Becoming a PPEL Major

A student may declare the major in Philosophy, Politics, Economics and Law (PPEL) at any time in his/her undergraduate career beginning with Freshman Orientation. In order to enroll in PPEL Core Courses a student must first achieve Advanced Standing through the following two steps:

1. Complete Three Foundation Courses

One course from:

  • ECON 200
  • PHIL/ECON 205
  • SBS 200

One course from:

  • PHIL 210
  • PHIL 250

One course from:

  • POL 203
  • POL 206

*Pending fall 2024, students need only have finished 1 foundations course at time of application and they must have all their foundations done by the time they start in advanced standing.

To ensure timely progress through the major students are advised to complete their Foundation Courses as expeditiously as practical and prior to achieving junior status by designing their schedules in consultation with the PPEL Advisor. The Advisor will assist transfer students in planning their schedules so as to facilitate their progress towards the completion of the major.

2. Apply for Advanced Standing

In early March, sophomore level PPEL students submit their Advanced Standing application to the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Peter Vanderschraaf. Submission materials include:

  • Unofficial transcript for the purpose of determining the strength of the student's educational profile as an indicator of success in upper division PPEL Core Courses and PPEL Track Courses.
    • A minimum 2.00 GPA is required to apply for Advanced Standing, though admission is competitive, and the recommended GPA is at least 2.50. Typically, students who have achieved a GPA of at least 3.0 in their foundations courses are competitive applicants for Advanced Standing.
  • A writing sample to demonstrate the ability to write about PPEL-concepts at an advanced level. 
    • Students have a choice about what to submit as a writing assignment. Students may submit a paper they have written for a previous class. Or, students may write a new paper on a topic supplied by the department.
  • A personal statement explaining their interest in PPEL, why they’re a strong fit for the program, and what they hope to gain from advanced standing.
    • The personal statement should be no more than one page. Tell us (a) what drew you to the PPEL program, (b) how you think you will be a benefit to the other students in the program, and (c) what you intend to do after graduation.
  • The PPEL Advanced Standing Application form (students receive this directly from the department).

The Director may also, at his or her discretion, invite a student to interview with the Director to determine the student's preparedness to succeed and commitment to the goals of the program.

If you’re unsure about whether you’re ready to apply to advanced standing, please contact PPEL advisor Megan Theesfeld. As stated above, typically, students apply for Advanced Standing in the spring semester of their sophomore year.

Program Fees

Students majoring in PPEL who have achieved junior status will be assessed a program fee of $400 per semester. PPEL majors who have not achieved junior status will not be assessed the program fee.


More Questions?

Please look at the FAQ page under "Advising."