Ph.D. program (as opposed to a professional graduate degree) may find PPE a better preparation.

How is PPE not 3 minors stuck together?

The structure of the PPE major forms a coherent whole that would not be feasible by sticking three minors together (even if that were administratively possible). The sub-areas of the PPE major don't automatically map onto Philosophy, Political Science, or Economics. Two of the core courses (PPE 300 and 400) are synthetic courses that would not be available in any of the minors. The distribution areas (methods, normative theory, political economy) represent courses from all of the disciplines, but in combinations that might be difficult to piece together with minors, even if one were particularly thoughtful creating a coherent experience.